Dread packing? Me too! It's overwhelming!
How do you pack for a round-the-world trip?
My husband Adam (you can see his packing list here) and I were midst preparing to leave it all and travel the world for two years. We had a general idea of where we wanted to go, but no set plans. What kind of clothes would I need? What kind of weather were we getting ourselves into? I had to be prepared for everything.
With some good music and time in front of my closet, I made one decision at a time.
I traveled for 2 years with this packing list below to over 19 countries.
If I can do it, you can too! Use my list below as a guide. You got this, lady!:)
This packing list will guide you in packing for:
Carry-on luggage only
All weather- hot and cold you may encounter
Covering you for many months and years!
A note about my list: On this trip, Adam and I focused on camping, backpacking trips, and hiking. I decided hiking pants were more of a necessity than jeans. I also packed more workout style clothes than casual clothes. If this isn't your style, that's okay! Use my list as a guide to help you with your packing. I also used my own list for our four months in Europe with a carry on.
I've also included affiliate links to share the gear I love. By purchasing your gear through these links, you're supporting us. Thank you!
WOMEN'S MINIMAL PACKING LIST
FOR ROUND-THE-WORLD TRIP
1: 40L GoLite Backpack
We used a 40L backpack because we had a lot of camping gear we took with us. If I were to do this again, I would skip packing the camping gear (if you need a tent, you can rent one) and I’d pack a 30L backpack. We took backpacks for back packing trips out in the wilderness and also a lot of blogs said it’s easier to have in your lap on packed buses. For me, I disagree. Now, if we’re not planning to go backpacking in the back country, I always take my carry on rolly bag. With a backpack, you tend to heft your pack on and off your back a lot and I prefer saving my back and using the rolly bag now.
1: long sleeve
2: casual t-shirts
3: tank tops
I used the “layering” technique. I was ready for hot muggy weather with 3 tank tops. I was also ready for cold weather and I could layer a tank top with a long sleeve, with the fleece pullover, with the rain jacket. The fleece keeps you warm and the rain jacket is the wind breaker and protects you from the water. If you need anything more, you can always buy it wherever you are, like gloves, hat or scarf. I bought my gloves, hat, and scarf in rainy and cold Denmark.
2: casual shorts
This set-up of bottoms worked really well for me. In cold places (like New Zealand), I used the yoga pants as extra warmth under my pants. But, they weren’t really necessary (especially in humid Southeast Asia) so I gave away my pair of yoga pants along the way.
2: pairs socks
2: sports bras
Again, this set up worked really well for me. Underwear is the fastest and easiest clothing to clean in a bathroom sink with soap and water and then hang dry. I did this whenever needed. We were gifted these Tide travel sink packets to wash your clothes in the sink and these were awesome, too. Also, two pairs of socks worked well for me because they were really just for working out in hot places. I love my pair of socks because I’ve had them for three years and have never gotten holes in them!
1: Buff (headband/hat/neckguard)
1: pair wool gloves
1: swim suit
2: sarongs (you can get these along the way)
The Buff: My buff is my favorite piece of gear because you can use it in hot and cold weather in so many ways! It’s a long column of stretchy material that you can wear: 1. As a headband. 2. As an ear warmer on cold days, 3. As a sun block for your neck on hikes, 4. As a hat in cold weather by tying the end to cover your head. 5. As an arm sweat band. and 6. As a rag for unexpected happenings. It’s awesome, and packs light and small!
Sarongs: Sarongs are awesome to have. You can get these along your journey for less than $5 each. And, they can be used in so many ways: 1. Skirt or dress for fashion, 2. To cover your shoulders or knees at temples, 3. Bathing suit cover up, 4. Scarf for warmth, 5. Practical souvenir to remember your trip with.
1: pair of Chacos
1: pair of Montrail trail running sneakers
Shoes were so hard to decide on! But, they are heavy and take up a lot of space. I dwindled my options down to a pair of Chacos and a pair of trail running shoes.
Chacos: I chose Chacos because I could use them for several purposes: 1. Everyday wear, 2. In spontaneous water outings in rivers, oceans or streams, and 3. In public showers at campsites.
Trail Running Shoes: I chose trail running shoes because they would also cover me for several purposes: 1. work outs, 2. hiking shoes with more traction than running shoes, and 3. Warm shoes in cold weather with socks on. The traction on my Montrail’s saved my life on the Kalalau Trail in Kauai during a storm!
Road ID Shoe ID: This is a must have for safety precautions. We each got an ID with our emergency contact info engraved on them that Velcrove’s to our shoes, so if anything happened to us, when someone found us, they had our emergency contact information available on our shoes.
1: pair of earrings
Qalo ring: I left my wedding ring at home with my parents, because I didn’t know where we were going and I didn’t want to bring any unnecessary attention to myself. Also, I didn’t want to worry about my ring while we were abroad. I really like the Qalo one. However, sometimes if I wear it without taking it off it makes my skin peel underneath. I found a cheap one on our travels at the Acropolis in Greece. This can be a fun treasure hunt for you on your travels, too! Find a new travel ring you love:)
Watch: I chose to bring a watch for the sole purpose of knowing the time and having a morning alarm for early flight wake-ups without relying on my cell phone power. Our phones spend a lot of time being on airplane mode or off to conserve battery power.
Earrings and Necklace: I chose one pair of earrings and a delicate necklace that would match every outfit. Along our travels, I got tired of them, so I traded them out for new finds:)
1: stick of mascara
This is all I carried. In hot humid places, you don’t want to wear much make up anyway. If I needed more, I went shopping. Shopping for makeup in other countries is a cultural experience in itself seeing what other women wear and how they shop around the world:)
1: face lotion with sunscreen
1: retainer (you know I work that retainer!)
1: pair of glasses
1: year's worth of contacts
1: bottle of contact solution
1: contact lens holder
1: bottle of ibuprofen
1: hair brush
1: stick of deodorant
1: travel shampoo
3: hair bands
6: bobby pins
1: cosmetic scissors
1: nail clippers
feminine hygiene items
1: cell phone
1: cell phone charger
1: laptop charger
Portable charger: It’s really important to carry an extra cell phone charger with you. Your cell phone always dies when you need to figure out how to get home for the night! Having an extra charger on you can be a life saver!
Adapter: We each carried an international adapter that can change the type of plugs you plug into with each country. This is important to have!
Laptop: If you’re in a couple, we recommend each having your own laptop. Adam and I attempted to share one laptop and the other person could use the ipad. This was a good idea in theory but not in reality. We both work way faster and are more efficient on a laptop than ipad. We’d argue who would use the laptop first and for how long. And, we’d also stay longer at coffee shops because we took turns with the computer. We finally bought another laptop in Malaysia and it made a huge difference for our marriage, our efficiency on projects, and minimizing our time in coffee shops.
1: journal for memories
Purse: I found a cross strap purse that had everything I needed: 1. A cross strap so someone couldn’t easily yank it from me. 2. It had interior pockets I could stash my passport and money in if needed. 3. It could fold flat or be rolled into my luggage. 4. It could fit my DSLR camera and lenses for a day trip out.
Book: I’m a paper book girl. Lots of hotels and hostels have lots of book options to trade in your read book for a new one. I didn’t want a Kindle to worry about one more thing to keep charged.
501 Questions: A Travel Game: This is our new game we wrote and published that includes over 500 awesome conversation starters. We realized on our travels we’d turn to scrolling our devices during down times. However, the richest moments and memories we have from our travels are when we talk to each other and the new people we meet and have meaningful conversations. Our book is compact and light to carry with you on every adventure (or you can get it on Kindle) so you always have fun questions to spark fun new conversations with your travel pals. You can get it in Kindle and paperback on Amazon here. Thank you for supporting us!
1: official marriage license
1: copy of our passports
1: list of emergency contacts
1: shot/vaccination documentation
Marriage License: Adam and I had just gotten married a year before so I took our marriage license just in case I forgot to change my name on a credit card or something I forgot about. We never needed it, but I took it just to make sure.
1: silk liner
1: roll toilet paper (does come in handy!)
*Adam carried more of our outdoor gear. Check out his packing list for more camping gear we packed.
Tent, Sleeping Pad, Pillow: We took camping gear thinking we’d do a lot of backpacking trips. We did, however, in our year of traveling abroad, we spent way more nights in hotels, hostels, and our campervan in New Zealand. If I were to pack again, I’d leave the tent, sleeping pad, inflate-able pillow, and water bladder at home. You can rent or buy a tent and sleeping pad and sleeping bag if you need to (we bought sleeping bags in New Zealand for some camping trips). And for water for hiking trips, you can pack a big water bottle.
Silk Liner, Headlamp, Spork, Toilet Paper: I think everyone should carry the: 1. Silk Liner, Headlamp, Spork, and toilet paper with you. Headlamp: Good to have if the power goes out where you’re staying. Spork: For a spontaneous snack! Toilet paper: Some bathrooms do not have toilet paper in Southeast Asia. Silk Liner: Protection from questionable sheets or overnight ferry sleeping situations.
Save this list for later!
1. Pin this post to use later here.
2. And, download this checklist by sharing your name and email below so you can easily pull it up later when you’re ready to pack!
WANT FUN CONVERSATION STARTERS FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP?
Get our new game 501 Questions: A Travel Game!
We realized we were turning to scrolling our phones during the down times of travel, but the richest memories are when we turn to each other and have meaningful conversations! So, here’s 500 fun conversation starters we wrote for you and your travel pals to create new memories together on your trip whether you’re waiting forever in airport security or chilling at the beach! Get it on Kindle or paperback on Amazon here.
“This is gold! It transforms conversations into something with more meaning, more intention!”
-Joy Morehead, @More_Ahead