The Ultimate Packing List for Full-Time Travel and Long-Term Travel

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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? Below you’ll find my full packing list travel, 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. In October 2019 I re-composed this entire list and surrounding content.

I now keep this post up to date with the latest and greatest travel bits and bobs that I hit the road with…every time! It’s the perfect template of travel bag contents so you can create your own ultimate pack list. 

See also: Pro Packing Hacks – Here are the Best Travel Accessories for Saving Space and Organizing Your Stuff

Check out my special Amazon Storefront with specially curated travel gear that I use all the time! 

Time for packing! Want the ultimate packing list? Here's exactly what I pack for my full-time travels - down to every last item. #FullTimeTravel #TravelPlanning #BudgetTravel #TravelTips #PackingTips #CarryOnTravel #TravelGear #TravelClothing
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Travel Kit Contents: This is the Real Deal

This is โ€“ quite literally โ€“ exactly what I pack for my full-time and long-term 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. 

In the description next to each of the items in this post, 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.

Note that many of the links below are affiliate links; if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a (deplorable, but noteworthy) commission. This is how I make my living, and can spend all the time I do providing posts like these to help you travel. I thank you in advance for your support! 

Use this travel packing list 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. 

FELLAS: Don’t get overwhelmed by “little black dress” recommendations. Aside from clothing and some toiletries, you’ll get lots of use from this packing list.
For wardrobe choices, check out the Best Travel Clothes for Men, and also Aviator’s collection of merino wool tops and travel-friendly pants.

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.

Luggage and Packing Tools

Osprey Wheeled Backpacks

OSPREY FARPOINT / FAIRVIEW WHEELED TRAVEL PACK – This bag is perfect for the items on this packing list. (I travel with a discontinued bag by Eagle Creek, and this is the most similar in size and features). It’s 65 litres, and has the added benefit of some zip-away backpack straps for when rolling isn’t practical. (Here’s why that’s great). Here are the features I look for in my luggage: soft-sided, rugged wheels, durable lockable zippers. This luggage has all that…and more. NOTE: It is not carry-on sized.
For something a bit smaller, get the Osprey Sojourn 60L, or for something larger, get the Osprey Ozone 75L (no straps).

When I’m traveling with carry-on luggage only, I use the Pacsafe EXP21 Rolling Carry-On.

See also: Checked vs. Carry On Luggage, and How to Choose What You Need

Rolo Portable Roll-up Travel Bag

ROLO PORTABLE ROLL-UP TRAVEL BAG – Although the ROLO is not a hardcore space-saver, it’s a great time-saver and organizer! All of my clothing goes into the mesh compartments, and when I arrive to each destination all I have to do is unroll it, hang it, and then I can hit the beach. 

Hoboroll ultimate packing tool

HOBOROLL – The Hoboroll has been a long-time friend and useful packing/travel companion. It organizes all my little stuff (like underwear, socks, scarves, workout gear, etc) and compresses it to fit gracefully into my luggage. And it’s ultralight so it doesn’t add weight while saving lots of space.

Packable day pack

PACKABLE TRAVEL BACKPACK – This is one of my favourite pieces of travel kit. Sea to Summit has two options: for a day pack that packs down to the size of a tennis ball (smaller, actually), check out their award-winning Ultra-Sil Day Pack. Here’s a video demo I created for you.
For something a bit larger that is waterproof and ideal for more adventurous excursions, they have the Ultra-Sil Dry Day Pack.

PURSE, WALLET, DAYPACK – Your daypack, purse, and wallet choices boil down to personal preference and needs. At the very least, look for RFID protection in your wallet. Having a purse/daypack that is water resistant and tamper-proof also helps. 

Pacsafe makes great secure travel-friendly and stylish bags – I own a few purses and daypacks made by them and can attest to their quality. My Pacsafe daypack of choice is the Pacsafe Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Backpack. It can be worn as a backpack or carried as a tote, has all kinds of organizational and security features, and is made of recycled materials!

While I think Pacsafe has the best range of options, I recently tested the Everyday Totepack by Peak Design, which I think has its merits and is a sleek unisex look with some incredible organizational features.   

See also: Best Anti-Theft Bags and Accessories, and Tips for Keeping Your Stuff Secure


Clothing

I’m obviously skewing this list towards women (since this is exactly what I travel with), but men can translate the basic idea to fit their own needs. 

Kate Pants by Anatomie Travel Clothing

2 PAIRS OF (FULL-LENGTH) PANTS – Two pairs of pants are all you’ll need, if you’re also bringing the stuff below. Fellas, unless you really want to pack dresses and leggings, you  might just want to take three pairs of pants. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (See also: Best Travel Clothes for Men). My absolute must-haves are Anatomie’s Kate Cargo Pants and Luisa Skinny Jeans. If you have sticker shock, click here to learn why it’s actually worth it. 

Use the discount code NORA20 to get $20 off your order!
(Minimum order amount is $120 to qualify. Enjoy free shipping on all domestic orders.

1 PAIR LEGGINGS – Leggings are multifunctional as pants, Pjs, yoga/workout wear, and as an underlayer for extra warmth. 

1 PAIR CAPRI PANTS or SHORTS – Go with a pair of capri pants or shorts โ€“ as you like (I find capri pants to be more versatile). 

Every girl needs a little black dress for travel

“LITTLE BLACK DRESS” – Every girl needs the perfect โ€œlittle black dressโ€! Here’s what to look for in a travel dress: lightweight and short sleeved (you can add layers for cooler climates), wrinkle-free, dark colour, classic style. I actually own two dresses, but if you want to keep your pack light, one will do.

2 TANK TOPS – Regardless of climate, tank tops are invaluable as shirts (duh), Pjs, workout wear, and underlayers. I like to have 2-3 tank tops on hand, and I replace them as needed. If you want a high-quality and super duper comfy one, check out Anatomie’s Bri

The Evolve Top - perfect tee shirt for the ultimate packing list

2 TEE SHIRTS – 2-3 tee shirts are ideal (depending on how many tank tops you also have). I really like the Evolve Top by Encircled because it can be worn a few different ways, dressed up or down, and is super comfortable (and sustainably made).
I’m also a big fan of merino wool, and this merino t-shirt from Aviator ticks all the boxes.

1-2 LONG SLEEVED SHIRTS – Assuming you’ll be traveling through different climates, a long-sleeved shirt is a must. I like these ones (REI, Amazon) because they’re understated and multi-purpose, they layer well, and Icebreaker makes awesome long-wear quality merino wool stuff. It will take you from hiking the mountainside to relaxing at the cafe.
My latest love affair is with Aviator’s merino wool hoodies; everything is sustainably sourced, well made, travel friendly, and UBER comfortable.

chrysalis cardi multi wear cardigan dress and scarf

CARDIGAN (SUGGESTION: CHRYSALIS CARDI MULTI-FUNCTIONAL CARDIGAN/DRESS/SCARF) – I have had the Chrysalis Cardi (pictured above) for over 6 years and gotten a ton of use out of it! It’s super versatile, ridiculously comfortable, and can be worn a million ways, from scarf to dress to shawl. A great extra layer to have on hand.
If this doesn’t float your boat (or if you’re a fella), check out Aviator’s hoodies. Their zip-up First Class Hoodie has travel-friendly features like a hood that doubles as a sleep mask, mitten-cuffs, and zip up pockets.

Kenya lightweight travel jacket by Anatomie

LIGHTWEIGHT JACKET – To be perfectly honest, I have a couple of light-to-medium weight jackets (which is partly why I tend to travel with checked luggage). But if you want to pack light you only need one, and if I had to choose, I’d choose the Kenya Safari Jacket (by Anatomie) for its versatility, style, and comfort. Here are Anatomie’s lightweight jackets.

lightweight waterproof rain jacket for travel

PACKABLE WATERPROOF RAIN JACKET – You need a waterproof layer that can fold up into nothing. You can use it on its own in warm climates, and over layers in cool climates. Jack Wolfskin makes the best one I’ve ever tried: the JWP Shell is waterproof, windproof, breathable, comfortable, and the world’s first fully recycled jacket.
Buy direct from Jack Wolfskin here (women, men), or on Amazon (women, men).

Jack Wolfskin down jacket for travel

DOWN JACKET (Jack Wolfskin, Amazon) – The Jack Wolfskin JWP Down Jacket is part of their Pack And Go series, designed specifically for travel. It packs down to less than half the size/weight of my last down jacket, but keeps me just as warm. It’s wind proof, water resistant, and the down is RDS-certified (responsibly sourced). I’ve worn it on cool nights in temperate climates and on mountaineering expeditions alike. I consider it essential travel gear. 

Note: The rain jacket and the down jacket above can be worn separately, but also together for an additional level of protection against cold/weather. It’s like having three jackets in two.

UNDERWEAR – I have around 5 pairs of underwear; synthetic materials are notoriously easy to dry, so bring fewer pairs and wash more often as a rule. (I usually stock up at La Senza when I can).

BRAS – One or two bras should be enough. Look for support, a good fit, and most of all, comfort. I buy relatively high-quality bras since I wear them daily and they need to last. La Senza’s Body Kiss is a long-time favourite.

SPORTS BRA – I use my sports bra for working out, and for active expeditions such as long hikes.

SOCKS – 3-5 pairs of socks will do, depending on the climates you’ll be traveling through. I also have at least 1 pair of high-quality merino wool socks (REI, Amazon) for hiking.

PJs – If you are staying in communal dwellings or in other people’s homes, it’s prudent to have something to sleep in (and make nighttime bathroom runs in). So comfort is paramount; but also something that you can be seen in (if not downtown, then at least downstairs).

BATHING SUIT – 1-2 bathing suits will do (depending on how much you like to swim/sun); bikinis have the added benefit of doubling as emergency bras/underwear! 

SCARF (FOR STYLE & WARMTH) – A warm scarf takes the edge off cool or cold days, is easily layered and accessorized, and can be used to wrap up fragile items (like external hard drives) while traveling. I like to buy scarves on the road; they’re the perfect wearable souvenir!

WARM HAT – Choose a low-profile, lightweight, easily packable hat that you can chuck on in cool climates. It also doubles as a packing-aid to pad fragile items.

Footwear

Your choice of footwear can make or break your trip. They’re important for comfort, function, and style. But also, they need to be multi-functional otherwise you’ll be hauling around too much weight. Here’s what I travel with: 

SANDALS – I could write an entire post about my specific choice of sandals and what makes for the best travel sandals. Wait a minute: I did! You must read this before you buy/select your next pair of sandals for travel. 

Vivaia sustainable shoes

VIVAIA – Vivaia makes sustainable washable footwear that is incredibly comfortable, folds up and packs extremely well, and looks incredible. I get compliments every single time I wear them, they’re both casual and dressy, and they’ve replaced my walking/casual shoes below.  

walking shoes for travel

WALKING/CASUAL SHOES (OPTIONAL) – These are optional, depending on your personal style and the climate you are traveling in. (You could just get a decent pair of shoes that fit the below description for hiking and wear those everywhere).

2021 Update: I have found the perfect combination of the above casual walking shoes with the below hiking shoes in the Xero Speed Force! They’re not as hardcore in the hiking department as the Terraflex, but they’ll more than suffice for most trails. They’re also great for exercising, and snappy enough to wear around town as you would any pair of runners. They’re ultralight, super flexible, and ridiculously comfy.

HIKING SHOES (NOT BOOTS) – Who needs hiking boots! They take up too much room and weight and are clunky as hell.
I’m all about barefoot trail shoes, and in my experience they work 10x better than hiking boots! They’re ultralight, squishable, water-resistant, breathable, lightweight, and easy to pack.
My first pair of hiking shoes were Vivobarefoot Trail Shoes – which lasted seven years and hundreds of mountain trails. But when they wore out, I discovered there were other barefoot shoes out there at better price points.
So I got a pair of Xero Terraflex shoes, which are light, comfortable, and super-duper-grippy. If you want ankle support, Xero also makes barefoot hiking boots.  

Not sure about using barefoot trail shoes in place of hiking boots? Watch this video which explains why I love them 100 times more!

CHEAP FLIP FLOPS – A cheap pair of flip-flops can serve many purposes: You can use them as indoor shoes/slippers, in dodgy showers, and even around many places in Asia where you are required to leave your shoes outside before entering temples and some businesses (and your expensive shoes will surely walk away without you). Flip-flops are light and easily packable; trust me you will find uses for them.

Toiletries

Your specific choice of toiletries will be very unique to your needs. You’ll see from the list below that I’m a raving fan of Lush products, since they’re natural, long-lasting, and mostly solid (which is infinitely easier for packing). One shampoo bar lasts me 6+ months. Use this list as a guide for your own selection of toiletries: 

Hanging Toiletry Bag

ULTRALIGHT HANGING TOILETRY BAG (Sea to Summit, Amazon) – A good toiletry organizer makes packing and unpacking ridiculously easy, and keeps everything organized at my destination. Bonus points if it can hang anywhere and has pockets for organization.

TRAVEL TOWEL (REI, Amazon) – A small, super-absorbent, quick-dry travel towel is one of my most useful pieces of gear.

FACE WASH – Looking after your skin is more important than ever when traveling. Different climates can be incredibly harsh on your skin. This face wash is from Lush and is particularly handy for travelling as it is solid, making it easy to pack and use whilst on the road.

MOISTURIZER – Jojoba oil is a great multi-purpose moisturizer. I use it mostly for my face, and a few drops will do, so it lasts forever.

SHAMPOO BAR – The more solid toiletries you own, the less messy disasters and carry-on tribulations you’ll endure. I like Lush’s solid shampoos (and matching tins); they smell great and a little goes a long way โ€“ it lasts upwards of 6 months.

CONDITIONER – Unfortunately Lush’s solid conditioner bars don’t work well with my long curly hair. So I use whatever conditioner I can get my hands on while I’m on the road.

RAZOR – Get a razor with replaceable blades; they last longer, do a better job, and pack smaller. Go with a popular name like Gillette (I actually use their men’s razor); you stand a better chance of finding replacement blades abroad.

HAIR TIES – If you have unruly hair these are a must! They can be really handy when the weather gets especially hot or humid and you want to get your hair up and out of the way.

TOOTHBRUSH – You can bring any ol’ toothbrush you like, but I personally like to use bamboo toothbrushes to get away from plastics. 

TOOTHBRUSH COVER – These lightweight best-selling toothbrush covers ensure your toothbrush is kept clean wherever it’s stashed.  

TOOTHPASTE (TOOTHY TABS) – I like to use Lush’s Toothy Tabs, since they’re solid, take up almost no space, and just half a tab will do so they last a while. 

NATURAL FLOSS – I sometimes go years before I am in a good place to have my teeth checked/cleaned by a dentist (Chiang Mai is my preference), so I’m a sucker for good personal dental hygiene, of which dental floss is an essential part. 

DEODORANT (SALT CRYSTAL) – This wee little crystal deodorant stick easily lasts 6+ months, is free of all the chemicals of a traditional deodorant, and is solid, light, and easy to pack. 

EXFOLIATING WASHCLOTH – You get a great exfoliation, and a little soap (solid or liquid) goes a long way. The little tab makes it easy to hang anywhere and it dries quickly. 

SOAP – You can usually collect little bars of soap along the way. I like to use natural soap when I have the chance, and Dr. Bronner’s makes some great (liquid and bar) soaps. The bars go a long way, and can be used for many things including hand-washing laundry; just get a container for it for easy transport and use.

NAIL CLIPPERS – I like the large sturdy toenail clippers, that also have a built-in file.

TWEEZERS – A good pair of tweezers is not only great for cosmetic purposes, but can be quite versatile for many unexpected uses!

MENSTRUAL CUP – These take some getting used to, but believe me it’s worth the effort. You’ll save the cost and hassle of carrying tampons/pads, there’s no waste, and you can wear them for longer times (ca-ching! Can you say long rides on buses?)

MAKEUP – My makeup kit is very small. I have an eyeshadow stick of some sort, a couple of shades of eyeliner, and mascara.

BLEMISH STICK – I get zits, and when I do, they’re usually epic. So I use Burt’s Bees herbal blemish stick to get them under some semblance of control.

Medicine/Supplements

I carry a small baggie with over-the-counter meds to get me through just about anything. I also take vitamins and supplements to keep my immune system in top working order – at the very least I take a probiotic and multi-vitamin when I travel. Learn more about that here: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

ALLERGY MEDS – I never know when I’m going to be staying with animals I’m allergic to, so I’ve usually got allergy medication on hand. A few different blister packs in a ziploc bag doesn’t take up much space or weight.

PAIN KILLERS – From menstrual pain to migraines, pain killers are life-savers in a pinch. A few different blister packs in a ziploc bag doesn’t take up much space.

ANTIBIOTIC CREAM – From nasty insect bites to cuts that just won’t heal, a good antibiotic cream can help the healing process and prevent infections.

OIL OF OREGANO – I like to have these on hand to take when I feel illness coming on; oil of oregano is a great natural immune-booster.

TURMERIC – Turmeric is one of nature’s most potent antibiotics, without killing your natural (good) gut bacteria the way prescription antibiotics do. Also good for inflammation. You needn’t use capsules either; you can mix powdered turmeric and honey, or use fresh turmeric (where available). 

Electronics

Your specific choice of electronics depends on what you do on the road. Digital nomads will have more sophisticated technology requirements; as will professional photographers again. Interested in getting more than one point of view? Check this out: Electronic Travel Gear โ€“ Travel Experts Reveal Whatโ€™s in Their Bags. Here’s what I take:

laptop - essential electronic gear for digital nomads

LAPTOP – I live by my laptop, as it is the conduit to my location independent career. Thus I need something that is light, small, has a long battery life, and solid-state storage (which can take the hard knocks of travel better). For me, the winner is the MacBook Air with a souped-up ram and processor.

Roost Laptop Stand to save neck pain!

LAPTOP STAND – I initially balked at the extra space and weight required for this (and the accoutrements below to go with it), but after too many years of slouching in front of my laptop, I got this portable lightweight laptop stand to raise the screen to eye level. Neck pain: be gone!

Apple Magic wireless keyboard for working with a laptop on a stand

WIRELESS KEYBOARD – With my laptop screen raised to eye level with my Roost stand, the next step to creating an ergonomically friendly workspace is this wireless keyboard. It’s much lighter and easier to travel with than I’d anticipated.

Apple wireless trackpad mouse works on Bluetooth and is great for travel

WIRELESS TRACKPAD / MOUSE – The last component to my ergonomically friendly portable workspace is this wireless trackpad / mouse. I like having a trackpad separate from my keyboard, so I can arrange each at the best angles for whatever layout my workspace has.

Powerbeats Pro wireless earbuds, perfect for travel packing lists!

WIRELESS EARBUDS – I’m not a big fan of noise-canceling headphones; some travelers swear by them. For me, they take up too much space and I don’t like to tune out my surroundings like that. But earbuds don’t tend to stay put in my ear – I’m always adjusting them! Not these pretties. They fit over the ear and stay put no matter what you’re doing. The sound is incredible, and it’s the best bang for your buck.

the best laptop sleeve around, made by InCase

LAPTOP SLEEVE/CASE – Although a neoprene sleeve would do the trick, I like extra laptop protection in a case that also has pockets for chargers etc. InCase makes excellent laptop accessories; I have owned this very bag for almost 15 years, and I only replaced it (with another InCase sleeve) because I changed laptop dimensions.

smartphone for travel

SMARTPHONE – My phone is also my camera. I like to say I have the kind of camera that also makes phone calls. If you’re buying a new phone, make sure it’s unlocked so you have the greatest amount of choice for how to use it abroad. Essential reading: Cell Phone Travel Basics: International Phone Plans, SIM Cards, and More

portable external hard drive

PORTABLE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE – A portable external hard drive is essential for computer backups, as well as storing extras like photos or movies that may not fit on your computer’s hard drive. I have this Silicon Power Rugged Shockproof model for extra durability.

KINDLE E-READER – I love my Kindle! It holds an arsenal of books (which are impractical to carry in paperback while traveling), and the Paperwhite version of the Kindle is great for reading in any environment with an adjustable internal light. And the battery life is exponentially better than the Kindle Fire and other tablets.

ALL-IN-ONE POWER STRIP/EXTENSION CORD/SURGE PROTECTOR/TRAVEL ADAPTOR/USB CHARGER – I absolutely adore this puppy, and it comes with me on every trip, no exceptions. 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. 

Extras

Almost done packing! Here are some final tidbits that will make your trip go smoothly and comfortably. 

Polarized sun glasses by Ray Ban

SUNGLASSES – In the first few years I cycled through multiple pairs of cheap sunglasses. Finally I invested in Polarized Ray-Bans (REI, Amazon) and I haven’t looked back. They look and feel great and polarized lenses make all the difference. And because it’s a good name I’ve had them replaced when things have gone wrong (as they do) without question around the world. Plastic frames are more durable for travel.

https://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/sun-hat.png

SUN HAT – The main characteristic you need in a sun hat is something light, preferably made of a material that will keep your head cool as well as sheltering you from the sun. Bonus points for something that squishes into your luggage and comes out looking great.

exercise bands for travel, resistance bands

EXERCISE BANDS – I exercise almost every day on the road, made possible by my exercise bands. They’re light and easy to pack, and help me to get a total body workout with various resistance exercises.

TRAVEL YOGA MAT – Travel yoga mats come in many formats, some of which are very thin roll and fold up very small. I chose one of the thickest models, because I need some cushioning. This is one of the reasons why I choose to travel long-term with checked luggage! Staying fit on the road is that important.  

PLASTIC DOCUMENT HOLDERS – There’s always a few official documents you’ll need to have with you, in addition to copies of your passport and other ID. Store them in compact plastic folders to keep them safe, organized, and protected from the elements.

(BETTER THAN A) PASSPORT WALLET – I used to have a regular ol’ passport wallet; you know, the ugly utilitarian hangs-around-the-neck kind of wallet. It fits a purpose for travel days, but only on travel days.
Now, I use the Pacsafe Anti-Theft Tech Crossbody Bag. It’s large enough to hold passport, phone, cards, cash, and a pen, and slim and subtle enough that it doesn’t attract unwanted attention. Typical of Pacsafe, it also has all kinds of anti-theft features, is RFID-protected, and is even made of recycled fishing nets.
BONUS: I can use it as a hands-free alternative to carrying a wristlet when I go out on the town with just a few essentials.

rechargeable headlamp - amazing travel gear!

HEADLAMP (REI, Amazon) – This is an awesome piece of kit. Not only great for camping and backcountry trips, but it’s great for finding your way to the bathroom in yet another new place, providing light when there’s no power, and lighting the way when your day-hike goes long. The headlamp strap is crucial for hands free work. I personally own that is USB-rechargeable, and has a hands-free activation option. 

SteriPEN Ultra UV water purifier

STERIPEN ULTRA – If the water is questionable, a SteriPEN is crucial! Stop wasting plastic by buying bottled water; the SteriPEN makes any (clear) water drinkable in 60 seconds. This model is great because it fits any sized bottle top, and is USB rechargeable. But….a SteriPEN isn’t infallible. Click here to learn about all your options for drinking clean water abroad. 

Platypus Collapsible Water Bottle

COLLAPSIBLE WATER BOTTLE (REI, Amazon) – I always have a reusable water bottle on hand, and this collapsible version is lightweight and rolls up when empty. It also has a really nice opening for drinking without spilling water down your chin!

Collapsible Coffee Cup

COLLAPSIBLE TRAVEL MUG – The latest addition to my Zero Waste Travel kit, I love this collapsible travel mug so much more than my Contigo, because it’s so ultralight and easy to carry! I have no excuse to ever order coffee in a paper cup again. IN ADDITION to my collapsible water bottle and travel mug, I also have collapsible tupperware and reusable cutlery. Click here to learn more about how I eliminate all single-use waste when I travel

MINI SEWING KIT – You can sometimes find awesome mini-sewing kits in hotel rooms; until then, this is a good one to go with. Essential for repairing clothes along the way. And it’s the size of a credit card and pre-threaded. Can’t lose! 

mini scissors for travel

SMALL SCISSORS – Although these small scissors are usually called โ€œnail scissorsโ€, I find them to be a handy multi-purpose scissor that (almost) always clears carry-on security, just in case you’re going carry-on only.

Wanna see me pack everything, and learn more about my specific choices of gear? Watch this video:


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. 

I remember one fateful carry-on trip 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):

  • Headlamp
  • Yoga mat
  • Travel Towel
  • Checked Luggage (obviously)
  • Hiking Shoes (I bring the Xero Oswego or Xero Speed Force that takes care of walking around town, working out, and hiking).

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 usually contained in a nondescript light waterproof bag (dollar store stuff; nothing fancy).

Occasional Extras

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: 

Checked vs. Carry-On Luggage (and Why Checked is Best)

The Best Carry-on Backpack for One Bag Travel

Pro Packing Hacks – Here are the Best Travel Accessories to make your travels a breeze

Wheeled Backpacks: Why They’re the Best, and Tips for Buying One

Best Luggage for Long-Term Travel: Wheeled Backpacks vs Rolling Luggage

Best Anti-Theft Luggage, Daypacks, Purses, Slings, Wallets, etc.


Travel Wardrobe 

My Travel Capsule Wardrobe: Best Wrinkle-Free Travel Clothes for Women

Anatomie Travel Clothing Made Me Throw Out My Jeans 

My Search for the Perfect Travel Sandal

Best Traveling Clothes for Men (including a solid case for merino wool)


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. 

My Zero Waste Kit for Travel (and Home)

Here is the ultimate packing list for your next trip, be it for a few weeks or a few years. I personally use absolutely everything in this list! #travel #packinglist #travellist #theprofessionalhobo #longtermtravel #travelgear #travelshopping #travelclothes #bestluggage
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59 thoughts on “The Ultimate Packing List for Full-Time Travel and Long-Term Travel”

  1. I am older and just getting started on my longer term travel plans. This is a great starting point for me as inexperienced (but excited) new traveller. I did not even know that wheeled backpacks existed and planned to use a suitcase with wheels. But I know that there are many places that are not easy to access and carry a suitcase like running for a train with a gap in London or climbing stairs to cross a highway overpass in Athens. I will print this and use it as my starting point. And I will definitely look at backpacks with wheels.

    Reply
    • Hi Try – Glad you’ve discovered wheeled backpacks! I hope they’re as useful for you as they have been for me. Happy travels!

      Reply
  2. I like the little icons. It’s like one of those “dress this doll” games where you can add outfits to a cartoon person. Not that I play those ever. Shush.

    Reply
    • Kristin -It’s mostly the cooler weather clothing (much of which is suited for outdoor activities like hiking – with a bit of style!) that keeps my entourage as a checkable entity. But the more I keep taking off with a small bag for up to months at a time, the more I realize it’s possible to do it with carry-on only…if I put some effort into it, and cut some corners.
      But as long as I’m not moving around too much, I don’t mind bringing a bigger bag and hauling it from base to base. It gives me more options. (For now)!

      Reply
  3. We seem to be of a similar mindset. It is unfortunate that we have to pack so much variety of items, like I have long pants with me, in case I am some place cold, but I have been in Southeast Asia since early February and felt cold maybe twice. That said, my bag could fit in an overhead bin, unless I fly Air Asia which limits you to 7kg for carry on. My back usually runs around 11-12 kg. I differ from you in that I do not carry any type of hiking boots – we learned long ago that it takes up space and I am not outdoorsy. We swamped them out for a hybrid walking shoe and trainer, but even those I barely use now – limited to flip flops every day. Anyway, I always find it interesting when people share what they pack!

    Reply
    • Hi Amber – I started out with big clumsy hiking boots, which I offloaded after a couple of years, in favour of my hybrid shoes above. Even those I don’t use that often, but I AM a hiker at heart and they served me really well for some epic hikes in New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland.
      So, despite the fact that they don’t get used unless I’m walking far and/or am in cooler weather (rare), I haven’t seen my way through to letting go of them yet.

      Being of the sandal-wearing ilk, you might be interested in an article I’ll be publishing on the site in the next couple of weeks – on choosing the perfect travel sandal. Coming soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  4. I have been so on the fence about wheeled backpacks. I desperately want one, but know that I am going to curse the day I have to strap it on and walk for 45 minutes to find our next hotel. GARR! I just can’t decide.

    Reply
    • Dalene – When was the last time you had to walk 45 minutes to your hotel on ground that was completely unnavigable with wheels? I count three times in my entire traveling career.
      I’m willing to bet it’s a relatively rare occurrence…especially compared to the number of airports and lineups and stop/start situations you’ve had to slog through either with your pack painfully straining your shoulders, or getting kicked along in front of you (or worse yet, having to constantly put it on and take it off)….
      Save your back, girl! And ask Jeannie of Nomadic Chick what she thought of watching me with the wheeled pack during the Ultimate Train Challenge….I believe both Michael and Jeannie were duly impressed…. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  5. Great Site, great idea! ….just one thing…I tried looking at the camera, but when I clicked on it, I got to this: Pacsafe Luggage Venturesafe 20L Adventure Day Pack…..
    I need a new camera ๐Ÿ˜‰
    What application did you use to make the pop up list?

    Reply
  6. Wow, this post is helpful! I just started traveling full time this year and still need to adjust my travel gear. I feel that I’m bringing too many unnecessary things but lack essentials like a headlamp or poncho. This is a great checklist, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Glad this was helpful Lois!
      I must admit, I wish I had access to such packing lists when I started traveling….you can’t imagine the ridiculous stuff I started out with! (Solar panels, climbing gear, functional-yet-utilitarian clothing…and the kitchen sink! Ha ha)

      Reply
  7. Hi Nora,

    Nice to find another nomad who is technology heavy like us! I know it’s not cool to carry lots of things these days, but we’re unashamedly happy to bring lots of tech and gadgets and we haven’t had any problems yet!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Hi Barry,
      I actually thought I had a pretty sleek amount of kit given the necessity to earn a living from it! I’ve shied away from SLR photography due to the bulk of the cameras and lenses, and I use the slimmest lightest laptop I can manage.
      But it certainly adds up….especially with all the cords and adaptors to accompany each device!

      Reply
  8. we are moving/living around the world and we are down to 27 kg of luggage each (20 kg checked and 7 kg carry on) – and it was hard work to get to that. We have no storage unit anywhere, no house anywhere to leave stuff. We must be a lot more sentimental than you – we have things like incense, a small clay statue, a clay bowl we made, paint/pen/paper for art, lightweight scanner. I could easily live for 6 months or a year on your list, but find it hard to give everything up permanently. We live in a place for maybe a year before moving to the next place.

    Reply
    • Hi Debbie,
      If you move every year or so, then taking more with you is justifiable; the journey isn’t hellish, and if it’s point to point, it’s manageable.
      But if you end up doing some faster travel through an area (without being able to leave your main bag somewhere), you’d probably end up finding more ways to cut down your stuff!
      Then again, 20kg plus carry-on is pretty slick, and most of your extras seem small and light. Your biggest challenge would probably be flying on budget airlines that only allow 15kg bags before charging stupid overage fees!

      Reply
  9. Osprey has come out with an ultralight wheeled line-no straps tho-who really needs them. I picked up a 19″ Version =meets Ryan AIR one bag requirements-weighs 4# or less-my whole kit is about 7 kilos with birding binoculars, medical nebulizer, travel waterpick, Canon camera, NeXUS 7. ipod touch. electric razor-wires and plugs. I also wear two vests-the outer one is super light and will hold 15L of clothes stuffed in it shd the need arise. I also pack a 28L Marmot Kompressor ascent pack-weighs a pound-so I have the option of wearing almost all the gear.

    Reply
    • Your entire kit is 7kilos – with all that? I’m impressed! I’m not a big fan of vests (I tried a Scottevest and found it way too impractical and terribly unflattering), but it looks like you and I are singing from the same hymn sheet with the Kompressor ascent pack – which is very similar to my OR Compression Summit Sack.

      Reply
      • Yeah. I’m just not taking much clothes at the moment. That could get old, I suppose. We’ll see. I use Royal Robbins Travel vest which I’ve lived in for years. EvERYthing stays here PP, money,Canon s90, ipod touch, Nexus 7. I keep it ine bed w me. If BAG is stolen I’m still OK_I guess if I’m robbed… Then I JUST GOT this British Rufus Roo vest which goes over everything which has huge wearable pockets. So I could just have a day bag or no bag and wear everything. Maybe too extreme-but I will not pay RYAN Air An extra dime.

        Reply
        • Ha ha! I also think that guys have an easier time of stuffing pockets than girls do.
          I spectacularly failed the No Baggage Challenge a couple of years ago…

          Reply
  10. It sure makes us evaluate everything by weight. So far we have been able to do short trips and leave the big bags at a work place or sometimes at an airport. Went to Malaysia for 4 days and about to go to Myanmar for 11 days, luggage stays in Singapore. When we first started moving around the world we had 21 boxes shipped to India, so we have gotten rid of so much.

    I only have one pair of shoes (but I’m not a hiker) and buy flip flops when I get somewhere that I need them. We have a jambox for playing music, and aeropress+grinder for making coffee, definitely more creature comforts.

    Reply
    • Hi Debbie,
      I love taking a proverbial peek into other people’s bags to see what they carry; and most of us choose a few luxuries that are worth the weight to us. I’m liking your aeropress+grinder for coffee…the quality of morning coffee can make or break my day!

      Reply
  11. Hi, Nora. This list is so helpful! I’m particularly interested in the walking shoes, but the Amazon window isn’t functioning in my usual browsers. Would you mind telling me the kind/name of the shoe or posting a direct link? I’ve been on a quest for something similar. Thanks!

    Reply
  12. Great tips! These will definitely help a lot of travelers, especially the first timers, in getting their packing right and avoid travel disasters, which is common if you have no idea what to do.

    Reply
  13. Looks like list is inactive, but? Does larger wheeled bag hinder you’re mobility other than waiting for baggage claim? (public transport, streets, stairs?) I’ve been using Osprey Ozone as add-on, which is super light. If I switched to 28″ version {under 5#) I’d be concerned about durability in the handling process. I’ve used Eagle Creek Tarmac in the past, which is bullet proof but HEAVY. I’m beginning to agree that having extra real estate in luggage is a good idea long term.

    A comment and question.I use supplements. How to manage? USA is only source of sophisticated, cheap sups.6-8 months worth can be 5# and bulky. Iherb is getting the idea in India anyway with DHL shipping. Any thoughts. (BTW I’ve been using extra strength Oreganol-comes with dropper. I cap it. It’s super-effective preventative along with grapefruit seed extract. 15 drops in drinking water all day long.

    How do you manage avoiding Dengue? How paranoid do you need to be?

    Reply
    • Hi Laurence,
      Great questions! First of all, the list is totally active and up-to-date! Does it not work for you?

      Secondly, I don’t know about Eagle Creek’s Tarmac bag, but I find the Gear Warrior (which is what I have) to be pretty lightweight, while still being sturdy. As for maneuvering it on public transport and on the streets, it’s not as ideal as a carry-on bag, but far from impossible. I often splash out on a taxi when I have my luggage with me to make the process easier. And since I don’t tend to move around that often these days, my time lugging around my bags is pretty minimal.

      Yes, supplements. I carry only a minimal amount of supplements, which I don’t use daily, but rather when I need to (such as Oil of Oregano when my immune system needs a boost). Carrying 6-8 months of daily supplements could certainly be a challenge. At a minimum, I would take the supplements out of their bottles and store them in ziploc bags with the label inside (in case border security is curious about all those little pills)! Can’t advise much else on that front.

      Lastly, the only way to avoid Dengue (if you’re in an area that has Dengue-carrying mosquitos, which is a lot of places) is to avoid being bitten! Use repellent, and stay indoors during dawn and dusk when Dengue-mosquitoes are most prevalent. I’ve had Dengue fever (and chikungunya), and it’s no cakewalk. I’m more cautious about mosquitoes now, but I wouldn’t say I’m paranoid. Educated caution is good!

      Reply
  14. Well, now it is five years later from when I wrote my first reply and after getting Australian passports we went on an epic 10 month trip through ten countries and we each had 12 kg suitcase which was carry on size and a backpack carry on, probably another 6 kgs or so and that is all.
    Like you, I have now decided slower is better and we are just finishing 2 months in Lima and we are go to slowly make our way around south america. In Lima we found an apartment to rent, w housemates and it is so much cheaper than short term airbnb. I hope to stay a few months in various cities. Good luck in guatamala.

    Reply
    • Hey Debbie,
      Awesome! And impressive that you managed to pack pretty light from the beginning. Most people (myself included!) start off with much heavier loads and trim down as they go.
      And yep – I really enjoy renting a place for a few months wherever I go, when I’m not house-sitting/volunteering/doing something bizarre. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Happy travels!

      Reply
  15. This is a really good post. Very well done. I have a year and a half more to work, then I want to retire. I want to sell it all and hit the road and live on my pensions. I want to rent places all around the world and suck up the culture at a slow pace. I have no desire to work. Iโ€™m done. I will be a person of no fixed address…lol. I was so glad I found this blog because it is so informative. I have done a lot of smaller trips over the years, because I am a travel addict. Ever since I was seven I have been fascinated by other people from away. Iโ€™m sixty now. I always found the kid from away and pestered them about their place of origin. Now I do it at work. Lots of choices, because I live in Toronto. I love my city, but I gotta go. I feel like a caged animal sometimes. Thanks for sharing and making me feel inspired.

    Reply
    • Thanks Mary!
      Looks like you have some exciting years ahead. If you haven’t already subscribed to my free e-series, (signup form at the bottom of any page on my website) I suggest you do, as it will give you a comprehensive overview of the lifestyle with some (hopefully) great nuggets of wisdom in there. Happy travel planning!

      Reply
  16. Great Post! I always love seeing what other people travel with. I recently got inspired my Marie Kondo to go through my suitcase and it made a huge difference! No need to carry around extra baggage all the time

    Reply
    • Hey Tayler,
      Indeed! Travel is much easier if you aren’t lugging around too much. Good thinking in applying the Marie Kondo strategy!

      Reply
  17. Excellent post! I will show this to my wife so she can pack correctly for our holidays in Mexico next month! Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

    Reply
  18. Instead of those “packing containers”, I use ziplok bags for everything (“freezer” type are stronger). I always pack a few plastic-coated hangers for drip-drying blouses (the blow-up type don’t seem to hold up). For laundry, I take detergent powder in a ziplok bag together with two different size rubber stoppers and a partial bar of Ivory soap. For my 3wk stay in Oaxaca, a large-size lightweight cloth bag with adjustable cross the body strap is handy for carrying my water bottle, change purse, camera, and cardigan sweater for just walking around and/or day trips…also handy for shopping. I like Keene sandals for all purposes. I always take a small jar of instant coffee, tea bags, a ceramic cup, and an immersion heater. Peanut butter in the small disposable cups with crackers works for a quick breakfast. Don’t forget your appropriate electrical adapter! When I made my plane reservation recently, carry-on suitcases were required to be checked (a new rule?). So I am just taking my purse and a tote bag onboard, after checking my bag.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing your packing strategies and tips, Rosemarie! Ziploc bags are indeed useful in so many ways.
      I recently got a Scrubba, which I’m trying out for hand laundry. I’ve encountered a lot of sinks that aren’t compatible with rubber stoppers (even the “universal” flat kind), and Scrubba makes it easy to do hand laundry anywhere.

      Reply
  19. Thanks for the heads up on the Scrubba — I will check it out.
    Regarding current airline rules, carry on’s must now fit under your seat.

    Reply
    • Hi Rosemarie,
      I can’t believe that all airlines have simultaneously changed their policy to require that carry-on luggage must always fit under the seat. That’s impossible!
      However, the “personal item” must certainly always fit under the seat in front of you (typically a personal item is a purse, laptop bag, briefcase, or small backpack).
      Also, depending on the airline or the specific ticket, they may not allow carry-on luggage. I made that mistake once; I bought a very low-tier of airfare on a regional airline, thinking I could pay extra for a carry-on bag….I later realized that “tier” of fare didn’t allow that; I had to cancel that ticket and order a different ticket that would allow me to take a carry-on bag.

      Reply
  20. Hey Nora. I always miss some of the things when traveling as I never made a proper checklist for them. Now, I don’t think I’ll repeat the same mistake again after getting this complete guide. Thanks for sharing such a helpful post.

    Reply
  21. A very nice list! And I’ve never thought of getting an RFID-Protected Passport Wallet. Someone casually walking by and sneakily scanning my stuff honestly worries me, but I never knew how to protect myself against such attacks. Now I do! Thanks very much ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  22. This is great!! We have our first week long family vacation coming up and I am going to use this..I am always forgetting something!

    Reply
  23. Thanks, Nora, for sharing this amazing list.
    Few Recommendation from my side: the best packing cone ever that really blew my mind and was a game changer is the peak design packing cubes series
    And another recommendation is the solo-tourist Teflon / waterproof bag. I use it either as a wet clothes carryon bag or a clean wet laundry bag (the peak design packing cube have a special system to store dirty clothes in a separate pocket ) and for long trips I also put scrubba washbag and use a single soap for all: the dr Bronner one

    Reply
  24. Much needed checklist for me. Thanks a lot for sharing this. Making a checklist helps you keep all the stuff properly once. I always keep my changing towel along any trip.

    Reply

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