One of the most common questions I am asked is, “What on earth do you bring with you when you travel? Does it all fit on your back?” With one week to go I thought I would post my packing list for those of you who are interested in what I am taking for a year on the road. For those of you who need help packing for your own trip I review my favorite packing aids, and tips I use when packing.
To start with, experience truly is the best teacher and that is no exception when it comes to packing for this trip. I thought I would share a few packing lessons I learned from my trip to South America.
- You do NOT want to be lugging unnecessary things around. No matter what you tell yourself, you will regret all the “just incase” items at 3 in the morning when you are sprinting to your next bus with a pack the size of a buffalo on your back.
- Bring your favorite articles of clothing with you, vs all the quick-dry special travel clothes. You are never going to be more comfortable than in your go-to pieces of clothing, and chances are you are going to look a whole lot better.
- Jeggings are the pants from god. All the practicality of jeans, the comfort of leggings, and the packability of athletic pants.
- Packing cubes make life a whole lot more bearable. Nothing worse than digging through a pack for an elusive item that ends up being at the bottom of the pile.
- Anything you may need, you will be able to buy. More often than not, cheaper than at home. Additionally, anything you don’t need you can donate along the way.
With those important lessons in mind, the first decision you need to make is what size bag(s) to take with you. Chris and I each had a 28 L daypack and a 60-70 L large pack on our last trip, and absolutely hated having so much luggage. Having to walk even short distances was exhausting when we had both packs on, and we barely used most of the items we had in our large packs. It was also a worry when we had to check our large bag on a flight, or store it in the luggage compartment on a bus as it is easily stolen. For these reasons, Chris and I ideally would love to travel with carry-on only. After debating this idea for a long time, which included generating many packing lists, we ultimately realized it wouldn’t be possible for us to travel exclusively carry-on. Our several guidebooks and our mini pharmacy alone preclude us from traveling carry-on. We decided on a happy medium, with each of us bringing our 28 L daypack as our carry-on and bringing only one large bag between us.
Our carry-on bag is a Deuter 28 L daypack which fits the dimensions of the largest sized carry-on for most major airlines. Pictured is the 28L pack, fully packed for the trip.
As I mentioned in my lessons learned, packing cubes are an absolute must. On our last trip we had Air Canada packing cubes which were excellent, but only came in 2 sizes. For this trip we splurged on Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes, and haven’t had one regret since. They come in so many sizes and different materials, and they make organizing our bags incredibly easy, as well as save on space.
The first of the cubes we purchased is the full sized compression cube, which I will be using for my main cube with all of my “everyday” clothes. Pictured below are all of the articles of clothing to go in this cube. It seems like a lot when it is all laid out, doesn’t it?
The list of everyday clothes includes:
- 1 denim shirt
- 3 t-shirts
- 4 tank tops
- 1 cardigan
- 2 pairs of jeggings
- 1 maxi skirt
These 12 articles of clothing make 26 outfits! This is one of the biggest tips I can give anyone trying to pack for long-term travel, pick articles of clothing that all can be mixed and matched to create outfits. All of these items, except for 1 outfit for the plane (jeans, black tank, black cardigan) fit into the large compression cube!
The next compression cube we purchased is a half-sized compression cube which I am using for all of my athletic gear. Below are all of the items of clothing I was able to fit into the half-cube.
- 2 dry fit t-shirts
- 1 long-sleeve thermal shirt
- 1 full-length pair of thermal pants
- 1 pair of lululemon athletic pants
- 1 pair of athletic shorts (also double as shorts for bed)
- 1 dry fit hat
- 1 bandana
I forgot to take a picture of the half-cube packed by itself, there will be one further below with all 3 packing cubes packed. Sorry!
The next cube we purchased is called a tube cube, and is ideal for underwear, socks, and sports bras. I was also able to fit my gloves and headband in the tube cube, as we are starting in Eastern Europe where it will be winter these items are necessary. They will also come in handy in the Himalayas! I spared the pictures of the underwear, you’re welcome.
The three packing cubes fully packed:
Next up is my outdoor gear and shoes, none of which fit into packing cubes. Luckily, they pack pretty compact as well. This includes:
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket. It is able to pack into its own pocket, however I plan to wear it on the plane so I left it unpacked
- Patagonia R2 hoodie, which in the bottom picture you can see is rolled into its own hood
- MEC waterproof jacket, which also packs into its own hood
- MEC waterproof pants (these will go in the large bag)
- Nike crosstrainers
- iPanema sandals
- Hiking boots (these will go into the large backpack)
We purchased the Eagle Creek electronics cube to keep our electronics safe (it is very well padded) and to keep all of the cords organized.
We will be bringing the following with us:
- Point and shoot waterproof camera which we brought with us on our last trip. Did an excellent job of taking pictures, and is incredibly durable
- GoPro Hero3. We splurged and invested in this, which we are incredibly excited about.
- GoPro dual battery charger to making charging batteries quicker and more efficient
- MicroSD card reader
- Not pictured is both Chris and my phones. We will be taking these and using them as minicomputers. I am able to blog from my phone, we are both able to read books on our phones, listen to music etc. I also have my phone unlocked so I can buy SIM cards and use my phone wherever we are.
Lastly of all to go in my carry-on is all of my jewelry, hair accessories and mascara in the adorable elephant printed cosmetic bag given to me by my coworker 🙂
So, how did I put it all together? In the bottom compartment of my bag I was able to fit my hoodie, rain jacket, sandals, and electronic bag.
In the main compartment I fit my 3 packing cubes, and my case that holds my jewelry and accessories. The bag is full, but every ounce of space is maximized.
In terms of things of mine going in the large bag they include the following:
- A maxi dress for the warmer weather. I know, seems crazy to bring it when we won’t hit the warm weather for several months. However, with the amount of time we are going to spend, I think it is at least worth bringing in the big bag
- Same goes for the jean shorts
- Quick dry towel
- My rain pants
- Camel back for hiking
- Emergency blanket
- 2 bathing suits
All of those items packed into the Air Canada packing cube pictured on the left. On the right is my toiletry bag, which again is Eagle Creek. It will be going in the large bag as well due to liquid restrictions on flights. Again, my hiking boots will also be packed in the large bag.
That is it! What do you think? Too much? Too little? After finishing in the colder weather I plan on donating several items such as 1 pair of my jeggings, headband etc. to be even more efficient!
One final tip: while taking pictures of everything I am bringing was partly for this blog post, I also planned on taking pictures incase anything is stolen/lost and I need to put in an insurance claim with my travelers insurance. Chris and I learned on our last trip that they require proof of ownership of belongings stolen. While visa or bank statements are also accepted, they do accept pictures. I therefore recommend photographing all of your belongings and keep them in a folder for easy access! Saves time digging through statements to find a record of purchase.
7 more days until take-off, we are getting very excited!