What do you pack for a 101-day journey around the world that is going to take you to 10 countries on five continents? Not much. I packed only a backpack and a small rolling suitcase that goes in the overhead compartment on an airplane. This post details every single thing that I packed.
When I told friends that I was embarking on a 101-day journey around the world that would involve treks in the Amazon rainforest, hikes in Nepal, a multi-day bike tour in Vietnam, a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, and a wedding in London, one of the first questions they asked was how I was going to pack.
My goal was to pack on versatile essentials. I put much thought into each and every item that I packed since my goal was to pack as little as possible. I also set aside a couple of dresses, a pair of heels, and a handbag that Charles will bring to London for me.
Step 1: Research
The first thing that you should do if you are planning a long term trip is to research the locations you will be visiting and the activities you want to do. If you are going to do any organized tours, find out if you can rent any of the equipment. I learned that it is easy to rent any extra gear that I will need for Mount Kilimanjaro, which is perfect since I don’t want to be lugging waterproof pants or a sleeping bag all over the world with me. Read up on what the weather will be like, and find destination specific packing lists.
Step 2: The Packing Process
When you are packing, I highly recommend trying on anything that you haven’t worn recently. Make sure that it still fits. See if those shoes you wore last summer are comfortable.
You also want to carefully select what you are going to wear on flights. I wear my bulkiest shoes, a sweatshirt, and a jacket. I like to wear a jacket or sweatshirt with large exterior pockets that I can use to store my phone, wallet, and passport. I like knowing that my most important things are on my body and in a safe place.
Packing for a Trip Around the World
1 pair of jeans – I wanted to bring two, but jeans are bulky so I narrowed it down to one pair. If I desperately need another, I can buy jeans along the way.
1 pair of joggers – These loose casual pants are great for travel.
3 pairs of shorts – I only packed sports shorts. My reasoning is that I need to wear sports shorts if I take a jog (which I plan to do to train for Kilimanjaro) and for when I am biking in Vietnam. If I want to look cute, I will just wear a dress.
3 pairs of leggings – Leggings take up minimal space in a suitcase, and are perfect for outdoor activities.
1 pair of sweatpants – I packed my favorite sweatpants because I can wear them on flights, as pajamas, and as an extra layer when things get cold on Kilimanjaro.
4 shorts tanks/tees – These can be worn as a base layer, and they will be ideal for the bike trip in Vietnam.
4 casual tees – Just everyday wear.
3 long sleeve shirts – I really love this new one that I bought for the trip. You can’t go wrong with classic stripes.
3 long sleeve shirts for sports – Two of these are SPF 50 and they are great for hiking.
3 sweatshirts – One is the Lululemon scuba hoodie that I love to wear on flights because my phone and passport easily fit into the large pockets. The other two are more fashionable.
1 light sweater – It’s this colorful striped sweater, and it folds up to be very small.
3 dresses – I packed three sundresses to wear in Europe.
1 jacket – I picked my quilted jacket from Barbour. If it is very cold I can wear the rain jacket over it.
1 rain jacket – Based on Jenn’s recommendation, and my own love of the brand, I bought a new rain jacket from Barbour. I love the big pockets in the front that are big enough for my phone and camera.
2 bathing suits – I will need these in Italy and Portugal.
13 pairs of undies – I am planning to do laundry about every 10 days, which is how I determined how much to pack.
3 sports bras – For working out or wearing on flights.
4 bras – I do really like the True & Co bras since they fold up really well and are very comfortable.
2 pairs of pajamas – I didn’t want to pack too many pairs of pajamas, and I can always sleep in sweatpants and a tee.
3 neck gaiters – They aren’t exactly Spring’s hot new accessory, but these can be worn around my neck (which was helpful when the back of my neck got sunburnt when I climbed Machu Picchu Mountain) or as a headband.
1 hat – I bought one baseball hat for sun protection and bad hair days.
hiking boots – My sister and I love the brand Keen, and have their waterproof hiking boots. I always wear these on flights instead of putting them in my suitcase because they are bulky.
running shoes – I care more about comfort than looking cute, plus I plan to do some running while I am gone.
gold sandals – I wore these almost daily last summer and they can be dressed up or down.
6 pairs of socks – This might not be enough, but socks are easy to wash in the sink at a hotel, and they are cheap if I want to just buy more. I shove all the socks into my running sneaks to save suitcase space.
2 pairs of sunglasses – I can fit two into one case.
glasses – I wear them on flights and before bed.
1 headlamp – I need this for the rainforest and Kilimanjaro. Fun fact: I am afraid of the dark.
1 flip belt – This belt is meant for running, but it can also be worn as a money belt.
a Go Pro – I like how indestructible it is and how clear the video is.
SD cards – I take these out of the packaging to save space.
chargers – I made sure that I had all of the cables for all of my devices.
power bank – It’s a relief to be able to charge things on the go.
power adapter – Get one that works globally – it’s a big space saver.
my laptop – I am working during the trip, so I need my computer.
a microphone – I need this for the podcast.
a foldup backpack – I love this Herschel backpack that folds up into a tiny pouch. It’s a great daypack for hikes.
1 roll-top backpack – This waxed canvas roll-top is an ideal size to be my carry on that goes under the seat in front of me. It fits my laptop and other non-clothing items perfectly.
21″ spinner suitcase – Four wheels are better than two. This is made by a European brand and it fits into even the smaller overhead compartments. I also love that it has a lock.
2 packing cubes – These help me to maximize the space in my bag, and I also like to use them to keep dirty clothes separate.
1 purse – I know, just one. It’s a big black tote that has lots of room.
1 wallet – I love this wallet which isn’t too big, but it has spaces to hold two currencies, and it has a zipper section for coins which is essential when traveling abroad.
prescription medications – I went to a travel clinic and was given prescription medications based on the places I will be visiting. I have malaria pills, altitude sickness meds, and a prescription for a traveler’s diarrhea medication.
over the counter medications – I’ve already written a separate blog post about the medicines that I pack for a trip abroad. In order to save space, I remove everything from the boxes and take photos of the back of the boxes with the dosage instructions and keep them saved in an album on my phone.
tampons – You know how there seems to be a Walgreens or Target every few blocks in America? That isn’t the case in other countries. Plus, you might not be able to find a brand that you trust abroad. It is easy to just be prepared.
face wipes – I love using these to wash my face on planes, and before bed.
conditioner – Hotels and AirBnBs have shampoo and soap, but they rarely have conditioner, and my hair really needs it.
makeup – You can read all about my makeup packing list here. Spoiler alert: I don’t pack or wear very much of it.
hair straightener – My hair is crazy and it can only be tamed with a straighter, which I use to both straighten or curl my hair.
a mini hairbrush – Smaller is better.