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Two Years, 17 Countries & 1 Backpack Prove You Don’t Need to Pack a Lot!


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World traveler and Washington Post journalist Nicole Ellis spent two years traversing the globe. During that time she visited 17 countries across six continents packing everything she needed into one backpack.

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This one time in Tanzania…

A post shared by Nicole Ellis (@navigatingnikki) on


Before diving into journalism, Ellis decided the backpack around the world for two years to learn about different cultures – and that meant carrying her possessions on her back.

According to the Washington Post, Ellis was able to bring everything she needed for the bucket-list trip by packing smart and choosing items that could be used for multiple things.


Packing smart when it comes to clothes is all about items that can be mixed and matched – a travelers capsule wardrobe.

According to the Washington Post, Ellis packed the following clothing items in her backpack – and it was enough to see her through two years of travel:

Four tank tops, 6 cotton T-shirts, 2 cotton cardigans, 1 button-down blouse, 2 sports tops, 1 windbreaker, 1 fleece jacket , 1 blazer, 1 long-underwear top, 1 dress, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of jean shorts, 1 pair cargo pants, 3 pairs of black leggings, 2 pairs of black legging shorts, 2 pairs of running shorts, 1 linen skirt, 1 regular skirt, 1 swimsuit, and 1 pair of long-underwear pants. For undies, Ellis packed 8 sets of underwear, 2 sports bras, 1 regular bra, and 5 pairs of socks.


Shoes consisted of a pair of hiking boots, running shoes, flip-flops, athletic sandals, and a pair of flats.

The Washington Post reports Ellis found numerous uses for the coconut oil she packed, such as a conditioner for her hair and skin moisturizer. Ellis’ makeup bag contained the bare minimum – lip gloss and mascara.

According to the Post, Ellis also made sure to pack snacks she could share with people she met along the way.

If you are embarking on a trip where luggage needs to be kept at a bare minimum, travel experts suggest coming up with a packing list in advance. Take out the clothes you want to pack and take pictures of various outfits so you know beforehand how you can mix and match each item of clothing. Struggling to come up with a capsule wardrobe? Pinterest and Instagram can provide tons of inspiration – simply search “capsule wardrobe.”

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