Steve and I are finally thinking about what to pack for our upcoming trip. Both of us have done extensive traveling abroad and have keyed in to what we want/need while traveling. While packing hiking gear won’t be appropriate for every trip, nor will scuba gear…this is the list that is most appropriate for our upcoming trip. Since we will be spending lots of time in the mountains and in the ocean our list has a little bit of everything…and since our packs are only so big we will probably have to hone our list a bit more. This a comprehensive list for the female traveler, but with a few changes could be easily adapted for the male traveler.
As with any backpacking trip it’s important to fine tune your pack and make sure that you aren’t wasting ounces since you’ll be lugging your pack around town and on and off buses, boats, planes and trains. Also, for the inexperienced traveler…you can pick up almost anything you’ll need on the road…so even if you’re thinking it’s a must, but you’ll only need it for a small part of your trip, it might be wiser and cheaper to pick it up abroad. I hope this list helps you as you pack for your next adventure. I think that this packing list would be helpful for anyone going on a RTW trip or an extended trip in South America, Africa, Asia, and even Europe depending on the activities.
TOMS Canvas Slip-Ons or Ballasox Foldable Ballet Flats
Vasque Waterproof Hiking Boot(already broken in)
Havaianas flip flops (they’ll last TEN times longer than the cheapies you buy at Old Navy)
Ah shoes….I hate packing them. And really don’t like the idea of packing heavy hiking boots, but with doing multiple treks in Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia I’ve decided to pack them even though I’d rather pack my super comfy and light weight ASICS Trail Runners.
Unders and Extras
5 pairs of ExOfficio underwear (moisture wicking and quick drying) and 2 pairs of cotton
3 bathing suits that can be mix and matched (PacSun and Victoria’s Secret are great resources for out of season swimwear)
1 sports bra
1 bra with convertible straps(neutral colored) (I love Calvin Klein bras for their durability, comfortability and their amazing fit)
3 pairs of socks (medium weight hiking socks (2), expedition weight (1))
1 pair of liner socks
hat (either a beanie or light weight running cap)
Invest in some super comfy moisture wicking, quick drying underwear. They may not be the sexiest, but ExOfficio, Terramar, and Patagonia all make some great underwear. Sometimes you can find them on sale at Sierra Trading Post or Patagonia which will save you some money….at $18+ a pop these might be the most expensive panties you’ll ever buy. I found a couple styles for slightly cheaper on amazon.
1 pair of Roxy Boardshorts
1 pair of cotton shorts
2 skirts- knee length or longer
1 pair of REI trekking pants (light weight, quick drying)
1 skinny jeans (stretchy and thin material…think jeggings, but classier)
1 pair of leggings or yoga pants (can fit under trekking pants, wear under a dress or on their own)
1 Sarong…for many reasons, skirt, dress, blanket, towel, privacy…it will be your best friend. If you don’t have one already you can easily pick one up on the road for dirt cheap!
I’m totally impartial to my Roxy Boardshorts and I’ve been known to wear them for days on end. When I was searching for them on amazon to post a link I found that they have them in more colors too, so I’m tempted to buy another pair…or two. While you can get away with short shorts in most of Thailand…you’ll need to cover up if you plan on visiting any temples or spending time in Muslim Malaysia or Indonesia; I always pack a skirt or two that hit below the knee, for this purpose exactly. Also, I like to pack my Mavi skinny jeans, they’re super stretchy and pack down really small. Steve and I hike a TON so I always pack my REI trekking pants, they’re super light weight and roll up into capris. They are similar to this pair here. Leggings are crucial too…you can sleep in them if you need to, layer them under trekking pants for an extra layer of warmth, or wear them on their own with a tunic or dress. A fold-over jersey maxi skirt is one of my new favorites. With a slightly busy pattern or stripes it can hide stains and match different tops…and it can be pulled up and worn as a dress. I couldn’t find mine online, but I really like this Ethnic Stripe Fold Over Maxi Skirt on amazon.
3 tanks (light weight cotton (2) moisture wicking (1))
3 tees (light weight cotton (1) moisture wicking (2))
2 long sleeve (moisture wicking, quick drying)
2 dresses (light weight cotton (1), wrinkle resistant (1))
1 cardigan or button-up (to throw on in a pinch to visit temples, etc.)
1 vest (extra layer of warmth for trekking in mountains)
1 Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket
1 fleece hoody
Target was a godsend for finding light weight cotton tanks and tees for super cheap. They have a great feminine fit and they’re easy to care for. For moisture wicking tops Patagonia Capilene 2 (for layering) and Capilene 3 (for cooler activities) are awesome because they don’t get as stinky as some of the other brands. I hate that so many of the hiking tops are cut boxy….just because I’m hiking and traveling doesn’t mean I want to look like a slob, so I really like Lole for their perfectly fit feminine tops. I wear them at work, running errands and on the trail. I try to make sure everything I pack atleast kinda matches/coordinates so it can be easily layered. I always pack a cardigan or button up that I can throw on over a tank when we visit temples, churches, etc.
prAna headbands(3) and hair ties (10)
chapstick/lip balm with sunscreen
Lunette Menstrual Cup or tampons
small sewing kit (as in 1 needle and one tiny spool of threa
Arnica muscle cream
inflatable neck pillow
Canon EOS Rebel DSLR camera
Old School Apple iPod nano
GoPro HD HERO2(Steve has lost two so far..so I’ll be in charge of lucky number 3)
Notepad/Journal (soft back)
Obviously you don’t need all of these electronics, but since we’ll both be blogging on our trip (and possibly working) and using different mediums to record our adventures. We’ll split up the electronics between the two of us.
Water bottle or bladder
Pepper’s Polarized Sunglasses(buy an extra pair in Kathmandu)
Daypack with waist belt and padded shoulder straps
Camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag (Koolertron)
heavy duty ziplock bags
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes: Pack-It Half Tube Cube, Black (1) and Pack-It Half Cube, Black(1)
neoprene netbook case
compression sacks (2) (Sea to Summitand REI make decent ones that are light weight)
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack(1)
Save your sanity and stay organized on the road. Nothing drives me crazier than not being able to find something and having to dig through an entire pack to find it. Invest in a couple compression stuff sacks and separate the contents. I’ll usually have one for pants, one for tops, and one for bathing suits, underwear, socks, etc. I used to separate everything into ziplock bags, but a couple of packing cubes will help you keep your toiletries and electronics organized as well. The Sea to Summit compression bags usually hold up better than the REI bags (which have a tendency to tear at the seams when overstuffed) and the Eagle Creek packing cubes are super light weight just a couple ounces verses a half pound like some of the others.
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Pack cover or trash bag to line pack
SteriPENor purification tablets
Waterproof watch with alarm clock, either Timex Expedition or Garmin Forerunner GPS
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good headlamp while you’re travelling. It will come in handy when you’re rushing to the bathroom in the middle of the night, during the many power outages and during night hikes. You will want to bring your own lock if you’re staying in hostels….some provide a lock, but a fair number don’t and you don’t want to leave your valuables unlocked. Carabiners are one of those items that I always take with me and they are always invaluable: you can hook clothes up to dry with carabiners or hook nasty items to the outside of your pack.
Throughout your trip you will see plastic water bottles littering roads, trails, and alleys. Although bottled water is cheap, most of the countries don’t have a proper recycling system set up, so do your part by packing a Steripen or purification tablets and drink the tap water.
I love my cheap Timex watch…not exactly the prettiest watch, but it’s not going to get stolen. It has a decent alarm clock and is waterproof to 100m, so I can take it diving too. I would love to experiment with a Garmin Forerunner, but I can’t fathom spending a couple hundred dollars on a watch (even though it has GPS) when I could spend that money on another week of travel.
extra passport photos
copies of passport
drivers license, debit card, credit card, back-up credit card
folder with insurance, itinerary and reservation confirmations
Before you leave home have a few passport photos made. You’ll be surprised by how often you need them (for visas, permits, scuba certification). Also, keep an extra color copy or two of your passport and don’t store them with your passport. I’ll usually keep one copy in my toiletry bag and another in my daypack, backpack, or purse….or I’ll give a copy to a travel mate, if we’re going to be traveling together for the entirety of the trip. And make sure to leave a copy with a family member or roommate, just in case you find yourself in a bind.
Steve and I went on our AMAZING Southeast Asia trip. And to be completely honest, I lugged 95% of this list around for 6 months. We did however send stuff home at a couple of times during our trip. In Vietnam, after about 2 months of traveling in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, we sent a box home from HCMC with all of the stuff we hadn’t touched over the previous months: skinny jeans, TOMS, 1 skirt, 2 pairs of underwear, 1 camera bag. Also, I ended up not taking my trekking poles with me….they didn’t fit in my bag very well, and I didn’t want to have the strapped to the outside of my pack. I was fine, my knees didn’t bother me on any of our treks, so I’m happy I didn’t pack them.
After climbing the Pinnacles in Malaysia we sent another round of stuff home: fleece jacket, all but one pair of socks, 1 wicking long sleeve shirt, 2 t-shirts, the SteriPen and all of the crap we bought in Nepal (and there was alot). My trekking pants were toast!!! I ripped them the first week of our trip in Thailand, stitched them up, and then I ripped them again in Cambodia and stitched them up again. I kept them through all of the hikes. After the Pinnacles they were fairly threadbare, and with the rips, and the horrible smell of sweating in the jungle, they promptly ended up in the trash.