What’s in my Backpack?

I love to read packing tips or articles about travel gear, so I thought I’d share what I’m taking on my almost six-week–Adventure in Africa trip– in April 2012.

I ordered this rolling duffel bag that converts into a backpack from SierraTradingPost for $69.95.

When I return from the trip…I’ll let you know how it held up.

Here’s a list of what’s in my bag…


Windproof/waterproof jacket,  swimsuit, (3) t-shirts (one of them came in the mail tonight…a smartwool medium weight), (3) lightweight (wispy/crinkly) dressier shirts, (2) Columbia long-sleeve quick dry/bug repellant omni-cool shirts, (1) yoga shirt, (1) quick-dry shorts, (1) jeans, (1) convertible hiking pants/shorts, (1) casual dress, (5) pair undies, (1) extra bra, (3) socks, long johns to sleep in, black cami


(2) hats, Northface hiking boots–$68 from the outlet mall (normally $140 at Northface), flip-flops, hairdryer, hair brush, Manduka towel, roll of toilet paper, Mountain Hardwear 32 degree rated sleeping bag (weighs 2 lbs. and compresses to 10″x6″) $112 from Sierratradingpost.com, flat sheet (in case it’s too warm for sleeping bag), gift for couchsurfing hosts, pocket knife and photocopies of passport/travel insurance/vaccination record w/yellow fever certification, itinerary, G adventures vouchers and pre-departure info.

Before deciding on a sleeping bag…I went with a girlfriend to Northface at the outlet mall and tried one out.

Items to give to children or barter with

(3) beach balls and (3) other small balls, (3) pairs of flip-flops, (2) used T-shirts, Bubbles with wand

Toiletry Items and miscellaneous

Face cream (daytime with sunscreen)(nighttime), shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, face wash, facial towelette, body wash, sunscreen, body lotion, deodorant, hand sanitizer, Wet wipes sanitizer, toothpaste, floss, tweezers, makeup (even in Africa), Imodium, Benadryl, q-tips, cotton balls, pre-treated pads to remove nail polish, shower cap, nail polish, laundry rope/plug/camp suds, 40% deet bug spray, and water purification tablets.

Total weight – 44 lbs.

Here’s a list of what’s in my backpack (carry-on)…

Columbia omni-heat (lightweight) fleece top, (1) Eddie Bauer lightweight travel/hiking pants, Gorillapod tripod, deck of cards, reading glasses, contact lenses, regular glasses, sunglasses, (3) Power bars (snack), travel clock, band-aids, reading light, Airborne tablets, matches, nail file/clippers, hair bands, small waterproof bag, medication (split between backpack and travel purse…in case one is stolen).

Mac book Pro, wireless mouse, Kindle, I-pod w/music & old I-pod with audio books, Camcorder, point and shoot Olympus camera, Olympus PEN Camera w/zoom lens, Chargers for above equipment, Int’l converter/adapter, binoculars, LED headlamp, flashlight w/extra Batteries, 300 watt DC to AC power inverter for cigarette lighter in overland vehicle (has 2 outlets), water bottle, pencils/pens /paper for children in Africa

Folder with Documents:  photocopies of passport/travel insurance/vaccination record w/yellow fever certification, itinerary, airline e-ticket, G adventures vouchers and pre-departure info.

Here’s a list of what’s in my travel purse…

Reading glasses, hand sanitizer, chap stick, lipstick, hand lotion, eye drops, pack of (4) mini throw away toothbrushes, dental floss, toothbrush, lens wipes, pens, sewing kit, kleenex, folding hair brush, ear plugs, mints, tums, Motrin, prescription drugs (including the one for Malaria prevention), Passport, visa photos for two of the countries that require visas, and wallet with $100 cash and drivers license

I’ll be wearing a black travel suit that doesn’t wrinkle with a pink sleeveless top, a money belt with $400, (2) credit cards, debit card and black Merrill Sports Sandals.

To some of you that may seem like a lot and to others…not much.  If I were going on an around-the-world trip or backpacking through Europe, I wouldn’t bring as much.  I know that seems odd, but I would be more concerned with weight and would purchase more things as I needed them.

If you noticed, I put a change of clothes in my carry on backpack…in case my luggage doesn’t make it!

57 thoughts on “What’s in my Backpack?

  1. I know this is an old post, but thanks for sharing. I can never see too many packing lists; there is always something new to adapt to my method of madness. LOL


  2. Pingback: 13 Things You Should Take on an Overland Truck Adventure in Africa | Fabulous 50's

  3. Blimey, I dont know what half that stuff is ! My backpack is down to 24 pound now, excludinfg netbook, the longer I travel the more I get rid of !

    I left my Buff in NZ by accident, the one item I really miss and have not been able to find on the road, highly recommend them for hot countries


  4. Well I travel wirh more or less the same items except make up but now I m travelling lighter since my bagpack was stolen and I just have what Im wearing and four or five things that I had to buy LOL


  5. Sherry! I enjoyed your post and as always I enjoyed scrolling through all the interesting comments! I marvel at how many experienced and knowledgeable travelers there are out there…and you have to be the most organized! Two weeks!
    I hope you had a great weekend!
    P.S. You wear the sleeping bag pretty well!! 🙂


    • Hi Elisa – As I’ve traveled more…I’m beginning to realize how many people there are in the world…7 billion! And, of those people almost everyone loves to travel. I find that interesting! I tend to be a very organized person. It comes in handy. Thanks!

      My weekend was nice…I went to a girlfriend’s house who just had surgery and made her lunch. And went out with some girlfriends last night…had a great time. Hope yours was great too!


      • Hanging out with girlfriends helps keep me grounded….and can be sanity saving! It reminds me that I need a girls night out.

        Good night!


  6. Pingback: What would you pack if you were going to the other end of the world? « Georgette Sullins's Blog

  7. Another great post! Last time I said I’m disorganized when I travel but always land on my feet, :). That said, I always, always have some extra clothes in my carry on bag even in Europe and especially underwear, :). Johannesburg is notorious when it comes to losing your bags. Been there twice and Cape Town once, I haven’t had any problem but it seems I’ve been very lucky, :).


  8. Most of what you read about South Africa in the foreign press is entirely made up. Luggage does not go missing nearly often enough to warrant it being ‘notorious’. It happened to more of ht people I have spoken to outside of SA than the travellers inside.
    You won’t be able to pay in any currency but ZAR in South Africa, unless you are going to a game reserve MAYBE, but we have ATMs all over the country and our banking system is great, so debit and credit cards are accepted everywhere – Visa, Amex, Diners, MasterCard.
    Depending on where you’re going in SA, as in any major city, it’s best not to look too much or behave obviously as a tourist or carry too much cash on you. I have been warned of this in Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Rome, Warsaw…it is not unique to my country.
    The South African people are amazingly warm and friendly, my country is absolutely beautiful and is more than likely to surprise you as it has most of my friends who have travelled there. I will never forget watching the Amazing Race episode where one of the guys said ‘I thought we would see chickens in the streets’. We have a fantastic mix of first and third world.
    Have a great trip, enjoy the beauty of Africa and let me know how the bartering goes.


    • The articles/photos I’ve read depict S. Africa (especially Cape Town) as a cosmopolitan city…but being such a large country, I would expect there to be a broader spectrum of society as a whole. I’m very excited to be visiting!! Thanks for stopping by!


  9. Hi,
    I love the lists and what you are going to carry on you. I have also heard of luggage going missing in Africa, but in both cases they did eventually get their luggage. So a change of clothes is a great idea, you just never know.
    It is all so very exciting, and I can’t wait to see the adventures you are going to have. 😀


  10. Change of clothes a great idea. I personally love the stretch bandanas/neck gaiter that fits easily over head to keep hair out of eyes, great under hat (can’t think of name?); always taken panty liners and change out every day – makes underwear last longer (especially in wilderness or on safari). Take the matches, nail file, and clippers out of your carry-on backpack. TSA will confiscate them 😦 Makes me hungry to return to Africa.


  11. I know two girls that hitch hiked around Africa for a year and they had no real problems. I also know two Irish Lads that drive from the top to the bottom one year and back up the next – 3 month travel times. They do well with biodegradeable baloons and t-shirts for bartering and border crossings. With all that gear, are you going for 6 weeks or 6 months? Just kidding.
    You are going to have uch a great time…envy setting in…so, I gotta go.
    Take care!


  12. Amazing … all that and only one bag – plus carry on. You’re read for take off … now. Fantastic – packing is going to be my biggest problem – never able to travel light. So happy that your trip is coming up really NOW! Never been to Africa, expect in Alger – out in the desert in an oasis. HOT-hot .. my fiance where testing cars in the heat. So I can’t give an advice more then .. take good care of yourself.


  13. Now isn’t this something. I’m out prospecting for gold in the west (AZ, NM) and have to carry a firearm at all times to protect myself from highgraders (gold thieves) who wouldn’t think twice of causing me harm for my gold. Each time gold hikes up in price, so does highgrading. Folks would be shocked to find out just how prevalent it still is. Here you are out in the real wilds of the world and while there are bad people everywhere, you’re probably safer than I am! I’ll pray you stay safe, have a great adventure my friend. Who’d a thunk!


  14. Did I tell you to hold on to your U.S. dollars for the border crossings? For some reason all the ones we went through don’t take the local currency. Also, make sure the bills are the new ones with the big faces. Apparently, they no longer take the old U.S. currency because its easier to counterfeit. We had no issue taking out whatever cash we needed at ATMs.


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