Quick note – I’m on day 2 of my trip right now. I am POSITIVE that I have packed things I don’t need, and I may have forgotten things I want. But this is my starting point.
Packing for an RTW trip can be daunting. What do I need? How do I accommodate various climates? Do I really have to carry all of this stuff?
When I started planning, I had zero idea how to fit my life into a backpack. Thankfully, I’m not the first person to go around the world, so I started reading tips. Some I disregarded completely (all you travelers who fit everything in a 30 liter pack? You are AMAZING but that was not about to happen). Some I took to heart and tried to follow.
The few things that were helpful to me (and may or may not be helpful for you):
- If you don’t use it in your normal life, you are unlikely to use it during your trip. For me, this meant bringing my “regular” clothes (jeans, chambray, toms) and forgoing “travel” clothes (zip off pants, etc). Sure, I added a few new items (I don’t typically rely upon a steripen or a travel towel), but ultimately I’m still me, even on the road.
- If you aren’t sure about an item, don’t bring it. This is helpful in last-minute packing decision making. Do you really, really want to carry that shirt? No? Don’t bring it.
- Packing cubes are an organizational dream. I know some travelers don’t see the use in them, but for me, it allowed me to fit all of my clothes into three tiny little pouches. And now that I am at my hostel, those three pouches are keeping me so much more organized than I otherwise might have been!
- Make everything match. I don’t know if I read this somewhere or just landed on the idea myself, but everything in my pack matches. It’s all black, white, gray and denim, with maroon and olive “accessories” (my jacket, scarf, and the bag itself). It means that I can wear anything with anything, which makes my limited wardrobe go that much farther.
- Remember that you can get most anything anywhere. This was a great reminder for me. If I forgot something, I can probably get it wherever I am. Sure, there are a few exceptions (particular medicines, specific preferences on brands of items, etc), but in general, stores exist everywhere. Knowing that seriously freed up my packing.
- Bring something that will make you happy. For me, that meant USB drives my friends loaded with messages to me, a leather Bible (despite it being heavy) and one bottle of nail polish. Don’t get so caught up in the “I have to pack as little as possible” that you forget that you have to live with this stuff!
A couple other notes: I have three stops in the US during my trip, so I have the luxury of replenishing things about which I am more particular (shampoo, conditioner, feminine products, etc). Also, I am working while traveling, so I have a full arsenal of electronics and a handful of “nicer” clothes so that I can meet with people and get my work done. Finally, there are lots of travel bloggers who would quickly tell me I have WAY too much stuff. Yes, fine, I know. This is a first attempt at long term travel, and one that is taking me to 30 different countries. I know I have a lot, ok? But I did my best!
So now the moment you’ve been waiting for – my packing list! Here is an itemized list of everything that I have with me on my journey. Again, I am positive I have overpacked and simultaneously forgotten something, but I feel like this is a pretty good start!
Gray long sleeve t-shirt
Black tank top
Green tank top
Black silk tank
White silk tank
2 chambray shirts
Blue tunic top
White and blue striped tunic
2 pairs of leggings (including heat-tech leggings from Uniqlo)
Long black skirt
10 pairs of underwear
2 sports bras
2 regular bras
Uniqlo puffy coat (that stuffs into a tiny pouch)
2 pairs of wool socks
3 pairs of athletic socks
Patagonia Better Sweater
Northface Rain Jacket
Maroon India scarf (currently serving the dual purpose of protecting my camera in my bag)
Brown leather cross-body purse
Olive American Apparel infinity scarf
Osprey backpack with detachable daypack (combined 70 liters)
Chicago coordinates bar necklace (I just leave this on all the time)
Small gold hoop earrings (fake, of course – and I leave these on too)
Camera (Canon Rebel T3i)
Camera Cord (to connect to computer)
USB drives full of letters/videos from my friends
Phone (iPhone 6)
Laptop (MacBook Air)
2 all-in-one plug converters
Steripen (cleans water with a UV light!)
Beauty/Grooming (packed into a gallon ziplock bag):
Bobby Pins (I think I have 6? I just grabbed them and tossed them into the bag)
One big hair clip
5 small hair clips
Shampoo (travel size)
Conditioner (travel size)
Toothbrush (with cover)
Toothpaste (travel size)
EOS lip balm
Neutrogena powder foundation
Medicine/First Aid (packed into a gallon ziplock bag):
Bug bite stick
Tylenol Cold Medicine
Ricola Cough Drops
3 Kind bars
Nalgene Bottle on a carabeener
Laundry soap (travel size)
Fast-drying travel towel
4 packing cubes
1 stuff sack
Foldable tote bag
Yellow fever card
Wallet with the necessary cash/cards
Photocopies of my passport, ID, prescriptions, etc.
Printed copy of my full flight itinerary (just in case)
Planner (where I have kept all of my notes for all of the places I’m going)