Kristen Travels

Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack

osprey ariel 65 backpack

I didn’t actually buy this pack specifically for this trip – I’ve had it for several years. Osprey in general makes excellent gear, and this pack is no exception. I remember spending quite a while at REI picking out a backpack and finally settled on this one because of how comfortably it settled on my hips, which is where most of the weight from a backpack should sit. It has nice wide, flexible, padded hip straps and when I put the bag on fully packed it feels comfortable and well-balanced. The organization is also very un-complicated – one big main compartment, two smaller ones at the top and the bottom, and three elastic stuff pockets on the sides and back.

Phestyn Waxed Canvas Rolltop Rucksack

phestyn waxed canvas rolltop rucksack backpack

I spent hours scrolling through thousands of Etsy, eBay, and Pinterest posts looking for the perfect daypack that would accompany me everywhere on my travels. I wanted something fashionable so I didn’t look like a tourist, but still functional since I am a tourist. All the other bags I considered were either mass-produced from cheap materials or more fashionable than functional. When I finally found this gorgeous waxed canvas rolltop rucksack from Phestyn I fell in love immediately. It has everything I want: hip, modern styling; constructed from beautiful non-synthetic materials; sturdy straps, hardware, and stitching; and handmade by an ordinary human making a living wage for her work. The natural leather straps will develop a patina with use and I’m looking forward to seeing how the bag weathers over time.

Eagle Creek Money Belt

eagle creek money belt

Security is a big concern when traveling, and the one rule I’ve learned is this: the closer something is to your body, the harder it is to steal. I decided to pick up a money belt after reading about them on various travel blogs. Contrary to what some people think, a money belt is not meant to be accessed regularly as a replacement for a wallet or purse. It’s meant to be an insurance policy if you do get ripped off. You keep your passport, a spare credit card, and some extra petty cash in the belt, strap it on under your clothes and hope you never have to use it. The idea is if your stuff does get stolen, you still have the emergency items in your belt to help you cope so you’re not stranded in a foreign country without money or ID. This one from Eagle Creek is pretty comfortable and has a low profile, though I wouldn’t recommend wearing it directly against your skin. I wear mine over a nude camisole under my shirt, and I almost forget it’s there.

REI Co-Op Down Jacket


REI’s house brand clothing is excellent. Their prices are some of the lowest in the store, but in many cases the products are as good or better than the equivalent Patagonia or Arcteryx items that cost 3x as much. This down jacket is everything I need: lightweight, packable, simple, and unassuming. The tags on REI brand clothing are all very subtle so, unlike clothing from other brands, I don’t feel like a walking billboard. The jacket is adept at regulating temperature, I’m never too warm or too cold when I’m wearing it. Since I’ll be chasing the sun during my travels I hopefully won’t need this much, but a good warm layer that doesn’t take up too much space is always a welcome addition to any traveler’s backpack.

REI Co-Op Rain Jacket


Just like the down jacket, this REI-brand rain shell is high-quality but very affordable. Also like the jacket, what appealed to me was its light weight, small footprint, and simple design. This is a good jacket to stuff into my daypack on those inevitable days the weather turns to the moister side. It also fits perfectly over the down jacket if I get stuck in a cold and wet situation (let’s hope that doesn’t happen).

Freelance web developer and solo world traveler. Eater of food, drinker of spirits, tryer of new things.

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