After nearly a decade of traveling I have learned that packing small and light is the way to go; I stick to a carry-on sized backpack for the majority of trips I do now. The only time I pack more is if I am planning to camp, visit extremely cold places, or perform other “gear intensive” activities where it does not make sense to rent or borrow the equipment after arrival.
The benefits of packing small and light including not incurring additional baggage fees, being able to carry your bag on public transport, having the ability to walk great distances, and being able to live simply and travel simply without the need to worry about your stuff.
Live Simply. Travel Simply.
The below packing check list is my reference for when I pack my carry-on backpack. The list includes clothing for both warm and cold weather, making it possible to travel around the world in normal city conditions with a backpack that is carry-on sized. It is amazing what long-underwear, middle layer (zipper hoodie), down jacket, wool hat, and gloves can do to keep you warm for a small and light pack weight.
Some people think I’m crazy to travel with this little, including immigration officials who often ask a few additional questions, but I swear that after years of trial and error across ~100 countries, this is the only stuff I need.
I see a lot of travelers pack for every possible medical incident or situation whereas I just plan to borrow or buy the ‘exceptionals’ when I need them. I also occasionally rent, buy, or borrow clothing or equipment for exceptional weather conditions or activities, but since I do most wilderness adventures in foreign lands with the assistance of a tour agency or guide, this is easy and usually expected.
Without further adieu, these are the packing essentials that will get you through most countries and conditions with ease.
|◊||Long Pants||x1||◊||Phone / Charger||x1|
|◊||T-Shirts||x3||◊||Kindle / Cable||x1|
|◊||Collared Shirt||x1||◊||Laptop / Cable||x1|
|◊||Shorts / Swim Shorts*||x2||◊||Travel Towel||x1|
|◊||Sleeveless Shirts*||x2||◊||Pen / Writing Pad||x1|
|◊||Zippper Hoodie*1||x1||◊||Universal Adaptor|
|◊||Packable Down Jacket*||x1||◊||Packing Cubes||x3|
|◊||Long Underwear*||x1||◊||Packable Daypack||x1|
|◊||Dark Shoes for Hiking and Formal Attire||x1||◊||Headlamp||x1|
|◊||Flip Flops*||x1||◊||Packable Daypack||x3|
|◊||Hat or Baseball Cap||x1||◊||Travel Guide / Dive Cert||x1|
|◊||Beanie & Gloves*||x1||◊||Packable Daypack||x1|
|*Weather Dependent||◊||Travel Lock||x1|
|Camera Gear||Toiletries, Liquids, and Gels (<100ml)|
|◊||Camera / Lenses||x1||◊||Toothbrush||x1|
|◊||Charger & USB Cord||x1||◊||Deodorant||x1|
|◊||Memory Cards||x1||◊||Dental Floss||x1|
|◊||Back-Up Hard Drive||x1||◊||Body Wash / Shampoo||x1|
|◊||Razor / Shaving Cream||x1|
|◊||Facewash / Soap||x1|
|◊||Flight Tickets||x1||◊||Bug Spray||x1|
|◊||Flight Itinerary||x1||◊||Hand Sanitizer|
|◊||Airline Points Card||x1|
|◊||Photocopy of Docs||x1|
|◊||Backup US$ / Euros||x1|
|◊||Debit Card / Credit Card||x2|
|◊||Scuba Dive Cert||x1|
After reading this list you may be thinking that there is no way all of this gear could fit into a 55cm x 40cm x 20cm carry-on backpack. The below photos show the things I took for a 6-month Around the World trip, including how it all packs down. My laptop and Kindle are not shown in the photo but I did carry them in the special laptop sleeve on my backpack.
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