How I Packed for a Three Month World Trip
Update August 9, 2015: I’m back! I’ve updated the following post with a few more details, images and tips gleaned from my travels. Also, here’s a wishlist with all of the mentioned items that are available on Amazon.
I had a few free weeks to prepare for my three month round the world trip. My eyes were set on a backpack: the Patagonia Black Hole 35L pack. I thought it’d be just the right size, water-resistant and carry-on appropriate. When I stopped by the Soho Patagonia store, a friendly fellow named Kyle greeted me. Kyle worked on a boat and spent the off-season working retail as well as doling out welcome advice to newbies like me. When I asked him if he had any packing tips, he paused and chose his next three words very carefully, “moisture wicking underwear.”
I knew I wanted to pack light because my travels involved only a few days in most cities. I’d be on the move through almost two dozen cities. That said, I also needed to prepare for both warm and cold climates since I’d be hitting the Northern and Southern hemispheres. After a few days of research and a few hours of shopping, I whittled down my gear to the 9.2kg (20.5lb) you see above. Here’s what I packed.
By the way, this post contains a handful of affiliate links. I was in the middle of writing when I realized I could get rich if hundreds of thousands of people purchased moisture wicking underwear using my links. Learn more.
“If you can’t get more than two wears out of it, don’t bring it.”
—Guy at Patagonia Store in Soho
- Pants (2 Pairs)
A pair of green twill joggers and a pair of black chinos (you know, in case I have to impress).
- T-shirts (3)
Three Uniqlo Airism crewneck tees. Two for the outdoors and one for sleepy time. Sure, I might look like I’m always ready to play tennis but microfiber means I can hand wash and dry overnight.
- Collared Shirt (1)
- Underwear (4)
Now I know you’re asking yourself. Kevin, only four? Why not five or six or seven? I have no explanation except four seemed like an impressively small yet not-as-gross number.
Uniqlo Airism boxer briefs were the most affordable moisture-wicking unmentionables I could hunt down. One was reserved exclusively for sleep time. This guy’s in depth analysis of the best travel underwear was quite helpful.
- Socks (4 pairs)
Two ankle pairs, two full length wool(ish) pairs.
- Basketball shorts (1 pair)
Gotta have sleep clothes.
- Swimsuit (1 pair)
The swim trunks have pockets so I could also use them as regular shorts for running, hiking etc.
- Shoes (2 pairs)
Among my tougher decisions but I landed on bringing one pair of Mizuno running shoes that could be used for exercise, long walking days and even hikes and one pair of Nikes that’d serve as my go-tos.
I considered chucks or a beloved pair of Vans but I wanted to have a pair that was waterproof so I could frolic around freely on rainy days.
- Flip flops (1 pair)
- Fleece zip-up (1)
I’m not a huge fleece fanatic but man nothing beats fleece when layering to stay warm or when you’re looking for a blanket-like material on long flights.
- Waterproof shell/rain jacket(1)
So useful. Good for rainy or windy days. Layer beneath if it’s getting cold. Dries quickly and can be stuffed into a small pouch. I got this one as a gift a few years back. I’d say just find something similar that comes in a stuff sack. Something in a bright, obnoxious color.
- Beanie and a pair of gloves
Threw them into the bottom of my pack just in case of unforeseeable frigid conditions. Nothing fancy.
- Watches (2 + 1 Extra Watchband)
A Timex Weekender and a classic Casio Sport Watch so I could dress up or dress down (and observe military time). Who cares if I’m wearing dirty clothes if my watch matches my shoes?
- Sunglasses (1)
- Cloth bags (2)
I’d put most of my undergarments in one bag and my other layers into another bag. Helped to keep things organized and easy to repack.
Electronics & Accessories
- Amazon Basics Electronics Case (1)
A small, versatile case with a bit of structure to hold most electronics including cameras and the external hard drive. Helped ease fears of crushing a lens after tossing my pack around.
- GoPro + Accessories
For those underwater scenes and extreme (by Kevin standards) outings. Brought both the open and closed encasings, SD card, charger cable and a small bendable mount I used as a handle.
- Powershot S110 + Charger
My everyday camera. Shoots great video according to Casey Neistat. Nice and inconspicuous. Bought refurbished for half the price (deal no longer available). At full price, I’d grab the more recent Powershot S120.
- Seagate 2TB Portable External Harddrive (1)
Needed storage to dump photos and videos throughout the trip, so I chose this guy because he was slim and blue and shiny.
- Gorilla Pod (1)
A mini flexible tripod, nice for setting the camera down on uneven surfaces or just using as a handle for more stable video.
- Microfiber Cloth (1)
I don’t want no smudge. A smudge is a guy that can’t get no love from me.
- USB Drive (1)
- Plug Adapters (2)
For South Africa and for everywhere else.
- Kindle with felt case + Charger (1)
I burned through “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. I’m such a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories that involve vampires and viruses. Other highly worthwhile sci-fi picks include “Ready Player One” and “Wool.”
- Macbook Air 13” + Charger
Also brought a Mac wireless keyboard. For some reason the Air keyboard really hurts my hands. (Yes, it was that important to me)
- iPhone 5S + Charger
- Earbud headphones (2 pairs)
Default Apple pair with microphone as well as these in-ear ones from Panasonic. I find them a bit more comfortable on the longer legs.
- iPod Shuffle + Charger
- Vapur Element Water “Anti-Bottle” (1)
Love this little water bag contraption. You can roll it up small when you’re not using it. If I did it again, I’d go for the 1L size.
- Combination Locks (2)
A smaller lock for my pack and a larger lock for those hostel lockers.
- Notebooks + Pens (2)
- HIKPRO Lightweight Packable Daypack (1)
It’s been so nice to have a small backpack for the day-to-day. This lightweight packable daypack from HIKPRO stuffs down to the size of a slice of Texas toast. It may win the award for best purchase.
- Documents folder (1)
Extra handy for storing passport, printouts and other important docs. A waterproof one would be a pro-move. I found a cheap, half-size folder at Staples.
- Omamori (1)
According to Wikipedia, “Omamori (御守 or お守り are Japanese amulets (charms, talismans) commonly sold at religious sites and dedicated to particular Shinto deities as well as Buddhist figures, and are said to provide various forms of luck or protection.”
- Electric Shaver (1)
The Philips Norelco PQ208/40 Travel Electric Razor was the smallest, cheaper, well-reviewed one I found on Amazon.
- Grooming Scissors (1)
- Nail Clippers (1)
- Dental Floss
- Toothbrush (1)
- Foldable Hairbrush (1)
- Makeshift First Aid Kit
Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, cough drops, alcohol pads, Alka Seltzer, Claritin-D, Benedryl, Advil, Immodium, and Ciprol.
Hand sanitizer, bug repellent, soap, shampoo, sunblock, lotion, steroid cream, hair paste, toothpaste, and chapstick. Used a combination of leftover hotel bottles, GoToobs and MUJI travel containers.
- Zip pouches (3)
One for liquids, one for the first aid kit + toiletries and one for electronics, etc. For liquids, I prefer this TSA-compliant clear case from MUJI over a standard ziplock.
- Small Quick Dry Microfiber Towel (1)
Specifically, this one (stolen from my girlfriend).
A few bonus packing tips
- Identify your sleep clothes – I’m the kind of guy who showers at night. Only clean bodies in the bed. Hence, packing specific sleep clothes was a nice way to maintain my hygienic slumber.
- Pack bags in bags – Keeping items in separate bags (e.g. cloth bags or zip pouches) helps maintain organization, especially when you have to rifle through your pack to find something in a pinch.
- Hand wash often – When I didn’t have the luxury of a laundry machine, a quick hand wash of my quick dry clothing was easy enough. I just got creative hanging underwear wherever I could. Socks took a bit longer than overnight but hairdryers proved handy.
- Stash emergency paper, plastic and tape – A few napkins, one or two ziplocks (quarts and those giant ones, love the giant ones), and a small roll of electrical tape can be very handy whether it’s shielding your electronics from the rain or repairing sunglasses.
- Practice packing – Either before your trip or during some downtime, I recommend experimenting with how you arrange items in your pack. There will be certain arrangements that allow more space and/or more comfortable weight distribution.
- Use your daypack as a “personal item” on the plane – When it comes to long flights, it’s nice to have your essentials (e.g. laptop, books, fleece, hand sanitizer) close by. While waiting at the gate, I usually repacked my collapsible daypack with these items. Then, I stowed my main pack in the overheard compartment and kept the Hikpro under the seat in front of me.
- Be gentle with the zippers – By the end of my trip I broke off most of the zippers on my backpack and jackets. I attribute this to playing a bit rough (e.g. yanking compartments open , picking up my pack by the zippers on occasion). In hindsight, I would have been a bit more gentle.
Did I miss anything?