Our Basic Packing List: Part 1

One of the first things I thought of this morning was making this post. We have learned the hard way with some of our travel products, and been surprisingly successful with others. This list is obviously customized for Morgan and I. If you follow me, you will know we travel low-budget and with backpacks, so this list may not be for you if you are used to posh, high-luggage volume travel. I hope this list, combined with my blog, inspires you to try something new or visit a different country and expand your horizons.

Cotopaxi backpack


Until January, I used a $20 backpack that Morgan had bought at the Turlock Flea Market when he was 13. It held up remarkably well and went a lot of places with me after we were married until Morgan bought me this lovely backpack this year and we should have bought it years ago! I liked it so well that Morgan was also convinced and had it on his wish list. He was gifted a matching one with mine in June at the end of school from his class. Yes. We have matching backpacks. Kinda extra but I like it. Anyways we love love love these. The backpack zips open and lays flat, and has zippered net compartments on both sides that keep everything in its spot and gets rid of the “digging to the bottom of the backpack trying to find what you need in a hurry at the hostel” part of travel. We have the 35L size, which easily fit as a carry-on in the overhead bins when flying but it is doubtful this size would be able to fit under the seat in front of you, if that matters. We traveled for our five-week trip to Europe this summer with these, and we also use them to travel anywhere we go. I haven’t traveled with an actual suitcase since we got married so you could say I’ve changed in some things! These backpacks come with a waterproof cover, as well as having a large front pocket that I use for my cosmetics bag, headphones, and phone charger. A con to this backpack, possibly the only one, is that there is not a water bottle pocket on the outside of the pack so we are going to try sewing something to the side. The 35L size isn’t available on Amazon which is where I link things from, so I have listed the smaller 24L backpack above.


  • zippered net compartments hold things in place
  • fit in overhead bins as carry-on luggage
  • waterproof and easy to clean
  • multiple sizes
  • adjustable waist and chest straps for plus size people:)


  • doesn’t have a place to carry a water bottle

Fjallraven Hip Pack


This hip pack was a fairly recent purchase that we wanted to try out in Europe this summer. We usually carry our backpacks with us that contain our passports, etc. but since we stayed multiple nights in one spot, we needed something to carry things in during the day. Enter this lovely fanny pack that Morgan literally wore the whole trip and we loved. We stored passports, money, the occasional half-eaten French croissant, and our phones in it when we were out sightseeing and the peace of mind in not worrying about who had the passports and where they were made the purchase well worth it. Morgan thinks he might wear it to school every day too.


  • adjustable waist strap that links through belt loops for safer carrying
  • outside pocket for even easier access to small items
  • minimal straps and buckles


  • looks like something someone who tells dad-jokes would wear

Sea to Summit travel pillow


Morgan bought this Sea to Summit inflatable travel pillow a couple years ago and it goes on most of our trips with us. It takes 3 good breaths of air to inflate, and packs down to a 2×2 inch square for easy carrying. I used a neck pillow for awhile, but when you are backpacking it’s not a valid option for light carrying because it’s in the way. Enter this 2-ounce beauty and you will be set for any trip you go on!


  • super light
  • a firm pillow rather than soft
  • maybe best for back sleepers?
  • easy to travel with


  • not as comfortable for side sleepers

Travel Adapter


There are a million travel adapters to choose from when you look, and probably all of them work the same but this is the one we use when we travel. The USA, Europe, the UK, and Australia all require a different source, although I wouldn’t personally know about Australia since I haven’t been there. This adapter has all four types of sockets, plus multiple charging ports that we put to good use. We had an alarming experience in Prague when a cheap wall block I was trying to use exploded in our room with sparks and fire. These travel adapters have surge protection and we have only had good luck and fast charging with them.


  • fast charging
  • can use in over 150 countries
  • multiple charging ports


  • chunky so doesn’t pack as easily

Portable Charger


The exact portable charger we have is currently out of stock so I have listed one that’s nearly identical so I can still tell you about ours. We bring this on every trip because we don’t always know if we will have power or a place to plug in while we’re traveling. In Europe this summer, we took FlixBus between countries. FlixBus advertises in-seat charging ports but we found out immediately that they usually don’t work so we used the battery pack a lot. Our battery pack lasts for multiple, full-phone charges and can slide into any space in a backpack.


  • fast-charging
  • slim and fits in backpack easily
  • plug in multiple devices to charge at a time


  • one more tech item to charge and keep track of

Women’s Xero Sandal


These sandals are for both men and women in different colors. I admit they aren’t the most beautiful shoe I’ve seen but Morgan and I have worn them everywhere. I bought mine right after we got married and the rubber just ripped on them on our way home from Europe this summer so they lasted almost 5 years. They are lightweight and have straps that keep them from coming off easily so I wore them for things like cliff jumping and river swimming. I also wore them in the hostel showers because it seemed like a good idea. The straps are the only things that absorb water and they dry super fast so they are my favorite water shoe. I also have hiked and just worn them as a summer sandal.


  • lightweight and flexible for wearing and packing
  • multiple colors
  • fast drying
  • land or water shoe
  • adjustable straps
  • great barefoot shoe


  • no arch support

Altra Women’s Shoes


Another brand of shoes Morgan and I both love. These shoes are so comfortable for any feet, but especially if you’re interested in the barefoot shoe lifestyle or if you have a wide foot. They are light, comfy, dry quickly, and pack quite well. These above are the ones I have, and Morgan has the same brand with a slightly different men’s shoe.


  • light
  • great for wide feet
  • good foot support
  • multiple shoe options for hiking, running, etc.


I don’t think I have any.

Leather Journal


Most of you wouldn’t be interested in bringing something like this but for those of you who like writing in leather journals, this is for you. I always make room in my backpack for this book. It’s bulky, not necessarily travel-friendly, but I love it and I often use it as a smash book type of journal. I have receipts from plays, and Michelin-starred meals, and border crossings. It contains money from different countries, brochures, and a dried flower plucked from Pompeii, Italy. It has signatures of people we have stayed with in hostels, and one of the pages contains the best secret restaurants we’ve stumbled across. It has it all.


  • it’s leather so it makes you feel like you have your life together
  • great for keeping memories
  • sturdy and cheap


  • bulky for travel
  • takes up valuable backpack space (but worth it)

This concludes our basic summer packing list. I guess this is my small business of sorts, so if you click on a link and purchase, I may get a small commission from Amazon. Thank you for your support and continued reading:)


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