I’ve had months to think about my long term travel packing list and what I should bring with me on our round-the-world (RTW) trip. By the time I publish this post, it should be a complete inventory of what I will be carrying on my back for the next nine months. If you’re looking on advice on how to pack for a long vacation (or maybe you’re just curious about how the heck someone like me can fit their life into a single backpack), hopefully my packing checklist can serve as a starting point for your upcoming adventures.
A couple of realizations I made during the packing process:
- Pack Like You’re Going on a 2-Week Vacation: Packing for 9-month of travel is kind of like packing for a 2 week vacation. Any vacation longer than 2 weeks, and you’re bound to do laundry and have repeat outfits.
- Summer Weather Means Lighter Apparel: Given our rough itinerary, I planned to hit all our destinations during their summer season. Without winter apparel – which is thicker, heavier, and takes up more space in our backpacks – it will lighten our load significantly. Then we added Peru to our itinerary, and realized the high elevation of some cities will take us into <10°C weather, oops!
- Buy Along the Way: Most toiletry items (dental, makeup, haircare, skincare, suncare, etc.) can likely be purchased along the way as you travel, and possibly for cheaper than you’d pay for at home. So unless an item is very personal or specific to what you require (ie. contact lenses, medication, etc.), there’s no need to bring a 9-month supply of anything with you.
- Pack What’s Tried, Tested & True: It didn’t make sense for me to buy all-new items for my travels and risk something not fitting properly. My intention is to bring old favourites that are tried, tested, and true, for travel, and then get rid of them (and potentially replace with new items) on the go.
- Prioritize Multi-Purpose Products: You’ll notice that many of the items I pack have multiple functions, which helps with packing more efficiently.
- Packing Cubes are THE BEST: I will never travel without these ever again. I got a few for Christmas, and they do wonders in helping you organize your pack, while compressing your items.
Here’s what I am packing with me on my Round The World trip, organized by these seven categories: Technology, Footwear, Clothing/Apparel/Accessories, Toiletries, Medication/Supplements, and Misc.
- 50L Backpack – I LOVE my 50L North Face Banchee backpack. This 50L backpack is tried, tested, and true – it’s already been with me around the world to been with me to Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Panama, Bolivia, Iceland, Myanmar, Thailand, and S. Korea.
- Daypack – Ever since I discovered Fjällräven and its nylon backpacks, I’ve brought my Kanken backpack on every daytrip and vacation. The rectangular shape of the pack fits WAY MORE than you’d expect, and they are lightweight, durable and water resistant.
- Purse – Longchamp purses are great for travel. They are lightweight, durable, pack a LOT of stuff, and fold up when not in use.
- Wallet – I have an old Coach wallet that I use for travel. However, I hope to find something new on my travels and replace.
- Packing Cubes – I will never travel without these ever again. I got a few packing cubes for Christmas, and they do wonders in helping you organize your pack, while compressing your items – especially clothing.
- Laundry Bag – A mesh bag to store dirty clothes.
- iPhone + Lightning Cable – Can’t live without this! My iPhone 7 Plus also doubles as a portable camera.
- 13″ Laptop + Charger – This is how I will be blogging during my travels.
- DSLR Camera + Battery Charger + Camera Bag – I have nine months to practice my photography skills!
- Universal Adapter – The one I’ve been using for over 10 years can be adjusted to suit the power in any country.
- Portable Battery – No missed photo opportunities due to our devices being low on juice!
- Bluetooth Selfie Stick – Also doubles as a tripod.
I am bringing four pairs of shoes with me, I picked the the most slim, lightweight, and comfortable footwear. Nothing new – everything has already been broken in.
- Sneakers – I’m bringing along my Adidas Miss Stan Smith sneakers. The only problem is that they are white and get dirty easily, but otherwise they are worn in and comfy and stylishly match with any casual outfit.
- Sandals – I got the soles of my sandals reinforced in the summer, they’ll be good for another year or so!
- Runners – I haven’t decided which brand to bring along yet, but these will also double as my hiking shoes.
- Flip Flops – I’ve had my Havaiana Flip Fops for a few years already. I am sure I will get rid of these and pick up a new pair as I travel.
My Apparel & Accessories Packing List for RTW Travel:
- 10 Pairs x Underwear – If I had quick-dry undies, I’d prioritize bringing those (but I don’t have any).
- 5 pairs x Ankle Socks – I plan on wearing flip-flops and sandals as often as possible, but socks are a must for active outdoor activities (hikes, horseback riding, etc.)
- 2 Pairs x Cotton Leggings – they roll up well and don’t wrinkle.
- 2 x Shorts – including my Levi’s Vintage Denim Shorts which I practically lived in all summer long.
- 3 x Summer Dresses – Dresses are great because they are both a top & bottom. Washable silk is my preference because it’s more lightweight than cotton.
- 2 x T-shirts – Including a white stain-resistant Ably Apparel t-shirt.
- 2 x Long Sleeve Shirt – Good for layering. One is merino wool for colder climates in higher elevation cities like Cusco in Peru.
- 1 x Fleece – Also for wearing in colder climates, in higher elevation cities like Cusco in Peru.
- 3 x Sleeveless Tops – sleeveless green tank top, black silk sleeveless top, palm leaf print tank top.
- Denim Jacket – yes, denim is heavy, but a denim jacket matches with almost everything else I am packing, and automatically gives any outfit a stylish city look.
- Multi-Way Cotton Sweater – I bought this from All Saints for travel because you can wear it three different ways.
- Hat – Neutral, grey baseball cap.
- Sunglasses – A necessity for hot, sunny weather. I’ll probably pick up another pair or two while travelling.
- Big, Lightweight Scarf – Only bringing one as I know scarves are very easy to find while travelling and would make a good, practical souvenir for myself.
- 2 x Swimsuits – one is a more sporty/surf-inspired bikini, and the other is more fashionable.
- Pyjama Top + Shorts – if I find a souvenir teeshirt I love, I can wear that as a PJ top too.
- Synthetic Down-Filled Jacket – Love how this type of jacket squished up into a tiny ball and doesn’t take up much space. I am picking synthetic down over real down, because it’s more practical; real down clumps together as soon as it gets wet.
- Wristwatch – So I don’t have to keep pulling out my phone to check the time.
- 1 Pair x Pearl Earrings – I wear these all the time. I’m sure I’ll find more earrings on my travels.
Toiletries (Beauty & Skincare)
My Beauty & Skincare Packing List for RTW Travel. I favour multi-use products and products with lightweight packaging (ie. not a glass jar). Looks like I use a lot of Canadian skincare brands – a small reminder of home everyday as we travel. 🙂
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste – these are easy enough to buy when you run out.
- Dental Floss – also easy to buy when you run out.
- Nail Clippers – almost forgot these, since I never bring nail clippers with me on vacation.
- Contact Lens – A 9-month supply, enough to last the entire trip.
- Lens Solution + Case – Easy to buy when we run out.
- Hairbrush – A mini sized brush. I have easy to manage hair, so I’m hardly bringing along any haircare products.
- Sunscreen – SPF 30 sunscreen which works for both face and body.
- Foundation – It’s hard to shade match a new brand while abroad, so I’m bringing along my usual Giorgio Armani. foundation.
- Face Moisturizer – Graydon Green Beauty Cream
- Sample Sized Shampoo & Conditioner – a random assortment of shampoo and conditioner samples I have accumulated over the past few years.
- Brow Gel – Plume brand
- Eyeliner & Mascara – Sample sizes.
- Blush – I have a highlight, bronzer, and blush trio from Essence.
- Lipstick – Bite Beauty has a multi-stick which works as both lipstick and blush.
- Lip Chap – From Rocky Mountain Soap Co, gotta keep those lips moisturized, especially in dry climates!
- Makeup Remover Wipes – Thanks to Bioderma for sending me these.
- Hand Cream – “Hand Chemistry” pro-repair skincare – this just happened to be the product I was using while packing for our trip. I’d normally pick a smaller size to bring while travelling, but oh well – this is what I have on hand.
- Hand Sanitizer – Honest Soap Co.
- Soap / Laundry Flakes – Dry soap flakes.
- Feminine Hygiene Products – easy to find while abroad, and often cheaper than at home.
- Razor – easy to find a replacement while abroad.
Medication / Supplements
- White Flower Oil – This is a super Asian grandma item to bring along, but I don’t travel without it. It’s a minty, eucalyptus-scented oil, that helps with everything from stomach cramps to nausea. This magically little bottle of oil is so important to me, I actually keep it with me in my wallet!
- Probiotics – Bringing Renew Life probiotics – they are shelf-stable and don’t need to be refrigerated. For details, read my blog post on The Importance of Probiotics For a Healthy Gut While Travelling.
- Motion Sickness Tablets – AKA Gravol. It knocks me out but it does the trick.
- Antibiotics – Got these from my doctor in case of severe food poisoning.
- Bug Spray – A necessity for visiting tropical countries.
- Afterbite – Because bug spray can’t shield you from everything!
- Advil – For cramps, headaches, also helps with altitude sickness symptoms for high elevation destinations.
- Cold Medication – I had trouble finding this during previous travels, so thought it would be best to pack some just in case.
- Vitamin C Powder – Honestly, I’m not sure if this stuff works in keeping you healthy, but I usually carry a few packs with me to mix into water just in case.
- Water bottle – I’m bringing my S’well bottle which helps keep liquids cold (or hot) for an extended period of time. Even though it’s heavy, I like the clean feel of a stainless steel water bottle rather than drinking from the cheapo crumbles-in-your-hand plastic water bottles in developing countries.
- Travel Pillow – Good for flights, train rides, or bus rides…or to sleep on at night if the pillows at our accommodations aren’t fluffy enough.
- Lonely Planet Nicaragua – For our first destination only, then we will pass on to another traveller!
- Lonely Planet Panama – Have this from our previous trip to Panama. Might as well bring it, cause when else will we use this book again?!
Soooooo, that’s my travel packing list! Does it look like I’m missing anything?! To see how other global travellers have packed, I was very much inspired by these blog posts:
- Minimal Female Backpacking List by Simply Eco Nomads