Round the World Packing List: Backpack Travel


If you are trying to convince yourself to pack less, I encourage you to look at the annotated version of this page instead.  There are three lists below –

1) Stuff I’m Glad I Brought
2) Stuff Currently Weighing Me Down – skip to this list.
3) Stuff Other People Say to Pack & Why to Ignore Them – skip to this list.

Stuff I’m Glad I Brought

To Contain Things

This is what I carry. I’d like even less!

Brain Stuff 

  • Pocket Notebook
  • Composition Notebook
  • Pens

MacGuyver

Dealing with red tape at the Laos border, using the magic of a passport.

Comfort

Electronics

To Put on My Body

Personal Care

This size is the most popular in SE Asia. (see chapstick tube for reference). Just toss in a couple little travel bottles to get you through your first days, then buy some of the 100mL/3oz version of what you need.

Unique to my Life

  • Diving Credentials
  • Workout Routines
  • Photos to Mail

Stuff Currently Weighing Me Down

This is how I feel about all the junk on this list.

To Contain Things

  • small Nylon Stuff Sack
  • coin purse
  • various Zip Lock bags
  • Giant Zip Lock (broken)
  • 1 Gallon Ziplock (dirty)

Brain Stuff

  • Books – 6

Comfort

  • Gum

What eventually happens to iPod earbuds that are uncomfortable anyway.

Electronics

  • Cell Phone
  • AV Camera Cord
  • NZ plug adapter
  • Flimsy Laptop Sleeve
  • Extra Earbuds

MacGuyver

  • red Keychain LED flashlight
  • Zip ties x 5
  • Duct Tape – second stash
  • Mini Highlighter
  • Sharpie
  • Expired Credit Cards to give to thieves
  • Water purifier tablets
  • Medical Tape
  • Tissue packet
  • Folding Frisbee

Personal Care

  • Face Wash (full size)
  • Hotel Shampoo
  • Small Hair Clip
  • Solid/Bar Shampoo & container
  • Solid/Bar Conditioner & container

Two years ago, when I set out on my fourth world travel adventure, I found this type of shampoo on lots of people’s lists. I don’t recommend it.  Here’s why.

To Put on My body

  • Scarf
  • Running Shoes
  • Sports Bra
  • Running Shirt
  • Running Spandex
  • Skirt wrap – muslin
  • Cowl neck tank top

Unique to my Life


Stuff Other People Say to Pack & Why to Ignore Them

(A caveat here.  For this category, you really should read the annotated version.  Usually the items suit the category title.  But sometimes they’re actually things I think you should have that I just don’t right now.)

To Contain Things

If you’re going to carry a small bag (< 30L), which you should, packing cubes are a bit of a no-no. Keeping your stuff heavily categorized in your bag wastes already limited space. If not having things segregated is going to drive you crazy, introduce yourself to free, cheap packing cubes. I call them Ziplock bags! 😉

Brain Stuff

Comfort

Electronics

MacGuyver

You don’t need photo copies of all your documents.  It’s a waste of space, weight, and paper you’ll never use.  Hear me out. Okay, 1) Why would you need these things? Answer: your passport or credit card got stolen. 2)  I feel like, if you’re needing these documents, probably ALL your stuff got stolen, including the copies. 3) Even if that’s not true, scanning them and emailing them to yourself is more handy. You can access them from any internet connection in the world. And when you didn’t realize you’d need to bring your passport details to the internet cafe to buy your next air tickets, you can just pull it up and figure out when it expires/was issued, etc.

Personal Care

First Aid Kid you definitely don’t need!  You are not going to a war zone. You are not time traveling to the 16th century. You’re just going to another country. Where people also cut their fingers. And get colds. And have infections. And need antibiotics. Unless you’re straying really far off the beaten path, please don’t fill your bag with all this stuff “just in case.” You’re going to be able to buy first aid supplies abroad. You have the internet to help you make sure you’re taking the right thing and to translate it into the local language. And if it’s something you’ll find in a first aid kit, some other schmoe carrying a 70L pack will gladly give it to you – happy to finally take a little weight out of his/her monstrous pack.

To Put on My Body

Like I said, the last section is pretty worthless without the annotations.  Find out why I say you shouldn’t add this seemingly helpful junk to your pack (or why you should and how I ended up without it) by reading through the notes here.

Ready to buy your plane ticket?  Read my Cheap Flights advice.
First trip?  Check out 10 Novice Travel Tips.



3 comments

  • October 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Hey, I’m no schmoe. I carry a 70L backpack sometimes. 🙂 But I do go lite sometimes too. 🙂

  • November 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Love the lists – what brand and model is you pack? I’m looking for a ‘carry on’ backpack for my trip to South America, I definitely don’t want to carry any more that 30L!

    • November 5, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Hey Mat! I’ve got the North Face Borealis – they’re up to 29L now. The company has changed hands since I purchased my pack, so I can’t vouch as to the quality of products North Face is currently turning out, but consumer review can give you a leg up there. Cheers and good luck! 🙂

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