What’s in my backpack?!

I receive the “What do you pack?” “How do you prevent yourself from overpacking?” questions quite often, but it’s hard for me to answer because everyone is different and has their own preferences and necessities.

Depending on where I am going and the length of my trip, I carry all of my items in two bags. Yes, two. Read on…

Okay, so this is my very first backpack I bought years ago when I headed to Europe for the very first time. I bought it at MountainWarehouse for super cheap and I’ve used it for the last couple of years.
bagFor the most part – it works really well for what I paid for it. I didn’t expect myself to get addicted to travel I guess, so I just spent like $50 during a huge sale at Mountain Warehouse and called it good. It’s a 65L bag, it carries quite a bit. It opens from the top and also has a bottom storage area. There’s two large pockets on the side that I find useful and I like the pockets on the top portion (there’s one on the inside and the outside).

I’ve used this backpack for backpacking Europe for a few months, for traveling to Indonesia for about a month, for my trip around the US, etc…etc…..

I’ve also used it for longer hikes: A hike in the desert to Havasupai for a few days (didn’t like my bag for this hike), the Trolltunga hike in Norway in lots of snow for one day, etc etc.

I see people using their $200-$400 bags, and they’re nice, but I’m cheap and this one works fine for me. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it 😉

WHAT’S IN THE BAG, KIM?

Depending on what kind of trip you’re taking, what weather you’ll be dealing with, what you’re going to be doing, and how long you’ll be gone……is how you’re going to pack your backpack full of fun.

For my lower half:

  • ALWAYS a black pair of leggings. I usually travel in these because they’re comfortable and I get really cold on airplanes. Leggings are also just usable pretty much anywhere, so, yeah.
  • A pair of jeans. If I’m going somewhere tropical, none. If I’m going somewhere cooler, usually two pairs. But if I’m dealing with different temperatures, like when backpacking Europe, one pair will do.
  • Shorts. If it’s somewhere tropical, again, this is pretty much all I’ll bring. I’ll pack maybe 2 or 3 pairs.
  • A pair of athletic pants. These are important if you do any type of hiking, running, etc.
  • A pair of athletic shorts. Once again, used for my hiking/running. And if I’m just having a lazy night in maybe I’ll hang out in them.
  • Socks and hiking socks. I like to bring two pairs of ankle socks, and one pair of regular length socks. I also bring a pair of hiking socks. I wash these throughout my travels, so I don’t need many. ESPECIALLY if I’m going somewhere tropical, maybe I’ll only bring one pair of ankle socks and my hiking socks.
  • A pair of sandals. I always pack a pair of cheap flip-flops with me. Even if I’m going to Antarctica. Why? I use them in hostel showers. And if I go somewhere warm, I’ll bring a nicer pair of sandals, too. (And by nice, I mean a pair of Target sandals that were on clearance, probably).
  • A pair of casual shoes. (ex: Converse)
  • Hiking boots or shoes. Of course, if you don’t intend on hiking, these aren’t necessary.
  • Underwear (# depends on length of trip) Once again, I wash my items as I travel so I don’t overpack these, either.

Upper half: 

  • Tank tops. I like to bring one white tanktop and one black tanktop.
  • Bras. I take one tan bra, and one black bra. Simple.
  • Sports bra. Because I like to exercise, run, and hike during my travels.
  • A couple of shirts. I like to bring quarter sleeve shirts because I can wear them practically anywhere I go, but this also depends on the weather. If it’s tropical I’ll bring 5 or 6 tank tops and short sleeves. If it’s cooler, I’ll bring 5 longer sleeved shirts. Either way, usually around 5 shirts will do for my trips.
  • A dress. Nothing fancy. Something easily rollable. For the nights I go out, whether I’m going dancing or out to dinner with someone. A simple dress from Marshalls is all a girl needs, I’m tellin’ ya.
  • A sweatshirt. I like to bring one crew-neck or zip-up with me.
  • Jacket. I tend to always bring a light-weight jacket that is waterproof. I can use it outside and during my hikes.

Now, for my miscellaneous items, I pretty much buy anything travel sized.

I carry a small bag for toiletries including:

  • Travel size shampoo/conditioner
  • Travel size soap/body wash
  • Travel size face wash 
  • My medications 
  • Travel size first aid kit
  • Travel size tooth brush and paste
  • Travel size hair brush
  • And usually a small makeup bag

Other random items that come with me:

I always travel with: My GoPro camera, my Canon camera, my GoPro mounts, a bathing suit, my license, my SSC, my passport, emergency information sheet, and other necessary travel documents.

On the right side pocket of my backpack you will find: Ziplock bags, plastic bags, a small travel umbrella. Super weird: But I promise, they will come in handy and I will forever carry them with me. Ziplock bags come in handy for food items and work well if you hike. Plastic bags for dirty or wet clothes. Umbrella…..well…..rain.

On the left side pocket of my backpack you will find: I do a lot of hiking and sometimes camping overnight – so I will carry reusable plastic silverware, a whistle, a flashlight, matches, and a compass.

 

And if you need anything on your trip – just buy it there. Easy peasy. If there’s something you might forget…..you can probably buy it wherever you’re going. Don’t worry. 

 

My second bag is my beloved daypack.

I have a couple different daypacks that I bring with me throughout my travels. Basically, this is my carry-on bag with my folder (I usually have a travel folder with all my papers), my cameras, and other random things that don’t fit in my backpack or some items I’d like to have with me on the plane. When I get where I’m going to – I use this bag for my day trips and my hiking. So, I always make sure my daypacks have good holders on the side for my water bottle and/or a bag that allows me to use my Camelbak Hydration Pack. (Meaning there’s a little hole towards the top of the bag where I can run the water tube through).

OVERPACKING TIPS:

Get together what you think you’ll need and you can probably take away half of it. It’s hard to pack, really. But just think about how this backpack is going to be on your back for numerous hours some days – and truly decide on what is a NEED and what is a WANT. You don’t need to bring 5 dresses unless you plan on going out every night to a nice dinner. You don’t need to bring a bunch of shoes. Needs. Needs. Needs.

This was a more difficult blog to write out because EVERYONE and EVERY TRIP is different, but on average, this is a list that I tend to follow along with. A lot of people have been asking me what I pack – so hopefully this helped the slightest. Happy traveling!

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

Contact me if you’re interested in working with me in any way by e-mail as well.

  • XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.
What’s in my backpack?!

The Beauty of Balinese Hindu Ceremonies

To learn about the meanings behind these ceremonies: CLICK HERE.

This month I spent some time in Indonesia – and one of the best memories I have taken from it was attending Hindu ceremonies in a small village called Amed in northern Bali.

I’ll be posting about my entire trip to Indonesia probably within the next week, I just really wanted to post about the few days I experienced the ceremonies….

So, I was staying at a scuba dive center in Amed…..

I was laying in my bed and I heard a lot of music, chanting, people talking, and children laughing. I rushed to the front of the scuba dive center and saw a parade of local people dressed in traditional ceremony clothing. Baskets of fruit and offerings were being carried on the heads of some beautiful women, and children were clapping and skipping along to the music as they all headed towards the beach.

I immediately ran to my room and grabbed my camera and headed towards the beach on a motor scooter. When I arrived to the beach, there were groups of men playing instruments and everyone was taking seats in the rocks or the black sand.

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As expected, I got a lot of stares. I mean….I look quite different from the other 500 people I was surrounded by.

Here are some photos from the beginning of the ceremony:

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Before prayer, I was trying to play with the children. They were a bit confused by me. All of their eyes were on me, but they wouldn’t approach me. So I made eye contact with them, I got down on my knees on the black sand beach by myself and I started collecting small white rocks and shells. I brushed my hand over an area of the black sand, cleaning the area and creating a blank space. I began to make a sun with the white rocks on the black sand, beautiful contrast 😉 The children continued to watch me.

Suddenly, a brave little girl walked slowly to the front of the beach towards me. I later learned that her name was Ketut, she was the fourth born. We shared the same Balinese name. She got down and started to collect white rocks and she sat down next to me and started placing them on the black sand, helping me create a sun. We exchanged smiles. More children approached me, excitedly running around and finding white rocks, ready to help.

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OUR MASTERPIECE.

The kids then started touching my arms, and my face, and my hair. I played games with them, where they tried to slap my hands but I moved them away quickly before they could reach them. They thought this was the best game ever. We played in the water, splashing each other with the salty ocean water. I started to copy them as they moved their legs and arms, jumping, the faces they made…..then they did this to me in return. This was now the best game ever.

Every single one of them spoke zero English. 

We didn’t communicate with each other verbally due to the extreme language barrier. All of them surrounded me, trying to speak and yell over one another in Indonesian, and I couldn’t tell them I didn’t understand them. So I put both hands on my chest and said “No Balinese. American.” and pointed at them and said “Balinese”, then back to myself, “No Balinese”. I then said “Hello, my name is Kim, and I am from America” – so they would understand we don’t speak the same language. They looked at me in awe….and then continued to play with me. I brought out my camera and we invented another new game. The one where I pretend I am about to take their picture and they r-a-n.

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They were having so much fun, running, laughing, running….

I ended up snagging some really beautiful photos, however….

I heard a bell ring, and it was time for prayer. I sat down in the middle of a bunch of beautiful Balinese people, sticking out like a sore thumb, but ready to learn and experience. The boys next to me gave me pieces of the flowers to use during prayer. I followed their direction and caught on immediately. I was smiling from ear-to-ear as I prayed, and then placed bits of flowers on top of my head and behind each of my ears.

Men came around with holy water, showering us each individually. We then cupped our hands as they poured. We drank from our hands three times, and the last times we used the holy water on our face and hair. Then, we were approached with a bowl of wet rice, where we placed rice grains on our forehead, our temples, and chest.

To see an example of this ritual: go here.

After this, the kids ran to me again, because the ten minutes away from each other was too long. One of the little boys ran up to me with a rose made out of a napkin, he laughed and pointed to the group of boys behind us and they waved at me and laughed too. They spoke broken English, but managed to ask me to take a photo of them:

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I continued to walk around with my camera, and people continued to point at the camera and then to themselves. I shot photos and they rushed to see the back of my camera for the results. Giving me a thumbs up, a smile, and occasionally a “HEEEEYYYY!”

A few of the adults that spoke broken English came up to me, holding my hand and thanking me for coming, making the kids happy, and appreciating/respecting their culture and religion. I teared up numerous times.

 

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Moonlit sky over the beautiful ceremony

Over the next few days, I got to go to the actual temple and experience the ceremonies there. I went each night. I didn’t capture as many photos like I did from the beach/nor were they the best quality…..but I will share them with you anyways.

 

This post doesn’t fully capture the beauty I endured these nights – nor will it ever amount up to the amount of love and pure, genuine happiness I held in my heart throughout my time there. I really hope you looked into the provided links to take a look into their culture/religion.

I will never be able to thank all of the beautiful souls I encountered in Amed for their open arms and amazing energy. I will always remember the little girl that first approached me and hung onto me throughout the entire evening.

Also: thank you to Nyam for taking me to the temples with you and your family and letting me experience all of this first hand. You are the greatest and I will see you in Amed again one day. This is another home for me.

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Thank you for reading my blog post about my experiences with the magical Balinese Hindu Ceremonies in the village Amed. Hope you enjoyed.

As always, you may e-mail me at kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com with any comments or questions.

Find all of my travel photos on my instagram – @WADDUPKIM

Xoxoxo – Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •

 

 

 

The Beauty of Balinese Hindu Ceremonies

Why I chose to gain my education from world travel – to those who I have disappointed.

This post may have a little more text than normal – but I’ll throw in photos too, don’t fret. Bear with me and read on.

I strictly remember a moment months ago where I was visiting my old high school to watch one of their shows for theater. I was walking down the hallway and stumbled by my old high school vice principal. He stopped and greeted me. Typical small talk ensued – and the questions “What are you doing? Where are you going to school?” couldn’t have jumped out of his mouth any faster after our “hello”.

I’m thinking to myself……everyone else he has seen since graduation would probably answer that question like:

  1. “I’m graduating from Michigan State University in 5 months with a Bachelors Degree in business”
  2. “I’m an engineer now – I graduated from Michigan Tech this year”
  3. “I’m a nurse working at the local hospital”

But here I am. Wanna know what my answer was?

“I’m not in school currently. I work at Lucky’s Steakhouse. I decided I’d rather travel the world for now. But!!! I graduated from Delta College with my Associates Degree last semester…..pretty cool, huh?”

I got the whole ‘Aw, Kim. You’re better than that. Get back to school!” spiel. I just kind of smiled…..walked away…..and then thought to myself……

Wait, what? Did he really just say “you’re better than that?” I was 20 years old when he told me this. When he told me this I had traveled to almost 20 countries. When he told me this I had lived with local families from numerous countries: literally living within different cultures and experiencing life from various perspectives. I was gaining education every single second while I traveled. I wasn’t sitting in a desk or writing in a notebook – but I was becoming more and more educated everyday.

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This is the problem. Two words.

Societal norms.

We are expected to graduate from high school and immediately enter a community college or University. We are expected to continue our college education consistently for years and years until we reach the desired degree. Putting ourselves into a massive debt just so we can get a “good job”….that we may or may not be miserable doing…..just so we can…..pay back all that debt? Wait, what? Skkkkuuuuuurt!

No. Not I.

You see….

I’m young. I am now 21. I don’t quite know what I want to do for the rest of my life – but that’s okay. Why should I? I still have a lot to experience and when I fall in love with something I’ll work to make it my career. I’m not going to waste my money and time going to college right now to take random classes and rack up a huge debt under my name. And honestly – I just wanted a break. I’ve been going to school since before I can remember (literally) each and every year.

So….the world is my classroom.

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I get every subject out of it, too.

Sociology. Math. Science. HISTORY. Language. Art. Fitness. Religion. You name it.

I am learning about humans from all around the world. I am learning about their cultures and how they live their daily lives. I am learning about different countries’ history – strolling through ancient sites and ruins in Rome, visiting concentration camps and WWII museums in Germany, or paying a visit to various sacred temples in Indonesia for example. I am seeing and touching what I would be looking at in a textbook.

I’m constantly surrounded by different languages and accents – where I’m picking up words, phrases and rules as I go. I’ve been eye-to-eye with some of the most important/impressive pieces of art in the world at art museums like The Louvre in Paris and the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. (Yeah, I have a selfie with the Mona Lisa….no big deal). 

I have to use my brain and do math while traveling – estimating costs of plane tickets and how much I spend each day. Converting currency daily and being able to do conversions for distance, weight, temperature, etc…..

I am exposed to different religions everywhere I go – being able to visit their churches, mosques, temples. Going to ceremonies. Experiencing their way of worship.

And of course – I have my fitness class. Not only do I walk miles on end with two large backpacks on both my front and my backside….but I hike. I swim. I scuba. I hike mountains, in the desert, through the water, and sometimes even an occasional volcano. I’ll do yoga in Bali and I’ll scuba dive in Hawaii. My body is constantly moving, on the go, and working hard.

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And I’m happy. 

I am doing what I love to do. I am living my passion. I am living out my dreams and goals.

 

As of right now, I don’t want to be in a classroom setting. I don’t have any idea what I want to do. I’m young. I’m growing. I’m learning. I’m finding myself. And that’s okay.

So – yeah, Mr. EX Vice Principal….if you so happen to read this….

I’m traveling the world instead of going to college right now.

But I’ve got one hell of an open-mind, a big heart, and a zeal for life.

Sorry to dissapoint you….but I’m happy with this lifestyle for now. And that’s all that really matters.

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I am living – not surviving. 

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

  • XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.

 

Why I chose to gain my education from world travel – to those who I have disappointed.

Advice for every 20-something year old that doesn’t want to just work and die.

You’re what – 18? 20? 23? It doesn’t matter.

The fact is that if you want to live – no matter what age you are at – you have time. You can. You will.

Half of us at this age aren’t quite sure what we want to do with our lives. You’ve changed your major 3 times this year, you’re still undecided after 4 years at a community college and you feel hopeless. That’s fine.

You’re normal. You’re not supposed to have your entire life planned at this age. This is the age where you’re supposed to be learning about yourself – learning where you want to head in life. Learning what path you should take – and when to take it.

Within our society, we are told “know what you want to do by 18”. We’re supposed to go to college for years and years, rack up this college debt as we try to get a degree in something we might like doing, then get a job that we may or may not be miserable at, and work our asses off trying to pay off that college debt and also have money to “survive”. I say survive for a reason, because that is exactly what is happening. Surviving. Not living.

As we get older, we cringe at the fact that we can’t save up some cash and fly to Scotland for three weeks because 1.) we have children 2.) our job won’t allow us 3.) extra cash to travel? Riiiiight.

Some people want this life – sure. Some people want to follow these “societal norms” and want to live under Dorothy Smith’s idea of a “Standard North American Family” (SNAF).

But I know that many of us don’t – but do anyways. Why? Because it’s what is normal? Because it is what is expected of us? Because we were taught this way?

ADVICE TO THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS: GO AGAINST SOCIETAL NORMS IF THAT IS WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

Yeah – I said it. Go against the norm, live your damn life, and quit worrying about where you’re going to be in 35 years. Chill out.

Truly – the best education you can receive is within traveling. Within experience.

You learn a lot about yourself, the world around you, and how to act with experience. Surrounding yourself with different cultures and languages. Eating new foods. Going to museums in Europe. Hiking in South America. Volunteering with the elephants in Thailand. Whatever.

If you want to live – if you want to experience – please do it. While you’re young. Right now. Don’t waste your money at college if you don’t know what you want to do yet. It’s okay. Many employers are going to be more impressed with you traveling to different countries and having life experience rather than you getting a degree in a perfected 4 years with a 3.6 GPA.

We weren’t made to work, pay bills, and die. We just weren’t.

Live while you can. Live while you’re young. Find yourself. Find your passion. Find your calling. Whatever that may be.

Take a deep breath because everything is going to be okay.

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Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration – @waddupkim

  • XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS.
Advice for every 20-something year old that doesn’t want to just work and die.