Round the World Travel Packing

Around the World Backpacks and Packing

Traveling around the world for a year is a different beast than a one-week or short-term vacation; in essence there are a lot of similarities, but long-term travelers often need a few alternative things in their packs. When I left on my year-long trip I had a lot of anxiety about what to bring. This post shares not only my one-year packing list and the updates I added along the way, but also my current packing list and things I have added since then.

Picking My Backpacks

The red backpack is my main pack and it’s a 52L Eagle Creek Meridian (nearly identical to the one linked here). At the time I feared I may need something bigger, but this backpack was free (from my bestie in LA)–free won out–and now that my RTW is over, 52 L was an awesome size (this is still the bag I use nearly five years later … in fact I will go smaller if I ever need a new one as this 52L was big enough to carry clothes for two on my travels through SEA with my niece even).

The blue bag (Northface Surge) held my laptop and acted as a a daypack when out exploring. I used Eagle Creek packing cubes to organize everything in my bag, years later this is still my system and I swear by the cubes.  When I left my pack was packed to its seams, but much of my stuff did not make it beyond Australia. (On actually packing, HostelBookers Blog has a post about How to Pack your Backpack over there with some extra tips and thoughts.)  More tips on how to pick a backpack on the planning page.

My RTW Packing List (2008-2009)

This was for my year-long trip with dispatches from the road below.

My world


Basic Clothes
1 pair of lightweight Columbia pants
1 pair of jeans
2 skirts
1 pair of sleep/athletic shorts
1 slip dress
3 tank-tops (1 dressy tank)
1 sun shirt/rashguard for outdoor activity
3 shirts/t-shirts
long-sleeved thermal
1 long-sleeved cotton shirt
1 pullover (I love this one)
1 zip-up hoody

3 pairs of socks (LOVE my SmartWool hiking socks; plus 2 cotton)
8 pairs of underwear 2 bras 1 sports bra
1 scarf
2 pairs of leggings
1 hat
2 pairs of capris
1 pair of Chacos sports sandals
1 pair of New Balance hiking boots
1 pair of flip flops (for shower shoes in nasty hostels)

On the Road

Kissing my parents goodbye at Tampa airport


PacSafe Mesh net
Microfiber travel towel
Silk-blend sleep sheet
Deet insect repellent
1 extra copy of my passport
1 mini sewing kit
1 carabiner clip
1 headlamp flashlight
1 mini set of eating utensils
1 pocket knife
1 travel adapter set
1 travel medical kit: Advil/Tylenol/Aleve, (Antibiotic), (Malaria medicine), Band-aids  gauze  triple antibiotic ointment, cough/zinc drops
Random bits: bobby pins, safety pins, sharpie, pen, duct tape (wrapped around a pencil), small scissors, etc.


Refillable travel size containers of: shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen for face, face wash, travel size toothpaste, floss, deodorant
Diva Cup
Contacts (12 month supply)
Contact solution and 1 case Eye Glasses
Hair ties


1 small bottle of foundation
1 compact eyeshadow duo
1 mascara
1 blush

Daypack Items:


My Laptop: (I had a Dell but now use a Lenovo ThinkPad )
Western Digital hard drive (1 TB is a mere $100 so it’s worth bringing one to back up photos!).
MP3 Player (now I travel with an unlocked iPhone)
Camera: Cannon PowerShot SD800 (I now travel with a Panasonic Lumix GX7)
Headphones for Skyping/music
Kindle (as of 2012 I carry one of these now)


Journal Book:  Started with “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
Neoprene laptop cover (it’s my computer’s rain coat!)
Deck of cards
My money belt (around my waist version…used mostly for trains in India and Eastern Europe)

Dispatches From the Road

01/07/09 – RTW Update from Australia:

  • My beloved headlamp that was SO helpful at the hostels here was lost/stolen on my outback safari to Uluru. Plan to replace as soon as possible.
  • My hat was left on a bus along with my nalgene water bottle.

02/02/09 – RTW Update from Cambodia:

  • Shipped home a package of souvenirs by sea — hope it gets there!
  • My jean skirt is now unnecessary, shipped that home too.
  • One pair of capris was stained beyond wear (trust me) so left those behind in Phnom Penh.
  • Bought a pair of farmer-style pants in Laos.
  • Contact solution has been INCREDIBLY hard to find…wearing glasses for now

02/25/09 – RTW Update from India:

  • Helen brought me a new headlamp to replace the flashlight I have been stuck using.
  • She also brought a new nalgene water bottle and a SteriPen – amazing, truly.
  • Bought an Indian kurtah and haven’t regretted it for a moment. GREAT for trains and blending in as much as possible.
  • Picked up a new scarf. Lighter than the warm one that came in handy in Oz and Laos – much better for India.
  • Left my purple shirt behind in Jaipur, it was nubby as hell!

04/25/09 – RTW Update from Nepal:

  • Did some major shopping here! Shipped home a package of souvenirs.
  • Bought a knock-off Northface rain jacket for the Poon Hill trek – works like a champ.
  • Bought a safari-style hat for the trek…and beyond.
  • Replaced sleep-sheet – mine was too short!! And it was uber cheap.
  • New silk “hammer” pants. Great to sleep in, pack up tiny.

05/20/09 – RTW Update from Italy:

  • Sent another package home with souvenirs from Nepal – though super touristy Thamel has incredible bargins and neat items if you dig around.
  • Threw another worn out shirt away and replaced with a couple new ones from H&M. New sundress too, gave other away….didn’t fit right anymore.
  • Chacos smell disgusting and not responding to cleaning – but still work fabulously besides the stinky-feet syndrome.

06/25/09 – RTW Update from Slovenia:

  • Just bought a Western Digital external hard drive to back up photos and my computer is falling a part and sadly destined to die soon.
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