How to Pack for an Around the World Trip: Our Packing List

We were excited to get a few requests for a post about how we packed for this year-long trip around the world. I’m especially excited to write this post because when I initially researched how to pack for a year abroad, I found it difficult to find a packing list or tips that I was really excited about, especially because we are traveling to many different climates and cultures, and none really jived with my style. Hopefully this post will give you an idea of what to pack for long-term travel!

The Packs

We decided to each bring one backpack and one daypack. We don’t ever need to check bags, which has so many benefits that I could probably write a separate post about it! After much research, I chose the Tortuga Backpack, which I highly recommend, and Pete brought the Osprey Farpoint 40 and really likes it too.

The big-mama Tortuga on left; Osprey on right
The big-mama Tortuga on left; Osprey on right

The Tortuga: $199

Pros:

  • tons of pockets. I love the laptop pocket, the passport pockets on the hip belt and the 2 side pockets for easy access
  • fits a lottttt of stuff; maximum-sized carry on
  • great padding & shoulder/hip straps make this bag extremely comfortable
  • opens like a suitcase (front-loading): this is so important! I don’t need to take everything out to find something

Cons:

  • very large and a bit awkward & bulky when packed full; not great for people with small torsos or small frames
  • heavy: 3.65 pounds when empty!
  • no water bottle holder (not that big of a deal, since I don’t use it as a day pack)

The Osprey: $120

Pros:

  • front-loading
  • lighter weight: 2 pounds, 15 ounces
  • better looking (totally subjective, but I think the Tortuga is pretty ugly)
  • contains strap to wear as messenger bag if you don’t want to use it as backpack

Cons:

  • laptop compartment is in the outer pocket instead of back, which causes the laptop to bend over your things if you have a fully stuffed pack (like we do)
  • does not have as many compartments/pockets as the Tortuga, making organizing more difficult

What We Packed

Here is the list of everything we packed (and yes, it all fits in our backpacks!). I crossed out the things we initially brought, but no longer carry. I starred (*) the things we didn’t bring to Europe, but will pack for Southeast Asia.

Clothes/Accessories

  • Short-sleeves/T-shirts (5)
    • B: Silk tank for going out; B&W striped tank; light-weight, maroon tank; grey vneck; grey, short-sleeve crop top)
      • Other ideas for girls: plain vneck/scoop tee; nice plain cami or tunic; black tank top; short sleeve blouse; long sleeve blouse (button up, light-weight)
    • P: 2 Merino wool (vneck & crew); 2 short-sleeve, button-up; 1 t-shirt
  • Running shirt/tank
  • Long-sleeve (2,1): Pete has 2 button up shirts; I have 1 top
  • Long-sleeve poly pro shirt
  • Zip-up fleece/hoodie
  • Jeans
  • Sweater/cardigan
  • Pants (2,1): Pete has 2 he loves from Lululemon; I have 1 light-weight from Zara
  • Gym shorts
  • Regular shorts (2)
  • Rain coat
  • Bathing suit
  • Underwear
    • B (7): highly recommend wool & ExOfficio since they dry so quickly
    • P (3): ExOfficio & merino wool
  • Socks (4): gym & wool (I also brought compression socks because otherwise my ankles blow up)
  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball hat (Pete)

Brittany only:

  • Leggings: cropped & long
  • Scarf
  • Bandana
  • Headbands (1 athletic, 1 “cute”)
  • Dress: can dress up or down; ideally light-weight
  • Cover up dress (alternative: sarong)
  • Maxi dress or long skirt*
  • Camis (2): grey & black
  • Bras (4): 2 underwire, 2 lacy
  • Sports bra
  • Cotton shorts for sleeping
IMG_1764
Dress & cover-up (yes it’s stained orange from Santorini hot springs…#humblebrag?)
On the top: long sleeve (Tobi), vneck (Urban Outfitters); Bottom: crop (H&M), silk blouse (Forever 21), flowy tank (Nordstrom)
On the top: long sleeve (Tobi), vneck (Urban Outfitters); bottom: crop (H&M), silk blouse (Forever 21), flowy tank (Nordstrom). Not pictured: maroon & running tanks
Top: jammy shorts, jorts, shorts from Zara (replace the yellow pair I stained with red wine); Bottom: long Lulu leggings, light pants from Zara (not pictured: Lulu crops, because I don't photograph nude, silly!)
Top: jammy shorts, AE jorts, Zara shorts (replace the yellow pair I stained with red wine); bottom: long Lulu leggings, light pants from Zara. Not pictured: gym shorts, Lulu crops – I don’t photograph nude, silly!

Shoes

Brittany: Black Toms, sandals, running shoes

IMG_1761
Perfect combo of shoes for travel – seriously!

Pete: Oxfords, sandals, running shoes

Pete's petite shoes
Pete’s petite shoes; he’s thinking about leaving the oxfords behind

Toiletries & Make-up

  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste: travel-sized
  • Toothbrush
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezer
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Razor with extra heads

Brittany only:

  • Toiletry bag: I’ve loved this flat one: large, but great organizer & stores a lot
  • Bobby pins
  • Hair ties (2)
  • Diva cup
  • Gogirl*
  • Makeup removing wipes
  • Mascara
  • NARS stick
  • Eyeliner: white & black (haven’t used these yet)
  • Lotion: travel-sized

Medical

  • Sunlotion
  • Bug spray*
  • Malaria pills (doxycycline)*
  • Cipro*
  • Azithromycin*
  • Band-aids: the blister ones have come in handy many times
  • Ibuprofen
  • Allergy pills
  • Aloe
  • Hand sanitizer*

Electronics

  • Bose noise-canceling earbuds
  • Battery pack w/flashlight
  • Laptop (P: Macbook pro; B: Acer Chromebook 14)
  • Digital cameras
  • Gopro & accessories
  • Charging chords for all the above
  • Universal Converter/Adapter
  • Headphone splitter
  • Cordless mouse (me)
  • Selfie stick (I’ve used it once; may leave it behind)

Important Stuff

  • Passport: get the 58 pages option for no extra charge
  • Drivers license
  • Color copies of passport & drivers license; recommend to save (offline) in google drive in addition to hard copies
  • Extra passport photos in color (1)
  • Passport cover: these have been nice to put our boarding passes in
  • Debit & credit cards
    • Credit cards: we recommend one with a pin; debit card: we recommend Charles Schwab for no fees!
  • Vaccination card (yellow card)*

Misc.

  • Sleep mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Day pack
    • I have the REI Flash 18 and Pete has the Osprey Daylite; I like Pete’s better because it has a small front pocket for things we need easily accessible, but the price is right for the Flash!
  • Notebook/journal
  • Water bottle (collapsible): we’ve liked our Vapurs & recommend the 1L size
  • Travel towel (Pete)
  • Compression bag (me) or packing cubes (Pete): depends on your preference. I put all my clothes in my bag
  • Small wallet for credit cards
  • Aloksak bags (still haven’t used, but could be useful for laundry)
  • Laundry kit
  • Clothes line: very important; cheaper on the linked site than Amazon
  • Carabiners
  • Duct tape
  • Bag for chords (although I’d like to find a better way to organize them)
  • Combination lock (not necessary for carry-ons)
  • Safety pins, rubber bands, twist ties & zip ties
  • Zip lock bags: 2 of each size
  • Plastic shopping bag: useful for wet bathing suits or dirty clothes
  • Card games: we like Love Letter and Monopoly Deal
  • Lifestraw*

Didn’t bring, but may be a good idea:

  • B complex (for jet lag)
  • Benadryl
  • Charcoal pills
  • Neosporin
  • Travel sleep-sack (if you’re going to really rough it)
  • Tieks flats (for girls)
  • Deck of cards
  • Lighter
  • Flashlight/headlamp/LED on keychain: our phones & battery packs have flashlights
  • Sewing kit
  • Power strip (we’ll probably buy one of these)
Literally everything I brought; final stage of packing
Literally everything I brought; final stage of packing

Main Ideas

Phew! So even though that may be a crazy-long list, it all fits in our backpacks, which has been so extremely convenient. We get a kick out of watching people struggle with their roller bags and/or huge checked bags (is that bad?) and are so glad we went the backpack-only route.

  • You should be able to mix and match all of your clothes; that is, all of your tops should be able to worn with all of your bottoms.
  • Don’t pack clothes you wouldn’t normally wear. What I mean is: if you’d normally feel ugly in cargo hiking pants, you probably shouldn’t buy those just for traveling.
  • That being said…light-weight, quick-dry clothing is SO IDEAL, hence our obsession with merino wool & ExOfficio. It’s definitely worth it to splurge for these items.
  • Avoid white – you will stain it/it will get dirty!
  • Jeans…honestly, we were so happy to get rid of these. They are insanely heavy and really aren’t necessary for us. That being said, if you’re obsessed with jeans and can’t live without them, it’s still definitely possible to fit them in your backpack.
  • I really love my compression bag; I can fit all of my clothes in it and it gets very compact. However, I’m still going to experiment with packing cubes after a while to see which method I prefer.
  • It’s really nice to have a travel partner, since we can share many of the things we brought (and only pack 1 between the 2 of us).

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you buy one of these products through these links, you’ll be gifting us some cent$ at no cost to you! We are eternally grateful for your support 🙂 

Do you have any questions on why we brought what we brought? Think of anything we left out? Leave a comment!

5 Comment

  1. Craig says: Reply

    Wow – this is an extremely comprehensive review – thank you for all of the effort. I completely agree with the front loading backpack. I traveled with a 45 liter standard pack and it’s really time consuming to find anything and you often have to remove everything and then place it all back in!

  2. Aaron Trockman says: Reply

    Hi Brittany!

    I loved reading this post because I am leaving Epic in a few weeks and moving to Kuala Lumpur and I’ve really been struggling to decide what to pack and what backpack to buy. Thanks for linking in the items you bought, I already ordered a few things listed above. This has been so helpful!

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      Congrats Aaron – Kuala Lumpur looks fantastic, can’t wait to hear about it! Glad to hear I helped 🙂 let me know if you need any more tips or advice

  3. Janice THOMPSON says: Reply

    Thought about you – and this post- when I read the following passage from Michael Crichton’s book “Travels” pg 350 (which I think you would like and I highly recommend):

    “Unaccustomed to direct experience, we can come to fear it. We don’t want to read a book or see a museum show until we’ve read the reviews so that we know what to think We lose the confidence to perceive for ourselves. We want to know the meaning of an experience before we have it.

    We become frightened of direct experience, and we will go to elaborate lengths to avoid it.

    I found I like to travel, because it got me out of the routines and my familiar patterns. The more traveling I did, the more organized I became. I kept adding things I liked to have with me on my trips. Naturally I took books to read. Then I’d take my Walkman and the tapes I liked to listed to. Pretty soon i’d also take notebooks and colored pens for drawing. Then a portable computer for writing. Then magazines for the airplane trip. And a sweater in case it got cold on the airplane. And hand cream for dry skin.

    Before long traveling became a lot less fun, because now I was staggering onto airplanes, loaded down with all this stuff that I felt I had to take with me. I had made a new routine instead of escaping the old one. I wasn’t getting away from the office any more, I was just carrying most of the contents of my desk on my shoulders.

    So one day I decided I would get on the plane and carry nothing at all, Nothing to entertain me, nothing to save me from boredom. I stepped on the pan in a state of panic– none of my familiar stuff! What was i going to do?

    It turned out I had a fine time. I read the magazines that were on the plane. I talked to people. I stared out the window. I thought about things.

    It turned out I didn’t need amy of that stuff I thought I needed. In fact, I felt a lot more alive without it. “

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      I love that! So powerful, especially the part about direct experience. We were terrified of staying on a remote island in Cambodia for a week, with no access to wifi (Koh Rong Samloem), but it turned out great!

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