Travel Diaries: My Life Inside a 30-Liter Backpack

Two and a half hours. We could’ve taken the easier one-hour comfy air-conditioned speedboat ride to our next destination but we chose the longer one. Sitting comfortably on a blue-painted bench, I’m with 28 persons that I’ve never met before; a hodgepodge of different tongues and ethnicity. Aboard a slow boat, we're enjoying the calm waters this side of Cambodia, its motion, lulling us to sleep. We had a choice, and we chose to travel to our next destination in a very slow manner.

Koh Rong Cambodia

Right now, it’s been an hour since we left the coastal town of Sihanoukville. We should’ve reached Koh Rong Samloem thirty minutes ago and probably would’ve been lounging at the beach, but no, we chose this. With our small backpacks in tow, we are again embarking on a new adventure with no clue what’s in store for us. No plans and no itineraries, just a rough route on where to go--our life for two months.

Koh Pangan Thailand

As I set my eyes on the calm Gulf of Thailand, I contemplated on how simple life should be. I’m living for two months with just the stuff packed inside my backpack. Me and my travel buddy have been doing this nomadic life for four consecutive years now and each year, our backpacks have become lighter and lighter. With a meager budget to live by, we have all the basic necessities we need to survive for two months; something to munch on, a roof above our heads at night, and an optimistic view of life.

Koh Rong Cambodia

I have my antihistamine meds, tweezers and herbal balm while my buddy has his cameras and the ever reliable EarPlanes to help alleviate painful changes in air pressure during flights; our kind of basic needs inside our bags. Yes, you can take all our shirts away, but not those stuff.

Siquijor Philippines

Slow traveling made me realize that I don’t need so much stuff. Everything I need can be squeezed into my trusted backpack. That two months’ worth of clothes is too much to pack that it may literally and figuratively lead to excess baggage. That wearing the same shirt twice, or even thrice, because I ran out of clean ones is okay. That needs and wants are basically two different things but can both be managed. That collecting trivial things like bottle caps from local beer brands is fine; simple things that you don't even need to buy on souvenir stores.

Batanes Philippines

You don’t really need much in life.

I’ve seen so many backpackers having similar bags, or even smaller ones than what I'm carrying, but traveling longer and greater distances than I am. Maybe, the longer you travel, the lesser you become attached to things that you don’t actually need. Do you really need a blower to dry your hair?

Boracay Philippines

I could feel the saltwater mixing with my own sweat. I gaze into the horizon and see our island home for the next few days. Another adventure and another chance to get to experience life, the way it should be. After every backpacking trip, people will always--like always--ask me why am I doing what I am doing. And I would reply with the sweetest smile and tell them that I find happiness and contentment by living out of a single backpack. In it, all the things I need. With it, creating a life that I wanted.

Slow and long-term traveling has taught me how to manage my wants and needs. The weight I carry during our very first day when I left home is almost the same as what I'm carrying now on our twentieth day of traveling. Seven kilograms of nothing but the essentials. Next year, I'm pretty sure it would be a tad lighter, realizing I still could do more with a little bit less excess baggage; adding a few more spaces for more precious memories, from the new places I'd see and new souls I'll meet.

Sulu Philippines


  1. I like your life if only im single and a younger , im married and at 54 im also a single backpacker but i cant travel that long, recently been to Laos having been inspired by ur blogs thanks....

    1. Awww. Thanks Neng. And it's not too late to pursue what you want! So how was your Laos trip? Where did you go:)

  2. I applaud those who can do that, pack minimally. That's a goal I have yet to achieve.


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