From experience, packing for a 1-year trip was the hardest aspect of preparing for it. Now, having traveled and lived out of my backpack for well over a year, it’s a piece of cake. This post will provide some general advice on packing, as well as the exact items with pictures I would pack if I were leaving for a long-term or RTW (round-the-world) trip today.
Update: Make sure to also check out our female edition of what to pack for long-term or RTW trip.
First, some overall advice:
- Figure out approximately how often you want to do laundry. My recommendation is every 5 days. (If you start out with 5 days of clothes, as you travel this number will steadily increase – not because you buy more clothes but because you’ll wash things in the sink and your smell test will become easier to pass.)
- You’re not traveling to the moon; don’t pack for every imaginable situation. If you need something you can almost always find what you’re looking for or something close to it at your destination.
- You can send things home too. If you end up packing too much, not a big deal. Sending packages home is reasonably priced.
- If it gets cold, you can buy a jacket. If it’s hot you can buy extra T-shirts.
- Think versatility. Almost everything in your pack should serve more than 1 purpose. You’ll see what I mean below.**
- Main Pack – I’m not a pack expert. There are a lot of articles that can help you choose a pack. My main piece of advice is to find a good quality pack (you’ll use it for a long time) with two ways to get into the main compartment. **
- Daypack – I started out with a nice North Face daypack, which was great during the day. However, when I had both packs on, I was miserable. I hated having my day-pack in front and my main pack in the back. I ended up ditching it (sent it home) and went with a small, thin, foldable day-pack. One of the best decisions I made. Unfortunately, I’m still not sure what these are called or where to find them. I purchased this particular one in South Korea.
- (1) Short sleeve gym shirt (Also used as PJ’s when clean)
- (1) Long-sleeve gym shirt (Also used as PJ’s when clean & a base layer when cold)
- (1) Pair of gym shorts
- (1) Wind-breaker type jacket
- (1) Pair of jeans
- (1) Belt
- (1) Pair of zip-off cargo pants/shorts (Also used as PJ’s when clean)
- (1) Pair of shorts
- (1) Pair of board shorts (Also used as underwear when necessary)
- (4) T-shirts (You can easily add more, as t-shirts do not take up a lot of room)
- (1) Long sleeve collared shirt
- (1) Long sleeve shirt
- (5) Pairs of underwear (the athletic and quick-dry types are easy to wash in the bathroom)
- (5) Pairs of socks
When we entered cold weather I purchased:
- (1) Beanie
- (2) Pairs of gloves
- (1) Hoodie
- (1) Pair of leg warmers
And I layered! Depending on how cold it was, I would literally wear almost all of my clothes at the same time.
- (1) Pair of Sandals (used as shower sandals as well)
- (1) Pair of athletic Shoes (used for walking, running, hiking & going out)
- (1) Backup Hard Drive (I recommend online backup as well)
- (1) Steripen with 4 rechargeable AA batteries (Pretty small to bring around, saves money and great for the environment)
- (1) Olympus Digital Camera (Point & shoot, nothing special, but does the job)
- (1) Amazon Kindle (This is a new purchase. It’s surprisingly tiny.)
- (1) iPhone 3GS (Essentially becomes an iPod Touch when abroad)
- (1) Asus Eee 1005HA Netbook (Small and awesome, love it!)
The reason choosing my pack was not a big deal is that everything goes in a bag before it goes in my main pack. The space bags are great because they vacuum out the air and are easy to pack and unpack.
- (1) Large Space Bag to go (For clothes)
- (2) Medium Space Bag to go (For clothes)
- (1) Large Ziploc bag for Papers, Notebook, etc.
- (1) Small bag to store sandals
- (1) Small Eagle Creek Storage Bag (Camera charger, Pedometer, Battery Charger)
- (3) Eagle Creek Stuffer Bags (Black – Laundry, Blue – Extra/Miscellaneous, Red – Locks)
- (1) Bar of soap with Ziploc carry bag
- (1) Bottle of shampoo
- (1) Razor cord
- (1) Deodorant
- (1) Inhaler (I have asthma)
- (1) Drain stopper (Useful for washing your clothes in a sink.)
- (1) Saline Nasal Spray (All of the climate and altitude can really dry out your nose.)
- (1) REI First Aid Kit (Nice to have, but barely makes the cut into the bag.)
- (1) Razor
- (1) Tiger Balm (Great for lots of things — mainly mosquito bites)
- (1) Pepto-Bismol
- (1) Traveler’s diarrhea medicine
- (1) Toiletry bag with usual stuff – Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, etc.
- (1) Sunscreen
- (3) Extra Ziploc bags
- (1) Large fast dry shower towel
- (1) Notebook (General note-taking, but mostly for work.)
- (1) Copy of immunizations (I’ve never had to use this.)
- (1) Copy of Passport
- (1) Copy of birth certificate (I’ve never had to use this either.)
- (1) Passport
- (5) Passport photos
- (100) Business cards
- (1) PADI Diver’s Logbook & PADI Dive Card (if you’re a scuba diver, of course)
- (1) Blow up neck pillow (also used to wrap my netbook for safe traveling)
- (1) Eyemask with earplugs
- (1) Laptop lock (I’m cautious and always lock it up when I leave it in my room)
- (1) General lock with cord (If you have a locker or something similar)
- (1) Headlamp (I love my headlamp. It comes in handy for many situations, especially in a hostel dorm early in the morning or late at night)
- (1) Pedometer (I like seeing how many steps I walk in a day)
- (1) Gorillapod (This is an adjustable tripod for your camera. They’re great. Get a knock-off though, they’re far less expensive)
- (1) Swiss Army Knife (Primarily used to cut bread and spread peanut butter)
- (1) All-in-one power plug adapter (This doesn’t change voltage, it only the adapts the plug, which is all you generally need.)
- (1) Laptop power cord
- (1) Pair of super sweet sunglasses
- (1) Small notebook and pen (Always in my pocket and very helpful)
- (1) iPhone arm band for working out
- (1) Rechargeable battery charger (For Steripen batteries)
- (1) Camera battery charger
- (1) Small bag of sewing materials (This has come in handy many more times than I expected)
- (1) Bag of cords – Kindle cord, camera cord, headphones with microphone (for Skype), regular headphones, iPod cord, backup hard drive cord, small wipe to clean iPhone.
That’s it! Wow, to be honest, I had no idea there were so many things!
Did I miss anything you would never consider leaving home without? Leave a comment and let me know!
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