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How To Pack For a Trip Around The World

So You’re About To Live Out of a Backpack

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from backpacking journeys around the globe, it’s that it doesn’t matter if you’re traveling for 2 weeks or indefinitely. A single bag must contain everything you need to live, work, and thrive. Not only must you cram your life into a mere 38-liter pouch, but you’ve got to be mindful of weight. No one wants to tour the world pack-mule style, becoming closer to Quasimodo posture with each waking day. Scoliosis on fleek. Every time I travel, within a week on the road I wish I’d packed less.

Essentials, essentials, essentials. Do you have to think about it? Then you don’t need it. Did you say “Well, I might….” Nope. Put it back. Chances are, you’ll never pull it out of your bag, and you’re lugging around those precious extra ounces for nothing. Trust me, minimalism is all the rage these days, so the goal here is to pack like a mobile monk.

Why? The list of benefits is huge. Topping my list is the obvious answer – less back pain. Not feeling like shit has huge physical and psychological benefits, but I don’t think you need me to tell you that! However, there’s a ton of other perks to light luggage. You’ll be able to hop on the airplane with just a carry-on; no time wasted waiting on checked bags. When you’re hungover at 10:45 AM and your hostel’s checkout time is 11 AM sharp, you’ll be able to pack up your life and leave in a jiffy. There’s no worries about paying for porters on hikes, or finding a locker during your city strolls when you’ve got less than 20 pounds to your name. The list goes on.

Also, people seem to forget….stores exist. Pharmacies exist. Unless you’re traveling to the depths of the third world where people are riding zebras and spear-hunting antelope, you’ll likely be able to find what you need at any given point and time.

 

A Word About Gear

The contents of my pack were compiled for a trip that begins in Europe and ends….well I don’t quite know yet. Also keep in mind, that I am a photographer that will be working during my journey. This calls for a lot of extra equipment that is likely unnecessary for the average backpacker. In case you happen to be a photographer or travel blogger, I’ll still include a list of this equipment, because it’s some great stuff for the traveling techie!

Included for each items are purchase links, in case you want to add anything to your collection. I am lucky enough to live in Delaware, where we have tax-free outlets. Outlet stores are an awesome place to grab name brand gear at deep discounts. Stores like Merrell, Columbia, and Marmot will often have items at up to 70% off of MSRP, and they’ll usually throw in coupons for future visits. Always ask if the store offers student discounts – if you held onto your old college ID, you’ll be able to save yourself an additional 10% off of closeout prices.

 

Travel Documents

  • Passport with RFID blocking sleeve/ wallet
  • 3 passport photos
  • 2 color copies of passport
  • A printed copy of your traveller’s insurance plan

 

Bags, Storage & Organization

REI Vagabond Tour 40 Travel Pack – I love this bag. It’s the best backpack I’ve ever had. Unlike your traditional top-loading backpack, the Vagabond has a zip panel that offers wide-open access to everything in your pack. Just like a suitcase. It’s a real game changer. The hipbelt is super padded and offers a ton of support to lessen the load on your back. It comes with a rain cover, has easily accessible side pockets / top pouch, webbing loops for trekking poles, and it falls within carry-on dimensions for most airlines. I’ve never had a problem. It’s awesome.

 

Hikpro 20L – Water Resistant Travel Hiking Daypack -This little guy is perfect for day hikes and day trips when you want to leave the majority of your gear back at your sleeping-quarters. It’s a roomy 20 liter pack that folds into itself when it’s not in use, so it doesn’t take up much space in your main bag. I’ve had mine for 3 years now, use it very frequently,  and it’s still going strong!

 

eBags Packing Cubes – 4pc Small/Med Set (Grasshopper) – All of my clothes fit in the smallest packing cube, so that’s the only one I bring along. It keeps all my clothes in one places and helps maximize my pack space.

 

Ziploc Slider Storage Bags -Bring a couple different sizes of ziplock bags. Small ones are great to keep you cellphone dry, or to organize loose odds and ends in your pack. Larger ones are great to isolate dirty laundry or to keep a laptop in to ensure it stays dry when you’re stuck in a rainstorm.

 

Photography Gear

 

Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera –

I made a bold move and bought this camera right before i left for my ’round-the-world trip. I typically shoot with a Canon 6D and an array of large, heavy lenses. Point being, I wouldn’t be able to manage the weight. This little camera is perfect for traveling. I’m loving the touchscreen which is great for for candid street photography.

 

Fujinon XF16mmF1.4 R WR – Again, this was a last minute purchase, and bold move. Switching to a brand new system one week before a worldwide photography adventure…impulsive? Sure. Good decision? We’ll find out I guess? I’d read nothing but great reviews, enough so to trust this to be my one and only lens in my backpack. With a 1.4 aperture, I’ll be able to capture photo and video in very low light situations – which is great for street photography. So far, it’s been tack sharp. Even wide open I’ve been impressed.

 

MegaGear ”Ultra Light” Neoprene Camera Case for Fujifilm X-T20– A little neoprene slipcover fit for an X-T20. Though it is marketed to fit the X-T20 and its kit lens, it fits perfectly fine with the XF 16mm 1.4 along with the lens cover. It comes with a carabiner so you can easily attach it to your belt loop if you’re not into a neck strap.

 

SanDisk 128GB Ultra UHS-I Class 10 SDXC Memory Card– These are my go-to SD cards. They’re fast enough that you can shoot in continuous mode and not have to worry about write-time delays. The 128 GB cards are large enough to shoot thousands of RAW images, or a decent amount of 1080P HD video. I keep two of these with me when I travel. Now, my Macbook only has a 128GB hard drive. Crazy to think that you can fit all of that on a fingernail sized card these days. Due to my space limitations, I utilize Prime Photos from Amazon. Are you an Amazon Prime member? I bet you never even knew you had this. Prime Photos allows for unlimited full-quality photo storage for any Amazon Prime member. You can even invite 5 friends to your ‘Family Vault’ so they can also enjoy unlimited photo storage. If you aren’t already an Amazon Prime member, crawl out from under your rock. Literally the best $79 ever. It’ll pay for itself just shipping half of this stuff to you.

 

Rode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone with Rycote Lyre Shock Mount– This is a great, low cost mic to pair with your camera or smartphone if you plan on capturing professional quality audio for your vlog. It’s universally compatible, has an anti-shock mount to reduce vibration, and comes with a cute furry windshield that looks like a sootball from Spirited Away.

 

Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader- Most laptops will have an SD card reader, however since the Macbook Airs were so thin, they did away with all the extraneous ports. If you’ve got a GoPro or something else you’re filming with, you’re in luck because it reads basically anything.

 

ESDDI 32inch Light Reflector 5 in 1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Photography Reflector with Bag

I plan on doing some staged portraiture while I’m on this trip, and outdoor lighting can be rather harsh. This disc reflector can be used to fill in, reflect, diffuse, absorb or soften light. It folds down to under 12 inches in diameter, so you can slip it in the laptop section of your bag.

 

 

Electronics 

Apple MacBook Air 11.6-Inch laptop -Now, my laptop is a 2011 model, so by all means, grab something newer. The point is, this is a machine that is under 12 inches across, has a 9 hour battery life, and is under 2.5 pounds. Key words here: under 2.5 pounds. Apple has since done away with the Macbook Air, but the new Macbook has similar (and slightly better) specs.

 

Wakeach 45W Magnetic Travel Charger for Apple MacBook Air– An Apple MagSafe 45W power adapter is 1.1 pounds. This is 8.5 ounces and half the size.

 

JOOMFEEN Worldwide Travel Adapter – One little power box that’ll juice up your electronics from anywhere in the world. Over 150 countries. You can use the dual USB ports at the same time as the AC adapter. In fact you can charge three things at the same time. And it’s only 3 ounces.

 

Mpow Flame Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones w/ Mic– They’re under $20. They sound great. They’re great for long train rides and they mute screaming children on airplanes. I like the fact that the band is bright red and very noticable. I wear these when I’m walking around in souks and marketplaces where salespeople are very aggressive. I’m not listening to anything, but if a shop owner thinks I am, they may just actually actually leave me alone. I actually sleep with these in my ears at hostels because I can’t fall asleep without listening to white noise. Since these are wireless, I can connect to my iPhone which is charging in the one outlet across the room, while I’ve got static directly in my ears until I drift into dreamland. And I don’t get wrapped up in a cord while I’m tossing and turning.

 

Apple iPhone SE 64 GB Unlocked– Again, personal preference. I’m not going to tell you your Samsung sucks. I’m just saying that your Samsung sucks for me. If I had the cash for an iPhone X, sure, I’d get one. But any smart phone with a great camera will do. While I’m an Apple fanboi, I really like the idea of the Google Pixel 2 and it’s unlimited photo storage.

 

 

Lightning cables, [3FT 6FT 6FT 10FT] – Bring an extra. Or two extra. They get lost. Just like at home.

 

Olloclip 4-IN-1 

-Some pizazz for your smart phone camera. Fisheye, Superwide, and Macro. If you’ve only got space in your pack for one lens on your DSLR, this can give you some additional variety for your Insta. And it’s selfie ready!

SIM Card Tray Open Eject Pin

You’re going to be switching SIM cards out with each country you visit. This comes in handy. You can also use a paperclip. I just feel a little more badass with my special paperclip.

 

Clothing & Footwear

*Do note that I am really androgynous, so this list contains both men’s and women’s items. If you check amazon, the items usually exist in both male and female versions. Pick your poison. 

I’m not going to review each piece of clothing individually, but I will give you some some overall pointers. Buy moisture wicking clothing so you dry out quickly if you become a sweaty mess or get stuck in a monsoon. Buy UPF 50+ clothing to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. Columbia ‘Omni-Shade’ clothing protects from UVA and UVB rays – full spectrum coverage. Pack light, but pack the everything you’d need an array of climates. The key is layering. Instead of bringing one huge jacket that you may never use, wear a combination of a shirt, a light hoodie, and a midnight jacket. Convertible pants are great because you get pants and shorts for the price of one. Leggings are a great way to add some warmth under your pants, or can be worn on their own for a summer hike.

Shoes or hiking boots? I picked something in between. The Merrell Moab 2’s are a low-top hiking shoe that are by far the most comfortable thing I’ve ever had on my feet. They’re suede leather and mesh, and mold to your foot like a dream. If you buy all black hiking shoes such as these, you can get away with wearing them out at night without looking like a total goon. Black shoes go with pretty much anything.

Be sure to break your shoes in well before your trip!!

 

Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe, Black Night

 

(2) Tesla Men’s HyperDri Short Sleeve T-Shirt

 

Columbia Tamiami II Short Sleeve Shirt

 

Columbia Sportswear Women’s Saturday Trail II Convertible Pant

 

Merrell Women’s Belay Pant

 

Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Stretch Short

 

Columbia Women’s Luminary Legging

 

Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Hoodie, Black Heather, Medium

 

Merrell Women’s Inertia Hoodie

 

Under garments – 3 pants of underpants, 3 pairs of moisture wicking socks, and 2 sports bras. Doesn’t sound like enough, but it is.

 

 

Hiking Goods

Knee Brace – My knees have completely gone to shit over the years. I can’t function without a knee brace, I actually pack both a sleeve and a heavy duty brace. Even if you don’t have issues, knee support is always a good idea to bring along, especially if you’re planning on hiking a lot.

 

Moleskin blister patches–  Because blisters suck.

 

Trekking Poles – I’ve had super expensive trekking poles and I honestly can’t really tell the difference between these poles and poles that cost 5 times the price. These are lightweight, adjustable, and have comfy grips. They’ve got anti-shock springs so they take a good deal of stress off your knees.

 

 

Odds & Ends

  • Medicine pouch
    • Prescribed medications – I try to keep all my medications in their original containers, but depending on what I am prescribed at the time – this can get excessive and take up a lot of space in my pack. I’ve never encountered a problem when I haven’t had all my prescription bottles, but I always keep controlled substances in their original containers.
    • Ibuprofen – This will be your friend.
    • Alkaseltzer – My hangover miracle.
  • Spare glasses in a soft case / sunglasses
  • Money pouch
    • I carry my regular wallet as well as a waist belt under my clothes. I always separate my cash just in case something is to happen. I typically keep small bills in my wallet and larger denominations in the hidden waste belt. I have gotten held up before, and by doing this, it appeared that I only had $20, instead of the hundreds I actually had under my bellybutton.
  • Pain relief patches
    • These are a life saver. Your pack gets heavy after a while and it takes a toll on you. Sore shoulders, shitty back, stiff neck. These things help you out on the bad days. I prefer the deep heat variation, but some people like the icy-hot style. I keep a mix of deep heat and Lidocaine patches in my backpack.
  • Toiletries pouch – packets of shampoo, deodorant, ladies sanitary things, wet wipes
  • Travel toothbrush & paste – I like the teeth brushes that fold in half. They’re compact, and since they fold into themselves, the bristles are tucked away in a little compartment and not getting lint and bag gunk all over them.
  • Tide-To-Go pen – You don’t have that many clothes. You won’t always have a place to do laundry. Keep yourself looking semi-presentable.
  • Earplugs – Do you plan on staying at hostels? Do you even airplane, bruh?
  • Travel sized first aid kit
  • Travel sheet – A lot of hostels charge if you don’t BYO sheet. Even if they give you fresh linens, it’s smart to layer yours on top to avoid any run-ins with bedbugs.
  • Small journal & pen – KEEP A JOURNAL!! BLOG!! DO SOMETHING TO REMEMBER ALL THESE AMAZING EXPERIENCES  YOU’RE ABOUT TO HAVE!!!
  • Rope dart (or any other hobby prop) – This can be replaced with any little hobby doo-dad to keep you occupied during slow days. I love rope dart because there’s ALWAYS something to learn, its a physical activity, it keeps your creative juices flowing, and it’s a conversation starter. I’ve made more friends than I can count thru learning & teaching rope dart. Plus, you can make one out of basically anything! Want to learn? Check out www.ropedartacademy.com for some great beginner tutorials.

 

Last but not least…

  • Business Cards – Because a little self promotion never hurt anyone 😉
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Welcome to the adventures & misadventures of a solo female traveler. Detailed itineraries, fresh discoveries, photo recaps, and all the storytime so you can live vicariously thru my journals as I weasel my way across the world.

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