The Backpack Smackdown

I woke up this morning with a food hangover, thank you Christmas eating frenzy, and a huge case of pre departure buzz because  tomorrow I leave for Argentina!! The planning for this trip has been almost non existent. Other than buying the ticket and checking a few must do boxes, like travel insurance etc, I haven’t opened a guide book and no lists have been made.

I spent a little time in Argentina in 2012 as part of a five month South American backpacking mission and saw a few of the must do’s on the usual backpacker trail then.

While the logistical trip planning has been on the light side, one thing I have been feverishly plotting over the last week or so has been my suitcase and backpack. I am obsessed with taking as little as possible.

The opposite of my packing strategy for my previous trip through Central America. Strategy then was throw caution to the oversized wind and stuff as much into that bad boy as humanly possible.

I lugged around a 65 litre backpack, rammed full and a pack on my front for four months. Getting that thing off and on was a back injury waiting to happening. I’m also on the shorter size of the human scale so I looked ridiculous. There were times I wanted to set fire to it and just walk away with my passport.

Like anything, I got used to it. People would literally say to me ‘I can’t believe that is your fucking backpack’ and then I would do my strategic backpack shimmy / hoist / squat/ stand manoeuvre and get that monster on without it looking too hard (well, I like to think that ha)

I even hitchhiked 300km through Costa Rica and Nicaragua with that thing.

That trip was my first time travelling solo and a week of it was spent at sea. I was worried about being stuck on my own without ‘supplies’ so I guess that fear was reflected in my packing. I was ‘supplied’ up to my eyeballs and half of it I never even used. I think I spent about $300.00 on medications and in the end took a few sea sickness tablets, which were useless anyway and used a few bandaids. I also overpacked on clothes and took things I barely used, like a travel hair dryer. A note on travel hairdryers – WASTE OF TIME. Quicker to dry your hair by breathing on it.

When I pulled my monster backpack out in preparation for this trip, my back spasmed just looking at it.

No. I will not do this again, I thought. Please don’t, said my back.

Instead, I am trying the opposite approach. A carry on sized wheeled suitcase and a backpack. For two months of travel. I don’t know if I’m kidding myself but my back is all like happy with the decision so here goes!

I focused on clothes and colours that mixed and matched as much as possible. The below isn’t the entire contents of my bags obviously, but an idea of the colour theme I tried to stick to. I’ll also be taking my laptop this time for said writing projects, last time I just took a tablet. I’ll also be taking about 500 kilos less of medications!

Minimalist packing image

BEFORE: Central America 2014, loaded up and ready for a back(pack) injury.


AFTER: Argentina 2015

This is the same pack as I had on my front in the above photo and a carry on sized suitcase.


I figure I can pull off the transition from epic backpack to suitcase because my trip this time is a little different. I’ll be moving around a lot less and seeing a more local side of Argentina thanks to Jair living there and all. I’m really excited by the idea of not being constantly on the move, this is less of a backpacking trip and more about getting to know Jair’s homeland. I also have a few writing projects I will be working on so I need routine here and there. Let’s see if my packing downsize will pay of or leave me wanting.

Countdown is officially on, 1 more sleep to go!


3 responses to “The Backpack Smackdown”

  1. Laura B says:

    Totally agree about the travel hair dryer… useless! So excited for the stories to follow! xoxo

  2. Kerrin says:

    You go girl!!…wish I could travel that light!!…I take 2 suitcases to Melbourne!!!…xxxx

    • Elesha says:

      Thanks Kerrin!! So far the minimal packing is working out just fine 🙂 I might have to buy a few more warm things if I head south in Argentina…will see! Thanks so much for reading! xx

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