“So… what backpack is that?”

In the sea of people waiting for the airport gate to open, she looked like she looked a little bit like me – a worn out female traveler about to backpack through Thailand.

I wondered what to say to her for the longest time as I felt my fear of being awkward grew. I knew we had some common ground with the fact that we both survived a layover flight to Shanghai from the States, but I didn’t want to sound stupid.

I’m an introvert. I’m shy. Just stay glued to the phone and don’t bother people.

I truthfully didn’t want that, though.

I was going to a completely new country solo and if I couldn’t work up the courage to talk to this one person, when will I ever with anyone else? Would I never converse with people outside of what was convenient for me? If there’s one place where you can reinvent yourself, it’s in a whole new country where you don’t know anyone.

I finally worked up the nerves to ask a question.

“So… what backpack is that?” I asked to a girl sitting right across from me at Gate 21.

“Oh this? It’s just a Bago.” She answered, smiling.

We ended up chatting the whole time before boarding and during the grueling hour of visa/customs. In the end, she asked if I wanted to split a taxi with her.

And that’s how I made my first friend in Thailand – not by staying in my comfort zone, but by taking the initiative to ask what backpack she was carrying.

A month away as a solo female traveler

I’ll be in Thailand for a month! I’ll predominately be staying in Northern Thailand. It’s going to be an exhausting and amazing four weeks.

February 2 – Depart LAX
February 4 – Arrival in Bangkok, Thailand
February 5 – Bangkok
February 5 to 9 – Make my way to Chiang Mai with pitstops in Ayuthaya, Lopburi, and Sukkhothai via train
February 9 to 11 – Workaway volunteer opportunity at Kad Sala Sanpatong (roughly an hour away from the city of Chiang Mai)
February 12 to 18 – Tentative Muay Thai one week training camp in Chiang Mai
February 19 to 25 – Elephant Nature Park! I’ll be volunteering for the next week.
February 26 – Chiang Mai
February 27 to 28 – Silent Meditation Retreat in Chiang Mai
March 1 – Flight back to Bangkok
March 2 to March 5 – Bangkok and tentatively a Music Festival
March 6 – Heading back home to Los Angeles!

Packing list for one month in Thailand

I’ve been traveling minimally with a backpack for roughly two years now, but this is my first time leaving the United States for a month as a solo female traveler.

I made the mental decision to do as many uncomfortable things as possible after my 25th birthday last year. This would probably top the top of the list.

I’ve tweaked my packing list every , but the last few days I felt like I was packing and repacking everything! I moved the contents of my bag into one backpack and then into another to compare.

Ultimately, I made the decision to use the Osprey Farpoint 40 rather than the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 to accommodate bringing my laptop.

(Plus, I was to bring elephant pants back.)

*Total bag weight is roughly 18 lb or 8.1 kg. Estimated volume used 25L.*

Osprey Farpoint 40
Coachella drawstring bag
Eagle Creek packing cube (medium)
Hanging toiletry bag from Mujii

6 x Black underwear (Exofficio)
2 x tank tops (merino wool)
2 x shirts (merino wool)
1 x long sleeve (currently wearing)
1 x Athleta trekkie joggers (currently wearing)
4 x sports bra
2 x running shorts
1 x cotton shorts
1 x Adidas Ultraboost
1 x Dad hat
1 x Flipbelt
1 x bathing suit

13 inch Macbook Pro
iPad mini
iPhone 6s (not pictured)
Sony RX 100 V
Anker Power Bank
Cables, cords, extra batteries to go with electronics
Power adapter

Shaving razor
Contacts, solution, 2 cases
Toothbrush & toothpaste
Insect repellent

Folder full of important documentation (not pictured)
Sleep mask & ear plugs
First Aid kit
Notebook & pens