A Guide To Packing for an Around the World Trip: Exactly What We Brought for Five Months in Three Different Climates

A Guide To Packing for an Around the World Trip: Exactly What We Brought for Five Months in Three Different Climates

Packing is a necessary evil when getting ready for any trip, let alone when we were planning a five month trip abroad. This was not a figure it out along the way kind of packing, we thought this through for months before we left. A long term travel packing list was absolutely critical. Routinely, we were making trips to outdoor stores to try and see if there was something new that we thought we might need.

It’s worth noting that we visited home for Christmas, though this was not a part of our original plan. The list below is what we packed with the intention of not being home in between countries, and this post is based on that list. We did ultimately adjust it when we stopped home to reflect our mistakes and wins from the first portion.

The plan for our trip around the world:

Time frame: 5 Months

Countries: Indonesia, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Germany, Italy (Fiji and Germany were add ons, not in the original plans)

Activities: Outdoor adventure (hiking, kayaking, elephant sanctuary, ect.), Running, Beaches

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what we actually brought, here are some general tips:

  • Every item needs to be multi-purpose
  • Look at where you are traveling to. We realized that SE Asia had really cheap clothing when we got there, and we did not need to bring any of the clothes for there that we did. It was not worth hauling it around the world to a place where T-shirts are $1/each.
  • You will throw stuff away. When backpacking, one shirt basically equals 5 – you can use your imagination to see how gross things would get. Expect to get rid of items and replace them along the way.
  • You will be grateful to throw things away. Even if your bag is light, anytime you are getting on a plane/train/bus, you will be happy you got rid of any clothing.
  • On the above, pack clothing that you do not mind tossing when you are done with it! We spent a lot of money shipping things home that we could not bear to throw out once we no longer needed it.
  • Warm clothes are expensive! As were the cold weather countries we visited. We did not bring enough of this type of clothing and regretted it. We wish we brought more cold weather clothes and less warm weather ones. It put a huge dent in our budget.
  • Do not fill your bag when you leave home so you can fill it with gifts from your travels.
  • Consider the environment when you are traveling. Many of the countries we visited did not have great services when it came to trash removal, and all over the world waste is a problem. After seeing the amount of plastic washed up on beaches, we realized the least we could do was not to bring additional wasteful items into the country.

How did we carry all of this? The backpacks you select for a long term backpacking trip can seriously make or break the experience.

Backpacks:

Joe’s pack: This was always going to be the most difficult part of this packing experience. I am bigger than Alicia–surprise!–so we knew this had to be where we kept most of our stuff. I opted for the Osprey Farpoint. It’s a huge pack but I liked that it could still have so much room and also have the smaller daypack to zip onto it. Overall this bag was a nice size but not practical. Because of the shape of it, it was difficult to zip up. And with no little pockets in front, it was always such a hassle to put anything in it. I would get something different next time I was in the market for a big pack.

Alicia’s pack: As Joe mentioned, this is one of the most important pieces to the packing puzzle. We spent a lot of time sourcing our bags, and were ultimately so glad that we did. I opted for less of a travel pack and went instead with a traditional backpacking pack from REI, 60L. I loved the functionality of it, it was super comfortable as well. One of the things I liked about this pack is that has sizing, I am very small for an adult so I run into problems with the one sized fits all model. In addition I brought my osprey dayback which I also love and have had for a couple of years now. The only issue was on travel days when I had to wear them together the weight was a bit much.

Alicia Pack Long Term Travel Packing List

Favorite packing items we brought:

Clothing:

Hiking Pants: These were especially important in Southeast Asia. There are customs to uphold when visiting many of the religious sites, one of those being to have your knees covered. These pants were much lighter than jeans so even though we were in 90 degree weather, we were not a pile of sweat in the pants. In addition, they were great for all of our hiking adventures.

Joe used: REI Hiking Pants

Alicia used: Patagonia Hiking Pants

“Nice” shorts: These shorts were bought on a whim a week or two before we left. And we can easily say, we wore these shorts more than anything else on our entire trip. When you’re living out of a backpack, everything feels a little gross. Just the way it is. So to have a pair of shorts that feel “nice” as your go to was incredibly valuable. Even though Southeast Asia is not overly fancy, it still felt great to have comfortable shorts with pockets that did not look as nerdy. Extra bonus, these also doubled as workout shorts.

Joe used: PrAna Mojo shorts

Alicia used: Lululemon “On the fly” shorts

Toms: Another last second buy! We were doing research and realized, maybe we do not want to wear hiking boots whenever we want to go out on the town. We each ordered Toms and they were almost always on our feet. Comfortable, easy to pack, and somewhat fashionable, these were an excellent pickup for our trip.

Joe used: Men’s Toms

Alicia used: Women’s Toms

(Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn commission if you click through and make a purchase)

Linen Pants: At the time, this seemed like an extraneous thing to bring along. However, Alicia rationalized it as these would be good plane pants–a very underrated thing while traveling. In the end, these ended up being very useful. It is incredibly hot in Southeast Asia, these pants could be worn to cover up in conservative places, or as a way to be more formally dressed while out on the town. Joe was constantly jealous of Alicia having these, but he was never able to find the right pair to bring with us.

Alicia used: Anthropologie Linen Pants

Dry fit Shirts: Each of us brought two t-shirts and one long sleeve dry fit shirt for our travels. These were worn on nearly a daily basis. All  of them had UV protection and were a way to keep our skin protected from the sun–critical in SE Asia. The daily wear on these shirts did end up making them something we had to throw away after our time in Asia, but they were just what we needed. You could run in them, go out on the town, or wear them around your hotel room. Very useful.

Joe used: REI Dry Fit UV Shirts

Alicia used: REI Dry Fit UV Shirts

Rain Jacket: One of the worst things to ever happen to you while traveling is to have all of your clothes get wet. Besides that, you are almost always without a dryer so air drying is the only option–and in humid climates, this never works well. So both of us made sure to have heavy duty rain jackets before this trip. You also want these to be able to fold up to be as small as possible, ensuring maximum packing capability. Even if rain is not in the forecast, this can be a light layer if its a little breezy outside too.

Joe used: Patagonia Rain Jacket

Alicia used: Patagonia Torrentshell

Good quick dry socks: The feeling of putting on fresh socks was something that really picked us up when we needed it. This was the kind of thing where we could tell the difference between products. We had three different companies’ socks with us, and there were drastic differences between them. When you put on the good socks, the entire day just felt better, being in those hot climates, or hiking around, socks were critical. They can make all the difference.

Joe used: Patagonia socks

Alicia used: REI socks

Dry fit underwear: The constant heat, hiking, and activity means that we sweat a lot on this trip. That being said, dry fit underwear was very important for us. We wisely stocked up on as many pairs as we could before we left, and there was never a time where we regretted it. These take up very little room in the bag, and were wearable in any climate. A must pack if you plan on being active or in the heat while traveling.

Joe used: Patagonia men’s underwear

Alicia used: Patagonia women’s underwear

Hat: Something so simple that went such a long way. We wore these hats nearly every day. Besides the obvious sun protection, these hats were a way to give ourselves a little bit of color when the rest of our clothes were so monotone. We loved having these with us wherever we went.

Joe used: Patagonia bison hat

Alicia used: Patagonia rainbow hat

Joe's Pack Long Term Travel Packing List

Joe’s pack! It was great to have such a big pack but it was so incredibly annoying to not have small pockets in front for those quick little needs. We recommend a different one if you are in the market!

Miscellaneous

Sunscreen: Sunscreen in SE Asia is different than it is in the USA. It typically had whitening agents in it, something that neither of us was interested in. We were grateful that we brought three full bottles of 70 SPF. We used it daily. We may have had extra but it was a comfort worth having.

We used: Coppertone SPF 70

Water bottle: Yes, you cannot drink the tap water in SE Asia. Also, you cannot drink the water while camping throughout most of New Zealand. However, it was still extremely helpful to have both of our water bottles with us. Whether we were using tablets, or buying bottles–which we hated doing but it was a necessary evil in SE Asia–the water bottles were a much more efficient way to carry our water around.

Joe used: REI 48 oz water bottle

Alicia used: Camelbak water bottle

Medical kit: When planning our trip, we were very concerned about health and safety. We were worried if anything bad were to happen, we’d be in a foreign country with very little comforts. To help appease some of that, we bought a medical kit and added some of our go to medications. We rarely used this with the exception of a few band-aids and Advil. The comfort of having this was the most important part, we both knew if anything were to happen, we were covered.

We used: REI Adventure Medical Kit, Backpacker

Ear plugs/eyemask/inflatable neck pillow: Learning to sleep on planes, trains, and buses was not something that came easily to us. In order to help speed up that process, we brought along ear plugs, eye masks, and an inflatable neck pillow. All three of these were valuable in their own way, and all three were used on every plane ride. It was hard to sleep, but these things made it infinitely easier.

Joe used: REI inflatable pillow

Alicia used: Ear plugs, Sleep Mask (Not the exact mask, but similar!)

Packing cubes: Alicia loves to pack, seriously. These packing cubes are the epitome of that. They condense to the size of your luggage and ensure that we always rolled and properly packed our clothes. Besides clothes, they also kept our toiletries in order in an incredibly durable kit. They kept us organized and were absolutely worth the cost and trouble!

We used: Flight 001 Packing Cubes

RFID Blocking Wallet/Organizer: The stealing of credit card information has gotten more and more advanced through the years. People are now capable of scanning your card from inside your wallet! So we both got these RFID blocking wallets to prevent that from happening. Neither one of us had any problems, so we definitely think this was worth it.

Joe used: BRYK Wallet

Alicia used: Zoppen Passport Wallet

Waterproof Fanny Pack: Fanny packs are in nowadays–or so we’re told. But more importantly, this was not for fashion purposes. With such a beach heavy trip, we wanted to both be able to go into the beach together and not have one person sit back and watch our cash. This fanny pack was legitimately waterproof and was not the ugliest thing in the world either. It makes you look very touristy, but it keeps your money safe and secure.

We used: Aquamare Fanny Pack

Flight 001 Packing Cubes Long Term Travel Packing List

Technology

Computer: The reason we have been able to keep up and maintain this wonderful blog! We both were concerned about bringing such valuable items with us, but fortunately, we were very safe and kept everything locked away when we were not using it. It also was a great way to stay connected with the world via email and FaceTime.

Joe used: MacBook Air

Alicia used: Microsoft Surface Book

Kindle: Similar to the laptop, we were obviously concerned about bringing too much technology with us. No one wants to be a target in countries surrounded with tourists. However, our kindles were essential for us. Reading a book at the end of the night gave us a sense of normalcy while also giving us a way to disconnect.

We used: Kindle Paperwhite

Adapter: And how did we keep ourselves plugged in all the time? We got a world power adapter. It had USB outlets for phone charging as well. Incredibly easy and useful. We were happy to have saved the hassle to just have it with us throughout.

We used: Conair All-in-One

Camera: Obviously had to do it for the gram. We originally bought this Sony, which Alicia left on a park bench in New Zealand mid allergy attack about a month into our travels. Soon after we followed up with this Panasonic, and then ultimately ended up with a new Sony that we used for the last two months.

We used: Sony, Panasonic, Sony a6000

External Hard Drive: Where we keep the goldmine of awkward half eye closed pics that never make the cut. We were opting for best value here, and this one was fine, though we probably could have cut this and used a cloud service instead for one less thing to carry.

We Used: Toshiba Canvio 1 TB

Packing Items We Should Have Left Home or What NOT to Bring for Long Term Travel:

Jean shorts: This was brought by Alicia, and was an almost immediate regret. Two things about SE Asia weather: hot and wet. Not just humid, we’re talking moisture buildup to soak through clothing kind of humid. The last thing you want to be wearing in this climate is thick jean shorts, and the other regions were too cold for shorts. They were heavy and took up a lot of room, a definite no! Ultimately Alicia loved this particular pair too much to throw them out, so it became an expense to ship home.

Toiletries: Bring enough for your first round and that’s it! I’m not sure where exactly we thought we were traveling to, but we brought enough toiletries and medicine to last us for the next 2 years of our lives. Not only was this heavy, but we also could have simply bought everything we needed there. All of the countries we visited had brands we recognized from home and their own. We ended up leaving most of what we brought scattered throughout guest houses as we realized how unnecessary much of it was.

*There is one big exception to this for the ladies – tampons. There are sanitary pads, but we did not see tampons in any other country except Italy. Alicia felt guilty about the plastic, and highly recommends using a different form of feminine product if you can.

Mt Rinjani Long Term Travel Packing List

Bug repellent: Joe is a bit neurotic about this, so we brought a lot of insect repellant in multiple forms: a clothing spray, wipes, lotion, AND good old fashioned spray. We used these a whopping 4 or 5 times, and finally ditched them along the way. One of these items is probably good enough if you’re doing any hiking in SE Asia or New Zealand, which we were, but we did not need all of it. Also the wipes felt really wasteful.

We used: Spray, Wipes, Lotion

(Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn commission if you click through and make a purchase)

Quick dry towel: We hardly used our towels as almost all of the guesthouses and hotels we stayed at offered them for the beach. The one time we did not bring them that we needed them were at the hot springs in Italy, otherwise we never needed them. If you are staying at more budget accommodations, they may not offer towels, however we mostly stayed in mid-range spots and they always had them.

Waterproof hiking speaker: This speaker is awesome! Bluetooth enabled and clips right onto your bag. But we did not use it, once. This is more of an at home day hike or beach trip kind of item, no need to bring it along when space is limited.

We used: Kunodi outdoor waterproof bluetooth speaker

Extra duffel bag: Another awesome item that we never used. This bag folds into the size of a thick pancake, and unfolds into a full carry on duffel that doubles as a backpack. We ended up shipping our items home periodically (gifts and things we no longer needed) so we did not need the extra bag. This would be great if you are planning on carrying a lot more home than what you left or if you are planning on side trips where you will not be bringing your larger backpack.

We used: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel, 45L

Multitool: This became a running joke after Alicia insisted we bring it and then proceeded to never use it until she forgot it was in her backpack at airport security and it was thrown out. Alicia is still adamant that the wine opener would have come in handy for Italy though…

We used: REI multitool

What packing items we wished we had/ended up buying along the way:

Nice Clothes Long Term Travel Packing List

Sweatpants/Leggings: Joe used his shorts mentioned above for flights, even to cold countries, but Alicia ended up buying leggings for travel days and to sleep in. Athletic leggings are not the same thing.

We used: Basic black cotton leggings that we bought there, similar to these

(Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn commission if you click through and make a purchase)

Nicer clothes overall: Before embarking on a big trip, you will likely do a lot of research. Much of what we read told us we would not need nicer clothes. While it’s true that backpacking gave us a new found “we could care less what we look like” freedom, we also learned that we need one nice outfit when we travel. Even in more casual parts of the world, we’re usually good for at least one fancy dinner, and we like to dress for it.

We still don’t feel like we quite got a handle on this, would love to hear your suggestions for what you pack that’s compact and nice enough for a fancy night out.

Flip-Flops: Someone please explain why we planned to go to some of the most beautiful beach towns in the world without a pair of flip flops? You can easily buy these in SE Asia for next to nothing, but even for those first few days we’d bring a throw away pair.

We recommend: Any cheap rubber flip flops, like these

Warmer Clothes: As you can see from our packing lists below, we did bring warm clothes. However the temps in New Zealand dipped into the 30s at night, and sleeping in a van we simply were not prepared. The same thing happened in Italy, where we needed to buy winter coats. These are two super expensive countries to buy clothing in (although in Europe, at least there is H&M), and try as we might we could not find warm clothes in SE Asia for cheap before we left. A packable, warm jacket would have really come in handy.

Coverup/beach clothing: Another mystifying example of a thing we did not think we would need that we so obviously would need. Thankfully, this is a very easy item to buy in SE Asia.

Water purifier: Many of the countries we visited did not have potable tap water, or at least not that our stomachs could handle. We did bring a purifier, below, but it did not work out of the box so we ended up tossing it. Because of this, we spent a lot of money on plastic bottles, and felt extremely guilty about adding to the waste.

We used: Do not recommend since it did not work from the get go, but this is the one we brought. SteriPen

Chromecast: Yes, we know we should be out enjoying the world we are exploring, and 99.99% of the time that’s what we were doing. But there were times where we really just needed to chill, and a couple of days where we were sick, when TV was such a comfort. We bought this one on the road, but would bring it for international trips moving forward.

We used: Google Chromecast

The Ultimate Packing List for Long Term Travel (What We Each Actually Brought)

HisHers

Clothing:

1 pair jeans, hiking pants
1 pair running shorts, regular shorts
1 bathing suit
2 dry fit T-shirts
1 long sleeve dry fit shirt
1 button down dry fit shirt
1 lightweight warm long sleeve shirt
1 rain jacket
1 fleece
5 pairs socks
10 pairs underwear
1 pair running shoes
1 pair toms
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair hiking sandals/waterproof
Multifunctional headware
1 winter hat, baseball hat
1 pair lightweight gloves 
1 pair jeans, hiking pants, linen pants
1 pair jean shorts, running shorts
1 pair leggings (athletic)
1 rain jacket
3 tank tops
3 long sleeve shirts
1 athletic t shirt
1 flannel
2 cotton t-shirts
1 fleece
6 pairs socks
9 pairs underwear
2 regular bras
1 sports bra
2 bathing suits
1 dress
1 Scarf
1 pair running shoes
1 pair toms
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair hiking sandals/waterproof
Multifunctional headware
1 winter hat, baseball hat
1 pair lightweight gloves 

Toiletries:

Shampoo/body wash
Deodorant
1 Toothbrush
1 tube Toothpaste
Bug repellent wipes/spray/lotion
Sunscreen
Shampoo bar
Soap
Deodorant
Mascara, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, lipstick
Toothbrush
Body lotion

Techonology:

Computer
Waterproof speaker
Kindle
2 universal adapters
3 USB lightning chargers
Computer
Kindle
Camera
Chargers

Miscellaneous:

Medical kit
Water bottle
Extra packaway duffel bag
Travel guidebooks
Quick dry towel
Ear plugs
Multitool
Journal
Water bottle

 

(Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn commission if you click through and make a purchase)

Pinterest Image Long Term Travel Packing List

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Miles Less Traveled

We are the dynamic running duo that run this site. Lovers of new places, bridges, and all the food.

13 Comments

  1. April 15, 2018 / 1:51 PM

    Such good tips for long-term travel! I’ll definitely be coming back to this post. Pinning for later!

    • Joe & Alicia
      April 15, 2018 / 5:22 PM

      Glad to hear it was useful! Let us know if you have any questions.

  2. April 15, 2018 / 7:28 AM

    I love how in-depth you are about everything you packed! Some of the ones you wish you hadn’t bothered with surprised me though. We took proper towels and quickly wished we’d bought microfibre towels, but then we stayed in hostels and never had towels provided so I guess it depends how you’re travelling! And our bug repellent was in constant use in Australia and some of Asia. Great list though, it was good to read this because I’ve just packed for a long-term trip I’m leaving on tomorrow, so it’s a handy way to double check anything I’ve missed!

    • Joe & Alicia
      April 15, 2018 / 8:45 AM

      So funny how that works. It’s definitely a mix of knowing what to bring and then knowing what YOU personally need, which is always shifting. We were super surprised about the bug spray and towels too to be honest, we thought we’d be needing both all the time. Have a great trip!

  3. April 15, 2018 / 1:56 AM

    I didn’t think a pair of sweatpants was “necessary” before I left. Now, there is nothing I want more than to just lounge around in something comfy when I’m at a hostel. Great suggestions!

    • Joe & Alicia
      April 15, 2018 / 8:43 AM

      Totally! I thought it was not a big deal – turns out it very much is!

  4. April 14, 2018 / 5:33 PM

    This is really helpful. I tend to overpack all the times and always end up bringing things which I don’t actually use. haha. Thanks for the share.

    • Miles Less Traveled
      April 14, 2018 / 5:58 PM

      Ah totally! We left behind many items along our route.

  5. Anna
    April 14, 2018 / 5:23 PM

    It’s genuinely so interesting to read about a packing list for different climates. I always think I’d be stupid enough to pack for the first destination and forget about the rest so am glad I found this post! Also love the advice of leaving room to bring stuff home in. So important!

    • Miles Less Traveled
      April 14, 2018 / 5:58 PM

      So glad it was helpful!

  6. Christine
    April 14, 2018 / 3:15 PM

    This is a great list! How you do like your Microsoft Surface, I’ve been thinking of getting one for when I travel since my laptop is pretty big/heavy.

    • Miles Less Traveled
      April 14, 2018 / 4:12 PM

      Thanks! I love it. I was always a MAC girl, so it was a bit of an adjustment at first, but since I’ve gotten used to it I really like it. It’s worth the investment I think!

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