5 things you carry with you when you’re a Mexican American Mochilera

When you’re a backpacker, you only carry the essentials because of limited space.  All of my belongings need to fit into a 40 liter backpack and a tote bag. Somehow though, you make space for some extra items.  Here are 5 things you carry around with you when you’re a Mexican American Mochilera.

1 – The various santos and escapulas your mom started giving you as soon as she found out you were leaving to travel.


After I told my parents I was leaving to travel long term, my mom started handing me one every few weeks telling me que “El Padre lo bendició” or “Reza la oración que esta atrás cuando te subes al avión.” They remind me of her each time I find them again in the forgotten side pocket of my backpack.

2 – A picture of your ahijada


Her little picture day at school photo reminds me to keep moving forward and to live a great life.  I hope I can be an inspiration to her one day.  Or at least have something interesting to talk to her about when she’s older.  She’s 4 years old so she’s only interested when I’m housesitting a cat or something like that.  Once I tried telling her about my experience at an Elephant sanctuary and she responded with “Tell me more about the cat.”

3 – Dance shoes

Dance Shoes

They add weight and bulk to my bag but you never know when you’re going to have a chance to dance abroad! Whether it’s Salsa, Cha Cha or Banda, I want to be prepared.

4 – A fully stuffed makeup bag

Makeup Bag

Mira, just because I’m a backpacker doesn’t mean I don’t wanna wear some eyeliner, eyeshadow or lipstick once in a while! Plus, I need some concealer under my eyes before I skype my mom to avoid the “Mija, te ves cansada” comments. Even though they’re going to happen anyways.

5 – A small bag of Pinto beans

Pinto Heart
Photo Credit: Esperanza Guzmán (Gracias Mami)

Ok, so I’m not carrying this with me anymore. But I did carry around a small bag of frijoles pinto while traveling around Thailand.  I got excited when I found them in a red clearance bin at a Tesco store in Koh Samui, Thailand.  I had this food fantasy I would have the chance to cook and eat frijoles refritos. That’s how much I miss Mexican food. But after repeatedly squeezing them into my backpack and lugging them them around for a few weeks, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. Sadly, I had to let them go.

What extra items do you pack in your mochila?


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