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The Essential Packing List for Long-Term Travel

    Posted Date: February 2, 2021

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    Figuring out what to pack for a long-term trip is overwhelming. How many clothes do I need? What toiletries are necessary? Do I need medicine? What electronics should I take? Should I bring a daypack? That’s a lot of question marks.

    I remember sitting in front of my carry-on sized backpack before my trip around the world. I was thinking about how there was no way that I could fit everything I needed for a year in that small of a space. But after doing a lot of research on what to bring, I narrowed down my packing list and somehow everything fit!

    After traveling the world for a year and going on several other multi-month long trips, I have compiled a packing list for long-term travel with all of the essentials. This list includes everything that you will need for your trip around the world.

     

    Basic Packing Tips for Long-Term Travel

    Every trip is different. On our trip around the world, I only packed summer clothes because we were sun chasers. Constantly moving from one warm place to another. I met other people on our trip who had been hiking in Nepal, and therefore, had to pack winter clothes. What you pack depends on the climate, the type of activities you like to do, and the type of traveler you are.

    Here are a few basic tips to help you pack more efficiently:

    Pack light –

    Less is more. You will be grateful when you are lugging your backpack around to have not packed too many clothes. Pack lightweight, non-bulky items that can fold easily and withstand the wear and tear of being on the road.

    Pack one nice thing –

    You never know if you will end up going to a play or a nice event on your trip. Pack a nice shirt or dress just in case. Colin almost got denied entry to a ballet in Ukraine because he did not have a button-down shirt to wear inside. It doesn’t need to be a fancy dress or dress shirt, just something nicer than your regular travel clothes.

    Pack easily washable items –

    You don’t want to be stuck with a silk shirt that you can only dry clean on your trip. Pack high-quality items that can be washed easily and will hold together after being washed over and over again. People often mention that synthetics are the best; however, I mostly packed cotton and linen clothes, and they worked great for me. They were also light and breathable.

    Know the climate –

    If you are visiting warm weather places, don’t pack a coat. You don’t need it, nor do you have room for it. Pack for the type of climate you are traveling to. We ended up going to England, which is a cooler climate, towards the end of our trip and bought a coat there. Remember, if you need anything, you can always buy it while you are traveling.

    Plan for activities –

    Are you hiking a lot? Then you may need to bring hiking shoes. Are you going to the beach a lot? Then you will want to bring a couple of swimsuits. Are you mostly visiting cities? Then don’t pack hiking shoes – pack tennis shoes instead. Have an idea of the type of activities you plan to do before leaving – this will help you pack more efficiently.

    Long-Term Travel Packing List

    Below, you will find our packing list for long-term travel broken down into a few different categories. These include clothing items, toiletries, electronics, documents, medicine, and luggage.

    At the end of this section, you will find an overall packing list with everything in these categories listed all in one place.


    Clothes

    These are all of the clothes we packed for our around the world trip. Keep in mind, we mainly traveled to warmer climates, but you can always change out some of the items in this packing list to better suit your trip. For example, instead of shorts, take more pants if you are visiting cooler climates.

    Women:

    Shoes

    Undergarments

    • 7 pair of socks
    • 7 pair of underwear
    • 1 sports bra
    • 2 bras

    Jackets

    Clothes

    • 1 pair of pants
    • 1-2 pairs of leggings
    • 3 pairs of shorts
    • 1 pair of athletic shorts
    • 6 t-shirts/tanktops
    • 1 long sleeve shirt
    • 1 pair of pajamas
    • 1-2 swimsuits
    • 2 dresses
    • 1 long skirt – for SE Asia
    • 1 hat
    • 1 scarf

    Men:

    Shoes

    Undergarments

    • 7 pair of socks
    • 7 pair of underwear

    Jackets

    Clothes

    • 1-2 pair of pants
    • 3-4 pairs of shorts
    • 1 pair of athletic shorts
    • 6 t-shirts
    • 1 long sleeve shirt
    • 1 pair of pajamas
    • 1-2 swimsuits
    • 1 hat

    Toiletries

    Women:

    Men:


    Miscellaneous


    Electronics

    • DSLR Camera
    • Camera Lenses
    • Video Camera
    • Drone
    • Tripod
    • Cell Phone (unlocked)
    • Computer
    • Headphones
    • Kobo (e-reader)

    Camera – 

    Even though I love taking pictures, I did not love lugging around my camera backpack with my giant camera everywhere. I used my camera for the first few months and then started using my smartphone instead because I didn’t want to carry around my camera all day. So, if you are planning on documenting your trips with high res photos, then pack a camera and all of your gear. If you are on the fence about taking a nice camera with you, I would suggest just taking a phone that has an excellent camera or buying a smaller body camera. 

    Camera Lenses –

    I traveled with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses. I mainly used the 24-70mm lens because of the zoom range. If you are looking to get one lens for your trip, I would recommend getting the 24-70mm.

    Video Camera – 

    We took the DJI Osmo Pocket to record videos and would highly recommend it.

    The DJI Osmo Pocket is a handheld gimbal that is good for taking photos and videos. The gimbal stabilization makes videos smooth and focused, which is one of the main reasons we got this for our trip. It also shoots 4k video and in slow motion. 

    The DJI Pocket connects to your phone, which gives you more control while you shoot. The one con about this product is that it is not waterproof, so if you are looking to get underwater shots, then a GoPro would be a better fit.  

    We’ve had a GoPro in the past and loved ours for underwater and action shots. 

    Drone – 

    We loved our Mavic drone but found out that we actually couldn’t use it in a lot of popular places because of restrictions. Some countries have really tight restrictions on drones and you have to get a license in order to use it. Please take this seriously because there can be serious consequences if you do not do your homework.

    Make sure to do research on drone laws before arriving in a new country to ensure they are permitted and if you need to get a license to fly one. I found out that you cannot fly drones in Jordan without a permit, so we didn’t take our drone to Jordan in order to avoid any issues. With that aside, you can still take a drone on your trip and find places to fly it – it’s fun to get cool aerial shots – just be smart and respectful about it as well. 

    We took the Mavic Pro on our trip, and it is no longer in production. The DJI Mini is another option that is ultralight and compact and captures video in 4K HD making it a high-quality drone. 

    Tripod – 

    If you are planning on taking lots of high-quality photos on your trip, you’ll want a tripod. I didn’t take a tripod because I did not have room, but they are nice for clean shots. Here are a couple of travel options: 

    Cell Phone – 

    Get your cell phone unlocked before your trip just in case you need to get a SIM card or if you plan on using SIM cards for cell phone service.

    Computer – 

    Computers may seem like a lot to travel with, but we used ours almost every day. They were nice to have at night while we were either doing research or just watching a movie. 

    Kobo – 

    This is a great, compact option to read any book while you are traveling.


    Documents

    • Passport
    • 10 Passport Photos – for visas upon arrival
    • 2 Copies of Passport – in case you lose your passport (We left a copy of our passports with our families just in case)
    • International Driver’s License – so you don’t get a ticket for driving in a foreign country
    • Vaccination Records – in case you need to prove that you have been vaccinated in some countries
    • Travel insurance cards/copy – I always keep a screenshot/digital copy of my travel insurance policy
    • Credit & Debit cards
    • Alternative I.D. – like a driver’s license

    Medicine

    These are a few medecines that we were happy to have on us. We used all of these except the Imodium and Azithromycin. If you have any prescriptions that you regularly take, then add those as well.

    • Cold/flu medicine 
    • Activated Charcoal Pills – helps prevent stomach bug
    • Pepto Bismol Tablets – helps with stomach aches
    • Dramamine – helps with motion sickness
    • Ibuprofen – fever/pain reliever
    • Tums – helps with heartburn
    • Imodium – diarrhea
    • Azithromycin prescription – for a severe case of traveler’s diarrhea

    Bags 

    • Backpack 
    • Suitcase (if taking a suitcase instead of a backpack)
    • Daypack
    • Fanny Pack
    • Camera backpack (if taking a nice camera)
    • Packing cubes

    Backpack vs. Suitcase

    We both started out with Tortuga Setout 45L backpacks, which are front-loader packs specifically made to fit as a carry on bag. We both liked the functionality of these bags since it has all of the pockets you need for toiletries, a laptop, and clothes. The Tortuga fits as a carry-on on all flights with the exception of EU budget flights, whose carry-on size standard is like the size of a school backpack. The main con with this backpack is that it gets quite top-heavy and just heavy in general if you are carrying it around for a while. 

    I ended up switching to a suitcase a couple of months into the trip because the bag was simply too heavy for me. The suitcase I bought was medium-sized (26”x16”x10”) and I loved it for the rollers and the extra space. The only downside is that I had to check the suitcase on all of my flights. Colin, on the other hand, used the backpack the entire trip and enjoyed it for the mobility and ease of transporting it around.

    We’ve broken these two options down into pros and cons to help you decide what’s best for your trip.

    Backpack

    Pros

    • Easy to transport
    • Always fit as a carry-on (except on budget EU flights)
    • Can carry on back 

    Cons

    • Gets heavy if you are walking around a lot
    • Can’t wheel it around

    Suitcase

    Pros

    • Rolls on the ground so you don’t have to carry
    • Can fit more inside than a backpack
    • Bag is firmer – provides more protection for valuables

    Cons

    • Have to pay to check it on flights
    • Cannot fit as a carry-on

    If you get a backpack, I would recommend getting at least a 45L for long-term trips and a frontloading pack. Anything that is much smaller won’t be able to hold everything you need. As for a suitcase, I would recommend a carry-on size or medium-size (26”x16”x10”). Do not purchase one of those giant suitcases – they get heavy real quick.

    Here are some bag recommendations for your trip: 

    Carry-on Backpack

    Suitcase

    Packing Cubes

    Packing cubes make your life easier on long-term trips by keeping your belongings organized. It’s nice to know exactly where everything is instead of having to dig through your bag to find that one specific item. 

    Fanny Pack

    I always thought fanny packs looked funny, so I never wanted to wear one. However, right before we left, my mom got me one for Christmas. We all laughed about it, but it ended up being something we used every single day. They are 100% worth it, and they are way better than carrying around a purse.

    My favorite part about a fanny pack is that you don’t have to worry about leaving it somewhere. It’s strapped to your body, so never have to stress about losing your passport or wallet.

    Daypack 

    We used our daypack every day. It is nice to take with you while you are out during the day, and it can also work as a second carry-on if you need extra storage for flights. 


    Packing Checklist

    We have compiled both the men’s and women’s long-term travel packing list and created a downloadable packing checklist for you.

    Feel free to download the PDF checklist below to help you pack for your trip!

    We hope this long-term travel packing list will make it easier for you to pack for your trip. If you have any other travel essentials that you always pack, share them in the comments below. We are always looking for new travel gear ideas!

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