I’m off to South Africa for 2 weeks of doing who knows what. I’ve packed my bag enough in recent history, that I don’t really even need to consult my packing list, but this time was a little bit different because I have 12-hour layovers in Frankfurt in both directions that require warmer clothing that I won’t need when I get to nearly-summer-time South Africa.

What's In My Bag: South Africa Edition

Before I packed everything up, I splayed it all out on the floor of the garage to make sure I had everything I needed. Here’s what I’ll be living with for the next 2 weeks:

  1. My day pack. This is one of my new purchases for my backpacking adventures. I used a Timbuk2 packable messenger bag around Southeast Asia, but I knew I'd need something a bit larger for this trip since I'd need to carry important things (layers!) around Frankfurt with me. It's this packable pack from Eastern Mountain Sports that was 40% off, so score!
  2. Dry bag. I really regretted not having one of these when I was on Koh Rong in Cambodia. I wasn't able to take anything near the water, so I was left with very few photos. I picked up this this ultra compact sea to summit one, also on sale. I plan to use it in my day bag to protect my camera in case of the inevitable torrential downpour and then I'll have it handy if I end up going kayaking or snorkeling or anything water-based.
  3. Toiletry bag. All sorts of stuff in here. The usual shampoo, conditioner, etc. in refillable tubes. Also an elastic clothing line which has come in handy countless times, a drain stopper which is great for hand-washing clothes, dissolving clothes detergent, febreeze, and mini rolls of Tums. Always carry Tums.
  4. Rain jacket. It's a north face light-weight that doubles as a pillow when I'm in the airport.
  5. My backpack of course. It's a Women's Terra 45 from The North Face, which I think might be discontinued now. Honestly I don't *love* it as a pack, but it gets the job done and until it wears out, I won't be getting a new one.
  6. Packed clothes. The black bag on the bottom has my shirts (2 t-shirts, 3 tank tops, 2 other shirts) and the bag on top is my underthings and bathing suit. 2 pairs of thin wool socks, 3 ex-officio undies, 2 bras, 1 tankini. I "vacuum pack" my underthings bag by stuffing it all in, zipping the seal almost all the way, and then sitting on it to let the rest of the air out while closing off the last bit of the seal. Works every time. This is actually more than I need, but I like having options sometimes and I have the space so why not?
  7. Rolled clothes. The green-ish one is my sleep clothes. I always pack those separately and easily-reachable in my bag since they're one of the first things I'll need when I dig into my bag at a new destination. The larger roll is my pants and shorts.
  8. Miscellany. The small black bag is my makeup bag. Yes, it's super tiny and has miniatures of everything from mascara to eye liner to a nail file and a mirror. Next to it is my GoPro which is making its maiden voyage on this trip. Then there's my notebook, my money belt (which I rarely wear but always carry), and my laptop sleeve which will contain my laptop at some point.
  9. Tissues and chargers. I always carry a few packs of these tissues with me. They're great for toilet-paper-less bathrooms and restaurants without napkins. Then the Ziploc next to it has an adorable mini Gorillapod, miscellaneous GoPro accessories, and charging wires.
  10. Bags of stuff. The green one is my catch-all throw-small-things-in-my-big-backpack bag. Honestly I could probably get rid of it. The navy one next to it is my on-the-go bag which has my phone charger, headphones, pens, and other things that I put in my day bag. The lighter blue one below it is my "never leave home without it" bag, which has a pack of tissues, hand sanitizer, tiger balm, allergy pills, etc. Basically this is the bag that never leaves my side, especially when I'm traveling between places since it's endlessly useful when using public bathrooms (or worse!).
  11. Shoes. Sneakers and flip flops. Pretty straightforward. I really love Teva Mush sandals. I can wear them walking all day long and my feet are happy. Next to it is a mesh catch-all bag that I usually put dirty clothes in.
  12. Hostel survival items. A pack towel, hostel sheet, and combination lock.
  13. Camera. Yes, I carry my camera gear in fuzzy socks. One sock contains the camera, the other contains 2 lenses. I wrote a bit about the equipment I carry in my Must-Have Travel Tech. The fuzzy socks don't take up space, protect my gear from scratches, and don't scream "Steal me! I'm a camera!" Unorthodox, but effective.
  14. My dog Penny. She's not coming with me, but she always sits next to my bag. Plus she's helpful for scale!

All of this fit into my pack with lots of room to spare. I could have probably gotten away with 35L if I had a smaller backpack lying around!

What are your must-haves for a 2-week trip?