Following that post on materialism and how I don’t need to bring four water bottles to Guatemala (I’m mostly going to drink Gallo anyway), I thought you might be interested to know what I am bringing.
First, a note on what I’m bringing luggage-wise. I’m flying United Airlines to Guatemala, which I usually do, and they have a $50 fee for more than one checked bag. Now, I might be willing to pay this in order to take more with me, but I really feel like, on principle, I should be able to live for six months with just one carry on bag and one checked bag. I think any more than that and I’d end up with a lot of stuff I wouldn’t use.
So I am checking one rolling duffel bag that I’ve had for probably ten years, and my trusty Tortuga backpack. A word about Tortuga backpacks. I bought this prior to my last trip to Guatemala and I love it. I can’t say enough good things about it. First of all, it is carry-on sized, even full to the max it fits in the standard airline carry on requirements. It has sturdy, real backpack straps and a solid hip belt, so when you have to walk over cobblestone streets and sidewalks full of “gringo traps” to your hotel, you won’t be cursing god halfway there. The straps also fold away easily so if you do check it, it won’t get snagged on everything. It opens like a suitcase, holds a TON of stuff and has handy pockets including ones in the hip belt (phone, keys, passport, etc.) and a designated laptop pocket. And, bonus, I just discovered it is on sale for only $124 (usually $199). If you’re looking for a good, travel-the-world, go-anywhere bag, I would highly recommend Tortuga.
The picture below shows everything I am bringing with me (and yes, it all fits in my two bags, I checked). Mostly it’s clothes but other highlights include a mosquito net (not too many mosquitoes in Antigua because of the high elevation but if I do any traveling to other parts of Guatemala, I may want it), journal, a couple of books (Eat, Pray, Love and A Town Like Alice, plus two kids books in Spanish for the nephew of a friend of mine), shoes (the boots I’m wearing on the plane, there’s no way they fit in the luggage!), rain jacket, laptop computer, my Cocoon sleep sack (handy for so many things, and folds up so small), a few toiletries and a few other miscellaneous things. Every time I sort though what I’m bringing, I take a few things out, realizing that I likely won’t need them and they’re more like a security blanket than anything else.
What are your best packing tips?