Top things I have learned while packing for 2 months of travel. In a backpack.
1. Backpacks. Holy options.
I went to REI to check out 'real' backpacks and was immediately appalled at the cost. $200+ for a BACKPACK?! Geesh. Over time I have sat on the floor of more than one REI store while 'playing' with backpacks. Taking the time to zip and unzip every pocket, check out every crevice, and explore every gadget the pack has to offer. More than once I have needed help from REI staff to figure out how to put it all back together again. One REI employee was amazingly helpful- he explained everything I needed to know and everything I needed think about when buying a trekking pack... and he sat with me on the floor to physically show me what he was talking about with each pack. Talk about amazing customer service! I felt pretty dorky sitting on the floor of the local REI store in the middle of the afternoon while other customers didn't even bat an eye - they just walked around us.
2. Clothing is HEAVY.
I started my packing list with things like 'hoodie' and '1 pair of jeans'. Both got 'x'd off the list quickly. I have never paid attention to the weight of clothing. A shirt is a shirt. Pants are pants. UNTIL you have to carry it for 2 months on your back. I am suddenly hyper aware of clothing weight. And the weight of shoes. Those Chaco's are amazing, my jeans comfy, but also very very heavy, and staying home. The tennis skirt is comfy, drifit material, and while it is a bit heavy, it is coming along as it is dual purpose. Extra shoes to look 'cute' in? Nope.
3. Packing cubes really do have a purpose in life.
I used to laugh at people that use packing cubes. What is the point? I use ziplocs and can see everything, they are virtually free, and also waterproof. But... they are not practical for getting something out of the bottom of the bag. And they are not breathable. And they are not as light as I once thought. Packing cubes are 100% organization must for this trip. Tank tops in one, shorts in another, etc. Color coded and easily spotted, plus they open ALL the way around the top, so no digging to the bottom of a bag or dumping things out to get to other things.
4. Travel size items or full size items? The dilemma...
Two months in a HOT country and I feel like a travel size deodorant will not make it far. But yet, packing a full size one adds 'a lot of weight'. Oh, the dilemma of life! Same goes for toothpaste and the like.
5. Quick dry clothing and Powder laundry detergent means minimalist packing at its finest. And wick-away clothing will save my sanity - sweat all day, wash by hand at night, dry by morning. I may not be a fashionable human while traveling, and most of my photos will look like I never changed clothes... but that is A OK. I will not be alone!