What to pack to travel the world? Good question. It’s different for everybody and every trip, but there is a bit of a formula. Want to see the ultimate packing list I use for my full-time travels? Enjoy this fun and interactive full packing list travel widget below, which will totally give you some ideas for your next trip.
I first wrote about this in 2010, and since then my “hobo essentials” have changed and morphed many times over. I last updated the widget below in 2016, and I believe it’s the perfect template of travel bag contents so you can create your own ultimate pack list.
Check out my special Amazon Storefront with specially curated travel gear that I use all the time!
Travel Kit Contents: 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 or newer), 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). Your own travel kit contents will vary according to your personal style and preferences; consider this your travel packing list template.
If you click on any of the items in the widget, 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.
Use this widget as a guide for developing your own ultimate pack list, for vacation, a long-term trip, or lifestyle travel. The truth is, once you have a certain amount of basics, you can travel for as long as you want with it.
Time to Pack my Bags! Here’s the Ultimate Packing List for Travel
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 and packing information. When it’s time to pack my bags, this list is exactly what I use.
How I Turn This Into a Carry On Packing List
This full packing list is not carry-on friendly. I check a 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.
Learn more about why I prefer checked luggage here.
When I am able leave my big suitcase somewhere (like a home base) and travel from there for a while, then I reduce this load to carry-on size. My first two carry-on only trips were about three months each; one was while sailing the Caribbean and the other was house-sitting in Switzerland.
My last carry-on trip was when I left my base in Grenada to spend a few months house-sitting in Panama. Unfortunately life got in the way of my best-laid plans, and I never returned to Grenada and the rest of my stuff there. After that happened, I ended up traveling for two whole years with carry-on luggage only! If you want to see what I used to pack, check out The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List.
Packing for Travel With Carry-On Only
When it’s packing time for a carry-on trip, obviously I don’t take as much stuff with me as I would with a full suitcase packing list; I reduce my wardrobe to a few items that will satisfy the climate and culture of my destination, and everything is colour-coordinated so I can mix and match at will. This reduces bulk quite a bit.
I also reduce my toiletries list down to the essentials for the amount of time I’m traveling. (Because I like some specialty toiletry products, I tend to stock up a bit when I have my full suitcase).
Lastly, I usually leave behind some or all the following (depending on the trip):
- Travel Towel
- Toiletry Case (I use a mesh bag with fewer items)
- USB Hard Drive (for shorter trips)
- Rolling Luggage (obviously)
- Deck of Cards
- Hiking Shoes
Here are some tips for a smart and light packing guide, especially suitable for carry on travel:
Digital Nomad Packing List – Electronics
Any good digital nomad packing list is going to have a fair few electronics. (Check out this post, where a panel of professional travelers reveal what electronics they pack for their unique combo of travel and work: Electronic Travel Gear – Travel Experts Reveal What’s in Their Bags).
Remember that with every piece of electronic gear, there’s an accompanying entourage of cables and adaptors. The things I immediately need are in my laptop case, and the rest is in a non-descript light waterproof bag (dollar store stuff; nothing fancy).
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.
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 regularly.
My absolute favourite at the moment is the K-Century Travel Power Strip Surge Protector. This thing ROCKS. It’s a compact extension cord (since room layouts aren’t always great for working and charging stuff), has two outlets that you can plug any type of plug into, four USB charging points, and it has surge protection. It’s literally one of my favourite pieces of travel gear and when I’m packing for travel – checked or carry-on – it always comes with me.
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 toiletries list 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!
Down the Rabbit Hole…
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:
Travel Bag List
Luggage is one of my favourite topics, and I’ve tried just about every kind out there. Here’s a breakdown of my travel bag list:
Miscellaneous Travel Gear and Clothes
Every year, I publish an annual roundup of my new favourite pieces of travel gear. There’s just too much to list here! Have a look for yourself, and click on what interests you.
A big thank-you to Round the World Experts, who created this awesome app to display my packing list ultimately 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!