How to Be Minimalists, Pack Light and Do Slow Long Term Traveling

BackpackME Ashray and Zara_
Ashray and Zara trekking the ice field of Chilean Patagonia

We’re​ ​Ashray​ ​and​ ​Zara​ ​from​ ​India​ ​and​ ​Portugal.​ ​We are ​world​ ​travelers​ ​and​ ​digital​ ​nomads.​ ​We​ ​spend​ ​our​ ​days exploring​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​while​ ​we​ ​work​ ​online,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​where​ ​we​ ​are.​ ​We​ ​run​ ​the​ ​travel​ ​blog​ ​​Backpack​ ​ME​,​ ​where we’d​ ​like​ ​to​ ​inspire​ ​anyone​ ​to​ ​travel,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​where​ ​they​ ​come​ ​from!

BackpackME Ashray and Zara
Ashray and Zara in Lisbon Portugal

​How​ ​and​ ​why​ ​did​ ​you​ ​get​ ​into​ ​traveling?

Back​ ​in​ ​2011,​ ​we​ ​were​ ​working​ ​in​ ​Dubai.​ ​We​ ​had​ ​been​ ​living​ ​in​ ​the​ United Arab Emirates​ ​for​ ​several​ ​years​ ​and​ ​yearning​ ​for​ ​a change.​ ​So​ ​we​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​take​ ​off​ ​and​ ​go​ ​travel​ ​the​ ​world​ ​for​ ​a​ ​year​ ​-​ ​which​ ​later​ ​became​ ​six years​ ​and​ ​counting!​ ​But this​ ​didn’t​ ​exactly​ ​happen​ ​overnight.​ ​Still​ ​in​ ​Dubai​ ​we​ ​had​ ​an​ ​idea,​ ​we​ ​worked​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​save​ ​money​ ​and, eventually,​ ​hit​ ​the​ ​road.

We​ ​were​ ​both​ ​travel​ ​lovers​ ​before​ ​this​ ​big​ ​adventure​ ​but,​ ​up​ ​until​ ​that​ ​point​ ​of​ ​time,​ ​due​ ​to​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​time,​ ​we never​ ​got​ ​to​ ​enjoy​ ​much​ ​more​ ​than​ ​holidays.​ ​Now,​ ​we’re​ ​full​ ​on​ ​into​ ​long​ ​term​ ​slow​ ​travel.​ ​We​ ​take​ ​our​ ​sweet time​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​each​ ​place,​ ​partake​ ​in​ ​activities​ ​we​ ​probably​ ​wouldn’t​ ​consider​ ​if​ ​our​ ​time​ ​was​ ​more​ ​limited​ ​and overall​ ​enjoy​ ​getting​ ​a​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​what​ ​local​ ​life​ ​is​ ​all​ ​about​ ​in​ ​the​ ​places​ ​we​ ​travel​ ​to.

BackpackME Ashray and Zara
Ashray and Zara in South Korea

​How​ ​do​ ​you​ ​finance​ ​your​ ​travels?

We​ ​are​ ​location​ ​independent​ ​professionals.​ ​Apart​ ​from​ ​running​ ​our​ ​travel​ ​blog​ ​Backpack​ ​ME,​ ​Zara​ ​works​ ​as​ ​a freelance​ ​travel​ ​writer​ ​for​ ​other​ ​online​ ​publications,​ ​and​ ​Ashray​ ​is​ ​involved​ ​with​ ​several​ ​websites​ ​and​ ​start-ups in​ ​different​ ​topics​ ​ranging​ ​from​ ​video​ ​games​ ​to​ ​hiring.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​tell​ that ​we​ ​don’t​ ​like​ ​being​ ​stuck​ ​in​ ​one​ ​place​ ​only and​ ​we​ ​also​ ​don’t​ ​enjoy​ ​doing​ ​just​ ​one​ ​thing!

Why​ ​is​ ​traveling​ ​important​ ​for​ ​you?

Travel​ ​is​ ​the​ ​best​ ​school​ ​of​ ​life​ ​there​ ​is!​ ​Even​ ​though​ ​we​ ​both​ ​have​ ​a​ ​formal​ ​education,​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​relevant things​ ​we​ ​know​ ​these​ ​days​ ​are​ ​outcomes​ ​of​ ​life​ ​experiences.​ ​And​ ​what​ ​best​ ​to​ ​cover​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​range​ ​of​ ​life experiences​ ​than​ ​traveling​ ​and​ ​doing​ ​so​ ​in​ ​very​ ​distinct​ ​corners​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​isn’t​ ​it?​ ​Right​ ​now,​ ​it​ ​would​ ​be​ ​so hard​ ​to​ ​picture​ ​our​ ​lives​ ​without​ ​traveling.

BackpackME Ashray and Zara
With the Vanguard Havana 41 backpack in Seoul Korea

How​ ​do​ ​you​ ​bring​ ​your​ ​things​ ​with​ ​you?

We​ ​like​ ​packing​ ​light,​ ​and​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​a​ ​minimalistic​ ​attitude​ ​(both​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road​ ​and​ ​at​ ​home!)​ ​give​ ​you​ ​great freedom​ ​and​ ​flexibility.​ ​We​ ​carry​ ​our​ ​stuff​ ​inside​ ​Osprey​ ​Meridian​ ​backpacks,​ ​which​ ​are​ ​great​ ​because​ ​they​ ​can be​ ​used​ ​as​ ​regular​ ​backpacks​ ​strapped​ ​on​ ​your​ ​shoulders,​ ​or​ ​simply​ ​wheeled​ ​around​ ​-​ ​we​ ​prefer​ ​the​ ​latter!​

​For photography​ ​and​ ​video​ ​gear,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​recently​ ​acquired​ ​a​ ​Vanguard​ ​Havana​ ​41,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​super​ ​compact backpack​ ​but​ ​extremely​ ​functional.​ ​This​ ​bag​ ​also​ ​has​ ​a​ ​rain​ ​cover,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​important​ ​to​ ​protect​ ​expensive equipment.

One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​tips​ ​we​ ​can​ ​give​ ​adventure​ ​travelers​ ​and,​ ​overall,​ ​long​ ​term​ ​backpackers,​ ​is​ ​to​ ​pack​ ​only the​ ​essentials​ ​and​ ​get​ ​stuff​ ​as​ ​you​ ​need​ ​it,​ ​wherever​ ​you​ ​need​ ​it.​ ​Also,​ ​don’t​ ​be​ ​silly​ ​enough​ ​to​ ​strain​ ​your​ ​back if​ ​you’re​ ​planning​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​mostly​ ​urban​ ​locations.​ ​Simply​ ​get​ ​a​ ​backpack​ ​with​ ​wheels​ ​and​ ​roll​ ​it​ ​around​ ​with​ ​a smile​ ​on​ ​your​ ​face!

BackpackME Ashray and Zara
Our latest camera backpack Havana 41 by Vanguard

​How​ ​do​ ​you​ ​organize​ ​things​ ​in​ ​your​ ​bags?

We​ ​don’t​ ​pack​ ​that​ ​much​ ​stuff,​ ​so​ ​we​ ​never​ ​really​ ​felt​ ​the​ ​need​ ​to​ ​use​ ​packing​ ​cubes​ ​or​ ​any​ ​other​ ​accessories of​ ​the​ ​sort.​ ​We​ ​simply​ ​fold​ ​our​ ​clean​ ​clothes​ ​and​ ​stack​ ​them​ ​nicely​ ​so​ ​that​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​get​ ​too​ ​crumpled.​ ​We place​ ​shoes​ ​inside​ ​plastic​ ​bags​ ​and​ ​carry​ ​a​ ​toiletry​ ​bag​ ​for​ ​our​ ​hygiene​ ​essentials.​ ​We​ ​really​ ​do​ ​like​ ​keeping​ ​it simple!​ ​We​ ​pack​ ​often​ ​and​ ​fast​ ​so,​ ​why​ ​complicate​ ​any​ ​further?!​ ​Ashray​ ​still​ ​holds​ ​the​ ​record​ ​for​ ​packing​ ​for​ ​our first​ ​RTW​ ​one​ ​year​ ​long​ ​trip​ ​in​ ​under​ ​10​ ​minutes!!

BackpackME Ashray and Zara
Our Osprey Meridian backpacks and everything we owned during the first year of our travels

​How​ ​do​ ​your​ ​bags​ ​and​ ​gear​ ​hold​ ​up?

We​ ​have​ ​been​ ​rocking​ ​our​ ​Osprey​ ​Meridian​ ​backpacks​ ​for​ ​a​ ​little​ ​over​ six​ ​years.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​six​ ​years​ ​of​ ​almost constant​ ​use.​ ​They​ ​do​ ​not​ ​look​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​at​ ​this​ ​point,​ ​but​ ​they’re​ ​still​ ​holding​ ​up​ ​pretty​ ​well.​ ​The​ ​wheels​ ​and rack​ ​have​ ​lost​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​of​ ​screws​ ​by​ ​now,​ ​but​ ​those​ ​are​ ​things​ ​that​ ​can​ ​be​ ​repaired​ ​fairly​ ​easy.​ ​When​ ​we​ ​got these​ ​backpacks​ ​though,​ ​we​ ​read​ ​about​ ​Osprey’s​ ​All​ ​Mighty​ ​Guarantee.​ ​We​ ​thought​ ​these​ ​minor​ ​repairs​ ​would be​ ​covered​ ​by​ ​the​ ​company,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​turns​ ​out​ ​we​ ​were​ ​wrong.​ ​When​ ​you​ ​buy​ ​expensive​ ​equipment,​ ​it’s​ ​important to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​look​ ​at​ ​these​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​details.​ ​So​ ​keep​ ​this​ ​in​ ​mind!

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

We’ve​ ​been​ ​using​ ​the​ ​same​ ​set​ ​of​ ​backpacks​ ​since​ ​2011.​ ​And,​ ​knowing​ ​us,​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​using​ ​them​ ​until​ ​they have​ ​really​ ​done​ ​all​ ​the​ ​work​ ​that​ ​they​ ​can​ ​do!​ ​But​ ​when​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​day​ ​packs,​ ​we​ ​now​ ​know​ ​that​ ​we​ ​should have​ ​invested​ ​in​ ​something​ ​more​ ​robust​ ​a​ ​little​ ​earlier.​ ​We​ ​missed​ ​having​ ​a​ ​daily​ ​backpack​ ​with​ ​better​ ​shoulder padding,​ ​and​ ​easier​ ​access​ ​for​ ​essentials​ ​on​ ​the​ ​go.​ ​We’re​ ​pretty​ ​happy​ ​with​ ​our​ ​latest​ ​pick​ ​from​ ​Vanguard​ ​on this​ ​department​ ​though.

BackpackME Ashray and Zara
With the Osprey Meridian day pack in Costa Rica

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

The​ ​Vanguard​ ​Havana​ ​camera​ ​backpack​ ​we​ ​recently​ ​got​ ​goes​ ​for​ ​about​ ​USD80​ ​and​ ​we’re​ ​very​ ​happy​ ​with​ ​it so​ ​far!

​What​ ​is​ ​your​ ​best​ ​advice​ ​for​ ​other​ ​travelers?

Once​ ​again,​ ​don’t​ ​strain​ ​your​ ​back:​ ​buy​ ​a​ ​backpack​ ​with​ ​wheels!​ ​Unless​ ​you’re​ ​going​ ​out​ ​hiking​ ​in​ ​the wilderness​ ​or​ ​plan​ ​on​ ​taking​ ​long​ ​walks​ ​on​ ​very​ ​uneven​ ​paths,​ ​a​ ​backpack​ ​with​ ​wheels​ ​will​ ​do​ ​wonders!​ ​Even better:​ ​get​ ​a​ ​hybrid​ ​backpack.​ ​Like​ ​this,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​wear​ ​it​ ​on​ ​your​ ​shoulders​ ​when​ ​you’re​ ​out​ ​in​ ​nature,​ ​and​ ​roll​ ​it around​ ​when​ ​you​ ​hit​ ​the​ ​city.​ ​It’s​ ​the​ ​best​ ​of​ ​both​ ​worlds!

BackpackME Ashray and Zara_
Roadtripping in Chile

​What​ ​will​ ​the​ ​future​ ​bring?

We’re​ ​currently​ ​in​ ​Lisbon​ ​decompressing​ ​from​ ​some​ ​pretty​ ​intense​ ​weeks​ ​in​ ​South​ ​Korea​ ​-​ ​which​ ​we​ ​loved! Next​ ​week,​ ​we’re​ ​also​ ​starting​ ​a​ ​gastronomic​ ​tour​ ​of​ ​Portugal. ​We’re​ ​planning​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​several​ ​cities​ ​beyond​ ​the more​ ​obvious​ ​Lisbon​ ​and​ ​Porto,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​rural​ ​areas​ ​in​ ​the​ ​centre​ ​and​ ​interior​ ​of​ ​the​ ​country.​ ​As​ ​always,​ ​we will​ ​be​ ​sharing​ ​everything​ ​we​ ​see​ ​and​ ​do​ ​live​ ​with​ ​our​ ​followers on our social media accounts.

Visit Ashray and Zara on their website and follow them on Instagram and Facebook


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