First of all, hiiii!! I'm back in the USA! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends and family who celebrate!
Since I am back in New York, I've decided to do an update on my packing list after 14+ months of traveling around the world. I first posted about the contents of my one bag over a year ago. Looking back, it's actually amazing how little the contents changed. I suppose this speaks to how well I did my research before I left! *Patting self on back*
The items that did change are quite interesting. Well, I think they're interesting. Anyway, bear with me as I describe the contents of my bag. What's been added. What's been removed.
Then I'll give you a downloadable finalized packing list for long-term world travel. It's in checklist format so you can easily use it to help you prepare for your own trip! Yay!
Item Additions and Removals
Below, I wrote down all of the items I added and removed over the course of my travels. I include a few comments underneath so you can see my thought process/reasoning behind some of the edits.
1 pair sturdy sneakers/hiking shoes
1 regular underwire bra
2 socks for 6 socks total: added 1 of 2 pairs of hiking/thick socks and 1 of 4 pairs of slip-on socks (Smartwool)
1 pair shorts
1 jacket (Kathmandu)
1 pair lightweight walking shoes
2 ExOfficio bras
1 bikini top
2 tank tops
1 black dress
1 multipurpose heavy scarf
My clothing changed the most over the course of the year, by far. Now I think I've finally reached a point where I know exactly what will and will not work.
Shoes worked out excellent until I reached New Zealand. The need for sturdy hiking sneakers/boots became utterly apparent to me while there and throughout my stay. I became an avid hiker so the investment in a good pair of hiking boots was necessary. Also, one of my lightweight sneakers completely wore out. This meant the boots were eventually replaced by sturdy sneakers which Jono gave me (such a good guy). Sturdy sneakers are much easier to carry around than boots!
Surprise! ExOfficio bras are the worst. I ended up having to buy a "real bra" which felt stupid because of how many I left back home. Oh well. My boobies thanked me multiple times over.
Socks! Oh, how I underestimated you! I had brought only 1 pair of regular Smartwool socks with me, which I proceeded to lose and then replace with Kathmandu socks in New Zealand. I still needed a 2nd pair because of all the hiking I was doing. Also, my little sleuth slip-on socks deteriorated quickly over the year. Since they are difficult to find on the road, having a couple pairs to replace the worn out ones would have been handy.
There were actually a lot more clothing edits than this because I squatted for so long in New Zealand. When you're holed up in one place for a while it's easy to start accumulating a few clothing items. There were 3 reasons for accumulating clothing items during this time:
- I was volunteering and needed a few professional-ish items.
- I was meeting lots of Jono's friends and family members and was tired of wearing the same outfit around them all the time.
- Winter came. New Zealand winter can be surprisingly cold. I needed warmer clothes to get me through it as I had only packed for hot to moderate climates.
I'm actually proud of myself for remaining a minimalist in this sense. I still had very few clothing items to get by. Nevertheless, I left half a drawer full of stuff behind in New Zealand. There's no sense traveling with it all since it had served its purpose.
small container of coconut oil + eucalyptus oil (for insect repellent)
The DEET wrist bands did not work. On the other hand, the DEET lotion was actually really great even though it was chemically probably the worst thing to be smearing all over my skin on a regular basis. As an alternative, I learned about the effectiveness of coconut oil and eucalyptus on the road and concocted some of my own. Seemed to work in a few early tests.
I really thought I would use the sink stopper at some point but I never needed it. The detergent sheets were also useless.
I always washed my underwear in the shower with my soap or soap I picked up along the way. Anything else that needed serious washing I ended up paying to have laundered with a load of other stuff. The laundry service in SE Asia is amazing. They fold it perfectly and use the yummiest smelling soaps. Plus, laundromats are cheap enough and can be found everywhere in the Western world.
travel adapter plugs for each destination
tote bag and roll-up reusable bag
My universal travel adapter didn't work properly from the very start in Iceland. Instead, I replaced it with each country's individual adapter as I went. The airports always had them after I got off my flight and they tended to be way sturdier than the wonky universal one.
Do not underestimate the usefulness of extra bags. The reusable bag is useful for grocery shopping, everyday shopping, when you buy gifts and can't fit them in your backpack, etc. I ended up using the tote bag as my "personal item" for in-the-seat on flights. This was much easier than unfolding my day pack and stuffing it with things every time.
I never needed to use the PacSafe anti-theft bag net so I sent it home with my friend when she visited me in New Zealand. The most insecure situations are usually the ones when you're rushing and can't take the time to put it on. I also was never really in any majorly opportunistic situations for thieves.
For piece of mind, I had 2 TSA security locks securing shut the two zippers on my One Bag. These locks were more than enough to dissuade any thieves from the hassle of getting into my bag.
The TSA locks were items I would never leave on a trip without. They were so easy and allowed me to leave my bag unattended in a hostel dorm room for extended periods, worry-free. Definitely an absolute must item for even short-term travel.
First Aid Kit
rubber bands and close pins
blister/hiking tape for feet
Compeed for blisters
2-3 small pill boxes (1 for holding SIM cards)
Impressively, my first aid kit was pretty well put together. The only major misses were anticipating blisters on hikes. After the horror I experienced hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit in New Zealand, I needed stuff that would work.
I discovered Compeed, a Swedish product, while in Iceland. Amazing stuff. Compeed is like a second skin that creates a protective barrier over a blister to help it heal fast. Also hiking tape was a suggestion from a pharmacy clerk in New Zealand. This padded tape was great for preventing blisters. I'd put it on my weak spots before long hikes and come back blister-free. Yay!
Additional coin purses
I loved having extra coin purses with me because I ended up with so much loose foreign change. Most currency exchange booths do not exchange coins, only paper dollars. So if you don't spend your change before leaving the country you're left with a heavy pocket.
I liked holding onto this money as a kind of souvenir. Keeping it separated was also important to me so I could easily access it if I re-entered the same country again (e.g., came in handy on my return trip home through Bangkok).
I really thought I might use the translator more. Alas, most people in the world speak English or they can call over their neighbor who does.
If there are no English speakers in sight, it's really amazing how easily you can communicate with hand gestures, facial expressions, and pointing at surrounding objects.
I suppose the translator would have been handy in dire situations but those situations never arose in the parts of the world I visited.
Finalized Packing List
I edited the original packing list I made to include all of the edits made over the course of the year. I also included some edits I made as a result of reflection on what worked and didn't work over the year.
I imagine your packing list will differ slightly from mine. If you're a dude there will certainly be some things to exclude. If you're traveling to colder climates, then you'll definitely be adding some items since this is targeted for hot to moderate climates.
Anyway, I hope this will at least get you started!
At some point I will do a post all about my favorite travel items. But I also want to talk about the tech I brought along. My tech setup was truly brilliant (if I do say so...) and I'll tell you why in my next travel hacking post! :)