Everything You’ll Need – The Ultimate World Travel Packing List
“Go small, go simple, go now.”
– Lin and Larry Pardey
Travel Packing For Long Trips
Deciding what to bring on a long trip through various parts of the world can seem daunting. The best rule is to keep it simple and small. No matter where or when you go, there are certain things that you will want, need or will come in very handy during your trip. This is not a comprehensive travel packing list, but a guideline to use when determining your needs.
The first thing to consider is how many different latitudes you will be visiting. This will determine what clothing you will need. You can either bring all the clothing you’ll need with you everywhere, or you can buy and sell/donate clothing as you move between climates.
For Your Room
- Pillowcase and thin sleeping bag or two bed sheets sewn together – for the inevitable questionable hotel bedding. A sarong can be used in a pinch for a pillowcase.
- Mosquito net – preferably impregnated with a repellent, with a few spare hooks and screws.
- Small mirror – some hotel rooms do not provide one.
- Candles, matches and lighter.
- Small smoke alarm.
- Laundry kit – clothesline, clothespins, detergent, drain-stopper (a large flat one covers all holes and helps keep drain-dwelling cockroaches at bay).
Incense – for musty bedrooms and/or windowless bathrooms.
- Rubber door-stopper – not only for keeping doors open, but keeping them closed, too.
Health & Safety
- Sunglasses – with UVA and UVB protection.
- Spare glasses (if applicable) – contact lenses and solution can be purchased in most cities without a prescription. Bring copies of your optometrist and optician (contact lens) prescriptions just in case.
- First aid kit – small and basic.
- Flashlight – an LED headlamp is best.
- Stiff-bristled nylon brush – for cleaning under fingernails and scrubbing laundry.
- Whistle – to quickly get someone’s attention if you require help.
Personal daily toiletries can be purchased anywhere. Many service-orientated airlines provide personal toiletries kits for their passengers. These include socks, an eyeshade and pocket-sized toothbrush and a mini-tube of toothpaste.
Most high-end hotels provide single-use bars of soap and bottles of shampoo for their guests. It’s worth holding onto these, as they may come in handy on a long flight, night-bus or train ride.
- Toilet paper (two rolls) – remove cardboard roll to flatten and keep in sealed bag.
- Antibacterial wipes and/or hand-sanitizer.
- Toothpaste, toothbrush and case, and dental floss.
- Shampoo, bar soap and baby powder.
- Razor handle with cartridges – all cartridges are unisex, use soap lather instead of shaving cream to save space.
- Sunscreen – minimum SPF 30 reef-safe without microbeads.
- Earplugs – keep the yappy dogs, screaming children, snoring roommates, and crowing roosters from your dreams.
- Eyeshade – for lighter sleepers.
- Multi-tool – knife, pliers, scissors, can-opener, screwdrivers, etc. You will not be permitted to bring this onboard any flights.
- Compass – it can help you get and keep your bearings, especially on a cloudy day.
- Tablet, laptop, phone, camera – check the country’s voltage and outlet type to see if you may need an adapter to charge the battery.
- Universal conversion plug – for charging devices.
- Batteries – spares for flashlight, camera, etc. Consider using electronics that use the same type of battery (ie. AA).
- Tape – packing, electrical and duct (take the cardboard rolls from the middle and flatten the tape).
- Sewing kit – or at least a sewing needle to be used with dental-floss, and some safety pins.
Games can be a good way to pass the time waiting for a bus or on a long train ride. Miniature chess/backgammon sets can be purchased cheaply worldwide, and can be a great commonality with locals everywhere. A fold up cribbage board is lightweight and convenient. When playing-cards get too sticky in humid climates, sprinkle some baby powder on them and shuffle a few times. Pocket-sized versions of popular board games are also available.
- Playing cards / board games.
- Postcards from home – to illustrate your home and distribute to, or trade with, new friends.
- Journal / Day timer / Address book / Notebook.
- Pens – black ones are preferable, as some embassies require visa applications to be filled out with black ink only. Do not bring “school pens” for begging children.
Where To Put It
You will need somewhere to put all your belongings. The best place to put them is in an internal frame backpack. If you can barely cram all your stuff into it, it’s too small. Leave some room for maneuverability and things you pick up along the way. Your pack should have padded and adjustable shoulder straps and a solid waist strap. The more pockets the better. They eliminate the need to dig to the bottom and empty the contents of your pack when you’re looking for something.
Some people would argue that if you were not moving around too much, a suitcase would do. But, if you’re not moving around too much, it doesn’t really matter what kind of luggage you use. The only drawbacks to a backpack are having to rummage to find the item you want, and the fact that some officials, at some borders, look at some travelers toting backpacks with suspicion and/or contempt. So long as you have your papers in order and look respectable (and smile), border hassles are very infrequent.
However, the pros outweigh the cons. They are much more convenient and comfortable to carry than a suitcase, their size and shape aren’t fixed, and they leave your hands free. Consulting a map in your guidebook on a city street requires two hands. Bags can have a nasty way of disappearing in the blink of an eye.
Keep your clothes (and pretty much everything else) in waterproof bags inside your backpack. Travel are a good option. You’ll be glad you did this if you’re caught in a torrential downpour, or your pack is dropped in the river. This goes for the contents of your day-pack as well. It is also easier to find things if similar items are packed together in each pouch.
A pack-cover won’t necessarily keep your back pack dry, but it will keep in clean(er), and make it less accessible to sticky fingers.
In addition to your main backpack, you will also need a day-pack with as many pockets or dividers as possible. You’ll need somewhere to put your water, hat, rain shell, first-aid kit, guidebook, camera and sunglasses when exploring a city or going on a day hike.
You may want or need less, or more, on your travel packing list. Camping will require a tent, sleeping bag, a and cooking stove. If you find you have too much, you can ship it home, sell it or donate it. If find you don’t have enough, you can buy more along the way. Remember that this travel packing list is a guideline, and each list will vary with the scope, duration and requirements of any particular trip.