UPDATED OCTOBER 2016 – My actual packing list for full-time travel!
Want to see the packing list I use for my full-time travels? I first wrote about this in 2010, but since then the contents of my bag have evolved (and shrunk!) to a lovely manageable load that covers all the bases.
For a few years, I further distilled the contents of my bag to travel full-time with carry-on luggage only. If you want to see what I used to pack, see The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List.
Since then I’ve gone back to a checkable case as I carry some extra personal items not listed here, and I also like to have a few more layers and accoutrements of comfort that don’t easily fit into a carry-on bag.
This is the Real Deal
This is – quite literally – exactly what I pack for my travels. There are a few minor differences in colour or style (some things I own are older), and in a couple of cases I’ve gone with a very close approximation (since I may have bought that scarf from a Nepalese lady in a market).
If you click on any of the items in the packing list, you’ll learn why I travel with that item, tips and tricks for using it effectively, and a link so you can get more information and see where to buy it yourself.
Here’s my packing list in all its glory…..keep reading below to learn how I reduce this to carry-on size only, along with a few clarifying notes.
It’s Not Carry-On…
This full packing list is not carry-on friendly. I check the wheeled case on flights (it weighs about 15kg), and I carry on my purse and daypack containing my electronics, a scarf for warmth/blanket needs, and anything else I’d need immediately if my luggage went on a round-the-world tour without me.
…But it Could Be
When I am able leave the full monty somewhere and travel from there for a while (as long as three months, as I did while sailing the Caribbean and house-sitting in Switzerland, then I reduce this load to carry-on size.
I travel with my daypack and purse (containing the same items as above) and my Ultralight Daypack with the rest of my stuff. It’s light and waterproof, and very sturdy despite its thin soft shell. I sling one bag over each shoulder and off I go.
Obviously I don’t take as much stuff with me when I travel with carry-on only; I reduce my wardrobe to a few items that will satisfy the climate and culture of my destination, and everything is coordinated so I can mix and match at will. This reduces bulk quite a bit.
I also usually leave behind the following:
- Travel Towel
- Toiletry Case (I use a mesh bag with fewer items)
- USB Hard Drive (usually)
- Rolling Luggage (obviously)
- Deck of Cards
- Hiking Shoes
Why Not Carry-On All the Time?
With a relatively paltry list of things that I tend to leave behind, you might question why I don’t travel with carry-on all the time.
When I take my “carry-on” trips, I usually know where I’m going and what I need for that place. Thus I can choose appropriate clothing items and pack accordingly.
But in the realm of full-time travel and my packing list being the entirety of what I own and live with, I need a wider range of things, to help me function in whatever environment I’m in. I also have a few “shamanic” odds and sods which I use in plant medicine ceremonies that add to my personal load.
Hence – the full meal deal you see above.
Remember that with every piece of gear, I carry an accompanying entourage of cables and adaptors. The things I immediately need are in my laptop case, and the rest in ziploc bags (all contained in a mesh bag).
One item not included in this packing list is a travel adaptor, important for plugging your electronics into different sockets. Remember though that they don’t convert voltages; if your device doesn’t have an adaptor that says 120-240V on the back (most laptops and electronics have it), then don’t plug a 120-volt device into a 240-volt socket, you’ll fry it.
Travel adaptors like this one are nice and compact, but I also like ones like these for their surge protection qualities. It’s also nice to find ones with USB adaptors so you can charge USB devices simultaneously.
Which one do I use? I’ve used them all – and continue to. They’re highly used (and abused) items, so they usually need replacing about every year. I don’t have a favourite one; I just tend to buy them when I see them – often in airports.
Sorry Guys…It’s Girly
Although many of these items are not gender-specific, a lot of it is. Guys – I hope you survived the toiletry entourage and girly clothing choices to glean some knowledge about the sort of gear, packs, and yes, even shoe choices (generally speaking) you can make to travel full-time in comfort and style.
If I’m in one place for a while, I often buy an inexpensive item or two locally to complement my wardrobe (eg: stylish shoes, or warmer layers). I never spend much on them, and I usually give them away when I leave. The general rule is: if it can’t replace something in my bag, it can’t come with me!
More Information on Some Packing List Items
I’ve written full reviews of some of the items you see in my packing list. If you’d like more information, check these out:
Anatomie Travel Clothing Made Me Throw Out My Jeans (review of pants, lightweight jacket)
9 Perfect Travel Gifts (review of the SteriPEN, Kate Pants, Hoboroll, Flipside Leggings)
Awesome Travel Gear and Gizmos (review of the Evolve Top, Ionic Solar Toothbrush)
2013 Edition Perfect Travel Gifts (review of Anatomie, Chrysalis Cardi, Ultralight Daypack, and more)
A big thank-you to Round the World Experts, who created this awesome app to display my packing list in living colour. Just in case you don’t know who they are, they provide Round the World Tickets for travelers.
Also: There are affiliate links in this article and graphic. Since these items are exactly what I own, I’d be hard-pressed to say I don’t endorse them!