Traveling for an extended period of time requires a unique approach: this list attempts to synthesize and condense the result of my research, with a few major themes in mind: independence, comfort, and sustainability. My itinerary consisted of moving between areas frequently while also living affordably, which required discipline and minimalism. If you find this useful, please make purchases from the provided Amazon affiliate links.
A few caveats — what you pack will be determined by many things: the region, type of trip, sleeping accommodations (hostel vs. camping), travel partners, etc. Feedback welcome!
Fundamental Organization: Step #1
- Boreas Muir Woods 30L: Ultralight, compact, durable, and versatile. Choosing a pack might be the greatest challenge — time invested in this choice will be VERY well spent. Important: Choose what suits your body fit. Most people would suffice w/34L!
- MountainSmith Rain Cover: If a cover isn’t included w/your bag, useful for other “bag like” purposes than covering your pack (e.g. laundry).
- Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Specter Cube Set (2): Beyond essential for remaining organized, maximizing usable space in the pack — these are ultra-light and water-resistant — try nesting your cubes. #inception
- Aloksak Bags (Multi-Pack, Small): Stores assorted items/toiletries. Waterproof seal.
- Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt: On-person storage for your passport, wallet, money clip, and miscellanea. Don’t get robbed.
Clothing/Laundry: Step #2
- New Balance Minimus Shoes: Light, anti-microbial, compact (seeing the trend here?). Stylistically “go” well enough with any outfit, athletically suited for strenuous activity, able to be worn with/without socks (laundry woes). Get a matching/reversible leather belt.
- Buff (Merino Wool, Grey): Essential. Don’t miss this. A+
- Havaianas Flip Flops: 100% Polyvinyl Chloride, rubber sole. Durable and comfortable.
- ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief (4): Odor resistant and moisture wicking; extremely breathable and air dries quickly. Most of my clothing is synthetic materials or merino wool; no cotton!! For various reasons, but primarily for hand-washing purposes.
- ExOfficio Insect Shield Paisley Bandana: Wearing this around your neck (or in your hair) will keep the bugs away. Insect Shield repellent lasts 70 washings. Note: All clothing should avoid bright colors (beige/grey/neutral are best), as it attracts unwanted attention. Always roll, never fold.
- Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Micro (4) Socks: Odor-resistant (very important for socks — think about it); extra padding in high impact areas for comfort. Absolutely clutch.
- Balega Hidden Comfort Tab Running Sock (2): For Athletics.
- Under Armour Baselayer Crew & Leggings: Choice of intensity should be based on your destination (mine are 1.0, the lightest — best for use in warm climates).
- Bathing Suit/Shorts: Save space with a dual-purpose. Example: Outlier 3-Way Shorts
- Brooks Spartan II Pants: Quick-dry, rolls up well. Light.
- Lululemon Mission Pant II (Grey + Khaki): Daily go-to clothes.
- Saucony Drylete Skull Cap (Black): For inclement weather.
- H&M Wrinkle-Resistant Button-Up Shirts (4): AVOID COTTON!!
- Undershirts (3): Lululemon. Long-sleeves help avoid bites while roaming high-risk areas.
- Patagonia Nano-Puff Jacket (Black): Sustainably-built by (my opinion) the best sportswear company around, this is relatively compact for it’s purpose (cold nights or rainy evenings). Use thick elastics to keep compact stuff (eg. clothing) whenever sensible.
- Discovery Trekking Outfitters Extreme Ultra-Light Towel: 28 x 34-Inch, Weighs 2.8oz. Odor-resistant. Dries in Minutes, fabric stays soft, High UV Protection. Durable fabric.
- Sea to Summit Silk Liner: For sleeping; don’t pass on this!
- Sea to Summit Neoprene Pouch: Storage of electronics.
- Sea to Summit Folding Bucket: Washing clothes when sinks/showers are unavailable.
- Sea to Summit Clothesline: Ultra compact, light, and useful for various purposes.
- Sea to Summit Trek & Travel Soaps: For washing clothes, hands, shaving, shampoo, etc. Super concentrated formula. Biodegradable. TSA Carry-on compliant.
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil View Dry Sack: Dirty laundry + shoes.
Emergency Preparedness/Nutrition: Step #3
- Source Naturals Life Force Multiple: Essential daily nutrients. Bio-available.
- Light My Fire Titanium Spork: Light and durable. Avoid plastics.
- Snow Peak Titanium Single 450ML Mug w/Lid: Boiling, drinking.
- Tanka Bar, Buffalo/Cranberry (Natural): Emergency food. Delicious, protein-rich, natural.
- Drip Drop Hydration 4 Powder Packs: Emergency electrolytes. SUPER important!!
- Potable Aqua Iodine Water Treatment Tablets: Emergency backup.
- Platypus Platypus® plusBottleTM: Soft and flexible, collapsible (80% lighter and compact than a hard bottle of equal volume). Anti-Microbial Silver Ion treatment. Hang/carry loop.
- Katadyn Pocket Water Filter: Rarely used but very important.
- SteriPen Freedom Water Purifier: Disinfects 0.5 liters (16 oz) in 48 seconds. Mostly effective against viruses. Standard Micro USB charging port (same as Android phone).
- Adventure Travel Medical Kit: Emergencies >> Carbon-neutral bag, blister prevention and treatment — includes pre-cut moleskin and GlacierGel, Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, antihistamines for allergic reactions, antacid for upset stomach, lightweight/compact.
- Adventure Travel Duct Tape: Bag/clothing repairs, etc.
- Gerber Dime Micro Tool: TSA-approved (?) and super handy.
- Nite Ize S Multifunctional Carabiner: Attaching gear to your pack.
- Aylio Loop Bands: Fitness, on the go. Helps alleviate stress.
- Kleenex Facial Tissue, Wallet Size (3): Strong, soft and absorbent. Lifesaver.
- DurationTM Permethrin 10% Concentrate: To be diluted 20x (to the recommended 0.5% level) and soaked with or sprayed on clothing for high-risk malaria areas. Protects against numerous bugs and lasts ~6 weeks.
- Sawyer Premium Ultra 30 Insect Repellent Lotion: For intense areas of Malaria concern.
- Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent: For daily use. Natural.
Random Electronics/Gadgetry/Gear: Step #4
- Google/LG Nexus 5 Smartphone — On it are digital copies of all my travel guides for each country, the CDC health Yellow Book, digital photos of all documentation (Passport, Driver’s License, Debit/Credit Cards, Student ID), and other books/movies for entertainment/study. Charging cord also works w/my UV water purifier. This also functions as a compass, backup flashlight, etc (the app possibilities are endless).
- Apple Macbook Air 13.3" Laptop: Couldn’t live without it.
- Apple EarPods + 3M Peltor Combat Arms Earplugs: Music on the go. Fit well. Used by the military and NATO. Reusable. Useful for noisy sleep environments or … battle.
- Apple World Travel Adapter Kit: Directly support outlets in North America, Japan, China, UK, Continental Europe, Korea, Australia, and Hong Kong. Suitable for all devices.
- Apple Battery Charger + Sanyo Batteries: AA’s for your flashlight!
- Apple USB Power Adapter: for Phone/UV purifier.
- Philips Norelco Multigroom: Great for sensitive skin; handles body, beard, etc. Essential.
- Energizer Lithium Flashlight: Compact, AA-powered. Efficient.
- Kryptonite Looped Cable 2.5ft. x 5mm and MasterLock: For securing backpack while sleeping or in hostel lockers.
- Davek Traveler Umbrella: Durable, small. Great warranty.
- Moleskine Classic Plain, Small (3.5 x 5.5) Notebook: Notes. Drawing stuff when language barriers impede communication. Diary.
- Sakura Pigma Micron Pen: Choose your point size. The clam ink is archival quality: chemically stable, waterproof, and fade resistant without smears or bleed-through.
- Luggage QR/GPS/Web Smart Dynotags: Losing a bag sucks. This helps prevent that.
- Toiletries: Sensodyne Toothpaste, Deodorant, Floss, Neosporin, Cortizone, Mints, Shave Gel, Safety Razor + Blades (Kept in Mint Tin), Lotion, Sunblock, Cologne, Tweezers, Nail Clipper, and put them all in an Eagle Creek Specter Sac for storage, with travel-sized 100ML (3.4oz) bottles for TSA compliance where necessary. Don’t forget toilet paper .
- MISC: Renter's Insurance Policy >> If your entire bag is stolen, this covers EVERYTHING.
What NOT To Bring (but I was seriously considering): Step #5
- Pacsafe 35L Bag Protector: Not enough space; too heavy. Low risk.
- Sabre RED Pepper Spray: Theft is preferable to jail time. Simple trade-off.
- CDC Vaccination Record: Bring if you have it already, otherwise: get all the necessary jabs from International Red Cross to save $$.
- VISA: Get them at each border. Easy, quick, zero confusion, w/exceptions (e.g. Burma).
- Thule Gauntlet MacBook Sleeve (Black): Waterproof, damage-resistant encasing.
- Bowtie: Smaller than a normal tie and can dress up an outfit, if done properly.
- Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Sunglasses: You’ll be walking under the sun a lot.
- Monster Outlets To Go Travel Power Strip (Black): Unnecessary, given that I’m taking the Apple adapters. Might be worthwhile, since it requires just one wall outlet + converter.
- Sea to Summit X Tupperware Set & Soto Pocket Torch: No camping on this trip.
- Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS IR3535: Lotion/repellent/sunblock in one bottle.
- GoPro Hero: Overkill, but would be really sweet.
- Food: Consider the flavor, cost, size/weight, and nutritional composition. Everything in developing worlds will be interesting & inexpensive.
- Medication: Whatever I would need to buy is readily available at much lower prices (than the U.S.A.) in capital cities of Bangkok, Singapore, etc. (e.g. Malaria, Antibiotics)
- Travel Insurance: the renter’s policy covers theft (importantly, outside of your home/apartment, often at 10% of the total policy coverage), and health-care is inexpensive elsewhere in the world.
Pack your bag to gauge available space — double check that everything’s snug. Also: Buying all this from Amazon records the transactions in one place, making any possible insurance claims quick/painless. Worth noting: this list is TSA compliant for carry-on. Happy travels, friends!
Want some help planning your next trip? Get in touch!
Further Reading: www.travelindependent.info