I (finally!) have travel gear

Let’s get right to the good part: I finally found waterproof walking shoes.


My quest for waterproof walking shoes was more or less the Epic of Gilgamesh, The Aeneid, Njáls Saga and The Odyssey rendered in retail.  It was not pretty.  It involved a lot of returns.  And yet, just at the moment I feared I was doomed to a travel life of cold, wet feet—a deus ex machine materialized in the form of a sale at Eddie Bauer.  These shoes fit!  They didn’t make my knees swell up!  They were 50% off!  (Sure, they’re kind of ugly, but let’s not dwell on that part.  At least they don’t look like giant white cruise ships.)

Having triumphed at last on the waterproof shoe front, I went on to fulfill my dream of a owning a fitted backpack.  For years I’ve carried a Rick Steves backpack, which is an excellent high-quality pack.  Great bag notwithstanding, it is unsuitable for our travel style—involving constant walking and changing locations almost every night.  The bag is not fitted to my body type and dragged on my shoulders, making me feel like I might topple over, especially when walking downhill.


Naturally, I waited for a clearance sale.  When the price was low enough I snapped up this REI Flash 52 pack. The pack is sized to my measurements and is lightweight.  There are tons of confusing straps—fortunately REI has instructions on how to adjust them all.

(Those white bits on the lower right-hand corner of the photo are not straps: they’re cat’s feet.  My cat Janacek simply would not stay out of the picture).


Janacek is admiring the curved straps and hip belt that balance the pack more comfortably on my shoulders.

I can’t endorse this pack yet, however, having not yet given it a trial run.  My biggest fear is that I won’t be allowed to use it as a carry-on.  Have any of you tried bringing a 52 sized pack on an airplane?


Next up, I needed a warm, water-resistant  coat.  Pro-tip: buy your winter coat in June.  This Woolrich coat was under $40 on Amazon.


I also wanted pants that were semi-waterproof, which I could wash in the sink at night and have more or less dry by morning.  Last spring I found these pants from Columbia for less than $20 at REI.  I wore them during our trip to Romania and they were perfect.

Sorry if I’m starting to sound like one of those annoying gear-obsessed travelers.  I’m not, really—in fact I’ve been all over Europe on trip after trip in thrift store-bought clothes and used walking shoes from eBay.  You can travel with whatever you already own (or can borrow) as long as you always pack light and wear decent walking shoes.  Have a few extra bucks to spend?  Take it from this budget travel veteran: focus on waterproof clothes, especially if you travel off season.  Decent gear is not sexy or photogenic, but that’s an acceptable trade-off for being warm, dry and light on your traveling feet.

What are your epic travel gear finds?



  1. You didn’t talk about the blue rain tarp!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL Ann! Technically, the blue rain tarp belongs to the Mister, though I did borrow in on that long, wet trip through Northern Spain.


  2. Waterproof is always good! I like traveling with wool clothing because it can be worn for several days without needing to be washed. Check out my post: http://storiesfromadrifter.com/2015/09/18/make-do-and-mend/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prefer the natural fibers too. I enjoyed your post, but curious if you ever find the wool base layers to be itchy?


      1. Nah the merino is really fine and soft. I definitely recommend it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have an 80L bag that I have used for traveling and it has gone both ways on the carry on spectrum. I bought the 80L because I needed more room so I knew I was taking a risk and would possibly have to check it, but my first flight on Delta, they let me take it as a carry on. It wasn’t full so it smushed down to carry on size. The second time I used it, I smushed it down to fit in the carry on tester and they still made me check it. That was United, I believe. I have a friend with the same bag and she said she’s had the same experience. Sometimes they make her check it, others they don’t. So if your bag is 52L, I would say you should have no problems taking it as a carry on but it all depends on the airline and how the person feels about your bag not being standard suitcase dimensions. The joys of flying! 😉 Hope it works!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks RyannTheRedhead. I often fly with Lufthansa and they seem to be quite particular. They always weigh my back, but I’m not sure if they would also measure it. (I can’t smush it down vertically because of the ridged built structure on the back.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Last year I spent a week in Vienna and it rained (or at least misted) all day every day. I had the same kind of jacket and pants plus my trusty Merrell Chill Slides with sheepskin linings, which I wore with leg warmers under the pants. Worked great! I don’t use a backpack, though, so I can’t help there. Smaller European airlines sometimes make us even check our standard size rollaboards. We tend to stay in one place for 3-7 days. Of course that has nothing to do with our advanced age!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course not, Claudia Suzan Carley, you’re still a spring chicken! 😉


  5. I have a couple of pairs of capris in the same fabric as your pants, bought at MEC (REI’s Canadian equivalent) that have FOUR pockets. The two in the back zip or button and are big enough to carry my passport. The front ones are big enough for a folded bandana/handkerchief on one side and a spare camera batter or lip balm (or whatever) on the other. They also have belt loops so I can doubly secure my small purse (Baggalini) and my small camera case in addition to the straps over my shoulder. I don’t mind capris (unless it’s 32 F) and in fact prefer them when it’s damp because the pant legs don’t drag or get wet. // So glad to hear you found shoes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Four pockets = two for lipstick, two for other stuff.

      I hear you about the wet pant legs–that was me dragging my soaking dirty cuffs all over Spain last winter.

      This shoe thing is HUGE. It’s like, now what do I do with all my free time now that I’m not constantly searching for waterproof shoes?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We’ve been flying Icelandair recently, and they’re picky with carry-ons too. I have a suitcase from Eddie Bauer that they never bat an eye at, but my husband has one of those technically-a-carry-on-but-only-if-you-don’t-fill-the-outside-pockets suitcases, and he gets the evil eye from flight attendants every now and then.

    I bought some fleece-lined leggings from Old Navy a few years ago and I swear by them for cold-weather travel. Also wool socks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They can give me all the stink eye they want, as long as I can carry on my bag!

      I haven’t tried the fleece-lined leggings yet so thanks for the tip.


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