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Packing Tips from the Pros: Sheena Leong

( travel light )

Packing Tips from the Pros: Sheena Leong

Sheena is a pro traveller from Adelaide, Australia who has visited more than 80 countries across 6 continents. Her dream is to travel to every country in the world but she’s in no rush to do it – Sheena knows that, in time, she’ll get to Antarctica & everywhere else so she doesn’t want to miss anything along the way.  

Sheena is always seeking adventure & can often be found diving under the sea, camping on the summit of volcanoes, exploring ancient ruins or hiking in the jungle searching for wildlife. She loves the freedom of independent travel – without tours or guides – and she blogs about it all at diytravelhq.com. Her in-depth posts explain exactly how she travels from place to place with prices & information listed on sights, accommodation & transport.

Photography is another of Sheena’s passions and her blog is filled with stunning images that will inspire serious wanderlust. Sheena has been living an adventurous on-road/off-road lifestyle for more than 10 years. She’s currently based in Adelaide & New York City, chasing the sunshine, exploring the best of worlds & everything in between.  

What's usually in your carry-on?

Everything!!! My backpack goes in the overhead compartment & I keep a smaller bag on me with my valuables. These include my laptop, camera & smartphone loaded with Netflix. I usually get cold on flights so I bring along socks & a shawl to use as a blanket. I fill-up a water bottle before getting on a flight & I also pack a travel-size moisturiser & lip balm to keep from drying out.

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

I wear the same clothes for travelling as I do in everyday life – thin, lightweight clothing that can be worn for different situations. I think most about the weather, what activities I’ll be doing & how much use I’ll get from each item. I pack plenty of tops, shorts & skirts to mix & match – so that I’m not wearing the same clothes in all my photos!

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

My boyfriend & blogging partner Erik swears by packing cubes – he got me a set for my birthday but I haven’t used them… I see how they are handy for keeping your luggage organised as it’s easy to lose things when you’re constantly packing & unpacking. But they take up extra weight in my carry-on & I like a bit of disorderly chaos so I’m yet to be convinced!

What is the best thing about packing light?

I love the flexibility & ease of getting around with packing light! I can go sightseeing with my carry-on & en route between cities, saving me time & money in accommodation. I can travel on low-cost airlines without having to pay for check-in bags. Most importantly I can take my backpack on board with me on buses & trains and feel safe knowing that my all my things are with me.

How does your packing for a travel routine look like?

In the lead-up to a trip, I’ll start thinking about what I need to pack – the things I already have & the things I need to buy. I only travel with a carry-on so I try to pack as minimally as I can from the beginning. I divide my things between essentials & maybes and go from there, depending on weight. Usually I’ll have to cull some heavier clothing & toiletries. I travel often so packing doesn’t really stress me out & I usually do it the night before. On my last trip, I bought my backpack the day before my flight. It’s still in awesome shape after 2 years on the road so I think I made a solid choice!

How do you deal with "excess baggage" situations?

It’s simple – I wear my excess baggage! I’m not afraid of boarding a flight with layers of mismatched clothing, hats & beanies, stuffed pockets & a laptop tucked into my pants! I always travel with a carry-on so there aren’t many things I can part with, even if I’m a little over the limit… I’m always nervous when I check-in to flights & breathe a sigh of relief when I make it on board. I’ve definitely been lucky to never have to pay excess baggage fees – and I vow to keep it that way for the rest of my life!

What's your best-kept packing secret?

You really don’t need much! Even if you think you’re packing as little as possible, there are still going to be lots of things of those “just in case” items you’ll never actually use. And bring along something unique from your country to share on your travels. I always take a small tube of vegemite with me & I love seeing the reactions of people around the world when they try it!

Quick Q's

  • Favourite region? Asia
  • Favourite country? China
  • Favourite city? New York City
  • Favourite beach? Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Favourite food? Mapo tofu
  • Favourite mode of transport? Overland
  • Favourite book? The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • Window or aisle seat? Window
  • Carry-on or check-in? Carry-on
  • Hostel or hotel? Hotel
  • What's your favourite design from the Cabin Zero collection? Military Green

Follow Sheena's adventures on her travel blog, DIY Travel HQ.

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