What I Packed in My Ethical Backpack for 2 Weeks in India

I usually travel with a carryon suitcase, but because I would be taking trains, buses, and whatnot around India for two weeks, I was told it would be easier to take a 40-60L backpack, which I didn’t own at the time. The quality sustainable ones were $200+. When I discovered Everlane made a 45L backpack called The Mover Pack, I bought it in dark green. It was only $78. I didn’t mind the smaller size because I wanted to travel really light if I was going to be hauling this stuff around.

And travel light I did, leaving enough room in the backpack for souvenirs. I like the Everlane Mover Pack because it has just enough compartments without being fussy and the green color made it easier to spot amongst other bags without being too conspicuous. It survived some rough handling throughout the trip, so the quality is good. One major thing I didn’t like about it is that when I wear it, it rubs and catches the fabric of whatever shirt I’m wearing, so you’ll need a lint roller or tape to clean the backpack from time to time. Another minus is that it’s kind of awkward as a duffle bag, but the top handle feature is useful.

The other bag I brought along was my Mlouye Naomi Belt Bag in Brown. It’s a glorified fanny pack. I love it because it’s a multi-purpose piece. I can remove the strap and use it as a belt (so no need to pack a belt on this trip). It also comes with a long green strap, which gives the option to convert the bag into a traditional crossbody purse. Or you can always do away with the straps and use it as a clutch. Warning: the bag doesn’t hold a lot, but it fit all my essentials: passport, phone, earbuds, chapstick, and a small coin purse for money and cards.

All the yellow mesh bags pictured are compression packing cubes, which are awesome for saving even more space in my backpack. It also organizes my things and makes it easier for me to find them. The long rectangular one was so packed with underwear and socks that I couldn’t even compress it.

India can get quite hot, but to be respectful of the culture, tourists are recommended to dress conservatively. Avoid low-cut tops, shorts above the knees, tight pants/leggings unless worn with a long top/dress. However, you’re only going to Goa, you can wear these things because it’s a little island paradise that’s a bit more liberal than the rest of India.

Pack clothes made with breathable, natural textiles such as linen, bamboo, cotton, hemp, etc. Bring your tees, long-sleeve shirts, maxi dresses, long skirts, jeans, culottes, light jackets and sweaters for layering. If you don’t have dresses long enough to hit your ankles, pack leggings to wear underneath.

 

The rest of the ethical clothes I packed:

4 T-shirts – at least 2 are white Everlane Cotton V Necks

2 white Everlane tank tops

Saint James striped shirt

Sleepy Jones Celia linen dress, which are also PJs.

Reformation long polka dot skirt

Secondhand Mexican embroidered dress

2 Athleta sports bras

Athleta yoga tights

Girlfriend Collective Hi Rise leggings in black

Black Havaianas flip flops

Everything else:

Baggu leather clutch that holds my Fujifilm XT-20

Old stainless steel water bottle – 12+ years going strong with this one.

Katadyn Micropur MP1 Water Purification Tablets – I didn’t end up using these at all. Filtered water is easy to find in India, and I did not get sick. The other people I traveled with used Lifestraw bottles, and they were fine too.

Gray felt pouch holding my phone charger, camera battery charger, extra battery, and  power adapter.

3 silicone squeeze bottles (similar here) for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

White Muji toiletry bag for skincare and sunscreen in travel sized bottles, makeup (basically just RMS “Un” Cover Up concealer, Tata Harper lip and cheek tint in Very Charming), nail clipper, and hair ties.

AQUIS hair towel – it wasn’t necessary, but I brought it in case I needed it to double as a body towel.

Yellow laundry bag that came with my compression packing cubes

Inflatable neck pillow for the plane

Kindle Paperwhite for endless reading options (should’ve brought my charger though. Luckily someone lent me a charger.)

Saint Laurent Sunglasses – I made a last minute decision not to bring this because the case is bulky and I decided I wanted to take in all the vibrant colours of India with no filters. Didn’t bring a hat either, but it all worked out because it was winter and whatever sun I got I wanted anyway.

My plant outfit (not pictured):

Everlane Oversized Fleece Half-Zip – a favourite of mine. So comfy.

Iris Denim Whatta Man jeans – Made in Canada. I wear these allll the time.

One of those white Everlane tank tops

Adidas by Stella Mccartney Ultraboost Sneakers – fabric made with ocean waste

Patagonia winter jacket – So glad I brought a proper winter jacket because North India in late December/early January can still be really cold, especially when the sun is down.

Tips

I packed lightly knowing I’d go out of my way to do laundry at least once on the trip. I did, but be aware that some Indian washing machines can be intense and water supply can be limited so my whites were thrown in with darks (and my traveler friends’ darks), so my white clothes came out with a tint of a slushy gray-blue. The whites are back to normal now that I’ve been washing them with lights again in Canada so it’s not a major problem, but it’s something to keep in mind. I would reconsider packing so much white clothing for India for this reason.

Bring a reusable coffee cup if you can fit it. I wish I’d brought mine so I could buy extra Chai from the street vendors and take it to go.

Yes, I did end up wearing the same clothes for two or three days in a row (while changing underwear and undershirts) because I didn’t have access to laundry, but who cares? I had fun. I knew I could always hand wash things if I really ran out of clean clothes.

Overall, no big regrets for my packing list.

Next week, I’ll start travel blogging about my India trip, and you can see some of the ethical outfits I wore for those interested.

Can you travel this light for two weeks? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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