If he had to do it over, Sean would have brought the Deuter hiking backpack compared to the travel backpack. The hiking pack is 2 pounds lighter, slightly smaller and cheaper. We didn’t bring the detachable daybag and hardly ever use the front panel. But even the travel backpack is a nice bag. It is slim, simple and comfortable. Our gear does not fill it all of the way, so a slightly smaller pack might fill the bag better for more even weight distribution. It is nice to have the option to open it by the top or the front panel.
Since this is a hiking backpack, it is really comfortable, but all the padding does add extra weight. I bought the Deva because it had front access, and this feature is nice, but not necessary. With packing cubes, the front access versus top loading access doesn’t matter that much. This bag is a little bulkier than I would have liked, but I like having the pockets for even more organization. If I was doing it over, I would consider bringing a more streamlined, lighter bag – even if it had less padding – but overall I really like this bag. I didn’t care for the so-called travel backpacks – the ones I tried felt like I was carrying a rolling suitcase on my back.
Sean’s duffel came with his backpack, and I bought my Sea to Summit duffel separately. We use these to streamline our packs during air and bus travel, as well as anytime we want to lock everything up. Because of all of the access points, you can’t lock the backpacks, so this contains everything. They also can be used to cover the packs during rain. It gets old taking them on and off every time we travel, but it is worth it.
This pack is very secure, with internal mesh, hidden attached zippers, and slashproof straps. We use it to hold carry-on items when flying; to lock up valuables in the main compartment when we don’t have a safe in the room; and only occasionally to cart stuff around town. It unzippers wide, and this, combined with its tall, narrow profile, makes it a bit awkward to use.
We like this bag so much we replaced it with a similar bag when it got stolen along with our camera in Lisbon. Our original bag was the 4 Million Dollar model, which was enough for our SLR with zoom lens attached and some extra items, such as filters or sunglasses. We replaced it in Prague with the Muffin Top 3000, a European model roughly equivalent to the 4 Million Dollar bag. We didn’t replace the filters after they were stolen, so I am able to fit our SLR with zoom lens attached, a small wallet, chapstick, hand sanitizer, tissues, a small pouch of medications, an extra camera battery, a lens cleaning wipe, and gum. This bag is usually what I carry during the day and sometimes at night if I bring my SLR. I learned early on it is important to streamline the stuff you carry on a daily basis so you don’t forget anything anywhere. I don’t like carrying the day bag because I feel like I bump into people, it is extra obvious we are tourists, and I like having my camera at the ready.I like this bag because it is not obvious it is a camera bag. I also like its compact size and durability, but wish I had something to fit my sunglasses and/or a bottle of water as well. You can’t have everything.
I was on the fence about whether to bring a purse before we left, and early into our trip, I picked up a cute blue leather handbag in Spain. I used it a lot in the beginning, but since I usually carry the SLR, I don’t really need this. I may send it home. But it was a good excuse to buy a fun European purse!
I am glad Sean talked me into buying the most compact ones possible. They are nice to have for when the sheets are not up to snuff, but we haven’t had to use them that often.
Like the sleep sacks, they are nice to have, but I am glad we got compact ones since we don’t use them that often. We mostly use them to dry our handwashed laundry, but we’ve had to use them several times when towels were not provided. They work fine, even though they feel like you are drying off with a chamois.
Comes in handy for the couple of places we’ve stayed without electricity (like for going to the bathroom in the desert). Now that I lost part of my Kindle light, I might have to look like a big dork and wear it to read at night.
With the bags and cubes, our stuff stays super organized. These are a must with backpacks! They are also very durable. It was hard to decide how much to take. We bought a bunch at REI, did a test run, and returned what we didn’t need. I personally think you can’t have too many.
Amy: one large half-zip for pants and shorts; two medium half-zip for shirts and swimsuit; one medium half-zip for bras, underwear and socks; one medium double sided for contacts.
Sean: one large half-zip for pants and shorts; one medium half-zip for shirts; one tube for socks and underwear.
Joint: one medium double-zip for misc. toiletries; one medium half-zip for electronic accessories.
Amy: one medium for jewelery (including a small padded pouch to protect jewelery), hair bands and scarves; one medium for daily prescriptions; one small for make-up.
Sean: one small for electric razor.
Joint: one large for glasses and cases; one large for travelling pharmacy; one small for multi-tool, scissors, nail clippers, etc.
Some people swear by the compression sacks, but space is not an issue for us – weight is. I picked up one just to use to segregate dirty laundry from the rest of our stuff.
This is the mother of all toiletry bags. It is expensive, but worth it, as you will use your toiletry bag every day. It fits all of our toiletries, except for extras like bug spray and sunscreen. It is nice to keep everything contained together. It is lined, which is nice in the event of spills, and durable.
We both stopped wearing our security wallets in public within days after leaving. They are cumbersome to fiddle around with every time you need money and may attract more attention to yourself. We preferred just to be on guard and make sure we didn’t carry too much money at one time and that are wallets are secure. Sean’s was made by Pacsafe and was more substantial than mine, so we use it to hold our passports and misc. papers in our backpacks. We both picked up small wallets in Spain. Sean usually carries his in his front pocket for more security (instead of his back like he would at home) and I carry mine in my camera bag.
We would some duct tape around a pen and cut off the excess. We’ve used it a few times for misc. repairs.
This is helpful, because whether you handwash or machine wash, a dryer is not often available. We hook this to bars, chairs, doorknobs, etc. in our room and stretch it out to fit a good portion of our laundry.
It is helpful to toss a few quart size and large size ziplocks into your bag. You never know what you will need them for. We’ve used them for leaking liquids, to transport food, for wet swimsuits, and to carry-on liquids onto a plane.
You will need something, separate from where you keep your passports, to keep copies of your passports and other important documents. We just used the bag the Ex Officio underwear came in. We keep it in Sean’s bag, away from our passports, which we keep in our small bag.
Although we use the notebook less since we bought an Ipod Touch, this comes in handy for notes and planning.
We ditched all but two sets because we just don’t use them. When things are loud, we prefer to drown out the noise with our Ipods and noise cancelling headphones.
I’ve only used this a few times, and we ditched our other one because Sean never uses it.
We only used one – and I can’t even remember what for – but I suppose you never know.
We’ve used this a few times, but it is rather heavy. We bought a generic one; perhaps the Leatherman would be lighter.
I’ve only used it once to try to glue my razor handle and it didn’t work. So much for that…
Never used. I don’t even know how to sew…
This case is about the size of a letter-size envelope and folds up thin. It has little pockets for organizing pills. It comes in handy to bring a small sampling of various OTC medications, and larger supplies of ones we use most often (Advil; Pepcid; Immodium).
I hate buying bottled water all of the time, but we drink tons of water and I don’t think these can filter fast enough for us! We sent these home in our first purge because the filters are heavy. I promise I will go back to using my Kleen Kanteen at home, but while we are on the road, it is bottled for us when we can’t drink the water.
We usually are carrying something to tide us over. I look for granola bars when I can, but they are not popular outside the U.S. I get migraines when I don’t eat regularly, which is difficult to monitor on the road when you don’t know what to expect.
We don’t always buy one for every country, but often we carry a guidebook for the next or current country. They are heavy, so we’ve tried buying them on the Kindle, but it is difficult to navigate around and maps are useless.