The Art of Packing FOR Backpacking


The skill of packing is definitely an art, an art that I believe I have not yet mastered. Really, its due to the fact that I NEED to bring everything with me. Another art that I haven’t mastered- the art of minimalism.

Ideally when packing for longer stays one should only bring a couple of versatile pieces in neutral colors. Maybe two pairs of pants, a couple of different tops, and scarves to change up the look . However, in my case I will be living in Calama, Chile and am arriving in the winter. It will soon be summer and what about traveling to Rio or Argentina- you can’t expect me not to bring fun dresses to wear. I know I am going to South America for some adventure- but who am I? Certainly not a minimalist hippy granola chick who will be satisfied with a long dress and berkenstocks for the entire trip. I am still a New Yorker at heart, and you guys don’t want to see me posting pics in the same outfit, now would you?

And so my packing had to consist of business casual attire, some sweaters, some shorts (for summer travel), and all of the necessary beauty products and medicines that I may need. Of course you can just buy any medicine or lotions or makeup when you are in country, but I didn’t want to chance it. My trick was to bring jeans that could be dressed up with a jacket for going to work, and shirts that could be used in the summer but also be worn with a neutral sweater in the winter. Also, all of the things I brought are older items which I would not be sad in parting with in case I need to lighten my load for any type of backpacking.

Tip: If you are using two pieces of luggage, make sure to split clothes. For example don’t pack all pants and bathing suits and put that in one luggage and the other all shirts and dressy items. If one luggage is lost you want the luggage that you have retrieved to have some variety- pants, shirts, underwear. This way, you won’t be at such a loss until the other luggage arrives.

Tip: TSA locks are suppose to be the locks to use on planes so that security can open them when it needs to be checked. I advise DO NOT lock your luggage, security in America is allowed to go through your items without you being present, and if they cannot open your lock they will just ruin it. Best to leave it unlocked. My large luggage was completely broken into with not even the zipper left on it. I had to have Air Canada seal my luggage all around with the use of tape. Lock your luggage in the hotel/hostel/apt NOT during the flight.


Christina Leano
Christina Leano is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Fordham University with a degree in International relations and economics. As a writer, teacher and activist, Christina’s interests centers on the growth of emerging nations particularly in the Middle East and Latin America, foreign policy, human rights, and gender justice. This coming year, Christina will conduct women’s leadership programs and teach English to University students in Turkey through the U.S. State Department Fulbright Scholarship. Christina has lived in the south of France, Rome, Peru and Seattle, Washington. She speaks English, French, Spanish and Tagalog. She loves adventures, dancing and meeting new people and hopes to make a career of traveling and writing about the world and the people who are in it.
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