Hi friends.

WOW. I leave for South Africa tomorrow. That is 200% crazy. The “what if?” that started in my mind in November is becoming a reality, and I could not be more excited/nervous/scared for this adventure. While I’ve got readily available Internet and a whole truckload of thoughts, I want to talk about overcoming my first obstacle: fitting my life for two and a half months into a single backpack.

You read that correctly. I’m bringing a backpack. That’s it.

Granted, it’s one of those real-deal Osprey hiking backpacks from REI. But still, a lot of people have asked me how I planned for two and a half months of travel without bringing a truckload. So, here are some of my tips for packing for a trip overseas without breaking your luggage allowance (or your back!).


1. Stick with the basics. As someone who could fill three closets with all of the clothing I own, narrowing down was hard. But sticking to neutrals and basic pieces really helped me to maximize space. I am bringing only seven tops and a few pants and skirts, but they all can be worn with each other for a variety of looks. I do have a few accent pieces here and there (scarves especially!) to keep things lively.


2. Invest where it’s necessary. I often use Clinton Kelly’s “Cost Per Wear” theory when deciding to make purchases. Basically, you can justify splurging on something for travel if you know you’re going to wear it all the time. For me, buying these super rad convertible pants and a pair of Chacos were worthwhile investments. I’ll be wearing these a lot so they were definitely worth the extra cash.

3. Travel documents are a priority. I have three copies (two hard, one digital) of all my important paperwork, including my passport, birth certificate, travel itinerary, and emergency contact information. As my mom says: “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!”

4. Bring a piece of home. Traveling is super-exciting, but I’m already realizing how much I am going to miss family and friends when I’m gone. It’s important to bring some things that will give you a piece of mind while you’re so far away. For me, this includes my Bible, a few good books, and, of course, my Gameboy with Pokemon Red (I’m still living like it’s 1994, okay?)


5. Bag it up! Ziploc bags were my best friend for this packing process. Not only do they save you a ton of space, but they are incredible for keeping things organized in an incredibly efficient way.  All of my clothes fit in this one huge tote, medications and toiletries were easy work in a few quart bags, and I even put electrical chargers/batteries in a gallon bag to prevent any liquid/dust damage.

That’s it! I am all set and ready to go on my big adventure. Next stop…Chicago…London…Johannesburg, and finally, Port Elizabeth.

 Be sure to follow my Lumos blog for updates on my adventure and on social media with the hashtag #JensLumosJourney! Thank you for all the prayers and love (thankfully, good wishes take up no room in a suitcase, and I will be carrying them with me every step of the way.)




One thought on “Jen’s Lumos Journey: Pack Attack!

  1. Great article. I love going backpacking, but I have quite the propensity to over-pack. I bring way too much stuff even for a weekend. I’m impressed that you were able to get your much longer trip into a single 46 Liter bag!

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