Attempting to Reduce My Backpack from 27kg to 17kg  

I took this photo before I left of all the things I planned to bring on my 4-week trip round Central and Eastern Europe. I’m coming up to halfway through so I thought I’d take a look at what I’ve used, and most importantly what I haven’t.

lighten my backpack

Too. Much. Stuff.

This trip through Bratislava, Budapest, Sibiu, Bucharest and Sofia has been a bit of a trial for my big trip to Mexico, Guatemala and Belize in a few weeks. In terms of packing I’ve learned a lot, mainly that I have way too much stuff. My backpack was 17kg at the airport and I reckon I had another 10kg in hand luggage. I’m aiming for 17kg total for Central America. So what can I get rid of?

I can only walk about 10 minutes at the moment without needing to stop for a bag rest. This is both dangerous and pointless. I’ve gone through my packing for Bratislava, Budapest, Sibiu, Bucharest and Sofia, and tried to be ruthless in casting some items aside. It was hard.

Essentials

To live: flip flops | prescription sunglasses | passport | bank cards | some clothes

Electronics: unstealable bag | four-bar plug | worldwide adaptor | Nokia Windows phone (41MP camera) | Nokia charger | iPhone | iPhone charger | laptop | laptop charger | DSLR (not used yet, but go on a photo tour on Friday | DSLR charger | USB stick (not used, but you never know) | Feel at Home portable charger (lifesaver at Sziget Festival, see pic below) | torch

Most useful clothes: trainers (if it wasn’t for these beauts I bought on my IHG Rewards Points I would’ve got trenchfoot at Sziget) | 14 knickers

How to Reduce your backpack

IHG Reward Points trainers have been an absolute lifesaver this trip

Cosmetics: shampoo | conditioner | moisturiser | facewash | cotton buds | hair moisturiser | sun cream | face wipes | deodorant | face moisturiser | hairbrush | razor | make up

Admin: paper driving license and license | credit card | another credit card | jabs book | Natwest transfer thing | pens | notebook

Total weight = 8kg / + I’ll need some clothes!

Nice to take

Hot clothes: sun dress | Coachella t shirt | Berlin t shirt | white vest | denim top | green t shirt | frayed jacket | red skirt | denim skirt | flowery shorts | kaftan | blue kimono | flowery ¾ skirt | black top | black belt | black shorts | another black top | Transformers tshirt

Cold clothes: hoody | black thin cardi | flowery trousers | black thin trousers | leggings | anorak | 3 pairs of socks

Sleep clothes: yellow PJ shorts | blue PJ top | eye mask

Swimmers: red swimsuit | bikini | sarong | non-prescription sunglasses

Fitness: running ¾ trousers | sports tshirt | swim hat | waterproof bumbag | goggles | cycle bag | sports bra | sporty top

Feet: black sandals | orange sandals

Random: speaker | Water to Go bottle (no need to waste money or plastic) | Hipflask | Headband | Rough Trade beach bag | handbag | earphones | spare carrier bags (always useful for sorting) | business cards (far too many and I forget to share).

Trying to lighten my backpack

The Feel at Home pack is available from Three for £29.99 and features a speaker, a waterproof bag and a portable charger = amazing!

All the stuff in this bag I’m not going to list…

Lighten my backpack

Do I need so many necklaces? YES! 4 headbands? YES!

Leave at current hotel

Mail Chimp hat from Blogstock | disco paint | neon top | earrings | hand gel – all too festivally. Sad to say bye though.

I loved the hat dearly, but just won't need it in Mexico.

I loved the hat dearly, but just won’t need it in Mexico.

Leave at home for Mexico

  • Music headset for running and swimming – going to buy a replacement iPhone, no need
  • Canon point and shoot camera – too many devices
  • Canon charger – same
  • Fancy silk dress – too hot
  • Tie dye dress – haven’t worn this since I bought it
  • Sports swimsuit – too many swim things
  • Travel towel – I just don’t like them, I’d rather the weight of a proper one, which I’m also carrying
  • Sports tshirt II – no need to carry two around
  • Stripe tshirt – too many tops
  • Honeycomb decorated dress – hot dress
  • Green tshirt – too many tshirts
  • Bike helmet – bought for Romania as I read they don’t have them, not sure what I was reading
  • Other jumper – no need
  • 3 books – I used to read a lot but now I tend to edit photos and write in the time I used to read. I definitely don’t need to carry so many books around and can just use the book swaps in hostels in Central America.

= 5kg

Bah, still need to get rid of another 5kg.

WHAT CAN I DITCH? 

Packing was kind of difficult for this trip because I had Blogstock Festival before I came, Sziget Festival and a few days in London. I literally needed clothes for every eventuality, but I definitely don’t want to take this much to Central America. I’m glad that writing this post has made me realise a few things where I can cut back. I should probably take another look at the clothes, but I think I’d rather carry a little extra than always be at the washing machines!

5 Steps to Langos: The Hungarian Speciality
St Stephens Day Fireworks in Budapest
tagged in packing list

11 Comments

  1. by Monica on August 22, 2014  9:09 am Reply

    Ditch the books and get a Kindle, honestly, it's the best travel gadget you can buy.
    And ditch the jewellery and send it all to me! But seriously, necklaces and bracelets are cool things to buy at markets while you're travelling and they bring back memories from the places you've been.

    • by Vicky on August 28, 2014  4:30 pm Reply

      Decided I'm going to leave all the necklaces but one. Very excited to buy more :)

  2. by Flora on August 22, 2014  10:01 am Reply

    I second the kindle, it's such a weight saver! Clothes wise: do you need that many tshirts, why two black tops, and do you really need a frayed jacket? I always think dresses are easier that a top & skirt/shorts combo as you don't have to make sure each piece of clothing combines with everything else. Also I've always combined sleep clothes with regular clothes (ie random tshirt and running shorts) because I don't see the point in packing extra stuff just for bed.

    • by Vicky on August 24, 2014  5:09 pm Reply

      Yeh, when I say PJs they're actually like short board short things. So I guess I don't really need the fitness stuff, especially as I haven't used them. Although I want the yoga pants.

      You guys are all right. I'm trying to defend myself, but I can definitely get rid of more. Just going to do it at home though cos I don't want to chuck it!

  3. by Naomi on August 22, 2014  10:20 am Reply

    That's the best thing about Central America, there's not a huge climate difference ,although I stupidly didn't bring any warm clothes apart from my sexy walking trousers (learn from that mistake!), so the majority of clothes will be summery clothes which makes the weight issue easier to deal with. The markets are great too so leave plenty of room for stuff to bring back. And make sure you go to Semuc Champey, my favourite place in Guatemala without doubt!

    • by Vicky on August 24, 2014  5:07 pm Reply

      Yeah, when I know the weather is going to even out a bit I can pack less. It's surprised me how much it's rained in Eastern Europe to be honest – the weather has been just like England really. I'll try to remember Semuc Champney and check it out. Just did a really quick Google look up so as not to spoil the surprise and it looks amazing!

  4. by Jo on August 23, 2014  11:54 am Reply

    Thirding the kindle recommendation here. We only met one guy who liked to read who didn't have a kindle, and he was begging everyone he give him a new book. Apparently hostel book exchanges are either non-existent or only have really old and obscure books these days, since most people are carting around kindles.

    How long are you in Central America for? I get not wanting to wash clothes all the time, but it's hot enough in CA that you can just handwash and dry your stuff.

    And not taking any jewellery with you is a great excuse to buy loads of new stuff! We bought so much at the markets in San Cristobal and Chichicastenango, and we could have bought so much more.

    • by Vicky on August 24, 2014  5:02 pm Reply

      I emailed mum yesterday asking for my Kindle back, still no response. I didn't think I'd use it so I gave it to her. Silly idea. I'm in Central America for 10 weeks. I'm sure I'll get into the swing of dirty clothes :) And yes, buy new things! Definitely going to ditch all my necklaces actually – too much!

  5. by Megan on August 24, 2014  6:22 am Reply

    I think you could safely take half the clothes you've listed. I've learnt to pack light and accept that I may have to buy something if I find I'm unprepared. You'll have no trouble picking up a cheap shirt or pair of socks if you need them. Also, ditch the hoodie - I know they are super comfy but they take up a lot of space. And you probably don't need a 2-week supply of underpants. On my last trip I would do some handwashing every two or three days or even while I was in the shower. It only took a few minutes and most things would dry overnight.
    Of course you could take everything if you wanted to (there's no prize for the backpacker who travels the lightest), but it is just so much easier when you have less stuff.

    • by Vicky on August 24, 2014  5:00 pm Reply

      I've left a few tops at the last place and will leave even more at home. To be fair I still haven't even worn some of the stuff I bought and I've only got ten days left.

      Not sure about ditching the hoodie! What about air conditioning on buses and public transport? It's only a thin one from Primark – can I keep it?

      You're probably right about the underwear. I just panic when I run out. I guess in Mexico I'll be in my swimmers most of the time anyway!

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