Since so many of you have expressed amazement at how I am able to travel long-term with so little luggage, I thought I’d share some of my travel packing tips. For anyone considering a trip around the world my first advice is to understand that the travel equipment companies like Magellan’s and REI offer SOME really good items but in general, most of the devices they promote are absolutely unnecessary. Their job is to convince customers that they cannot possibly travel without the latest and greatest travel devices, but the truth is that very few of these items are absolutely necessary.

Second, unless you want to schlep tons of luggage wherever you go, you must be prepared to wear the same clothes over and over. Laundry is quite easy to do overseas. In most cases you can drop it off one day and have it the next – often for a very low cost. Also, many budget accommodations are not the most accessible. Often the road does not go all the way to the hotel’s front door and it is necessary to walk some distance to get to the facility. Other times, the hotel or hostel is at the top of a long, steep flight of stairs. The last thing you want to do is load yourself down with luggage if you are trying to travel economically.

I travel with a medium size (no hard frame) backpack that contains all my electronic equipment and personal items, as well as a 22″ carry-on rolling suitcase. These two pieces of luggage hold everything I need for both warm and cold climates. Once I arrive at a destination I transfer my camera, phone, lip balm, Emory board, comb, flashlight, Moleskin notebook, earphones, phone charger, and wallet (with copy of my passport, credit card, debit card, and driver’s license) to a smaller backpack that is stored inside my suitcase while traveling.

Here are my travel packing tips about what to carry and how to carry it:

TO WEAR:

  • Long trousers
  • Hiking boots and socks
  • Long sleeve top
  • Sweatshirt
  • Glasses
  • Underwear

TO CARRY ON IN BACKPACK:

  • Wallet (containing ID card with contact info, Driver’s License, Passport, Certificate of vaccination against yellow fever, Credit Card, ATM Card)
  • Airline tickets/itinerary
  • Backup copies of itinerary, passport, driver’s license, contact numbers for Master Card & bank debit card, and contact info for travel insurance, etc., all in plastic sleeve
  • Extra passport photos
  • Camera, case, extra battery, extra storage cards, battery charger, lens cleaning tissue
  • MacBook in case, charger, extra cord
  • Phone, charger, and headphones
  • Plug adapters
  • Wifi Extender
  • Moleskin notebook
  • Mini flashlight
  • One long sleeve top
  • One short sleeve top
  • One Capri pants
  • One set of underwear
  • Eyeglass case
  • Wet wipes
  • Portable toilet paper
  • Small hand lotion
  • Emory board
  • Lip balm
  • Comb
  • Small combination padlock
  • Pens

TO PACK IN MAIN CHECKED BAG:

  • One pair of long trousers
  • One long Yoga pants
  • One capri pant
  • One pair of shorts
  • Six T-shirts
  • Three long sleeve tops/shirts
  • Sweater or hoodie
  • underwear
  • One pair of pajamas
  • Socks
  • Sarong (as a beach towel)
  • Swimsuit, hat, and sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Detergent sheets
  • Zip lock sandwich, snack & gallon bags
  • Travel towel
  • Toiletries kit (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razors, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, toenail clipper, nail file)
  • Medical kit (Band-Aids, Hydrocortisone cream, Dramimine, Imoddium, Benadryl, anti-viral, aspirin)
  • Q-tips
  • Yoga mat
  • Rubber bands, & safety pins
  • Sewing kit
  • Travel sink plug
  • Combination padlock
  • Cable for securing luggage to train racks
  • Day-pack with rain cover

You can modify as needed – for instance if you are not going to colder climates you will need fewer long-sleeved tops, etc. Since I began in SE Asia where it was hot I did not pack a coat. Instead, when I got to New Zealand where it was winter, I bought a coat, gloves, hat, scarf, and a pair of woolen socks in a secondhand store and then donated all of it to another secondhand store when I left the cold weather behind.

In future blogs I’ll discuss things you can and should do to ensure safe travel, as well as things you need to do before you leave that will allow you to be away from home for long stretches at a time, such as setting up online bill paying and setting up special ATM-linked accounts. In no time at all you’ll have the benefit of my experience and you, too, can hit the road.