The Founders of Jetsetting Fools Share How They Pack and Organize Their Travel Bags

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
The Forum, Rome, Italy

We are Sarah and Kris: full-time American travel bloggers better known as JetSetting Fools. We are a married couple in our 30s/40s who have been traveling the world since 2014 – and are still on the move! We are currently house and pet sitting on the island of Hvar, Croatia (one of our favorite countries in the world!). We are budget-minded travelers who like cities, nature, beaches, and good craft beer.

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Halong Bay, Vietnam

How and why did you get into traveling?

Before we adopted the nomadic lifestyle, we traveled as much as we could. However, with our jobs, we had limited time off and it just wasn’t enough time to see all the places we wanted to see in this beautiful world.

We were living in Phoenix, Arizona when we got married and we soon realized the ‘normal’ path (new cars, bigger house, kids…more kids) was not for us. On a weekend trip to Manhattan Beach, California, we sat at a beach bar and devised a plan to travel the world. We used a cocktail napkin to sketch out how much money we needed to save – and how long it would take to save that amount – in order to quit our jobs and travel around the world for one year. We set our departure date for May 2014.

It took three years of disciplined saving and foregoing most of the comforts we had come to enjoy (like sushi lunches, lattes and the latest fashion), but we saved more than we had anticipated.

In that time, we spent evenings and weekends researching travel destinations and Round-the-World routes. We searched the library for books about full-time travel, but found more relevant information – and like-minded travelers – on online blogs. We used their recommendations to create our route and packing list.

We donated and sold almost all of our possessions and on April 28, 2014, we left the United States.

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

How do you prepare for your adventures and travels?

Our one-year trip has turned into four years and we have no plans to stop traveling. Our style of travel, however, has changed drastically. We stay in places longer. We housesit. We return to our favorite cities and countries.

Kris does the logistical planning of how to get from Point A to Point B; I research the things we want to do and see in each place. Sometimes we plan months in advance, but we often don’t have travel plans too far in the future. Right now, for example, we have the next three weeks planned, but then have six unplanned weeks. We might go to South America…or stay in the Balkans…or go to Asia. We aren’t sure yet!

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Marina Bay, Singapore

How do you finance your travels?

At this point, we self-fund our travels with the money we originally saved and from the income earned from our blog.

It is truly amazing how little travel can cost; we spend less traveling than we did living in Phoenix. While traveling, we house and pet sit, which eliminates our biggest cost: accommodations. As budget-minded travelers, we keep track of everything we spend (information we shared on our blog the first two years of traveling). We mostly travel to ‘affordable’ countries; we make homecooked meals (often trying local recipes!) and seek out inexpensive alternatives to high-priced tourist attractions.

Why is traveling important for you?

Although the way we travel has evolved over the last four years, we still experience adventures every day, whether it’s visiting a top attraction or simply going grocery shopping in a new country where we don’t speak the language. We are still enthralled by foreignness; in fact, we crave it. We marvel over foreign food and cultural habits, yet are cognizant of the fact that we are all just humans sharing one big, amazing planet.

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
Moai Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island

How do you bring your things with you?

When we were preparing for our initial Round-the-World trip, we agonized over what to pack and what to pack it in. I already owned a Lowe Alpine top-loading backpack that I had bought for my first European backpacking adventure when I was 21-years-old. Even though my 40-liter pack had some years on it, it was in pristine condition. Newer backpacks may have lighter material and better access, but I loved my pack…and I still do! After almost 4 years of travel, it is still in fantastic condition. Lowe Alpine is a brand I trust for durability.

Kris, on the other hand, had never owned a backpack. He liked that I was able to keep my hands free while racing through airports and chasing trains, so he opted to for a backpack as well. He tried multi packs before settling on the Osprey Farpoint 45-liter backpack. He loves that it unzips, just like a suitcase, and has a detachable day pack. His pack is incredibly lightweight, yet durable, and is only recently showing signs of wear.

Even though my backpack is smaller, I’ve managed to stuff more things into it – causing it to weigh 20 pounds more than Kris’s when completely packed (although the weight of the material contributes to the weight factor!). I have a bad habit of packing ‘just in case’ items and picking up ‘extra’ items on our travels. When I purge all the unnecessary items, my backpack actually feels comfortable.

In addition to my backpack, I carry a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag (medium-sized). Although designed for bike messengers, it is perfect for travelers! On travel days, I use it as a carry-on. I can easily fit my laptop, camera, notebook, passport and airplane essentials in the bag. On all other days, I use it as a day pack. The bag has multiple compartments and zippered sections to keep my wallet hidden from pickpockets.

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Sydney, Australia

How do you organize things in your bags?

Our bags are impeccably organized. Like a puzzle, everything fits exactly into its place. I can tell if something is missing just by how it fits into my bag. We both use the Eagle Creek Pack-It system – and can not imagine travel without them! Not only do the bags keep our clothes separated and organized (almost like little, transportable drawers), but they also compress.

If (when?!) I need to replace my Lowe Alpine bag, I look forward to replacing it with a bag that is made of lighter (yet just as durable) material. Getting a bag with a zipper, instead of a top-loader, is also high on my list.

We don’t worry about our backpacks getting wet, but keeping the contents of our day pack dry is essential! I carry my laptop and camera in my Timbuk2 bag, which is waterproof and keeps everything dry.

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Zancudo, Costa Rica

How do your bags and gear hold up?

My Lowe Alpine bag is 18 years old, but still in fantastic condition. The bag was designed for outdoor camping and is quality-crafted with durable material. While it is heavy, I’m not sure a lighter-weight material would have lasted as long.

Kris loves everything about his Osprey bag. It is functional, slim and sturdy. I must admit: sometimes I’m a bit jealous but not so much that I’m ready to buy a new bag.

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Osorno Volcano, Puerto Varas, Chile

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

What to pack was my biggest struggle before we left the United States (even more so than quitting my job!), so I procrastinated and waited until just days before our departure to attempt packing everything I wanted to take. That was a huge mistake.

Once I got things organized, I still wasn’t confident. In the first year, I realized I didn’t have enough long sleeve shirts for cooler weather or enough tank tops for hot weather. I picked up a few items along the way without adding too much weight to my bag. And, because we use Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes, the new additions didn’t take up too much space in my bag.

Looking back, I’ve been fairly content with what I’ve packed – and little has changed in what I pack. We have both had to replace worn out shirts and pants, but that is to be expected.

For us, the most important thing to pack is comfortable clothes that can be layered or worn on their own.

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Mount Nelson, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

As mentioned before, we couldn’t imagine traveling without the Eagle Creek Pack-It system. It was our single best pre-travel purchase.

My black wrap was a last-minute add to my backpack, but has turned out to be one of the most-used items in my pack! We have used it as a scarf, a picnic blanket, a beach towel, a travel pillow and a bus seat cover.

What is your best advice for other travelers?

Our best advice for fellow travelers is to remember to take time out from busy sightseeing and simply enjoy the foreign culture. Linger at a café, shop at a produce market, strike up a conversation with a local resident at a bar. These are the places where we can find a real connection to the local culture, which for us, is the best part of traveling!

JetSetting Fools Sarah and Kris
in Skagofoss Waterfall, Iceland

What will the future bring?

We are excited about our plans for 2018! This year marks four years of full-time travel and my big 4-0 birthday. Being the limelight-loving Leo that I am, I’m intent on celebrating all year long (which, somehow makes turning 40 feel a bit better!). We are planning four epic adventures for 2018 to destinations that have long been on our travel wish list. As plans are still in the works, we are not yet ready to disclose the destinations, but we think a GoPro may be a necessary investment to capture the experiences!

Visit Sarah & Kris on their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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