My first round of packing

Packing! How I will ever manage to get it all down to the small amount I want to bring is beyond me. I’ve repacked about three times and while I keep taking things out, somehow it is never enough. I have a 50L backpack from Decathlon and a 28L front pack from Kathmandu, both of which I really love.

Here’s a quick idea of what I’m thinking of including, two weeks out from the trip:



  • first aid kit contents, super basic (sterile pads, CPR face shield, alcohol wipes, q-tips, one dressing, two pairs of gloves, emergency blanket, safety pins, medical tape, tiny pen, + instruction pamphlet)
  • antibiotics prescribed by my doctor, who did a year in South America in the 1980s (for wounds, diarrhea, anti-anxiety and anti-malarial)
  • waterproof bandages, various sizes
  • Imodium (a must-have!)
  • Rehydration sachets
  • Eye drops for contact lense-wearers (which we both are)
  • Antiseptic liquid
  • Painkillers
  • Allergy pills (in case of allergic reaction to things like insect bites or irritant plants)

+ Marco’s travel doctor added some medicine to stop vomiting. We are ready for any and all food poisoning occasions.



  • E-reader – I’ve been monitoring Amazon’s Daily Deals for a whole year and buying bargain books that I actually want to read. I’m ready to live without the library! (*sob*)
  • Battery bank with 5x charge (a truly excellent Christmas gift)
  • Headphones
  • Adaptors (some countries take American, others Australian, and a few are European – we are prepared with small versions of all three that we already owned, the majority of which are USB connectors)
  • Teensy tool for changing SIM cards in our phones (I’ll remove the cardboard case when I find a place to put this)
  • Charge cords for all equipment
  • Backup iPhone 4 in case our phones get stolen
  • Bendable camera tripod that I don’t use often but might use for really great photos. (Not pictured: my camera, whose lens is broken and should have been taken in to be fixed last week. Argh.)



Miscellaneous (necessities and recreation):

  • Self-laminating baggage tags (another very cool Christmas gift!)
  • Luggage locks, both with keys and combinations. I’ll use the combo lock for my most important zippers on my backpack and use the key locks, which could be lost or stolen, on less crucial parts of my bags.
  • LifeStraw water filter (Christmas gift from Marco, very clever of him)
  • Whistle and compass keychains for safety
  • A small variety of pens, which I’ll keep in…
  • My genius fake safe that looks like suncreen but is in fact a container – I’ll slip some spare money in here too
  • Sewing kit, including scissors
  • Inflatable travel pillow (we regularly fly long-haul: trust us, the travel pillow makes a difference)
  • Eyeshades (Marco calls me Ray Charles when I wear these and they definitely look like a bra, but they are the. best.)
  • Two notebooks – one tiny and one a bit bigger – I have yet to decide what I’ll use each for but since I plan to do a bit of writing while away, it’s useful to have two.
  • Playing cards
  • Tarot cards, which I’ve started dabbling in this year and which I’m hoping will be a good icebreaker with new friends (along with the Hudson’s Bay playing cards, which are super Canadian)




  • Scrubba bag, which will allow us to properly wash things on the go without having to bring clothes into the shower with us (my Mom is extremely skilled at Christmas gifts, can you tell?)
  • Laundry powder for the first few rounds of laundry when we’re in the wilds of Patagonia – we’ll buy more along the way when needed
  • A pegless washing line to hand-dry clothes and towels (some hostels very annoyingly have no hooks!)
  • My beloved Tide pen for removing the food stains I cause on a weekly basis




  • Kmart dry bag for tech
  • Sea to Summit compression sack for wintery gear – my mom got this for me years ago and it compresses 6L into 2L. Inside this sack is a puffer jacket, gloves, a hat and a pair of leggings. Believe it!
  • Vacuum bags that don’t require us to haul out the hostel’s Henry vacuum to use them (I’m still not sure if these actually work…)
  • A Decathlon waterproof camera bag



Camping gear:

  • Teensy inflatable sleeping mat from Amazon
  • Decathlon sleeping bag, which I’ll attach to the outside of my backpack (covered by the rain cover)
  • 2-person hiking tent with ground cover, which Marco will keep in his 60L backpack, also from Amazon




  • Large microfibre Decathlon travel towel (life is too short to spend a year with a tiny towel; also I am over 30, I deserve this)
  • Microfibre hair towel from Kmart
  • Teensy microfibre wash cloths from Muji – I’ll probably bring about 3 of these

skirts + dresses

Dresses and skirts (all hit around my knee):

  • Colourful Ghanda wrap dress (can double as a kimono/cardigan-ish thing)
  • Comfortable black Old Navy jersey dress
  • Silky fit-and-flare black Sportsgirl skirt


Bottoms (my real debate is over pants/shorts – is two of each enough??):

  • Decjuba jeans (might swap these out for black H&M jeans)
  • Old Navy jean shorts (apparently a very big faux-pas to wear shorts in cities)
  • my favourite Athleta leggings for sport-y activities + lounging
  • Decathlon gym shorts for those very hot days of hiking




  • Very light Lululemon black jumper, light enough to use as sun protection on hot days and great for layering
  • An old thick Cotton On jumper for layering on cold nights (I’m allergic to wool. It’s a huge pain. I need to bring this old thick polyester because I can’t rely on finding 0% wool sweaters in very wooly countries)


Shirts (are there too many?):

  • Old Navy athletic tank
  • 2 tshirts (Cotton On + H&M)
  • 2 tank tops (both Zara)
  • 1 black Forever 21 spaghetti-strap top for layering and/or warmth
  • Long-sleeved Supre shirt for layering and/or warmth (I should really put this in the compression sack)
  • 1 nicer, more interesting tank top that matches with the black skirt and jeans (Stradivarius from ASOS)


socks + underwear + bathers

Underwear + socks:

  • 2 pairs Cotton On Body hiking socks
  • 1 pair heavy-duty, thick, super-breathable bamboo hiking socks (I love these)
  • 1 bikini with reversible top (I got this for an absolute steal at a Patagonia outlet – reversible things are the best when you can’t pack much!)
  • Black Tiger Lily one-piece bathing suit that can double as a going-out top
  • I’m not putting my underwear on the Internet, but there are 14 pairs there – probably overkill but underwear is the one thing you can’t reuse when you don’t have time/facilities for laundry! (I should probably take some of these out, otherwise what is the point of the Scrubba bag…)



Accessories (to me, this is the difference between wearing grey and black and burgundy for 10 straight months and feeling like you’ve switched things up a bit):

  • Pink floral Country Road headband
  • CanTeen black bandana
  • Brown belt to wear with dress or skirt (no source for this one… I think it came with a dress I have since given away)
  • Small scarf from a local Aussie brand called Solomon Street



Pyjamas (I believe strongly in having a separate, easily accessed pouch for sleepwear for those nights you arrive at a hostel at midnight and just need to crash):

  • Pouch – I’ll probably also stash my lavender essential oil and eyeshades in here at times)
  • PJ shorts
  • PJ top (I’ll try not to use this interchangeably as a tshirt – it just makes your sleep better to have dedicated nightwear)
  • Comfy socks with yogini ladies on them (again with the fabulous Christmas gifts!!)

*I’m planning to add my own pillowcase to this pouch, also to help facilitate sleep and make all the moving around a bit easier


Eyewear (should I have gotten laser eye surgery before this trip? Yes. Did I? No.):

  • Glasses (I will also pack a spare pair)
  • 5 months’ worth of daily contacts – because of my wool allergy, I have to use daily instead of monthly contacts. I’ve got them in two pouches, one for each bag, in case one bag is stolen. I’ll stock back up in major cities when I can.

*I’ll also carry a printed and online copy of my prescription just in case.



  • Flip-flops – necessary for hostel showers
  • 1 pair of fancy sandals (they’re super light, ok? I’m going to need to feel like a normal human at some point)
  • Nike running shoes
  • My very well-worn Birkenstocks – super comfortable for walking around on hot days. I don’t rely only on flip-flops anymore after my experience with a rusty nail in Myanmar
  • Hiking boots (they’re heavy, but I couldn’t be bothered getting new ones when these ones are so beautifully broken in and comfy. I’ll wear them on transit days so they’ll never go in the pack)

period supplies

Period supplies (People with a uterus get periods. I’m not squeamish about talking about this!):

  • Flex period discs – I’m not great with menstrual cups and tampons are apparently notoriously hard to track down in Latin America, so I’ve switched to this new and very cool brand called Flex, which is disposable but can be worn for 12 hours at a time. I had to get my poor Aunt Jan to send them from her house in the States, but I’m hoping the ease of travelling with a year’s worth of them will be worth it! (more on this through Instagram in a few months…)

*I’ll add some light organic pads to this, plus the necessary painkillers for my severe cramps and some hand sanitiser. A special period kit pouch is a necessity!


So like I said, that’s the first round (minus the even more complex list of toiletries!). While I am a relatively light packer compared to most, I’m sure I can cut down on what I’ve got now. Do you have thoughts? Am I missing something? Have I brought way too much or will I never use certain things?

Like we mentioned in the last post, our Instagram is the best place to keep up with our packing progress, but I’ll try to post an update of my final version of what I pack.

A Compromise.

When I last wrote, our plans for a year in South America had gotten started and I was trying to decide what this meant for the blog.

After a few months of debating between keeping up our previous 3-4x weekly blog post schedule and giving up entirely, I’ve decided on a happy medium: social media.

When I started this blog in 2016, Instagram was well-established but not the force it is in 2018. Over that time, most of my favourite bloggers have transitioned into a mostly social media-driven presence with opportunities to point followers towards blog posts when relevant.

So that’s the plan– I know that most of our current readership came here through searches for information on Mongolia, Myanmar, or one of the other (super random) locations we’ve written on, and I do still want to post helpful itineraries, lists of what to bring, tips, etc. But it won’t happen on as much of a regular schedule and our main communication will come through Instagram posts and stories.

Stay tuned for a few posts on packing advice, and until then, follow us @unsettledlife on Instagram if you’d like real-time updates on our prep for 2019.

It’s finally happening…

Um, so that was quite the hiatus, wasn’t it?

It’s not over yet. Or, I’m not sure if it’s over yet.

Let’s backtrack. I started this blog in 2016, when I was sure that 2017 would bring a year of adventuring. Then life intervened. I tried to keep this blog going, because we definitely never stop travelling, but my heart wasn’t in it in the same way in had been– or in the way it needed to be in order to run a blog on top of a full-time job. So I put it aside, and two years in a row I thought carefully about whether I should pay my yearly fee to WordPress to keep the blog going, albeit without any posts. Clearly, I decided to keep it.

So now, two years later, we’re ready to go. 2019 will finally be the year that M. and I spend travelling South America. We’ve got our leave approved from work and our one-way tickets to Buenos Aires booked, so it’s really real this time.

How does that translate to this blog? I’m not sure yet. I’d like to get back to posting, and I do think there’s a gap in this super-packed travel blog market for our tips and experiences. But will we have enough access to internet and free time to make this a viable project during our unsettled year? Will I want to be stopping along the way to share our lives, or should we just concentrate on living them? If I do start the blog up again, how will it be similar or different to what I started more than two years ago?

I have no answers to any of those questions. But I do have that one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, and that’s enough for me right now.

We’re headed to Vanuatu!

After a few months mulling over the possibility of buying a caravan and driving around Australia this January, we’ve completely changed our minds last-minute and decided to jet off for a 3-week Pacific Island holiday instead.

Vanuatu is known as a more rugged option in the Pacific Islands, while still providing a lot of options for travellers. We plan to move at a nice, relaxed pace (in direct contrast to our usual 2-week sprints around countries like Mongolia and Myanmar) as we explore the three main islands in Vanuatu.

If you’re interested in learning more about Vanuatu, check out these blog posts and articles that we’ve consulted for ideas:

Free Your Mind Travel, the most useful set of posts we’ve found, with lots of little-known advice and budget-conscious tips.

Blank Canvas Voyage, who have a few useful posts about Efate and Tanna.

Full of Living, a guide to Port Vila.

Tourist Destinations, with a general overview of the country.

And my favourite, The Guardian has a piece on a more luxurious version of a Vanuatu holiday, but reading it made me very excited for our trip!

Stay tuned for updates after this trip– I’m still not sure about the direction our blog will take in 2017, given that a long-term trip doesn’t look feasible until 2018, but I think given how few resources we’ve found that explain travellers’ experiences in Vanuatu, we may have to fill that void with some more blog posts of our own.



We’re on hiatus.

So, I guess I made my decision without realizing it.

Now that we’ve decided to put off our big South America year until 2018, it’s time to get back to embracing life in Melbourne. Sadly, that seems to mean stepping back from the blog for a bit.

We’ll keep coming back to share our ideas for travelling around Australia and other thoughts, but we won’t be posting quite as regularly for awhile.

Until then, check out a few of our favourite posts:

Konmari for travellers

What to do in Melbourne

My 11 favourite travel-related TV episodes

What I wish I’d known before moving overseas

Our 2-week Mongolia itinerary

Our decision to postpone long-term travel

Thanks for reading and we’ll be back soon with more adventures!