Category Archives: Backpacking Gear

Backpacking with a small pack makes finding a hotel in Paris a fun and easy adventure!

Backpacking in a New Area: What Every Traveler Should Know

Adventure, intrigue and freedom are just a few words used to describe the experience of backpacking in a new area. Backpacking offers the luxury of traveling without bulky rolling luggage and provides an efficient way to pare everything you are traveling with down to the absolute bare necessities. Backpacking in a new land where you don’t know the cultural etiquette or the language might seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for backpacking abroad.

Packing light is the first must-do for a backpacking adventure. A backpack allows for a certain level of freedom while traveling, but not if it is over-stuffed. Pack only the absolute necessities and pack coordinated outfits that are lightweight and comfortable. While walking from the Spanish Steps to the Coliseum in Rome, your back will thank you for the lighter load. Your feet, however, might want to take a load off at a hotel in Rome like the Best Western Blu Hotel Roma.

While traveling in metropolitan areas like New York or London, trains and subways are the most efficient and cheapest ways to travel. When backpacking through a metropolitan area, show some courtesy to fellow travelers and avoid bumping into others in the narrow aisles by taking off your backpack prior to boarding. Once on board, stow your backpack between your legs or under your seat to take up less room.

Being aware of your surroundings while traveling abroad will help ensure that you are a respectful and courteous traveler. Don’t stop suddenly in the middle of a small cobble-stoned sidewalk in historic downtown Boston with your backpack on to take in the surroundings. If you are going to stop and look at one of the sights along the famed Freedom Trail, step to the side and take your backpack off to avoid blocking the crowds. Speaking of historic places and museums, consider storing your backpack at the place you are staying or a locker to avoid mishaps like knocking over a statue at the Louvre in Paris. If you are respectful while backpacking, others will respect you, too.

Trying to cram too many sights and stops into your backpacking adventure can cause unnecessary stress and pressure to get everything checked off on your sightseeing list within the allotted time frame. Instead, plan to spend more time in less places so you can actually enjoy the trip more. Always remember to tell friends where you are by providing a general itinerary before your trip. Remember to check in with friends and family while traveling, especially if there are changes to your itinerary.

Following these simple must-do’s will help any adventurer enjoy the journey and backpack on!

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8 Carry-On Essentials for the Lone Female Traveler

You settle down into your designated seat on the plane, bus or train heaving a sigh of relief as
all the tension from getting to the airport or station on time, dealing with your luggage, getting in
line to board your chosen vehicle of transportation, seeps out of you.

You take a big calming breath, ready to enjoy a relaxing journey to your destination and… a
sweaty traveler squeezes into his seat next to you, taking up both armrests. The baby sitting two
rows in front of you begins to cry. The kid sitting behind you starts kneeing the back of your seat
while his mother chatters away to her friend across the aisle. You suddenly have the urge to go
to the restroom.

Does this situation sound familiar? As a frequent air traveler, I’ve encountered more of these
situations than I would like to. So what’s a girl got to do? This would be a great time to insert
ye old Scout motto of “Always be prepared” as we go through a list of travelling essentials that
could solve your problems.

#1 MP3 and Earbuds

MP3 Players and Earbuds

I cannot count the number of times that I’ve mentally congratulated myself on bringing my iPod
and my pair of earbuds on my trips. If you have a normal pair of ear phones or head phones,
do consider investing in a pair of noise-isolating earbuds. There is nothing more satisfying
than completely drowning out and isolating the sound of noisy passengers with your favorite
travelling music.

A normal pair of ear phones would still allow the noise to seep in – mingling with the dulcet voice
of Norah Jones (or whatever that you are listening to) – causing you to increase the volume
of your MP3 player. This increase in volume would then probably cause your private music
collection to be overheard by other passengers as they place you on their pedestal of judgment,
judging your taste in music while you obliviously bob your head along to the 90’s hits song
Barbie Girl by Aqua. “Life in plastic, it’s fantastic” anyone?

#2 Reading Materials

Reading Materials

When you are done flipping through the sometimes sticky and suspicious smelling magazine
located in the seat pocket in front of you, you may still long for something to take you away from
the feeling of the constant kneeing in your back as the kid behind you squirms about and plays
with the folding food tray behind your seat. The solution? Books, and when I said books, I meant
reading books and not chucking them at the kid behind you.

Be it is your favorite tattered copy of Lord of The Rings, your e-book reader, Tina Fey’s
Bossypants (which had me bursting out in laughter at the airport terminal once) or the latest
New York Times bestseller, your book is your ticket to a different world through the eyes of
another. Magazines are good as well but since the material is lighter than the average novel,
they would only be useful for short trips.

#3 Toiletries


Have you ever had to use restroom during a long trip and looked in the mirror and immediately
shrieked in horror at the sight of your greasy haired, flaky skinned, chapped lipped reflection
staring at back at you? Neither have I, but I have come close to doing that. Hence the
importance of bringing along your mini toiletry bag packed with your face moisturizer, facial
wipes, lip balm, floss, and deodorant.

Going on long trips with minimal chances of freshening up may cause your body to smell funky
at times, so do yourself and everyone around you a favor by generously applying that deodorant
of yours. Remember though, because of the airport security check, make sure you bring the
small versions of your toiletries and place them in a clear bag to avoid any problems or delays in
the screening process.

#4 Hoodie


Why a hoodie and not just a jacket? Plenty of reasons actually. Besides having the opportunity
to look cool with the hood over your head as you listen to angst music while staring out the
window; a hoodie can keep you warm under the cold blast of air-conditioning as it retains some
of your heat from the neck up. Hoodies usually have pockets and they come in handy when
you’re moving about and have no time to search your bag for things.

It can also decrease your range of peripheral vision if you’re looking to avoid getting distracted
by your neighbor’s head lolling about as he sleeps with his mouth open. If you’re not really into
socializing or getting to know the person sitting next to you, (you should give it a go sometimes
because you never know who you might meet and what interesting life stories that they can
share) putting up your hood and plugging in your headphones basically gives people the “Do
Not Disturb” vibe.

#5 Sanitary Pack

Sanitary Pack

Travelling during the time of the month is a pain and a hassle. Thus, always be prepared for the
inevitable by having a sanitary pack complete with some pads, tissue, and something to take
to reduce cramps. If you are a tampon user, the OB without the applicator will take up the least
space in your bag.

#6 Snacks


There’s nothing more torturous than having the case of munchies as you watch your neighbor
chowing down on a chocolate bar, or other forms of snacks. Hence, always be prepared with a
Ziploc bag of your favorite snacks or dried food such as nuts, raisins, or crackers.

Granola bars are also an ideal choice as they don’t squish easily and are generally wholesome.
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is also a great snack for long trips that do not provide any
meals. Preparing snacks ahead of time will not only keep your hunger at bay, but will save you
some money by not having to pay the marked-up prices at the airport or station.

#7 Hats


Perfectly coiffed hair and long hours of traveling never seem to go hand-in-hand. With the
amount of static, dust, and grease that can build up in your hair during a long journey, it can
come as no surprise when your crowning glory isn’t up to its usual shine. A cap or a hat would
be useful in this case as they mask your bad hair day as well as becoming an additional
accessory to your traveling outfit.

#8 Sunglasses


If you are sitting at the window seat whether by choice or the lack of one, sitting at the window
seat does have its pros and cons. Pro: The window is your headrest to lean against and sleep
on. This spares you the embarrassment of falling asleep on a stranger’s shoulder. Con: The
glaring sunlight. Solution: Sunglasses.

While you won’t encounter this problem during a flight (because of the handy window shades),
you might face it during your train, bus or car ride. If you are the type of person with trouble
falling asleep during your journey, (I know I don’t. Sitting in moving vehicles lulls me to sleep
faster than any form of medication) your sunglasses would help mask those dark circles under
your eyes too.

And that’s it! I’m sure our priorities may differ slightly but overall these items do come in handy
when the time calls for it. Before you go on next trip, stock up on these essential items and your
journey should be a much smoother one. Female travellers, happy traveling!


Rachael is an editor working for Malaysia's go-to online shopping company, Lazada Malaysia. Being an athlete and studying overseas, Rachael is a frequent air traveler. Yoga pants and a hoodie is her go-to outfit for long-haul flights. One of her worse experiences when travelling was sitting next to a passenger that was airsick the whole time throughout the 8-hour flight. One of her best was sitting next to a sociology professor, and ended up discussing with him the "meritocracy myth" and the American Dream ideology.

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Traveling (& Living) Light – How Many Things Do You Own?

Like most backpackers, I travel light. But I still have “stuff” at home, but slowly shedding some of the “items” (my car is still for sale if you’re looking for a Civic in Seattle). Prior to leaving, I gave my sister and brother-in-law my Foreman grill, vacuum, and bedroom set (they are just finishing up a major remodel of their house). Over the past couple days, my brother-in-law and I traded a few emails and he sent me this link wondering if I was aiming to be like Andrew Hyde (pictured below). Andrew owns only 15 items!

I haven’t counted, but I would guess I’m traveling (read: living) with about 50 items between my two backpacks (and yes I also have a MacBook Air and iPhone).

How many things do you own?

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Favorite Backpacking Gear?

Before every single on of my backpacking trips, I’ve gone and visited REI here in Seattle for a few new pieces of travel gear. 6 years after my first trip, here are my all time favorite pieces of travel gear:

  1. Amazon Kindle – I purchased my Kindle prior to departing for Europe last spring following the advice of Andrew Mattie (the other co-founder of Oh Hey World). Best purchase ever. 100 times better than carrying heavy books around and trying to find quality English books abroad.
  2. My REI backpack – I used my sister’s backpack for my first few trips abroad, but happy to now have a backpack to call my own.
  3. Macbook Air – What an AWESOME laptop for traveling. Small, lightweight, and a Mac. What more could you ask for?
  4. Polartec tshirts – especially in hot and humid climates (like Ghana), these are a must.
  5. Keens – where would I be without my keens? No clue. Best shoes I’ve ever owned, hands-down.

What are your favorite pieces of backpacking gear?

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Follow Me:
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