What’s in My Backpack: Summer and Winter in One Trip

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I was SO excited to have plans to travel for 2.5 weeks over my 2012 winter break. Nearly 3 glorious weeks of traipsing across 3 different countries — finally I would be reunited with my backpack after a hiatus of a few months.

But then I realized that my enthusiasm to be on the road for as many days as possible was going to place me in a rather difficult packing situation. You see, I had plans to visit both the UK and Central America — with no time to come home in between trips.

Yes, I was faced with the dreaded multi-season trip; the one where you have to figure out how to pack for multiple climates in one bag.

Scotland/Belize packing

My plan was thus: I would be spending 9 days in Scotland for New Years (Scotland, notorious for its unpredictable weather, especially during the winter months), and then I would be spending another 8 days in Belize and Guatemala, where it would be balmy and humid.

How was I possibly going to make do with just a backpack?

My original packing plan for Scotland had included a hefty winter coat and boots. But that was before I realized I would also need tank tops and a bikini, as well as a place to store said coat and boots when I wasn't wearing them.

In the end, I had to get a bit creative. It's all about smart packing, people. And layering.

Here's what ended up in my backpack:

For Scotland:

  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 lightweight turtleneck
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 party dress
  • 1 pair of all-purpose black boots
  • 1 pair of flats
  • A heavy leather coat
  • Winter gear (scarf, hat, gloves, ear muffs)

Winter gear

For Belize:


The leggings and t-shirts doubled as my pajamas, and I was able to layer my tank tops under my sweaters for some extra warmth in Scotland. Luckily, it ended up being fairly mild while I was in the UK, which meant I didn't freeze!

Scotland/Belize packing

In my carry-on Pacsafe Slingsafe:

  • My 11-inch Macbook Air
  • My Kindle
  • My camera and accessories
  • My action video camera
  • Various chargers and adapters
  • An umbrella
  • A small over-the-shoulder purse holding my wallet, passport, etc.
  • My eyeglasses
  • A small make-up bag (with things like contacts, my toothbrush, etc.)

Scotland/Belize packing

So how did I do?

Pretty well, I think. I could have left the party dress at home since we ended up renting kilts and tartan for New Year's Eve. And I could have made do with just my 1 bikini (I bought it new for this trip and loved it so much that I never ended up wearing anything else in Belize). The flats also could have stayed at home. But, other than that, I used every single thing I took with me — multiple times.

The thing you quickly learn as you travel is that you don't really need all that much by way of clothing. If you're smart about packing layers and neutral colors that can be mixed and matched (and if you're okay wearing the same things over and over again), you can get by with a lot less than you think you need.

I'm still learning when it comes to packing light, but I'd call this multi-season trip a success.

Do you have any packing tips for when you're faced with varying climates?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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29 Comments on “What’s in My Backpack: Summer and Winter in One Trip

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  1. Thanks so much for the guidance. As having to Xmas in Cape Town and New Year in Scotland and for 6 weeks, and have presents to include!

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