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The Packing List: What To Pack?

Going on a long term trip, for multiple months, or even a year? When we planned our first multi-month adventure, our friends and family kept asking us “how do you pack for a trip like that?” Our answer: “Well… uh… I have no idea!”

Now that we’ve done it a few times, we know how to answer that question. And we’re not the only ones. We’ve assembled some of the best packing list items and advice from people who have actually survived their trips.

We’re looking beyond the obvious, here. Everyone knows that you need shoes and underwear (everything else is optional). We wanted to list the things that you might not have thought of if you’ve never been “backpacking” or traveled on a minimal budget, or never visited a developing country. Below you will find a list of items that may have never occurred to you to throw in your bag. The items on this list come from experienced travelers who have been there and done that.

As you probably have heard us mention here, we took a year long trip in 2009. You can check out our packing list as part of our How To Plan A Trip Around The World guide.

The number one piece of advice from all travelers is to pack light. So, don’t feel like you must take any or all of these things. Keep in mind where you will be going and what the situation will be like.

Without further ado, what to pack:

  • Universal sink stopper for washing clothes (or hair)
  • Shirts that are made from a nylon wicking material – they dry faster
  • Mosquito net (depending on where you’re going) – and something to hang it up (tape, string, etc) – Many travelers debate this item. Some say you can buy it on the road (you can in some places), others say it’s a life saver. On our trip it was a life saver, but we were in Africa at the time. You won’t need to take your own in SE Asia.
  • Money belt
  • Playing cards – the best way to get to know the locals!
  • Earplugs
  • Sporks
  • Pocket knife – strong enough to open a can of food
  • Plug adapter set – assuming you have anything electronic
  • Towel – small and super-absorbent
  • Hand Sanitizer – antibacterial “waterless soap” (small bottles!)
  • Flashlight/Torch – very very small, keychain size

What NOT to pack:

  • Toilet paper – buy it on the road
  • Too much medical stuff (bandaids, etc) – instead, only pack a few critical items
  • Travel pillow – it’s just too big
  • Snorkeling equipment – too heavy, you can rent it anywhere you need it
  • Electronic language translator – total waste of time, weight, and money – and these days you can get an app on your phone for this!
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Let us know how it works out. Or if you have a suggestion, please post a comment!

2 thoughts on “The Packing List: What To Pack?

  1. It is so weird that sometimes packing items are put in and never used, so I’d recommend some serious reflection on all items before letting them take up valuable space in your bag.

    Be on the lookout for that when you go, because I never used my sink stopper, money belt (aside from it being placed in my bag with things inside it, which was kind of nice), cards, knife, or more. What I was appreciative of, was my toilet paper! Bring that from day 1!!!

    1. Yes everyone is different. I’d have to agree with out about the sink stopper, we never used it either. But some people swear their lives by it. We used our knife all the time in rougher places in Africa and Asia. I guess it just depends on how desperate you get for food. And my money belt was always on me (thus my huge writup about it in our round the world planning guide). And yes, toilet paper is CRUCIAL!

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