Darren & Shelley are travel bloggers at Finding Beyond, a travel and lifestyle blog following their journey from London 9 to 5 office workers to full-time travelers and digital nomads. They've been traveling on and off for over 10 years so they are used to packing their bags and globetrotting for a year at a time. 12 months ago, they decided to permanently quit their UK jobs to try and make it as professional travel bloggers. While traveling for the past year to countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, China and Indonesia, they've worked hard to get their blog to where it is today - a business. They now earn an income from their blog alongside some related freelance client work so can now call themselves professional travel bloggers!

Although they make an income to support their travels, they're still budget backpackers and their travel style has slowed from the fast pace it used to be a few years ago. They now like to stop in destinations for a few weeks or months to work and get to know the place and its people. However, at times, they still do zig zag through a country without stopping for a month or two.

Photo Credit: @findingbeyond

What's usually in your carry on?

Our carry-ons are almost as heavy as our large backpacks because of all our digital gear. We carry 2 x laptops, 1 x tablet, 2 x hard drives and a camera with 3 x lenses. We never leave our carry-ons unattended and we make sure to get good gadget insurance in case they get stolen or lost. We dread the thought of that happening! 

Tell us about the usual type of clothes you bring when traveling?

We pack too many clothes as try to be prepared for all weather conditions but it's mostly a stupid amount of t-shirts, vests, shorts, and skirts. We could never plan a day by day outfit because we travel for such long periods of time, but when visiting hot climates we do have cheaper clothes for sweaty daytime temperatures and nicer items for the evenings when the sun's gone down.

What's the best packing tip anyone has given you? Who gave it?

To stick tape over liquid bottles so they don't burst open inside our backpacks. We always carry a roll of tape for items like sun cream and shampoo. To be doubly sure of no leakage, we then roll them up in plastic bags. There have been times when we have forgotten to do this and we've opened our bags to find our clothes covered in sticky sun cream. We can't remember who told us this packing tip but thanks if you're reading this!

What is the best thing about packing light/heavy?

We wouldn't know what it's like to pack light, but by packing heavy, we most of the time have what we need wherever we go. We can travel for a year without having to buy any extra clothes, shoes or gadgets. When traveling in poorer countries, certain items are really hard to find and there's no option of shopping on Amazon. By having everything we need, we don't have to prepare too much when moving from country to country. The downside is aching shoulders after a long walk trying to find our accommodation.

Photo Credit: @findingbeyond

How does your packing for a travel routine look like?

For the start of a big trip, the routine usually starts with a long checklist that we create a couple of weeks before departure. We then go out and purchase any items that we don't have and store them in the same place until it's time to pack. Packing doesn't start until a couple of days before we leave and it usually takes a bit of trial and error to fit everything in and of course, the odd item has to be left behind that doesn't fit. Shelley always needs extra body weight to squash her backpack down to close the zip :)

How do you deal with "excess baggage" situations?

We've never been in that situation because although our backpacks are quite heavy, they never go over the allocated weight limit. Being budget backpackers, we don't want to have to pay for things like that.

What's your best-kept packing secret?

To pack in the same way and order, every time you leave a destination. We both use the sections and compartments of our backpacks for specific items such as clothing, toiletries, shoes, gadgets etc. Knowing where everything goes in our backpacks helps us pack quicker, is easier to find items when we need them and means we are less likely to leave items behind. The stuff and go approach could cause a load of unwanted problems. Check out our Essential Travel Packing List for 2017 for tips on what everyone should be packing for a long backpacking trip.

Photo Credit: @findingbeyond

Quick Q's:

  • Favourite region? South East Asia
  • Favourite country? Sri Lanka
  • Favourite city? Sydney
  • Favourite beach? Lopes Mendes Beach, Ilha Grande, Brazil
  • Favourite food? Nasi Campur (Indonesia)
  • Favourite mode of transport? Train
  • Favourite book? Lonely Planet :)
  • Window or aisle seat? Aisle
  • Carry-on or check-in? Check-in
  • Hostel or hotel? Hostel
  • What's your favourite design from the Cabin Zero collection? The blue denim one
You can follow Darren and Shelley's adventures on their travel blog, Finding Beyond.

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