Outfitting oneself for a round-the-world trip can be rather daunting and expensive, as you guess what might be needed throughout a whole year of travel. Then, trying to smash it all in a single pack makes it no easier. But Britnee and I both managed to make do with very little and each lived out of our backpacks for the year, providing a great lesson in living with less.

Since getting home, I’ve been asked a lot about what clothing and gear we packed around the world. A lot of readers have been looking at our original packing lists on the website, yet there’s many things I’d do differently now. So for the sake of others looking to our site for advice, here’s an updated list of the things I wish I’d packed on our round-the-world trip:

Packing List, Round the World, What to Pack for a trip around the world, vacation, travel, gear, packing list

Travel Bags

Originally I chose an Osprey Farpoint 55 and I’m sorry to say that I chose poorly. Don’t get me wrong, I love Osprey’s products, it’s just that the Farpoint, when fully loaded, was miserably uncomfortable — especially when slogging through humid streets of Xi’an or hiking to a hostel in the Lake District. On those such occasions I often found myself dreaming of a hybrid pack with wheels — like the Osprey Sojourn — or a proper backpacking pack designed for more comfort — like the Osprey Atmos 65 that I now own at home.

The only issue with a backpacking pack is that you can’t lock it when in transit or leaving it behind at a hostel. But, with an Osprey Airporter Lockable Zipper Bag you’ll protect your belongings by keeping them locked up whenever necessary with a Master Lock luggage lock and cable.

To organize everything on the inside, I now swear by my Eagle Creek Packing Cubes: whole cube, half cube and tube cube. These made easy work of packing and allowed me to maintain some order when unpacking clothes and leaving them in my room.

On the side I’d pack a Think Tank Retrospective 5a lightweight, inconspicuous shoulder carry for camera and valuables. Still small enough to stuff into your large backpack when needed.

Camera

Having worked at a newspaper as a photographer for years, I wanted to travel with quality gear I was familiar with. Too bad that gear was some of the heaviest I could find. The Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70 2.8 kit I shot with was an amazing combo that I still own and love, but by the end of our travels I was dreaming of a smaller, lightweight camera. Part of me also thinks that many potential subjects would have been less intimidated by a smaller camera, allowing for more opportunities to capture portraits along the way.

The Sony Alpha 7RII, Distagon T* FE 35 mm F1.4 lens and Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70 mm F4 lens would have provided me the same focal range and similar (if not better) image quality at a fraction of the weight and intimidation. Of course, don’t forget extra batteries and SD cards.

Shoes

If you read my review of the shoes I packed, you already know I loved the Salomon Synapse. For all we did — from trekking snow-bound passes in Nepal to working out in a gym in Thailand — they were just the right fit and grip. Those I wouldn’t change (although I did just pick up a pair of Salomon XR CrossMax 2 Trail Running Shoes to replace my worn out Synapse and I love them even more).

A second footwear option is a tougher call. I initially packed a pair of Chacos Z/2 Yampa sandals and Chacos EcoTread flip flops, and that turned out to be way too much. The Yampas — too heavy, but too valuable to dump — got sent home early, leaving me with flip flops that were great for wearing around town, but too heavy and absorbent for regular use as shower shoes. So what do you do? I’d go with an in-between flip flop like the Crocs Athens — lightweight and all plastic for the showers, but with great cushion for longer wear.

Electronics

My Macbook Air was the right choice — the lightest, slimmest machine, powerful enough to do all I needed with Photoshop and blogging. Britnee packed an iPad Mini that was a great help in transit when showing reservations at check-in counters; when it came to updating the blog and working on images, though, there was no better alternative for the Air.

Bring a 0ne-terabyte hard drive for backup of images. Everyone asked if we backed up to the cloud and this would have been wise, but we rarely had a reliable enough Internet connection to do so.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones were a must! Lightweight and small, they pack top-quality sound and surprising noise-canceling ability into in-ear headphones. Over the thousands of miles we traveled, these things, without a doubt, saved my hearing and gave me much-needed peace on occasion.

iPod. Obviously.

And outlet adaptors — but not a bulky convertor unless you’re packing a hairdryer, which I wasn’t.

Travel Clothes

One pair of lightweight convertible hiking pants and one pair of jeans. I didn’t pack jeans at first, but regretted it once I got to Europe where I bought some for cheap.

Prana’s Zion Stretch Shorts received my top score on all reviews last year and I plan on buying more next spring. Add lightweight running shorts and you’ve got all you need (board shorts can be bought cheap in S.E. Asia when needed).

One tank top, two cotton T-shirts, 2 synthetic T-shirts and one long-sleeve button up with a little style.

Long underwear, top and bottom. It may seem a bit much, but there was many an occasion we were happy to have them when shivering cold in Nepal or South America.

Rain jacket — synthetic down jacket — fleece. Three jackets? Yes. Use them individually when needed, but when stacked together they kept me toasty on the coldest day trekking in Nepal.

Four pairs of ExOfficio boxers and two pairs of synthetic briefs. ExOfficio makes amazing, comfortable, anti-bacterial underwear and yes, I wore them for days on end on occasion. Bring synthetic briefs for runs/gym, if you like that sort of thing.

Four pairs of smart wool running socks. On our trip I packed two paris of smart wool and two pairs of synthetic, but the synthetic always got smelly after a single use whereas the smart wool could last for days.

One pair of warm FIT Socks — so nice and cozy when the temperatures dropped.

One small beanie and one ball cap; try and be more stylish than me. 😉

Top off your outfit with sunglasses and hard case to protect them. There’s lots of cheap, ripoff sunglasses being sold around the world. But be warned, they may not provide appropriate UV protection and you’ll be damaging your eyes on bright days, looking wide-eyed through that cheap tint.

Miscellaneous

I packed a basic first aid kit, but rarely used it. Things we used most — bandaids, moleskin and antiseptic — could be found along the way. Same goes for your hygiene kit; I packed way too much — including disposable razors — and could have easily bought most of it along the way to save weight. However, pack a lightweight backpacking towel as hostels won’t always provide them, and beach towels are cheap and plentiful when needed.

Vitamins! Your diet will go to hell at times, so pack a little immune-support. Seeing as I’m a light sleeper, sleeping pills like Advil PM were also mandatory.

Also mandatory: a sink stopper! We used it all the time for laundry when washing our clothes in a sink with Camp Suds. Saved a lot of money on laundry fees that way.

Camp mug and tea bags or instant coffee! Hard to find in China and I was happy to have it on the long train ride to Moscow.

Sea to Summit X-Bowl and a lightweight but strong titanium spork. We used ours all the time when cooking in a hostel kitchen or eating cold cereal in our room, but Britnee’s plastic spork didn’t last long.

SteriPen! This thing saved us while trekking in Nepal and provided peace of mind when we traveled with it after that.

Bring a lightweight locker lock too, it will prove useful when lockers are provided that your smaller luggage locks won’t fit.

Add a quality neck pillow, sleeping mask and earplugs! I didn’t buy a neck pillow until eight months into our trip and it made all the difference. A bit of a nuisance to pack — it actually hung on the outside of my pack all the time — but provided great comfort on long bus and plane rides.

And last but not least, a durable journal. Even if you don’t journal regularly, make the effort to scribble notes and store keepsakes in it throughout your trip. It’ll be the best souvenir you’ll ever have when you’re done dragging it around the world.

Lady travelers, check out Britnee’s revised packing list.

5 Responses

  1. Svenja

    Thanks for posting this review of your original packing list – always helpful to see what worked out and what didn’t so much, especially after long trips such as yours.
    Is there any chance you might convince Britnee to write a similar post?
    Svenja recently posted…Kurztrips 2015: AmsterdamMy Profile

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