Something about stuffing one bag full of other bags and then trekking around the world seems a little… unnecessary… but that’s how I roll!
There are a few key bags that I bring with me on every major backpacking trip. First, there is my pack itself. I am passionate about a front-loading backpack as I think it makes it easier to keep your stuff neat and organized. My backpack is made by Asolo; it is very similar to the style shown above with the addition of a detachable day pack (with which I have a love-hate relationship… sometimes I’m so glad I have it, other times it’s a bit cumbersome), a separate zipped section on the bottom (for shoes and anything that might leak- love it), and snap-on, snap-off shoulder strap to carry the bag as a duffel bag (love it but lost it… if you find a detachable blue-and-black shoulder strap somewhere in Albania please let me know!).
I typically bring two purses with me. One, I carry almost every day and another for going out. I look for “day bags” with adjustable straps, secure zip closures across the top, and multiple pockets. The multiple pockets thing is really key when you’re carrying a water bottle (which is prone to condensation) as well as electronics or maps that need to stay dry. Kipling makes a few different durable purses that, while not being super-chic, serve my purposes well.
For evening I pack a small clutch with detachable straps and/or a wrist strap, for security. If I’m going on a pub crawl or walking alone at night I’ll just pop the very barest necessities into this little bag.
Finally, I travel with a large wallet. As a dual citizen I keep one passport in my wallet and the other somewhere else (I try to hide it in my locked backpack, usually), so I need a fairly big wallet. I love wallets with two zip compartments, as I can use one for coins in my current country and the other for coins from other countries that I might later exchange or save as a souvenir. I like a wide wallet that keeps my bills flat, and I always organize them from smallest to largest so I never have to rifle around for too long. While I typically buy neutral purses in blacks, browns and greys, I love a brightly-colored wallet because it’s easy to find it in my purse.
If you have room in your bag you might also consider bringing something to use as a beach bag. I didn’t have room last summer so I just threw my stuff into a plastic bag, but I always feel cuter when I hit the beach with my towel in a cute matching bag.