What’s In My Bag???

So I’m heading to Bogota (I think), not knowing what I’ll do, nor do I have any idea of where I shall end up. Packing has been a struggle (to say the least), but I think I have finally figured out what I need to take. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting things I have decided to throw in my pack.

The Basics

Most likely, I’ll be staying in the city. Bogota is a little chilly, so I have adjusted my packing list to fit just that. I’m taking only two bags. My primary bag is a backpack that I have used for years. I used this on my last time throughout Latin America and it worked out great. The other bag I am taking is my brown shoulder bag. I never leave home without this. I tried counting the number of countries this item has seen, but couldn’t remember. I can say this… for the past 4 years, I have never left home without it.


I’m finally taking the plunge and taking my laptop with me. After much thought, it will benefit me in the long run, especially in Bogota. Since wireless is virtually everywhere (even in Colombia), it’ll allow me to get loads of work done and respond to the inbox full of fan mail I have yet to receive.


The iPod is my lifeline. I also carry around several pairs of headphones as well as some powerless speakers…allowing me to set up a disco in the middle of a hostel without electrical power. If there is one piece of travel advice I can ever give, it’s this. Never… ever… leave… home… without… music. It bridges the cultural gap, and surprisingly, it has helped me pick up chicks. In addition to my iPod, I have an assortment of cables as well as power supply for my computer. Also, I recently just purchased a slick 250 gb external hard drive that weighs close to nothing. I’m a firm believer in backing everything up, and this will allow me to do just that.

Toilet Paper

Hey, you never know.

A “Sense” of Security

I have a variety of locks for every occasion. Although they are pretty heavy, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Also, I have a PacSafe that allows me to lock up my pack. Almost all theft happens because it’s readily available. My goal is to make it as difficult as possible to rip me off. If someone’s that determined, they’ll get it… but hey, it might take them some time.

Duct Tape

This is another thing that I tell everyone they must have. It has so many uses and has saved me more times that I could ever remember. I once had a friend get his arm cut off, and duct tape helped tape it back on. Yes… it’s that amazing. Pick up a light roll, and I promise, you’ll thank me later.


Always take paper and pen. I tend to take a couple different sizes that serve a variety of uses. I like having a pocket notebook that I carry with me at all times. I use this to write down new vocabulary I learn throughout the day, or ideas that are shared by travelers that I want to look into. A couple other spiral bound notebooks are great if you are taking language classes, writing about your day, or making an array of paper airplanes on the long bus journey. Wrapping them in duct tape (see above) helps them hold up to the beating they will be sure to take on the road of travel.

Reading Material

Amazingly, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few books I plan on taking. My friend told me I suck at writing, so he gave me a book that should be titled “Travel Writing for Dummies.” I decided I’ll take that, as well as a book on Latin America. I do have one guide book that I will be taking. With all guide books, make sure you wrap them in duct tape (see above, again). Not only does this protect them, but if you have to pull them out in the middle of a crowd, you don’t look like a stupid tourist since the title is not shown.


I try to take enough clothes to last me about 6 or 7 days. I am taking a few nice shirts (since I’m hoping to convince someone to actually hire me) as well as a nice jacket. I’ve recently taking a liking to this sport called “running,” so I will be sure to pack my running shoes. I do believe in the motto that less is more. It’s easier to get around, and plus, you can always buy whatever type of clothing you may need in your intended destination.


Once again, I will be traveling with my Canon SD 1000. I can’t tell you how much I love this camera. When traveling, the last thing you want to carry is a bulky SLR. This camera has enough manual controls to satisfy the aspiring photographer, yet at the same time, compact enough to through it in your pocket for a night on the town. I have extra batteries and cards, which allows me to make sure I’ll always get the shot.


These don’t really fall into a category, but I do find them important to mention. I do travel with a money belt, although it is rarely used. But, the one time your newly formed friends dare you to run drunkenly through a dark alley, a money belt might be a smart choice. I am also taking a small tote bag. This works great for beach visits, day trips, or even to work. It was a freebie a few years back, and I absolutely love that thing. I also carry a few photographs of family back home. Latin Americans love hearing about family, so this makes a great conversation starter. I have also found that pillow cases work wonders. Whether it’s to throw dirty clothes in, use as an extra bag, or stuff in the mouth of a snoring roommate, I find there uses on the road of travel are limitless. Lastly… documents. Make sure you always have a copy of your passport, as well as scanned into your email. If you plan on getting a job, look into getting a background check as well as an Apostille verification of the police report and your degree (if applicable).


For other travelers… are there certain items you always take with you? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below!


Filed under Preparation

3 responses to “What’s In My Bag???

  1. craig

    hey Eric, wish you’d chosen Guate instead! Anyway, a few things that I always take — do you have anything that works as an alarm clock? How about batteries? And I always take a flashlight and light rainjacket.

  2. Hey Craig, good to hear from you. This time around, I’m taking nothing that needs batteries. And an alarm clock… always a travel must. I miss Guatemala, but if you ever get the chance to experience Colombia, you’ll understand why I’m going. We’re ya heading this summer? SP?

  3. craig

    I was in Colombia as part of a congressional delegation in 2000, but obviously didn’t get the same impression as you. I’m taking a group of students and some of their parents/chaperones to Guate in June, then I’ll likely be back in July to do a week at the Cooperativa.

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