Ana Balica

Hi, I'm Ana.

I'm a software developer. I mostly do Python. This blog is about my adventures with code, travel experiences and relevant life events. I try not to take myself too seriously.

Here's what I'm doing now.

Occasionally I give talks.

Please don't take my words for granted, because Internet is full of bad advice, and I might be part of it inadvertently.

Packing light is hard

Especially for girls. I used to pack up a giant travel luggage, even if I was going to be out for 2 days. “I dress according to the moods I sense in the room. As such, I must have options.” And my options were huge, same as my entire closet.

Times change and here is my first attempt to pack light for a 3-day trip. Start small with short trips and develop your personal mini-perfect-kit for longer journeys – that’s my motto.


Without even considering other options, I have bought a backpack. Handbags are a lot more uncomfortable to carry. Suitcases? That isn’t going to be light. I have a Deuter GoGo with a volume of 25 litre in a girlish magenta arrowcheck color. Going beyond 30 litre already starts feeling big and not casual at all. The dimensions are also relevant to the airplane company that will allow you to take the bag on-board as hand luggage. The GoGo model is designed for city and traveling and lies within reasonable price range. I have purchased mine for 40 EURO. The killer feature of Deuter backpacks are the airstripes, which make your trips comfy, non-sweaty-back and hence enjoyable.

Deuter backpack

I usually have blind faith that I will be able to get some work done, therefore I always carry my laptop. It’s 14 inch display laptop weighing 1.31kg + the charger, whose weight is never specified by the manufacturer (they really should start doing that). If you don’t do constant work on your laptop and you use it to check facebook or skype, than a phone will do much better. A smartphone today is a super space saver. In the best case scenario it replaces the following accessories:

  • camera
  • laptop or tablet
  • books, newspapers, magazines, guidebooks
  • physical map
  • notebook
  • music player

Moreover it has a GPS and quite often represents an entertainment device. Oh, I forgot, you can make calls also. Along with the smartphone, I usually take a pair of earphones and my cable charger. Actually this time I will skip the charger and the power adapter, since I am visiting a friend and every house has a collection of micro USB cables. The point is to get maximum usefulness from multipurpose devices.

During a 3-day trip I don’t think I will get much reading done, so I am leaving my Kindle at home. At the same time I am not totally detached from my collection of books, since Kindle app syncs with your Amazon account and viva le cloud – I can read from my phone. Less convenient, but still better.

Next important step is the choice of shoes. It was one the most scrutinizing background jobs that lasted for 3 days in my mind. After solid market analysis, I have come up to the conclusion called Ecco Sport Biom Lite 1.2 Marry Jane. They look as if my grandma bought herself a pair of shoes to go to a health resort. Grandma will always choose cozy shoes and so they are. Being extremely light they offer a perfect foot support. Don’t go for converse or skate shoes, after 5-7 hours of walking you will see the difference.

I can wear them with trousers, shorts, skirts or dresses. They look equally okaish. The only annoying thing about Ecco Biom Marry Jane is that they are made of nubuck, which makes it hard to remove the stains. In one month or so I have made them look shabby and not so pretty anymore. Anyway totally worth the money.

ecco shoes

Today I had the risk to buy the “neck-pouch-that-says-I-have-my-most-important-belongings-right-here-steal-it-asap”, in other words Samsonite Kangaroo Neck Pouch. I put in it my passport, travel tickets, credit cards, cash, coins. Most of my clothes lack any pockets, so I think it will become also a phone holder. Real reviews coming up after the upcoming trip.

Everything else sums up to this:

  • two t-shirts
  • pair of shorts
  • pair of flip-flops
  • swimming suit (I know I will be at a swimming pool)
  • bag with ladies stuff, tooth brush, razor and medicine (take only unusual kind, don’t carry any Strepsils with you – you can buy those in any drugstore)
  • 3 pairs of panties
  • 5 pairs of low socks
  • pair of skin color tights – wear them with the shorts in cold weather
  • comb – I have long hair
  • anti-perspirant – it is ginormous, definitely should find something more miniature
  • solution for cleaning contact lenses in a green bottle
  • mirror, marker for unexpected hitchhiking, labello lipstick, lighter, rolling paper and other small stuff

Travel Kit

The little bottles of 100ml are simple, yet brilliant. You can buy a 4-pack from IKEA. I use them for shampoo, soap, solution. And the most awesome part is that you can take them on-board of an airplane.

IKEA bottle

Thank goodness it’s summer and my backpacks weights only 4 kg.

406 Not Acceptable items

Along with the checklist, there is a list of stuff I don’t take with me in the trip. I am not talking about a basketball ball or a frying pan, but about the things that I used to take. And so those are:

  • makeup – since I don’t use any, easy to do, but I know some girls might find it difficult living without at least basic makeup
  • hair products – I didn’t have the shampoo in my checklist, because I know I will be borrowing it from my host
  • books – occupy a lot of space and cause back pain
  • camera – if you are not a photo expert, smartphone camera probably will do
  • manicure set – 3 days, remember?

To conclude, captain obvious is ready for her trip. Wish me good luck and intriguing adventures!