What She Packed: Amanda’s Reflections on Backpacking through NZ & Asia

What She Packed: Amanda's Reflections on Backpacking through NZ & Asia

This follow-up post is by my friend and reader, Amanda, who is back from her backpacking adventure! Here’s her reflections on her choice to travel light.


A couple of months ago, I packed my bags and travelled to the other side of the world for some adventure. My trip took me to amazing landscapes in New Zealand, big cities and beaches in Thailand, cultural diversity in Cambodia, urban living in Singapore, wild-card Korea, and finally wonderful times in Vietnam.

Prior to my departure, I wrote a summary of what I was bringing with me. Was I as good at packing as I thought? Was it light enough? Was it fashionable enough?

To be honest with you, fashion wasn’t my biggest priority on this trip, but I did not make the common first-time traveler mistake of just bringing plain, functional clothing with me. This is the first recommendation I have for you, dear minimalist traveler: bring what you actually want to wear! Believe it or not, travelling becomes like any other everyday-activity. And you want to feel comfortable doing everyday stuff, right?

What She Packed: Amanda's Reflections on Backpacking through NZ & Asia

Many travelers I met were heavily packed. We’re talking big backpacks (up to 75 litres), another bag to go with it and oftentimes many other smaller items or shopping bags with… stuff. I brought a big backpack and a smaller backpack. For everyday life and grocery shopping, I had my foldable tote from Nomi Network. For nights out, I had a smaller purse. That was it! And you know what? The best experience I had travelling was when I could leave my big backpack somewhere and only take my smaller backpack and the Nomi-tote with me.

One time I was invited to a beach house over the weekend, but I didn’t plan packing too well, so I had to throw in what I could find in less than five minutes. I didn’t even manage to bring my toothbrush, but that was easily fixed. The weekend was spent wearing a maxi dress, jeans shorts, a top and a bikini. Worked for me!

The idea of leaving behind the classical big backpacker-bag is scary but very practical. You can do so much more and don’t have to worry about stuff going missing. Also, if you travel in the hotter months and areas – which I did – you don’t want to wear your nicest clothes (you WILL sweat) and you will probably not put on that much make-up. Don’t worry, everyone you meet is in the same boat as you. Have a cold one and relax.

If you do insist on taking the mega-backpack, I highly recommend using vacuum bags for packing your clothes. They were extremely practical and kept my clothes fresh for longer. Also, be sure to bring a travel towel with you. A traditional towel takes up a lot of space. It will also become very heavy and smelly when it’s wet. As a backpacker, you want to move quickly from place to place, and you don’t want a wet towel to stop you from doing so!

What She Packed: Amanda's Reflections on Backpacking through NZ & Asia

I recommend everyone to get out there and try backpacking. It really is an adventure! Concerning packing, I fantasized about selling everything and start all over again in the middle of my trip. I didn’t do it this time, but who knows what is yet to come? Maybe you will try it? If so, be sure to tell me how it went!

Safe travels,


Questions about travelling or this post? E-mail me: branstrom.amanda@gmail.com          

Thanks, Amanda, for sharing your story! Real life heroines: if you have a story to share, send your idea to me at xandra@heroinetraining.com


Best Disney-Loving Bloggers

Gala Darling‘s Radical Self Love Lifestyle Tip #1 is to create Disneyland in your heart every day, and I oh-so-giddily stamp the Heroine Training seal of approval on that one. I may take Disney geekdom to another level, as my childhood was dotted with many magical trips to Disney World and ever-going rewatches of the Animated Classics [on VHS].

I was overjoyed to find other fabulous Internet ladies who share my passion for all things imagineering, including Disney Dress Up. Here’s who I turn to when I need a Disney Inspiration!

Lynsay / Miss West End Girl

The Best Disney Bloggers

Lynsay frequents Walt Disney World annually, and just started Disneybounding! If you’re planning a holiday, check out her tips on how to spend the day at the Magic Kingdom. This girl knows her stuff.

Megan / Briar Rose Blog

The Best Disney Bloggers

Megan is pretty much a real-life princess – she got engaged and honeymooned at Disneyland Paris (and the wedding was Disney-inspired too of course)! Now she cosplays in startling likeness to the princesses she portrays, and furnishes her home with Disney-ful trinkets.

Kate / Scathingly Brilliant

Best Disney-Loving Bloggers

The sadly now defunct Scathingly Brilliant captures old fashioned Disney charm that takes you right back to the days of Walt. Kate is a pin-collector, expert theme park packer, and Dapper Day frequenter! Still plenty of archives to scroll through, and the occasional Disney-themed product in her store!

Gabriella / Pixie and Pixier

Best Disney-Loving Bloggers

Gabriella makes the shirts I probably bought at the Disney store when I was a 90s kid look actually really cool. Perhaps most importantly, she is the creator of my Lady and the Tramp earrings!

And did you know that there are several official Disney blogs? Check out Oh My Disney, Disney Insider, and Disney Style for your next addiction.


Link it up! Share your favourite Disney bloggers and blog posts. Because I just can’t get enough.


P.S. Find out which two Disney characters = me.

What She Packed: Amanda Backpacks in NZ and Southeast Asia

What She Packed: Amanda Backpacks in NZ and Southeast Asia

This post is by my friend and reader, Amanda, who is off on an amazing adventure! Here’s her story about packing light in the long term.


A couple of months ago, I asked Xandra about packing for a long trip, which ended up being a post on the fabulous blog you’re currently reading.

My reason for asking this was my upcoming trip to New Zealand and South East Asia. Being an aspiring minimalist, I wanted to challenge myself to pack like one.

The Accidental Backpacker

A backpack wasn’t my first choice. I’m one of those who adore rolling bags. They’re easily moved around and easy to store, as long as you don’t stuff them too much. Unfortunately, it would turn my backpacker bliss into a bratpacking bonanza, if you know what I mean. Not minimalistic at all, no siree…

After some googling, sleepless nights and heavy-duty meditating, I went with the backpack. I decided I want to be mobile and easily packed up, ready to go on another adventure. Don’t you just love when you’re able to make up your mind about something?

The backpack, which I borrowed from a friend, was one of the “lighter” kinds. This basically meant it had a limited set of straps and zippers. It also came with a smaller backpack you could zip to the bigger bag – a great idea in theory, not in reality. Xandra wisely pointed out the fact that containers tend to fill up, and when they do, they weigh more. Not so good for a minimalistic backpacker. On the other hand, borrowing stuff – like backpacks – is minimalistic. They are usually very expensive, and I’m sure you’d rather spend your pennies on skydiving, right? 

What She Packed: Amanda Backpacks in NZ and Southeast Asia

Amazing packing cubes?

A lot of backpackers seem to love those packing cubes you can buy on Amazon. The theory of packing cubes is brilliant: Separate things, like underwear and shoes, to make them more easily accessible!

I didn’t have any time to wait for these apparently amazing items to be delivered, and I also thought they were a bit expensive (skydive, remember?). So instead, I pulled out some of the lighter bags I could find in my closet (think: beach bag.)

I have no opinion whatsoever on packing cubes, but my home-invented beach bag-system did NOT work. To make a long story short, my bag filled up big time.

Staying versatile

I decided to let go of the YouTube, travel blog-inspired way to pack. My trip wasn’t like anybody else’s trip, so why bother copying an ill-fitting concept? 

I ended up changing my bag to another one. Actually, I changed both of my bags (big backpack and day trip-backpack.) The sizes of them were the same, though, so I don’t count that as a change-up! Instead of packing cubes, I ended up buying very cheap vacuum bags to pack my clothes in. That way, they take up less space, keep clothes nice and fresh and they are also transparent so you can see what you’ve got! Just make sure you take the ones not requiring a vacuum cleaner…

The hardest part with packing is choosing what to bring. Xandra recommended making a list for minimizing stress levels, a tip I think is great and have used since many years back. Travelling for a long time will mean a lot of unpacking and repacking, so a list is handy to make sure you don’t leave anything behind. It doesn’t have to be a boring one! When I went to Florida last spring, I drew small icons of everything I brought with me. Fun and very handy, since putting together outfits was just a blink away. 

What She Packed: Amanda Backpacks in NZ and Southeast Asia

Making piles

Another recommendation Xandra made, was making piles. I didn’t make a pile, but I did lay out everything on the floor and organized it in tops, trousers etc. The next challenge was to sort out the extra clothes I actually won’t need. This is also one of the tougher parts, but I really don’t like dragging stuff around. Less physical stuff to carry means less stuff to worry about, which essentially leads to inner peace and focus on having an amazing time. Find your motivation to make the cuts!

Xandra also urged me to be honest about my activities and pack accordingly. I will spend my time in countries in full summer bloom, with temperatures ranging from 15-30 degrees C, so thankfully, I could narrow down my list to summer clothes only.

Packing for activities

My activities will range from hiking to sunbathing. Packing for this is a bit trickier, but I focused on bringing versatile items to be prepared. I also made sure not to forget detergent!

Putting things in perspective…

Finally, I asked myself: What is the worst that can happen to me?

Well, it certainly isn’t the fact that I left my blue top at home.

Tomorrow, my journey will start and I literally can’t believe what’s happening. I guess it will hit me at the airport. Or maybe when I arrive in Auckland after three (!) days of travelling.  Thank you Xandra for providing some great long-term guide lines and thank you, dear reader, for your interest! Hopefully, I will be back for another post when I come back home again.

What She Packed: Amanda Backpacks in NZ and Southeast Asia

My packing, by the numbers:

1 change of bags

2 Lonely planet-books, South East Asia on a Shoestring and Discover New Zealand. The first one weighs about 1 kg, but my instincts tell me it’s all going to pay off…

3 dresses: One maxi dress and two lighter ones. All of them can be used for looking dashing or just hanging out on the beach.

4 bras. You don’t need more.

5 pairs of trousers: three pairs of shorts, one pair of leggings and also a pair of loose fitted jeans.

6 pairs of socks. I hope I don’t have to use them too often.

7 gadgets, like chargers and a camera.

8 tops, ranging from a breezy blouse to a work out-shirt.

If you would like to follow my trip, I will update on my progress at www.bucketlistly.com/users/amanda




Thanks, Amanda, for sharing your story! Real life heroines: if you have a story to share, send your idea to me at xandra@heroinetraining.com 🙂