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! –– This list is updated before/after each trip, and is intended for international backpacking + camping.
Organization: Step #1
- Boreas Backpack: 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 passport, wallet, etc.
Clothing: 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): Essential. Acts as a beanie hat, bandana, scarf, face/eye mask, etc.
- Havaianas Flip Flops: 100% Polyvinyl Chloride, rubber sole. Durable and comfortable.
- ExOfficio 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.
- Smartwool PhD Run Light Micro Socks (6): Odor-resistant (very important for socks — think about it); extra padding in high impact areas for comfort. Absolutely clutch.
- Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Crew: Long-sleeves help avoid bug bites.
- Under Armour Leggings: Choice of thickness should be based on your destination.
- North Face Bathing Suit/Shorts: Save space with a dual-purpose.
- Lululemon Mission Pant: Daily go-to clothes. Quick-dry, roll up well. Light
- Bowties: Smaller than a normal tie and can dress up an outfit, if done properly.
- Wrinkle-Resistant Button-Up Shirts (4): AVOID COTTON!!
- 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 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.
- Sunglasses: You’ll be walking under the sun a lot. My preference: Garrett Leight Optical
Emergency Preparedness: Step #3
- 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: Strong, soft and absorbent. Lifesaver.
- Permethrin Spray: Soak/spray your clothing before entering high-risk malaria areas. Protects against numerous bugs and lasts ~6 weeks (or a handful of washes).
- Sawyer Premium Ultra 30 Insect Repellent Lotion: For intense areas of Malaria concern.
- Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent: For daily use. Natural.
- Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS IR3535: Lotion/repellent/sunblock in one bottle
- Sabre RED Pepper Spray: Theft is preferable to jail time, but consider it ... just in case.
- Hennessy Hammock Hyperlite Backpacker Asymmetric Zip: If you want to sleep anywhere.
- Vargo Titanium Stake Set or Snow Peak Forged Steel Stakes + Bag: Steel for harder ground.
- CDC Vaccination Record: Get all the jabs from International Red Cross to save $$.
- Medication: Whatever I would need to buy is readily available at much lower prices (than the U.S.A.) in capital cities like Bangkok, Singapore, etc. (e.g. Malaria, Antibiotics, etc.)
- Renter's Insurance Policy >> If your entire bag is stolen, this covers 10% of the total policy for items outside of your home (i.e. during travel!). Because of this, travel insurance is largely unnecessary, as the only other component – health-care – is inexpensive outside the USA.
Food & Nutrition: Step #4
- Source Naturals Life Force Multiple: Essential daily nutrients. Bio-available.
- Tanka Bars: Emergency food. Delicious, protein-rich, natural.
- Drip Drop Hydration Powder Packs: Emergency electrolytes. SUPER important!!
- Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Emergency backup.
- Platypus Water Bottle: 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 or Frontier Max 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).
- TOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot with Pan: A stove for boiling water or heating up food on the go.
- TOAKS Titanium Long Handle Spoon with Polished Bowl: You'll need the lengthy handle.
- Light My Fire Titanium Spork: Light and durable. Avoid plastics.
- Snow Peak Titanium & Bamboo Chopsticks: Maybe you prefer chopsticks. I certainly do!
- Snow Peak Titanium Plate: Gotta eat on something at the campsite, don't ya?
- Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove + UCO Stormproof Match Kit (or Zippo Lighter)
- Jetboil Jetpower 4-Season Fuel Blend, 230 Gram: An 8oz fuel canister for the stove.
- Toiletries: Sensodyne Toothpaste, Deodorant, Floss, Neosporin, Cortizone, Mints, Shave Gel, Safety Razor + Blades (Kept in Mint Tin), 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 (coreless) toilet paper .
Electronics & Gadgetry: Step #5
- Apple iPhone — 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. This also functions as a compass, backup flashlight, and so on (apps!).
- Apple Macbook 12" Laptop OR iPad Pro w/Keyboard
- Computer Case: Waterproof, damage-resistant encasing.
- Apple AirPods + 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 + Eneloop Batteries: AA’s for your devices.
- Solar Charger: For powering up devices while trekking far from civilization.
- Monster Outlets To Go Travel Power Strip (Black): Multiple simultaneous electronics.
- Philips Norelco Multigroom: Great for sensitive skin; handles body, beard, etc. Essential.
- Black Diamond Spot Headlamp or Hand-Crank Solar Flashlight: For dark nights.
- Kryptonite Looped Cable 2.5ft. x 5mm and MasterLock: For securing backpack.
- 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.
OTHER Things to Consider: Step #5
- VISA: Get them at each border. Easy, quick, zero confusion, w/exceptions (e.g. Burma).
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