My Packing List for Long-Term Travellers: Ten Years Later


Some of my most frequently asked questions are to do with the contents of my backpack — what do you pack when you’re travelling forever? How do you fit all of that stuff into a bag so small? Do you ever get bored of wearing the same clothes? Do you carry a mattress with you around Southeast Asia?

Yes, I was actually asked this once.

I try to update my packing list every year, partly because I know that you find it useful to see what I’m travelling with, and partly because I find it fascinating to see how my packing style has evolved over the years. Each year has had a theme.

The theme for my first year was newbie traveller who didn’t have a clue

Before I set off on my round-the-world trip, I sat down and devoured hundreds of packing lists online, making notes of all the key points. I learned that I’d need to pack light, make sure that all of my clothes matched with each other, and take all kinds of useful tools with me, like a money belt, duct tape, a year’s worth of anti-malarial tablets, padlocks, external battery packs, and even an umbrella.

I decided what to take based on what had worked for other people, without giving any thought as to what I’d actually like to bring.

This turned out to be somewhat of a mistake.

The theme for my second year was backpacking cliche who’s grown a little more sensible.

After travelling for a year, I had a much better idea of what worked for me, and it wasn’t what necessarily worked for everyone else.

I threw out the ugly khaki clothes with dozens of pockets and replaced them with colourful garments I’d actually enjoy wearing. The amount of clothes I was carrying doubled in size, even as I threw out everything I mentioned above.

A year in and I had never worn a money belt; never found a use for duct tape. I’d yet to take a single anti-malarial tablet, never used a padlock, and had realised the umbrella had to go.

In my second year of travel, I also was hippie-fied by Southeast Asia and ended up with a wardrobe of hippie pants and singlets and all kinds of backpacking cliches.

The theme for my third year on the road was comfort.

After two years of travel, I was starting to grow tired of a life of perpetual motion. There was so much I missed from a more settled life, and I was fed up with travelling with just one pair of pants and a handful of t-shirts.

In my third year, I started carrying a lot more clothes — two pairs of jeans, even, and several dresses. I ditched the hippie-style items from my backpack and began wearing similar clothing to what I used to back home.

And from my fourth year onwards, I became all about minimalism.

Let’s face it: travelling with a 20 kg backpack [!] wasn’t going to be sustainable, and I was damaging my back from carrying so much weight around the world.

I bought a carry-on backpack and never looked back.

Now, I travel with a solid 10 kgs worth of things, and that’s enough to carry me through summer and winter destinations. I have enough technology to run my business with, and have opted for plenty of ultra-lightweight gear in order to ensure I’m maximising space and weight allowance.

First of all, I’d like to kick off this post with a video! I recorded this after I’d been travelling for two years on the road. In it, I talk about the things I decided to travel with and why I’d decided on travelling with each item. Yeah, it’s a little outdated, as I travel with around half of the stuff these days, but I think it’s still interesting to have a look if you have some spare time.

Which Backpack to Travel With?

I’m an Osprey obsessive and refuse to travel with any other backpack. I’ve opted for the Osprey Exos 48l backpack, upgraded to the Osprey Farpoint 55l pack, and have now been using the Osprey Farpoint 40l pack for four years and counting. I firmly believe it’s the best carry-on backpack on the market today.

What I love about Osprey backpacks is their lifetime guarantee — Osprey commit to repair or replace any backpack for any reason and at any time. Have a back of theirs you bought 20 years ago and it just fell apart? They’ll patch it back together or send you a new backpack from their updated range. I got to test this out when an airline tore a hole in my Farpoint 55l backpack during a flight — I contacted their customer service and they repaired the damaged panel in just a few days, for free!

Because of this, and because their backpacks are fantastic quality, I wouldn’t consider choosing any other brand.

What About Day Packs?

Get ready to roll your eyes at me, because yes, I’m all about that Osprey life when it comes to day packs, too!

You’ll want to travel with a day pack for a couple reasons: if you need to check your backpack, you’ll want a separate bag to keep your belongings in, and you also won’t want to carry your main backpack around with you whenever you head out to explore.

I’m a big believer in choosing the lightweight-yet-durable option in all situations, even if it costs me a little more to do so. My favourite daypack to travel with is the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Sack. This daypack squeezes down into the size of an apple and weighs just 500 grams, so it really helps keep the weight down. Despite that, it’s tough and heavy-duty, as I’ve been using mine for several years and never had any rips or tears. Whenever I head out to explore, I put my camera, phone, passport, water bottle, and money inside, and it carries them with no problem at all.

If you require something with a bit more support and security for your items, opt for the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack. This is such a great product! It fits everything you could possibly need to keep in your daypack, as it has a size of 20 litres, but it’s still relatively lightweight. It also has a secure padded section for your laptop, if you decide to travel with one and want to ensure it doesn’t get bashed around.

The Clothing I Take With Me on Every Trip

Tops:

  • My Icebreaker Hyperia Lite jacket is my dream travel jacket. It’s lightweight at just 340 grams, but keeps me so warm, even on freezing cold days. It’s pretty pricey, but one of my favourite investments — I fully intend on keeping this as a staple in my backpack for many years to come. I wear this whenever I find myself travelling through cold countries, and it never fails to keep me warm.
  • One strap top: I primarily travel in hot countries, so as long as the destination isn’t particularly conservative, I wear a strap top to keep me as cool as possible.
  • Two tank tops: For much the same reasons as why I bring a strap top, I pack two tank tops to give me some variety with my clothes.
  • Two t-shirts: T-shirts are also good for cloudy days or if you feel uncomfortable showing any more skin. I wear t-shirts in conservative countries with hot climates, like India, Tonga, Oman, or temple-hopping around Thailand. One of these is a casual, loose-fitting t-shirt and the other is a workout top for any hikes or yoga classes I take around the world.
  • One nicer top: Travel for me more about dressing casual than dressing up, so I don’t need anything super-fancy with me. I bring one dressy top with me for date nights or heading out to high-end restaurants.
  • One long-sleeved top: When I’m travelling in winter, or dealing with cold mornings in hot countries, I wear this long-sleeved Merino top to keep me warm.

Bottoms:

  • One pair of jeans: I consider jeans to be a travel essential, but many people don’t like them, as they’re heavy, bulky, and slow to dry. But! If you live in jeans at home, you’ll want a pair while you’re on the road. Trust me: I tried to go without and as soon as I returned home, I picked up an old pair to travel with. Plus, they’ll keep you warm in winter, allow you to cover up in summer, and fit in with the fashionable locals in Europe.
  • One pair of leggings: I like to be active when I travel, so a pair of leggings/yoga pants is vital. I wear these when I’m hiking or working out, or simply when I need to cover up but don’t want to wear jeans.
  • One pair of denim shorts: For all those beach visits and hot countries. I love wearing denim shorts at home, so they come with me when I travel, too.
  • One pair of mid-thigh-length biker shorts: They’re lightweight and comfortable, and I wear them all the time, especially when hiking in the middle of summer.

Shoes:

  • TropicFeel hiking shoesNow, I wholeheartedly believe that TropicFeel make the best travel shoes on the planet. I completely adore mine, as they fulfil so many use cases. I can wear them to hike, I can wear them in the rain, I can wear them on the beach, I can wear them in cities, I can wear them to decent restaurants — they’re lightweight, quick-drying, and designed to be used for every single travel situation you can think of. If I didn’t love my flip-flops so much, I’d be taking these as my only pair of shoes.
  • Havianas flip-flops: The iconic, the classic. I love Havianas — I think they’re the most comfortable flip-flops out there, so I always travel with a pair. It’s pretty self-explanatory — when I’m bumming around Southeast Asia or spending any time in beach towns and hot countries, you’ll usually find me in my flip-flops.

Accessories:

  • One pair of sunglasses: Because of course! I’m always out in the sun, so sunglasses are an essential for me
  • One pair of glasses: Because I’m blind as a bat, and wearing contacts every day when travelling can be annoying
  • Seven pairs of underwear: I bring enough to cover me for a week and then do laundry every week
  • Two bras: That’s enough for a week for me
  • Seven pairs of socks: Same same
  • Two bikinis: I travel with more than one because when I’m hanging out in beach towns, I don’t always have time to wash everything before the next day on the beach.
  • One travel scarf with a hidden pocket: So cool! Thieves are totally aware of the existence of money belts these days — it’s one of the first things they’ll check for when mugging you. So that’s why it’s great to travel with an infinity scarf with a hidden pocket. I’ll always keep some money and my passport in here, and occasionally my phone if I’m travelling in a dodgy part of town.

What About Packing Cubes?

I’m a huge fan.

Packing cubes help keep your backpack organised, so that you can easily find everything you need when you’re in a hurry. In a time before packing cubes, I would I have to empty my entire backpack to find anything I was looking for, and then repacking it became a pain in the ass. Now, I use one cube for my tops, one for my bottoms, one for my underwear, and one for charging cables. Unpacking and repacking my bag is now so easy and quick. I love this brand of packing cubes the most.

If you’re a chronic overpacker, you can use vacuum-sealed packing cubes to free up a ton of space in your bag. You’ve likely seen vacuum-sealed bags before, as they’re used for storage around the world. You simply put your clothes in, roll the bag up to expel any excess air, and then you’ll find the bag takes up around a third of what it usually does. I travelled with these ones for a couple of years and really liked them — I just found that it didn’t incentivise me to cut down on the weight of my backpack, so I switched to regular packing cubes afterwards.

What About Colder Temperatures?

I try to avoid them, if at all possible.

For the most part, the clothes I’ve listed above are enough to keep me warm in temperatures down to around 10 degrees. I’ve got my jeans, a long-sleeved top, and my coat, and the combination of the three are perfectly fine in most winter situations, unless it’s snowing.

There was one exception. I travelled to Japan in the middle of winter and I was not prepared at all. I had my one pair of jeans and my one coat, and I was still freezing cold. I immediately went to the nearest store and bought a couple of thick jumpers, a warm scarf, hat, and pair of gloves. When I finished my trip in the country, I donated them all to a charity store, as I wasn’t planning on being in another cold country for at least half a year.

If, like me, you plan on primarily travelling to warm countries, that’s what I recommend doing. Bring a pair of jeans, a Merino wool long-sleeved top and a lightweight coat with you, as that will cover you for most situations. If, however, you find yourself feeling freezing and ill-equipped for the weather, suck up the additional cost, buy a few extra items, and donate them at the end of your trip.

What Clothes Didn’t I Like Travelling With?

Rain jackets/ponchos: Well, first of all, I hate ponchos! The first time I tried wearing one, I looked ridiculous and felt like I had a shower curtain continually sticking to my body. But I’m not a big fan of travelling with rain jackets either. Instead, I just use my Icebreaker lightweight coat I mentioned above. It keeps me dry in 99% of downpours, whether it’s a tropical storm in Bali or a torrential downpour in Helsinki.

Umbrella: I just didn’t use it enough. I was finding myself using my travel umbrella maybe twice a year, and I couldn’t justify carrying it in my backpack for that. If it rains while I’m out exploring, I’ll grab an Uber to get back to my accommodation or walk into a nearby cafe and wait out the storm. If it’s in the tropics, the rain is always warm, so I never mind getting wet. If you do want to try travelling with one, I recommend this one, as it’s tiny and weighs less than 1 lb.

The Toiletries I’ll Never Travel Without

Moving on! Let’s talk about toiletries and beauty products and anything that sort of falls under that category.

  • Bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste: I recently invested in a bamboo toothbrush recently to cut down on my plastic consumption, and I’m obsessed with the offerings from B-Earthly. Their toothbrushes are biodegradable, comfortable to use, great for sensitive teeth, come with a travel case, and have a built-in tongue-cleaner. I combine mine with Crush&Brush toothpaste tablets, which come in zero-waste packaging, and biodegradable dental floss.
  • A razor: I get my hair lasered, so I don’t have to shave very often, but I usually pack one reusable razor for each trip.
  • Deodorant: This is a travel essential! I love the Organic Island solid deodorant bar. It’s plastic-free, biodegradable, and works just as well as traditional deodorants. The fact that it’s not a liquid will please all of my fellow carry-on travellers out there!
  • Sunscreen: To be honest, you’ll get through so much sunscreen if you’re going to be travelling long-term that you should plan to be replacing yours fairly regularly. I recommend this reef-safe sunscreen from SunBum and always bring a bottle with me to start off.
  • Solid shampoo and conditioner: I love LUSH’s solid shampoo bars — they leave my hair feeling soft and shiny, are super-lightweight and small, and last me over six months when using them continuously! Because they’re so small, I’d definitely recommend picking up some solid conditioner, too — that salt water can really mess up your hair. The cork pots that are sold by LUSH are perfect for storing your bars as you travel.
  • A small bar of soap: I usually grab a bar of soap from LUSH before a trip, too. I love their products and the fact that they’re packaging-free. A bar of soap will last me for an entire trip and also means I don’t add to my liquid limit with shower gels.
  • Tangle Teezer: I’ve been traveling with a Tangle Teezer since I first started traveling! It’s the only hairbrush I’ve found that can get rid of all of all of the knots in my crazy, curly hair.
  • Contact lenses: I bring monthly contact lenses with me on my trips — usually around six months’ worth.
  • Make up: I travel with a whole bunch of make-up — tinted moisturiser with SPF, a small Tarte eyeshadow palette, black eyeliner, mascara, highlighter, blush, lip gloss, eyebrow pencil, and a whole load of brushes. In general, despite how much make-up you wear in everyday life, expect to wear a lot less while travelling. Exploring with a full face of make-up in 90% humidity and high temperatures is not a fun thing to do.

How Much Medication I Bring With Me

I don’t bring a lot of medication with me when I travel because there are pharmacies all over the world that’ll likely stock whatever you need. I bring a handful of essentials and restock up whenever I run out of them.

  • Dramamine: I suffer from seasickness, so always make sure to have some motion-sickness tablets on hand for any island-hopping or flights I take.
  • Painkillers: There’s nothing worse than having to venture out in the hot sun in search of a pharmacy when you’re dealing with an agonising headache. That’s why I always travel with a dozen painkillers when I travel, usually half a dozen acetaminophen tablets and half a dozen ibuprofen.
  • Imodium: Unfortunately, travel isn’t always incredible for our stomachs, and travellers’ diarrhoea can sometimes threaten to ruin our vacations. I always keep Imodium on hand for any times when the local food doesn’t agree with me. It’s been a life-saver on days when I’ve needed to get on a bus and wouldn’t have otherwise been able to leave the bathroom. I also recommend packing some DripDrop rehydration sachets in case you get felled by food poisoning or sun stroke.
  • Anti-histamines: I’m a pretty reactive person, so anti-histamines are a must for me! I always bring a dozen tablets with me in case I break out in hives or start sneezing all over the country.
  • Band-aids: You don’t want to get an infection while travelling, so you’ll want to bring a couple of bandaids and a small tube of antiseptic cream for any cuts or grazes you may get. When I was travelling in Cambodia, I fell over and the resulting graze became infected. If I’d had antiseptic cream, I’d have been able to prevent a nasty week of pain and a course of antibiotics.

Travel Technology

  • A smartphone: I travel with an iPhone XS, but there’s no real need to upgrade your phone for your trip — just take whatever you normally use at home.
  • A camera: My main camera these days is the Sony A7ii with a 28-70mm lens, along with a couple of 32 GB SanDisk SD cards. At $2,000 for the full set-up, this is pricey AF, and I bought it as an investment in this site. I’m incredibly happy with the quality of the camera and lens, though, and would highly recommend it if you have the cash and are looking to invest in a mirrorless system. If you’re not into photography, just bring whatever camera you usually use on holiday, or use your smartphone to take photos.
  • A GoPro: GoPros are fantastic for island-hopping, because they’re small, lightweight, and come with an underwater casing. I used mine with the GoPro 3-Way Grip, because it’s great for taking selfies, but in the future, I’d consider getting a floating selfie stick to use. I was way too nervous about accidentally letting go and watching my GoPro sink to the bottom of the sea.
  • A Kindle Paperwhite: Now this is something I won’t consider travelling without. I’m a voracious reader when I travel, and a Kindle allows me to power through a travel memoir a day without adding weight to my luggage.
  • A laptop/tablet: Most of you won’t need to bring your laptop with you. I work online as I travel, so this is an essential for me, but if you don’t think you’ll have a use for it, save on weight and space and leave it at home. If you have a tablet, this could be a good compromise, so that you can watch TV shows on it in the evenings. I travel with a Macbook Pro and love it.
  • Various chargers/adapters: Trust me: I’ve used a hell of a lot of travel adapters over the past decade, and I can tell you that Saunorch makes the absolute best. This travel adapter is so freaking great! It works in over 150 countries, has 4 USB ports, and fits so well in every socket. The latter is especially hard to find, as I know I’ve wrestled with so many adapters that kept falling out of the wall!
  • Case to keep SD cards in: I love this case so much! I always travel with spare SD cards because I take so many photos when I travel. This case helps keep your memories safe and secure. I once had an SD card snap in half in my backpack because it wasn’t in a case and I lost all of my travel photos from the last six months. It sucked.

Miscellaneous Items I Travel With

  • A dry bag: An essential for spending time out on the water. It meant I could put my camera in my dry bag, get some air in it so it floats, and swim off to a little beach with my camera and take some great photos. The extra air helped it to float, which was useful. I’ll only use Sea to Summit products when it comes to dry bags — I’ve been using mine for seven years and it’s still going strong.
  • Vapur foldable water bottle: I don’t want to contribute to plastic waste, so I travel with this reusable water bottle from Vapur. It rolls up to a very small size, weighs next to nothing, and means that I never have to buy water bottles when I travel. I pair mine with a Steripen so that I can make tap water safe and drinkable anywhere on the planet, whether I’m in Mozambique or India.

And that’s everything! After 10 years of travel, this is exactly what I travel with on every trip I take. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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112 Comments

  1. Greg
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Great video! Really interesting as I constantly struggle with packing – you have convinced me that packing cubes are a good idea. Also amazed you fit everything into a 46l backpack!

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Greg! Packing cubes are great for keeping everything organised :-). I bought a 46l backpack for that exact reason — I’d have to make everything fit or I’d be forced to throw something out. I’m so weak that I really need to keep the amount of stuff I carry to a minimum or I end up toppling over!

  2. Delia @ World in Words
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Love the video! I totally agree that it’s all about finding what works for you. I’ve been travelling Central Asia so tied a bit by cultural restrictions but now I’m moving towards China and SE Asia I’m looking forward to being more ‘me’!

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you, Della! I know I struggled when I travelled through Morocco and needed to be completely covered up in 40 degree heat! All of those long clothes really added to the weight of my backpack too :-)

  3. Marko @ Travel Photo Blogging
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Nice list! However there is a Swiss army knife missing. It is not all that compatible with airline security restrictions these days, but as long it is stored safely in your hold luggage it shouldn’t present a threat to anyone.

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Given that I’ve never once felt I needed a Swiss army knife in my bag, I don’t see much reason for me getting one now.

  4. August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Awesome post Lauren! I love that you carry such a variety of clothing – my kind of packing :) What size/brand packing cubes are you using?

    I’m also curious whether there was any contributing factors to you getting a macbook? I’m almost at the point of needing a new computer for travelling and I can’t help but think that a mac might actually be a good idea lately…

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Lindsay! I picked up just some random packing cubes that were on sale while I was in Australia. I don’t even think they’re a brand to be honest. In my post I linked to some which a friend of mine uses and recommends, but really you’d be fine picking up pretty much anything — they’re all very similar :-)

      The main factor was that I was already using a Macbook before I started travelling — and because I find them really hard to break, which is important for me. When I used Windows laptops, I was replacing them every six months because they kept breaking, so it was worth getting a Macbook Pro, as they last me years instead of months. I love mine :-)

      • August 8, 2013
        Reply

        Haha, yeah, durability is a huge point of consideration since I also tend to be a little … harsh … on my tech. Or use it far past when it’s started to fall apart! My partner has an old Macbook Pro and I’ve been playing with it a little to get a feel for the OS. It’s definitely different (and to be frank anything’s a step up from my underpowered netbook :P)

        • November 26, 2015
          Reply

          I definitely do the same! I change devices when one breaks, rather than anything else!

  5. This is brilliant! I’m starting to get some stuff collected together for some long term travel, but I’m CLUELESS. The video was awesome to see, rather than just read about items on a page. Now I just actually have to find clothes I like enough to spend a whole year with!

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      I’m so glad you found the video helpful, Amanda! Clothes are always cheap to replace around the world so don’t think that you need to keep the same outfits for an entire year :-)

  6. georgia
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Yeah I try and pack my house in my bag….Getting there though!

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Haha, it’s really tempting to try and pack as much as possible but as soon as you start carrying your backpack you start realising how much unnecessary weight you’re carrying!

  7. I’m a packing cube girl! I do the exact same thing – one for bottoms and one for tops! Makes life so much easier and you know where to find things. It’s a matter of time, as you say. I’ve always been one to pack colour but have fallen foul to the khaki loving too. But I constantly chuck things out and buy new items just to feel refreshed and like I have a wardrobe of some kind. Great video, which will be super helpful to first time packers about to embark on a big trip!

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Becki! Packing cubes are so fantastic and I wish I’d given them a chance when I first left. I change at least one item of clothing a month just to keep things fresh otherwise I get so fed up wearing the same clothes that are mostly falling to pieces! :-)

  8. August 6, 2013
    Reply

    This was very helpful! I never realized how much you can really fit into those backpacks!

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      You can usually squidge most items down the side and into small gaps, mine ends up very tightly packed!

  9. August 6, 2013
    Reply

    strange questions but how much do you take in terms of underwear? bras, panties, socks? And how do you do your laundry? Do you carry around any detergent with you or get sample/travel sized detergents on the road?

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      I travel with four bras, seven panties, one pair of hiking socks. I don’t need to wear socks for my flip flops or Vibrams so I only ever wear them with my hiking boots. Which is rare.

      I actually found a bar of solid laundry soap that I travel with. Travel sized detergents last me about two washes so are super inconvenient. The bar of soap lasts around a year though, so I can highly recommend getting that. I will usually go to a laundrette if I’m in a cheap part of the world though, probably around 80% of the time.

  10. August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Great video! absolutley loved the idea of packing cubes

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Craig! They really do make a difference :-)

  11. Runaway Brit
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Trying to decide what to take with me is always my biggest travel chore, and I usually throw most things out along the way. Quite a few of the hostels in South America had donation bins for things travellers wanted to leave behind – I thought that was a great idea!

    I remember the days of carrying contact lenses around, it was one of the main incentives in getting laser eye surgery, maybe you should consider it??!

    Loved the video.

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      That is a fantastic idea! I usually end up throwing things in the bin if I can’t find anywhere to donate them and it always feels like such a waste! Laser eye surgery sounds… scary!

  12. Beverley | Pack Your Passport
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    LOVE the video Lauren, definitely think it’s something you should do more of. This post is going to be super helpful for people who’ve not travelled before who aren’t sure what to take. I’ve always travelled with a suitcase, purely because I was doing more of the expat thing rather than travelling constantly, but it’s actually really nice to know that you’re able to fit quite a bit of stuff in your backpack because in the future I want to do some travel through South East Asia and Europe with a backpack instead of a suitcase :-)

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Beverley! You’ll definitely need a backpack for Southeast Asia — sometimes a boat will just drop you off on a beach and you have to walk up and down the sand trying to find a guesthouse, and even in the cities the streets are so uneven that a suitcase would be ridiculous. Though, you’re right, you don’t need a backpack for Australia or New Zealand :-)

  13. August 6, 2013
    Reply

    It can be so frustrating having to live with what you’ve packed in your backpack if you made the wrong choices! Great post so other people don’t have to live with those unnecessary items for so long.

    For me, I wanted to throw things out and buy new things every few weeks. It was so unproductive, but at least I felt cute every so often, and my back wasn’t killing me for keeping everything in my pack!

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Absolutely. My first few months were so irritating because of all the ridiculous things I’d packed. I think that when you’re travelling with so few clothes anyway it’s important to treat yourself and replace a few items every now and then to keep things fresh :-)

  14. Sophie
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    Love the video! Great to see everything that goes into a backpack; can’t believe you get all of that in!

    Even though I’m not currently travelling with a backpack I may buy some packing cubes for my suitcase…

    • August 6, 2013
      Reply

      Packing cubes really help to keep everything organised and separated, even in a suitcase :-)

  15. Ashley of Ashley Abroad
    August 6, 2013
    Reply

    I loved the video, so helpful! I just had one question- I wanted to buy the same packing cubes that you had in the same size, could you send a link of where you bought them? Thanks!

    • August 6, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Ashley,

      I actually bought mine from a cheap outdoor store in Australia for around $10 or so as they were on sale. To be honest, they’re all much of a muchness and there isn’t really too much difference between different brands. I linked to a pack of three in the article that my friend uses and recommends, but otherwise just pop into any outdoor store and pick up a couple there.

  16. August 6, 2013
    Reply

    As long as it works for you, that’s really all that matters! I mean, this is YOUR travel life, after all.

    I’m totally with you on carrying a bit more, lots of color, and things that you actually want to wear. My RTW packing list is quite similar to yours – mostly stuff I’d be wearing if I was still at home!

    (Also, I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually heard your voice! Love the video!)

    • August 6, 2013
      Reply

      Exactly! I don’t know why I believed that as soon as I started travelling I’d want to wear all of this crazy travel-specific gear. I’m much more comfortable just wearing the usual stuff I’d wear at home.

  17. August 7, 2013
    Reply

    The video is great! I think I would need too many takes to do a respectable video like this, but you seem to be a very talented presenter! :-) Love my packing cubes. Got them one year into my travels and they make life sooo much easier. I can’t believe you can fit all those clothes and your technology in your backpack. Amazing!

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Tammy! I guess I’ll need to do some more videos then! :-). Packing cubes make such a difference and I can’t believe I didn’t pick mine up sooner!

  18. August 7, 2013
    Reply

    Great post and video – I’m obsessed with packing lists! I use a packing cube for toiletries and compression sacs for my clothes which really condenses them and you can mold them into different shapes according to the space in your pack. I also wear contact lenses and it’s such a pain (and expense) having to carry them around and buy more; I’m thinking of perhaps getting eye surgery at some point if I can get over the fear of having someone meddle with my eyeballs.

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you, Amy! I want to try compression sacks at some point, I think I’d like them. Contact lenses are annoying but I’m kind of terrified of the thought of laser eye surgery. Maybe one day in the future but for now I’m happy to lug around a load of boxes to keep my eyes laser-free! :-)

  19. Roy @ Goedkoop Reizen
    August 7, 2013
    Reply

    By reading your travel stories I can see that you have built up a lot of experience.
    This blog will be very helpful for a lot of new backpackers!
    I was wondering, are you traveling alone or do you have a travel buddy that travels with you?
    I love to see your new travel stories :)

    Greetings Roy

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Roy,

      I originally started travelling alone but I’ve been travelling with my boyfriend for around 18 months now :-)

  20. Kiara Gallop
    August 7, 2013
    Reply

    Totally relate to a lot of this…I especially struggle on the clothes front – the outdoor gear dries quickly and doesn’t need ironing but I’ve yet to find any bottoms that actually fit properly or that I like! Even the tops can be soooo boring and dowdy. What do you do regards ironing? I always find that, aside from lycra vest tops, all the stuff I tend to wear at home looks creased once it’s been washed. Also glad I’m not the only person who takes hair straighteners the road (my boyfriend rips me for that!) and I will never travel without my jar of Marmite either :-)

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      That was the problem I had. The gear was super-helpful but also incredibly ugly — after a couple of months of wearing it I was desperate for some colour!

      If I pay for laundry then I’ll usually get my clothes tumble dried too which helps to remove the creases, but in general I’ll wear something that’s creased and hope nobody notices. It’s never been too bad though, perhaps because I roll my clothes?

  21. August 7, 2013
    Reply

    I can’t begin to describe how surprised I was to hear that all that gear fit into a 46 liter pack. And now that I know that, I wonder what on earth all those people with 90 liter packs are doing. I mean, I always wondered that, but now I know it’s exactly 2 of everything on your list, and your list seems thoroughly comprehensive to me.

    • August 7, 2013
      Reply

      Hahaha! I love this comment. I just turned to Dave, who used to carry a 90 litre pack, and asked what he carried in his.

      “Well, I had two pairs of jeans…”

      It’s true!

  22. Angie
    August 8, 2013
    Reply

    Awesome post! I am striving to travel only by backpack now and this was a big help.

    • August 8, 2013
      Reply

      Glad it could help, Angie! Travelling with just a backpack is extremely liberating :-)

  23. Ryan
    August 8, 2013
    Reply

    Wait…Vegemite?!!! Didn’t expect that to be on there haha! After going abroad my first time I have a WAY better understanding of what I need to take with me, and most of it isn’t what other people recommended. When I first went abroad in 2011 I packed so much…umbrellas, hoodies, 4 pairs of shoes, and a ton of other things I rarely used. Turns out I lost the umbrella and just bought a $5 one when it actually rained. Next trip my pack will be super toned down.

    • August 10, 2013
      Reply

      I know… so embarrassed by my huge jar of Vegemite! Yeah, so many of the packing lists I read through before I left were horrible for me — I don’t know why I thought my style would change just because I was travelling. It didn’t.

  24. Maddie
    August 10, 2013
    Reply

    This was a great post Lauren! I have been following your blog for a while so hearing your voice was a surprise! I always think that taking travel specific clothes makes you stand out even more in a local crowd – I would much prefer not being targeted as ‘tourist!’. That jar of vegemite cracked me up because I know how heavy they are! I always travel with the tube of vegemite… Creature comforts! :)

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the video, Maddie! I thought it was about time I let my readers hear my accent ;-). That’s definitely true about the travel-specific clothes — you definitely stand out as a tourist.

      The jar of Vegemite is ridiculously heavy. So worth it though :-)

  25. Melissa
    August 15, 2013
    Reply

    Loved the video.
    Totally random, but that’s not at all what I thought your voice sounded like!

    • August 18, 2013
      Reply

      Heh, thanks Melissa! I know a lot of people who read my site are always shocked to hear a British accent when they meet me! :-)

  26. Sarah
    August 18, 2013
    Reply

    Love the video! You seem like a natural in front of the camera :) I was kinda surprised by the Vegemite, but I forget that other countries aren’t as strict as Aus and NZ when if comes to food quarantine! This has made me want to travel so much! Too bad I’m stuck at home for the next four months :(

    Hope you continue the good work! Will enjoy reading the rest of your blog :)

    • August 18, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Sarah! Australia and New Zealand were super strict but most other places just have limits on fresh fruit and meat. I’ve never had any trouble though I know my boyfriend once couldn’t take Vegemite into Ireland because he had it in his hand luggage!

      Any travel plans after the four months? :-)

  27. Stephanie @ Pearlsandpassports
    August 22, 2013
    Reply

    It’s so lovely to see you in a video Lauren! I think that you now have the perfect packing list, I’m very envious because my 68l backpack is full of clothes :( When I first started travelling I took a lot of travel clothes like you did and a lot of VERY dressy dresses that are only suitable to wear once in a blue moon.

    I find that I get very attached to my travel clothes though and I find it hard parting with them! I’m going to get a snazzy new (small!) wardrobe in Singapore all ready for Australia and New Zealand!

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Steph! I know, I always want to buy pretty dresses but end up never wearing them, especially in humid Southeast Asia where I never have the energy to dress up!

  28. Krystal
    August 28, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    thanks for sharing this with us!
    i am travelling aus in November and i was so scared not everything i wanted to bring would fit in a backpack (of which i havnt bought yet) but you showed me that so much fits in such a small space! feel much better.
    you say that you work while you travel, have you got any tips on what kind of online work there is out there? as i would love to do that too!

    Krystal

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Krystal,

      I’m a freelance writer and editor so am able to work from anywhere. I’d recommend coming up with a list of things you feel you’re good at, and then finding a way to do them remotely. Take a look at a site like Elance to see what people are willing to pay for too.

  29. Gracie
    August 28, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, great post and such inspiration! :)
    I was just wondering, as a fellow female traveller, what you do with tampons or sanitary pads? I have a favourite brand which I use and they take up space too! Should I just get over it and carry a 1-2 month supply and pop into a drug store when I use them up? What do you do?
    /Gracie

    • September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Gracie!

      I use a diva cup and love it! Here’s a link: My friends that use tampons and pads don’t usually have any problems stocking up abroad unless they’re going somewhere really remote :-)

  30. Sean Murphy
    September 1, 2013
    Reply

    Lauren
    I travel a lot on both business and pleasure and have been following both yours and the BF’s websites for a good few months now I find them really good for so many reasons….
    As for the packing (cubes) are the way forward without a doubt make life so easy…. I have also found Tom Bihn luggage really good, a bit expensive but worth it in the long run!
    Keep put great work and I for one will keep reading :)
    Enjoy your travels
    Sean/UK

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation, and for your kind words, Sean!

  31. Christoffer Moen
    August 31, 2013
    Reply

    Great tips! Packing cubes are the bomb. :)

    • September 18, 2013
      Reply

      They definitely are :-)

  32. My backpack looks vastly different from when I packed it 8 months ago. I’ve more or less chucked all my vests and tees away and replaced them with collared shirts, because I just prefer wearing them. Everyone thinks I’m a proper loon when I’m asking for an ironing board in a hostel. And I now carry something I told myself I’d never wear… flip flops. Not cool.

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      Haha! I hated flip-flops before I left to travel as they always gave me blisters between my toes. I then carried nothing but flip-flops for 18 months. Funny how things change :-)

  33. Helga
    September 11, 2013
    Reply

    What is your dry shampoo called?

    I love your blog btw :)

    • September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Helga! The dry shampoo is from Lush :-)

  34. Sophie
    September 12, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    This post is so helpful, thank you! I was wondering what you carry with you daypack or handbag wise?
    Thanks :)

    • September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Sophie,

      I travel with an Osprey Stratos 24l daypack:

  35. Maria
    October 16, 2013
    Reply

    Hi lauren,

    I think your packing list is great!. Me and my boyfriend leave on the 2nd of jan to travel S.E.A for a year. My boyfriend has the same backpack as you and i am soo shocked how you fit all your stuff in there. How much does your backpack weigh once everything is in? Do you take it on the plane as hand luggage or check it in? Btw the vegimite made me laff but i am a marmite lover so i understand lol!

    Maria nesmith

    • October 19, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Maria,

      It weighs between 9-11kg depending on how much stuff I’m carrying. At the moment, it’s 11kg. I check it in, the bag is slightly too big for hand luggage and I carry a daypack to take on the plane with me.

      • Maria
        October 19, 2013
        Reply

        Thanks for your reply, also feedback from your video i think it is great but id like to see in the video how you manage to pack all your stuff into your backpack as there is a lot of stuff, i’d like to see the best way to pack everything

        Maria

        • October 19, 2013
          Reply

          Hi Maria, it’s as simple as putting the packing cubes in and then shoving everything in around them. I usually find myself packing my bag 10 minutes before I have to leave so everything gets thrown in haphazardly in thrownticular order. I roll my clothes up tightly but no tricks other than that. The backpack has extra storage areas at the front and top.

          • Maria
            October 20, 2013
            Reply

            Ah i will try that then lol. Also what razor do you take travelling? What is popular to buy in S.E.A once you have ran out?

            • October 22, 2013

              I just pick up a Gillette something-or-other :-)

            • Maria
              October 25, 2013

              :) okay.. Sorry to keep asking lots of questions but what bank should i go with to avoid atm charges when travelling S.E.A?

            • October 30, 2013

              Hi Maria,

              Are you from the UK? If so, I couldn’t find a single bank that does’t charge you for international withdrawals. I use Natwest for no other reason than the fact my dad works there so if anything goes wrong he can sort it out for me :-)

  36. Gregory
    November 25, 2013
    Reply

    We are so opposite … awesome! I carry just an airline carry-on and love the freedom it gives me. I rely on all that high-tech travel gear for minimal weight and maximum flexibility. Vive la différence!

    I’ve only been out six months so, like you, it will be interesting to check back in in 18 months.

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Yep, for sure! While I was super lightweight and minimalist for the first year or so, eventually I started craving more things. I think as my travels have slowed down, and I stay in Airbnb apartments, I start to think of my travels more as me living around the world than travelling full-time.

      I’m thinking about getting a base in the future, though, so that I can travel carry-on only for small trips.

  37. Paul Bailey
    December 2, 2013
    Reply

    Fantastic, this is really helpful thank you for doing this! I’ll be leaving England at the end of March, travelling the world for 5 months so it’s really nice to read and see someone completely at ease with what’s in their bag.
    For 22 years I’ve had a privileged life and have travelled a lot, but never on a big long trip like the one I’m planning. My one worry – and I apologise if you’ve touched on it on your blog somewhere else… I’ve only just discovered you! – is about security. How have you found, carrying your worldly possessions around with you? In what situations would you feel comfortable just carrying a day bag on your back, and where do you leave the rest of your stuff?
    OH! And also… contact lenses… do you pick those up along your way, whenever you’re in a built up place you check in with your prescription? How does that work?
    Thank you! I look forward to reading your adventures :)
    PS – I love Vegemite too.

    • December 3, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Paul! I’m glad it could help :-)

      I haven’t had many problems with security, to be honest. If I stay in hostels I make sure to use the lockers to keep my laptop, camera, passport and money safe when I go outside. I usually take my daypack if I’m going to be out all day exploring, with just my camera and a small amount of money in it. I’ve never not felt safe carrying my daypack. I do make sure to keep it on me at all times if I’m going to be taking a long bus or train journey — I keep it at my feet where I can see it at all times. I’ve never had anything stolen.

      I buy my contact lenses online from DaySoft, and order a new ~6 month supply whenever I find myself in a Western country with an address.

  38. Laura
    December 23, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    Did you ever do large amounts of walking in Vibrams before you got your boots? I’m considering buying Vibrams but i’m aware there are probably a few places I’ll be going where I should really have a sturdy shoe instead of a flip flop and I’d like to stick to only taking 2 items of footwear… And have heard only good things about Vibrams!

    Hope you’re well!

    Laura x

    • December 23, 2013
      Reply

      Hey Laura,

      Yep, I actually got rid of my hiking boots recently and now just wear Vibrams. I’ve been on 10 hour hikes with them on unpaved trails and been absolutely fine. They’re super-comfortable, even after hours of wearing them — I love them!

  39. Earth Itinerant
    December 23, 2013
    Reply

    When you say “Vibrams” I assume you are talking about the shoes they call FiveFingers? They are awesome! I love mine. But be aware that they use a different set of muscles than the ones we’ve spent our whole lives using. There was for me a difficult / hurtful period of breaking in my legs.

    • December 23, 2013
      Reply

      Yep, FiveFingers. I actually found them to be more comfortable than normal shoes (maybe something to do with having flat feet? Or loving toe socks?!) and experienced no pain at all, even on the first few days of wearing them.

  40. January 30, 2014
    Reply

    Wow that is quite a long and comprehensive list of must have items. I do fully understand though. I’ve been packing suitcases nearly every month for the last dozen + years and still haven’t got it off to a fine art!

    I must say though the kindle is a definite travel essential for me.

    • January 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you! I always kind of assumed I’d just carry the same things year after year, so it’s been interesting to see how what I pack has evolved. My Kindle is one of my favourites :-)

  41. JJ loves minimalist and declutter
    February 23, 2014
    Reply

    Hello.

    Interesting video, thanks for sharing your info.
    But, I am a bit curious about 2 things;

    1. Is that really truly EVERYTHING you own? I noticed you don’t have any underwear??
    and
    2. Do you carry all that stuff as carry-on (will the planes let you?) or, do you have to check it in.. or do you split it up and carry on some, then check in some? (in which case, I’d love to know exactly what you carry on)

    Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing your replies :)

    • February 23, 2014
      Reply

      Hey JJ,

      Yep, that’s everything I own. I have underwear, yes, I just didn’t want to show it off to the Internet. I mentioned it on my first packing list post I did and had all sorts of creeps contact me :-)

      That backpack is about one inch too large for carry on so I have a small carry on bag for valuables. It contains my passport, money, laptop and camera.

  42. Shay
    February 23, 2014
    Reply

    What about all the important papers/documents, etc..
    paper clutter can be so prominent and hard to get rid of as so much of it is “necessary” (tax info, receipts to big ticket items, certificates, passport and id info, etc)
    Where’s all your paper documents n things? Or what do you do with all that?

    Also, do you have things like that stored at home with your parents or something?

    thanks for the video!
    would be great to see a packing vid, how you actually fit it all in for the plane (splitting it between carry-on and check-in for instance)
    but, just a suggestion..

    thanks again!

    • February 23, 2014
      Reply

      Hmmm, I don’t really have any paper documents, Shay, everything’s online for me. I’m not sure what tax information I’d be carrying, or why I’d need to carry it? I have access to all my tax information online, but nothing on paper. All of my big purchases (accommodation, flights, laptops…) are bought online so the receipts are stored on my email. Any other receipts I get in person that I can claim as a business expense I take a photo of and save on my laptop. No certificates. I have a passport and driving license that I carry with me, but no paper counterparts to those.

      Thanks for the packing video idea — I’ll see what I can do :-)

  43. Shay
    February 23, 2014
    Reply

    p.s.
    what size are your packing bags??

    • February 23, 2014
      Reply

      I don’t have a ruler to measure them, I’m afraid! They were a medium, if that helps?

  44. Crystal
    March 8, 2014
    Reply

    do you carry your day pack inside your large backpack? or do you carry it on the front of your body?

  45. March 22, 2014
    Reply

    Super helpful post! I’m getting ready for a month-long trip now and a girls’ perspective on packing was great. Have you had any issues with the straps of your backpack being loose when you check it? I’ve heard that if the straps get stuck as the airline’s handling your bag, they can cut them off.

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      I haven’t! But I do try to tie them together before I check my bag in.

  46. May 25, 2014
    Reply

    Wow…that is a lot of stuff. I am totally with you on carrying more clothes (which is something I didn’t do for my first trip) but I don’t know how you carry so many electronics! Maybe I have a weak back, but the thought of carrying a laptop, kindle, camera, etc. on my back for years almost brings me to tears haha. Great video!

    • May 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Tiana! Because I work online, I have to travel with a laptop and a camera. A Kindle is much lighter than carrying books :-)

  47. sophie
    May 25, 2014
    Reply

    Helpful list thanks, and love the point about ‘liking’ what you wear especially as a girl. I noticed there’s no conditioner listed, is this because shampoo bars don’t dry your hair out, or due to tropical climates? Dont want my hair to get dry, but am trying to minimise toiletries as much as poss so would be great if i didn’t have to bring it.

    Thanks
    Sophie

    • May 26, 2014
      Reply

      It’s mostly due to the humidity — my hair would get really greasy in tropical places around the world. Cutting out the conditioner helped a lot!

    • May 26, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, and you can also get combined shampoo/conditioner solid bars.

  48. Jesus Corral
    June 25, 2014
    Reply

    Great post!, I love your blog.
    As a guy there are quite a few items you packed that I wouldnt need… ahem… bikinis, birth control pills, dresses etc… but still It was great to get an idea of the backpack size, number of items you travel with, I was amazed that you travel with 3 camera lenses though.

    Anyways, I hope to be able to get out of debt in this next few months and finally take the plunge and start traveling the world. If and when I get to do so it would be great to know you better.

    Take care and safe travels.

    • June 26, 2014
      Reply

      Glad you found it helpful, Jesus! I actually travel with one camera lens these days :-)

  49. April 24, 2015
    Reply

    Wow you pack a lot! I’m surprised you’re able to fit that all in your pack :P

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Fortunately, all of my clothes are tiny, so I can throw them into corners and stuff.

  50. Tory
    May 23, 2015
    Reply

    I’m looking at doing 6 months and aiming to do a full 360 around the world so I’ve been looking for ideas on what to pack as I’ll be in pretty much every climate going!
    Usually I pack way to much when I travel and end up bringing home clean clothes that I have never worn! I was tending towards more your year one packing list but since watching this I think I need to review my plans. I have found your updates really usefully and it is interesting to see how you have changed. I was wondering if you have you got a more recent update on your packing? Maybe I just can’t find the link?
    Also I’m torn about whether to bring my DSLR or not. I notice that you carry one as well as a point and shoot, have you found you use it a lot? Do you have any advice?
    You have an amazing inspirational blog and I looking forward to reading about your next travels :)

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Tory! I haven’t updated my packing list post yet, but I hope to get around to it sometime over the next few months. I love my DSLR and don’t carry the P&S any more. It takes much higher quality photos, and when I’m doing something so exciting, I want to capture it in the best way possible :-)

  51. Rae
    June 24, 2016
    Reply

    Hello,

    I know this post is old but your video is the only video I’ve been able to find in which someone demonstrates using packing cubes with a top-loading backpack. I know you said you got some off brand cubes but I was wondering what size they were. Looking online there are so many sizes and I don’t know which would fit better in a top-loading backpack. (ie X-Large 17.5×12.75×4, Large 13.75×12.75×4, Medium 13.75×9.75×3). I live abroad at the moment and so I would need to order cubes online, otherwise I would bring my bag in to check.

    Help!

  52. August 1, 2018
    Reply

    Great video… thanks for all the advice, really helpful as we are going RTW soon!! I need a new day rucksack – just wondering what brand yours is and if you would recommend it?
    Thanks :)

  53. May
    May 30, 2020
    Reply

    Sooooo useful, Lauren! I’ve always wondered how people pack for different seasons at once and travel with everything they own in one bag. This has made it so clear and made it seem achievable. I can’t believe you manage to fit so much into one carry-on sized bag! I’ll have to check out Osprey before my next trip.

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