In the midst of thinking about all the bad things that happened in 2016, it was easy to forget the good things that happened, and even feel a little guilty if your personal life the past 365 days did not resemble a garbage fire.
It is completely cliché to say that everything changed for me this year. But it’s true.
I took this picture after I learned all my summer clothes, my underwear and my travel towel had been given away to someone else after a laundromat staffer in Norther Peru mistook me for a Japanese girl.
When I signed up to do the Inca Trail, I didn’t really know what Machu Picchu was, I didn’t know much about Peru, and it was more than 10 years ago since I last did any real hiking.
Packing for the Inca Trail is a bit weird. You’re really cold at night, sweaty during the day and the conditions can be all kinds of extremes.
How do you deal with all these conditions? By being prepared for everything, but just enough.
Figuring out what to bring on a backpacking trip can be incredibly daunting. There are a huge number of conditions to consider, including climate, trip length, difficulty of excursions and size of your pack.
Here are some important general things to consider when shopping and putting together your gear.
Sometimes you don’t have a lot of room in your bag or you’re trying to reduce the number of things you’re bringing. Multi-purpose travel items help you manage both. They might cost you a little more, but their usefulness and practicality are often worth the difference.
Clearwing butterfly. (Genus Ithomia) Iguazu National Park, Argentina.
When I traveled through Latin America, I had a 65L pack full of stuff. But I quickly learned what were my absolute essentials: things I felt I couldn’t live without, worked hard to protect or were determined to fight for if someone tried to rob me.
In October 2011, I had just started backpacking around South America. I didn’t speak any Spanish, I was incredibly homesick and suddenly realized I didn’t really know why I had signed up for the Inca Trail in the first place.
Still, I managed to soldier on, hike the Colca Canyon the week prior, and accumulate a wealth of advice and tips for other aspiring hikers.