Minimalist Packing Checklist

After traveling full time for over a year, I consider myself to be a bit of a pro on the subject of minimalist packing. I have been traveling carry-on-only this entire time, fitting my entire life into a 44L backpack. Packing for a long trip used to be a daunting and terrifying experience; now I can do it much quicker and stress-free with my handy minimalist packing checklist!

My ebook is full of information on packing, how to figure out what to bring for your destination and season, and how to fit everything you need into a carry on. Have you seen the book yet?

Minimalist Packing Checklist

My minimalist packing checklist is a list of the absolute necessities that I bring with me on every trip. I’ve taken a page from my e-book to show you my exact minimalist packing checklist. My essentials have stayed the same for the past year and a half of traveling. This whole time, I’ve carried the same essentials around the world.

Minimalist Packing Checklist

My Backpack

I use a Tortuga Around the World 44L backpack because it is specifically designed for travel, instead of loads of backpacks that I looked at that were designed for trekking or hiking. I’ve used the same backpack this entire time, and it’s held together perfectly after a lot of wear and tear – I really throw that thing around sometimes.

Minimalist Packing Checklist

Packing Necessities

I use packing cubes as well, as I really like the way they organize the bag. I like these ones, but any packing cubes would work. You could even use bags that you already have, such as reusable grocery bags, which could be useful once you reach your destination as well. The packing cubes work well for me because I like to be able to see what is inside.

As far as toiletries go, I use a clear, see through bag. As I said, I like to be able to see my stuff. This one has worked well for me, because I can take it into the bathroom and shower without worrying about my stuff getting wet. I’ve recently gotten really into the Zero Waste lifestyle. So, I’ve switched from plastic to bamboo toothbrushes, as they are better for the environment. I’ve also switched to all cruelty free toiletries (post coming soon on that one).

Minimalist Packing Checklist

For the Plane

I like to use a small backpack on the plane as my personal item to really maximize space. I’ll throw everything from my purse into this backpack. Then I add in everything on my list under airplane bag: my laptop, headphones, a cute notebook, pen, snacks, eye mask, ear plugs, and my camera (I used to use this one, but I recently bought this one). I also have a little document holder that holds my passport and important travel things, but can double as a wallet on your travels!

Side note: Unless you work online, it’s not necessary to bring a laptop with you on a short trip. Of course, you can if you want to! Loads of my friends and family travel without a laptop. It just depends on you and your lifestyle.

What do you think of my packing list? Anything that you would add or take away? Where is your next trip?

Minimalist Packing Checklist



Top 10 Destinations for First Time Travelers

Are you considering taking a trip? After traveling to almost 30 countries solo, I’ve compiled a list of the top places to visit for first time travelers. These destinations have been chosen based on safety, ease of public transportation, and the ability to make friends and meet new people. Let’s get into it!

10. Cusco, Peru

Peru is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. Cusco is an adorable little city, full of history and culture. Plus, it’s the main hub for transport to Aguas Calientes, where you can see Machu Picchu.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers

9. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

This little beach town is full of hidden gems – from secret beaches that you can find via hired bicycle, to healthy cafes featuring amazing pancakes, to great little places to meet new people over coffee or cocktails. One of my favorite memories in Puerto Viejo is accidentally stumbling upon the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen – and I found it completely deserted. It was all mine for a few hours, where I just sat in the water and listened to music.

puerto viejo costa rica beautiful beaches

8. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an excellent place to go if you are looking for a culture shock. The signs are in Chinese, the culture is very different than Western culture, but it’s still a relatively safe place for tourists and pretty easy to get around. Visit Victoria’s Peak for an epic view of the city, take a boat ride, or wander around and eat your way through the city.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers Hong Kong

7. San Francisco, California

Of course one of my favorite places on Earth, San Francisco is full of life, character, and happiness. Take a picnic and hang out in Dolores Park for the day, watching kids blow bubbles and groups of friends cheers over champagne. Visit the Academy of Science for a fun and educational day, or head to the Marin Headlands for epic views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers

6. Prague, Czech Republic

This city is stunningly beautiful. The architecture is incredible, the people are friendly, and the language is enchanting. Prague is still one of my favorite cities to date.

prague czech republic destinations for first time travelers

5. Singapore

This city is an incredible blend of nature and metropolitan. Interspersed between massive buildings, you’ll find the Supertree Grove, which will make you feel like you’ve fallen into the movie Avatar. I highly recommend checking out the free botanic gardens and take the trip out to Veganburg for an epic vegan feast.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen will always hold a special place in my heart as it was my first stop on my never-ending around the world trip. Copenhagen made me fall in love with it’s old buildings, super friendly locals, and uber safe atmosphere. It’s also one of the highest rated cities for equality between men and women.

copenhagen denmark nyhavn destinations for first time travelers

3. Bali, Indonesia

Not that you need another reason to visit Bali, but I cannot recommend it enough for first time travelers. Bali is safe, fun, and tropical. I love Bali because there is something for everyone here – you can go out and party if you like that, or you can eat healthy food and go to yoga classes every day. If you’re visiting Bali, I’d highly recommend checking out a yoga retreat.

bali indonesia destinations for first time travelers

2. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is one of the raddest places on the planet. It’s been rated the world’s most liveable city for SIX YEARS IN A ROW. I love it so much that I made it my home for six months. Melbourne is full of friendly people, easy to use public transportation, and loads of eateries, dance clubs, markets, and festivals. There is always something going on in this city!

melbourne australia destinations for first time travelers

  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a magical place. Though it can be overlooked by the standard tourist visiting Thailand (the Thai islands usually get all the attention), Chiang Mai is a destination not to be missed. Chiang Mai has an excellent expat scene, but the locals are friendly and engaging as well. Grab a beer on the roof of Maya mall, overlooking Nimmanheiman Road, or take a tuk tuk up to the temple at Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai is an excellent place to take a day trip to visit an elephant sanctuary, or check out Doi Inthanon. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Chiang Mai if you’d like to know what to do there.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers Chiang Mai



Happy New Year! It’s 2017 and I hope that everyone is looking forward to the New Year. I love the energy that a new year brings. Fresh beginnings, a clean start, all of the opportunity that we can create this year – let’s do it!

I can’t wait to see how this year unfolds. I have loads of personal and professional goals lined up, along with a LOT of travel goals! Speaking of which…. Remember a few months ago I mentioned that I was working on an ebook?? Well, it’s finished, and IT’S HERE.

I’ve been working on an ultimate guide to traveling the world – this baby contains all of the answers to the questions I get asked so often, plus lots of tips and tricks for traveling. I’ll give you a sneak peak – here is the table of contents.

  1. Why I Chose Long Term Travel over the American Dream
  1. Preparing for your trip: What to do immediately
  • Bank accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Savings Plan
  • Travel Insurance
  • Planning Your Trip
  1. How to Pack Only the Necessities & the Gear You’ll Need to Do It  
  1. How to Find the Cheapest Flight & Are ‘Around The World’ Tickets Worth It?
  1. Booking Accommodation
  • Which type of accommodation are you looking for?
  • Long Term Accommodation: How to Find The Best Apartment
  • How to Keep Your Stuff Safe While Travelling
  1. How to Get Around
  • Figuring out Local Transportation
  • Safety on the Road
  1. Saving Money on the Road
  • How to Get Free Tours
  1. So You Want to Travel Long Term
  • Work Visas vs Tourist Visas
  • Making Money Online
  • Getting Your Stuff Together at Home – Opportunities

9. Sample budgets from Thailand, South America, Europe and Australia


As you can see, I’ve covered a LOT of information. This book is 40+ pages full of insight on how to save money to travel, how I used travel hacking to get free flights (and how you can too!) and even tips on keeping your stuff safe while traveling. It’s pretty jam packed!

I know you guys will love the book. I created this because my mission is to help people travel more. Travel has changed my life in the best ways possible and has helped me grow into a better person. I hope that I can help you achieve your travel goals in 2017! Click here to get your copy – I can’t wait to hear what you think about it!





Today I am going to tell you a story. This is a story about how I decided to travel the world. And it’s a good one.

About a year ago, I was on, dreaming of all of the beautiful vacation rentals around the world. I had wanderlust, and I had it bad. I found this stunner in Costa Rica and decided I could not let this beautiful place continue to exist without me in it. I immediately texted my sisters and asked if they would want to go to Costa Rica, and live in this house. Of course they agreed. How could they not?!


We booked the trip, my mom joined in (terrified to travel somewhere new, but we reassured her that it would be fine), and we started planning. I started looking at maps to see where we would be and what we could do. I realized that maybe I could extend this trip and check off some other countries to my list. I’d wanted to go to Nicaragua after my friend Diana went there – her pictures were stunning. I had already started a vague plan with my brother to visit Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Why not throw all of these together and just do it all at once?

Once I decided to do these all at the same time, the trip got bigger by the minute. I knew I wouldn’t get enough time off work to be able to travel to all of these places, so I came to the conclusion that I would have to quit my job. I committed to this trip. It became my baby. It spiraled into an around the world trip. Because, why not? Or Por Que No, as they say in Nicaragua. 😉



After making these decisions, I knew that I would have to start saving. I saved incessantly. I was obsessed. Knowing that I only had a certain amount of time (and income) to save, I became ruthless. I cancelled my cell phone contract immediately. I started carpooling to work. I turned into a money saving machine. I did my own pedicures. I started making coffee at home and banned myself from Starbucks. I have an entire article of everything I did to save money, see it here.


The bottom line is this: if you want to plan a vacation, or if you want to quit your 9-5 to travel the world for a year (or forever), you can. Just do it! Make a plan, save like a crazy person, spend time on travel websites, and cut your expenses. If I can do it, anyone can. It just involves dedication, a little research, and a decent amount of saving. Let me know in the comments where you want to go next!



I travel. A lot. I’ve spent some time in Costa Rica. It’s an amazing place. A lot of people want to go there. If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, make sure you add these incredible places to your itinerary. This itinerary includes beaches, mountains, and both the Pacific and Caribbean side of Costa Rica. This itinerary can be made as expensive or inexpensive as you desire. Let’s start planning!

Day 1: Fly into the international airport in San Jose. Pick up a rental car from the airport – it’s by far the easiest way to get around. I would recommend an airbnb for the first night, to ensure maximum comfort and privacy. This is the one I stayed at (and loved!).


Day 2: Take the three hour drive to Dominical. It’s on the Pacific side, has great beaches, a super cute downtown area, and lots of options for lodging. You can stay in a hostel for $10 a night downtown, or you can go luxurious with the best airbnb I’ve ever stayed at. My favorite restaurant here was Cafe Mono Congo – they offer a great variety of healthy, homemade foods. Patron’s has the best wifi, if that’s what you’re into.


Relax at your place or on the Dominical beach the first full day – this is the perfect time to start those beach reads. There are a few places to buy fruit and souvenirs on the beach, so you may want to carve out some shopping time also.


Day 3: Visit Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s about an hours drive from Dominical, but totally worth it. You are almost guaranteed to see monkeys (it would be really odd if you didn’t), plus there are sloths, deer, butterflies, waterfalls, and other wildlife. Plan to spend a whole day here; bring a lunch and wear your swimsuit. Be careful of the monkeys on the beach – they will try to steal your food! Bring a lot of water also – there is nowhere inside the park to buy more.



After a full day of hiking and swimming at the park, go back to Dominical for the incredible sunsets.


Day 4: This is where we go to the Caribbean side! Pack your luggage, and make the drive to Puerto Viejo. Stop at a little soda (a small, family owned, local restaurant) for an inexpensive but delicious lunch. There are tons of sodas on the way there. I took the route through the cloud forest of Costa Rica, so make sure you have time to stop and take some pictures.


Puerto Viejo is a very cute and very small little town that is almost on the border of Panama. I decided to go budget-friendly here, and I stayed at Lion Fish Hostel, but there are a ton of options if you would prefer to go higher end. After checking in to your accommodation, I would recommend spending the afternoon at the beach in Puerto Viejo, then grabbing some dinner & drinks at any of the beach-front restaurants.


Day 5: Take a stroll down the short jungle pathway in the morning. This is a short walk, right along the beach, but you are in the jungle. I saw sloths and howler monkeys while walking this path. After your walk, stop at Como En Mi Casa art cafe for breakfast. They offer a huge menu of fresh breakfasts, all homemade. You can go savory with a massive pancake, or healthy with smoothies, fresh bruschetta, and juices. They have the best coffee in Puerto Viejo by far; and everything is organic.


After a filling breakfast, rent a bike and cruise down the street to Playa Chiquita. This beach is by far the best beach in Puerto Viejo – and it is usually completely deserted in the mornings. Pack a picnic, your book, and sunscreen, and take the 15 minute ride to the beach. This was actually the best beach I found in Costa Rica. If you feel like going out, there are restaurants on the way to the beach that offer smoothies, salads, burritos, pizza, and an array of tropical beverages.



Ride your bike back in the late afternoon, and spend the rest of the evening relaxing in a hammock, or head over to any of the restaurants for a nice dinner and some more tropical drinks.

Day 6: Depending on your flight going out the next day, you may need to head back to San Jose today. If you can wait and head back tomorrow, check out either of the following places on your sixth day: Jaguar Rescue Center (if you want more wildlife), Cahuita National Park (hiking), or Terraventures Jungle Expeditions (if you are feeling adventurous – they offer great zip lining).


Day 7: Pack it up and head home. Reminisce on how amazing it is to travel. Remember how great you feel and start planning your next adventure. 🙂

Thanks for reading! What did you think of my itinerary? Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Costa Rica, or if you plan on going!