What to Pack for a Trip Around the World? – 80+ Items on My Round The World Packing List

March 8, 2019|Lena Scheidler

This is the post I wrote just days before the start of my trip around the world. I have updated it now after 7 months of travel to be able to tell you which items on my backpacking checklist were really useful during my trip so far and which items you can leave at home after all (updates are in red).

My own trip around the world is now only days away, and I finally started packing my new backpack the Osprey Sirrus 50 liter for real. (You can purchase the Osprey Sirrus as well as other Osprey models on amazon.com. Check the latest prices now!)

A couple of weeks ago I did a packing trial run, to see if everything fits and whether the designated backpack is too heavy or not. I am delighted with the result. The backpack is full to the brim, it weighs 10 kg, and there is almost nothing left to buy or pack so it should be fine for the whole year.

A packing trial run and, of course, the actual packing are two points of over 50 on my RTW Travel Planning Checklist (read the full list here). If you want to download the RTW Travel Planning Checklist sign up to my mailing list! You can find more RTW Travel Planning content here.

In this post today I would like to introduce to you what to pack for a one year world trip, by showing you my trip packing list.

Post Contents

All You Need to Know About Round the World Trip Packing

Round the world packing list

Download My Free Round the World Packing List

I love to organize everything I do on Excel spreadsheets and so my round the world travel packing list is also on a spreadsheet. If you want to use my template, you can download it from my free content library (with many other useful resources for your RTW travel planning).

All you have to do is sign up with your name and email address. It’s simple.

Once you have access to the RTW travel packing list Excel sheet, feel free to change it for your own needs by adding or deleting items, changing quantities and, of course, checking everything off the list once you have bought and packed it.

Let’s get started with the RTW packing list:

Packing and Organizing

packing and organizing on my gap year packing list

In this first category, I input all the items that will be used to pack all the other things and help keep them organized.

Up until now organizing my stuff when traveling wasn’t really my thing and I would simply put all my clothing in my suitcase. But since living out of a backpack is very different from a 2 week holiday with a big suitcase I decided to get organized with bags and packing cubes for everything.

Update: It turns out I was right. It is much easier to keep everything in my backpack organized. So I know where all my backpacking travel essentials are.

  • Backpack
  • Handbag
  • Daypack
  • Toiletries Bag
  • Packing Cubes
  • Shoe Bags
  • Zip-Lock Bags
  • Laundry Bag

Backpack – Osprey Sirrus 50 Liter

I love my new backpack so much. After multiple trips to stores, trying on different brands, models and sizes I finally decided on the Osprey Sirrus 50 Liter. I actually asked other people who traveled around the world, and many of them use Osprey backpacks.

After I have moved around with it for a bit I will write a review post, so you know about the pros and cons of the backpack, as I discover them. At the moment all I can say is that everything I wanted to bring for the year fits and that it sits comfortably on my hips, and that it looks nice.

Of all the things to pack for a trip, a good backpack is the most important part.

Update: I still love my backpack after 7 months on the road with it. It sits very well on my hips and it is easy to walk around with it. The only negative point about the Osprey Sirrus 50 Liter is that it is a top loading backpack, which means it is really annoying to get to the items at the bottom. And as we all know, it is always the things we pack at the bottom we really need.

Handbag for Essentials - LeSportsac Classic Hobo

I did some research to find a handbag I would use for the whole year. There are just some essential things to pack for traveling which you want to have close to you all the time, like your wallet, phone, and passport, maybe even sunglasses and in my case a different camera lens or two.

In the end, I bought a regular handbag from a shop around the corner from our house in Tokyo. But I was seriously considering purchasing this PacSafe travel handbag on Amazon.

Update: The cheap handbag I bought in Japan wasn’t made for long term travel and died on me after 4 months. I now have a LeSportsac Classic Hobo and I love it. The bag is big enough to fit everything I need during the day, and is a great companion as a hand luggage for flights, because it fits so much. Even my iPad fits comfortably.

One of my travel packing tips for stressfree travel is to have a good handbag for everyday use. You will thank me later.
Buy your own LeSportsac Classic Hobo on amazon.com There are many different designs to choose from!

Daypack – Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

Once you have arrived at a destination you don’t want to carry around all your stuff on this backpacking packing list all day every day, am I right. For this reason, I actually bought two kinds of bags. My trusty bag for essentials which I mentioned above, and a daypack, basically a small backpack.

In my case, the small backpack is really super small. It can all be stuffed in on itself, and once you are done, it will fit in the palm of your hand. And as such it will also fit into your backpack easily when you don’t use it and doesn’t take up much space.

If you do need to use the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack, it is big enough to accommodate camera equipment, a rain jacket and or umbrella, a bottle of water and any other small item you can’t live without.

I have used my Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack on multiple trips in Japan, and so far there are no signs of wear and tear. It is a little bit wrinkled because it is stored all balled up all the time, but if that doesn’t concern you, you should be fine.

Check the price of the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack on amazon.com (It is cheaper than you think)

Update: I am still using my Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack on some occasions, although not every day. For daily use my LeSportsac Classic Hobo handbag is really all I need. But when I go to the beach, for example, having an additional small backpack is really handy. I recommend you put both, a small handbag and a small backpack on your backpacking gear list.

Toiletries Bag

Next item on my international travel packing list is a toiletries bag. I bought a bag for my toiletries at the 100 Yen shop close to my house. It is square, see-through material (which is perfect if I ever should decide to fly carry-on only), super light and has a zipper. It is big enough to fit all my toiletries (we will get to the list a bit further down this post).

You can buy similar toiletry bags on amazon.com.

Update: I am still using my 100 yen toiletry bag, but it doesn’t look so good anymore. It lost its form quickly being smushed into my backpack all the time, and the nail scissors I use poked a couple of wholes into it. I do therefore recommend you buy something a bit more robust. For carry on use I recommend zip lock bags. They come in different sizes and you can bring a couple of them. They don’t take up much space.

Compression Packing Cubes - Gonex Extensible Storage Mesh Bags Organizers

Another item on my travel essentials list are packing cubes, which I also bought at the 100 Yen shop. It is amazing how cheaply things are sold here in Japan for which you have to pay so much more online. I guess the quality is better when you buy packing cubes on amazon.com. But really a couple of packing cubes are only going to hold clothes, so I think the 100 Yen ones will do fine.

I bought three packing cubes of different sizes. One cube is for all my jackets, another one for my underwear and the third one is for the rest of my clothing.

Update: I was so wrong. My cheap packing cubes broke in the first week of traveling. All of them! So, I had to buy new ones. This time good quality compression packing cubes from Gonex on amazon.com. And I love them, they might just be the best packing cubes for backpacking. The compression lets me store my clothing very space efficient in my small backpack. The material is made of a robust meshed material and the packing cubes have handles so it is very easy to carry them around as well.
Buy a set of Gonex Compression Packing Cubes on amazon.com You won’t regret it!

You will hear many different opinions about packing cubes for backpacking. Some people hate them, others love them. I am one of the people who couldn’t live without packing cubes. It is so much easier to find your clothing when you know exactly where everything is. For me one of the most important items when packing for a trip.

Shoe Bags

Some people who are backpacking around the world are very minimalist and travel with only one pair of shoes. I am not that kind of person. I need different shoes for different occasions and so shoe bags, to store my shoes inside my backpack are on my travel items list.

I am bringing three pairs of shoes, for which I need two shoe bags because obviously, I am going to wear one pair on my feet. You can use anything as a shoe bag really. A big zip-lock bag will do or a bag with a drawstring. I bought some designated shoe bags at my 100 Yen shop. To my surprise they sell exactly the same shoe bags at amazon.com.

Update: My shoe bags are surprisingly good. I use on for my hiking shoes and one for my flip flops. The bags do their job and they haven’t ripped yet. Surprisingly good value for money. I can recommend buying the super cheap shoe bags on amazon.com

Zip-Lock Bags

Another one of those things to bring when travelling are zip-lock bags. If you want to organize all your small belongings, there is nothing better than having a couple of zip-lock bags of different sizes to keep everything tidy in your backpack. I use my zip-lock bags for things that will get wet, like shampoo and towels, another one for medicine and so on.

Update: I love zip-lock bags. It makes sense to pack a couple extra because zip-lock bags aren’t actually made for repeated use and so they will break at some point.

Laundry Bag

When you are planning on living out of a backpack, you have to carry around your dirty laundry. For this reason you need a not so small laundry bag. This bag will be empty when you start out, but over the days it will slowly fill up with dirty laundry. I am planning on washing about once every 9 days. Let’s see how that goes once I am really getting started.

Update: I loved my laundry bag, which basically was a shopping bag from Under Armour with a string to close and carry it. Unfortunately, the laundry service in Kolkata, India threw it away after doing my laundry. I since bought a new laundry bag from the 100 yen shop in Japan.

You could also buy a Miamica Travel Laundry Bag. It folds into a very small zipper bag and unfolds when you need to use it. The material is super lightweight and has a draw string to keep dirty laundry from falling out.
The Miamica Travel Laundry Bag comes in many cute designs. Check them on amazon.com

By the way, I am really doing laundry about once a week to every 9 days. In some places it is cheaper than others and sometimes it makes sense to do hand laundry to save some money. You can use the Scrubba Wash Bag to make it easier.
Buy the Scrubba Wash Bag on amazon.com!

Essentials

essentials on my gap year packing list

So, what to pack for a trip? What do you really need?

These long term travel essentials are the things you can’t go without if you are a world explorer. Don’t forget them or else you will be in trouble.

  • Wallet
  • Passport
  • Health Insurance Info
  • Yellow Fever Proof
  • Credit Cards
  • Driver’s License & International Driver’s License

Wallet

Bring a wallet, maybe even two (so you have something to hand over if you should ever get robbed). There are travel wallets with RFID security making it impossible to read your credit card information. I just bought a very cheap small purse at the store next door. Nothing fancy, so it is okay if it ever gets stolen, dirty or lost.

Update: Still using my cheap purse. It’s really nothing much but big enough to keep coins and banknotes organized as well as my credit cards stored.

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Passport

Of all the things to pack when traveling, don’t forget your passport. Make sure it is valid for at least half a year longer than you are planning on traveling. Or else you might have problems when applying for a visa in individual countries.

Update: There is one other point I didn’t see coming when I started traveling. Your passport will fill up at some point and you won’t have any pages left. That’s where I am right now. I only have 3 more pages all the others are filled with stickers and stamps of more than 20 countries.

Now I have to apply for a new passport somewhere so I can continue 4 more months of travel. It is a real hassle getting original documents from home and making appointments at an embassy somewhere. It is also more expensive to get an express passport.

If you don’t have at least one page for each country you want to visit during your trip around the world I encourage you to get another passport before you leave your country. It will safe you from a big headache during your trip.

Health Insurance Info

Yes, I recommend you get some form of travel health insurance while you do your trip around the world. Keep the contact details somewhere where you can always find them. Maybe store the number in your phone and also keep a copy in your wallet just in case you are ever out of battery.

Update: I had to use my insurance for the first time after half a year of traveling. In Bali I got a rash on my whole body and thought it would be safer to have a doctor check it out. Turns out it was just irritation from too much sun and sweat. I got a lotion and paid about 40 USD, which my health insurance will return in full.

Yellow Fever Proof

Some countries want to see proof that you have the yellow fever vaccination, so keep it together with your passport so you can show the evidence whenever you try to enter a country.

Update: I had to show my yellow fever proof twice while traveling in Africa. You really should get the yellow fever vaccination if you aren’t sure which countries you are going to visit during your trip.

Credit Cards

If you are packing for a long trip I recommend you to have at least 2 credit cards from different companies (Visa, Master or American Express) and to keep them in different places, just in case one is stolen or lost. Also, note down the number of your credit card institute to be able to lock the card in case it gets taken.

Update: Having more than one credit card has paid off multiple times, surprisingly not while out on the streets, I have never had much trouble paying with the cards or getting money, but rather booking flights on the internet.

Often one card or another is rejected when trying to book a flight, hotel or tour online. I had one case where I couldn’t use any of my cards, while booking a flight in Bangladesh, but I was able to go to the airline office the next day and pay in cash.

Driver’s License & International Driver’s License

If you are planning on driving one of the things to bring on a trip is your driver’s license and international driver’s license. Best keep both with your passport because if you ever get into a control while driving, they are likely to want to check those three items together.

Update: If you are planning on riding a scooter in Thailand it is necessary that you have a motorcycle license, not only a car driver’s license. Or else they will make you pay a small fee. We had to learn that the hard way. In all other countries having an international license was enough to satisfy the police.

Clothing

packing and organizing on my gap year packing list

Let’s talk about how to pack clothes in a backpack. First of all:

Don’t bring too much clothing, or else your luggage will be unnecessary heavy, but if you carry too little, you will have to wash all the time. I think balance is critical here. Some people are very minimalist travelers, but I am not one of them.

As mentioned before, I pack all my clothing into packing cubes. And I roll my shirts and trousers to fit better and to keep everything from getting overly crumpled.

  • 10 x Underwear
  • 4 x Bra
  • 10 x Socks
  • 3 x T-Shirts
  • 1 x Long Sleeve Shirt
  • 1 x Light Jacket
  • 1 x Ultra Light Down Jacket
  • 1 x Rain Jacket
  • 3 x Pants
  • 1 x Warm Tights
  • 1 x Rain Trousers
  • 1 x Dress
  • 1 x Bikini
  • 1 x Pajama
  • 1 x Scarf
  • 1 x Hat
  • 1 x Sneakers
  • 1 x Rain Shoes/Hiking Shoes
  • 1 x Flip-flops

Underwear

Most important clothing on my travel packing checklist? Underwear. Ok, maybe not most important but you know what I mean, right?

I am packing 10 pairs of underwear. I don’t know about you, but I change my panties once a day. Some people replace them twice a day (in that case maybe bring more, or you will be washings more than once a week).

Update: Bringing 10 days worth of clothing was a good formula for me. I wash every 9 days and so far it has always worked out somehow.

By the way, there are special travel panties that are supposed to be smell resistant and quick drying, but I don’t really think that is necessary. Normal ones are just fine.

Bra

Since this is a packing list for women, I have to mention bras. 4 bras should be enough to last me the 10 days my underwear will last. If you are a guy, you are lucky and can just ignore this part.

Update: I am super happy that I only brought sports bras rather than normal wire bras I used to wear to work. Sports bras are super comfortable and hold much better when walking long distances.

Socks

Same as the underwear I pack 10 pairs of socks for my trip. I am mainly planning on wearing sneakers, so I pack short socks. If you are planning on wearing boots, then a bit higher socks might be useful. I guess if you are mainly going to wear sandals then you don’t need as many socks.

Update: My socks are starting to die. Many of them now have a hole here or there. I am guessing my normal cheap socks just weren’t made for so much walking. Maybe it would be better to buy proper hiking socks or at least sports or running socks.

T-Shirts

If you were asking me what to take on a trip, I mean what I would really want to have when I am packing for long term travel, I would say bringing the right kind of t-shirts can be a game changer.

The trick with the t-shirts is to bring only a couple and to buy quality t-shirts that won’t start smelling even if you wear them a couple of days in a row. I purchased some Merion Wool shirts from Icebreaker, and I love them. They don’t smell at all of the sweat even after wearing them two days. So I am judging that 3 shirts will be enough for 9 days.

I highly recommend you buy 3 merion wool shirts from Icebreaker on amazon.com!

Update: I still love my merion woll shirts and wouldn’t trade them for anything. They are the best travel clothes one could wish for. I did realize that with only 3 shirts I don’t have anything to wear when I put all three in the laundry after 9 days and so I bought one more shirt on the road for laundry day.

Long Sleeve Shirt

I am traveling mainly in warm or hot regions where a t-shirt will be enough. For this reason, I am only planning on bringing one long sleeve shirt that I can wear if it should ever get cold.

Update: Most of the time I use my light jacket when it gets cold, but I have had times where the jacket had to be washed or it was so cold that I wanted to wear a long sleeve shirt. Not often but sometimes.

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Light Jacket

In addition to the long sleeve shirt, I am also bringing a cardigan as a light jacket to wear indoors where air conditioning is powerful or on colder days.

Update: My cardigan is always close. It is useful in hot climates where the airconditioning can be freezing, in airplanes where it can also get quite cold or simply when the weather turns colder.

Ultra Light Down Jacket

The warmest kind of jacket I am bringing is an Ultra Light Down Jacket. Filled with fluffy down feathers, it is nice and warm at around 10 to 15 degrees but can be folded super small, so it won’t take up any space while it is not in use.

Update: Of all the things to take backpacking I can highly recommend bringing an ultralight down jacket. It really doesn’t take up much space when it isn’t used and keeps you warm when you need it.

Rain Jacket

Another one of the things to carry while traveling even in warm climates (or especially in warm climates), is a rain jacket. There is always a chance of rain and walking around in wet clothes is not fun. So I am bringing a very thin, light rain jacket. Make sure to buy a waterproof one, not a water repellent one to stay dry all day.

Update: I used my rain jacket the most in Scotland an on Bali. Two places that are very different but they both had a lot of rain when I was there. While riding a scooter in Bali or with the strong winds in Scotland it wasn’t really possible to use an umbrella and so my rain jacket really saved me a couple of times.

Pants

I recommend comfortable pants, either cloth pants or yoga pants since this is a packing list for girls. If you are a guy you can also wear cloth pants. I only bring one pair of shorts, because in most climates that are hot it is still recommended to wear long trousers to prevent mosquito bites.

Update: I almost never use my shorts and wear my long cloth pants every day. I did buy some new ones cheaply in Tanzania and Thailand but they died very quickly. Which was really sad because they were so nice and colorful. Now I am back to only the trousers I brought with me from Japan.

Warm Tights

One of the secret items on my long term travel packing list are warm tights. When hiking it can get cold, even if you start out in a hot climate. For this reason, I am planning on bringing one pair of warm tights to wear under my trousers if it ever gets cold.

Update: In Scotland the tights were a game changer and that one night when the bus broke down in Laos I was also very happy that I had some warm tights with me.

Rain Trousers

If you visit places that are prone for rain, like Asia with its monsoon season or even Scotland a pair of rain trousers will help keep you dry.

You can buy some rain trousers very cheaply on Amazon. Bring them just in case. You will thank me later.

Update: I was so write when I wrote the above sentences. I was very happy to have my rain trousers in Scotland. It was wet!

Dress

Since this is an ultimate packing list for her and not him, I have to mention bringing a dress. Having one simple dress that is light and easy to put on will be perfect during your RTW trip. I like to throw a dress over my swimwear when I leave the beach, for example, to head into town for lunch, or when walking from my room to a shared bathroom when staying with a host (using Couchsurfing or Servas).

Update: Why is it so hard to find a dress with sleeves that is light and not low cut so I don’t burn my shoulders? I am really wondering. I have been looking and looking and I can’t seem to find the perfect travel dress.

Bikini

I will visit some fantastic beaches on my trip around the world, and I for one don’t just want to see them on land. I want to take a swim in the waves, and therefore I am bringing my bikini!

Update: The beaches of Zanzibar were beautiful, and so are the ones I visited on Gili Island in Indonesia. I also had the opportunity to use some pools while traveling and so I am happy I brought my bikini. It is really getting old now from all the use and I hope it will survive until the end of my trip. When you are packing for travel don’t forget your swimwear.

Pajama

Here is another one of my top backpacking packing tips: Bring a pajama you are comfortable in. I mean one in which you feel comfortable even if you are seen by strangers. If you are planning on sharing your sleeping quarters, no matter if you are planning to stay in hostels, or with Couchsurfing hosts, it would do you well to have some designated clothing for when you sleep, you don’t want to be half naked in front of strangers.

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Scarf

Even when you travel in warm climates (or maybe especially then), it is advisable to bring a scarf. Airplanes, public transport, and shops, all crank up their air conditioning to the fullest, and the difference between outside and inside temperature is what makes most people who aren’t used to it sick. So I always bring a jacket and a scarf to keep warm while inside.

Update: I don’t use my scarf too much, but it has been useful in the desert for example to protect my nose and mouth. And sometimes when it get’s really cold I am happy to have a scarf.

Hat - North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer Hat

Item number 30 on my long trip packing list (yes I just counted): a hat!

It’s not fun having a heat stroke while traveling. One of the most natural things to prevent this is by keeping the sun off your head (and drinking lots of water). So, bring a hat, preferably one that will provide a bit of protection for your head, shoulders, and neck as well.

I am using a North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer Hat. You can buy it in different colors on amazon.com.

Headband

I added an outdoor headband to my essentials along the way. Super useful when there are strong winds like in Cape Town in South Africa. It’s great to keep the ears warm and the hair out of the face.

The multi purpose headband can also be used as a scarf or a mask to protect your mouth and nose while riding a scooter in Thailand for example. A top item on my around the world packing list.

Buy your outdoor headband now on amazon.com!

Sneakers - Under Armour Women's Charged Bandit 3 Running Shoe

One item you cannot leave off your international travel packing checklist is a pair of comfortable walking shoes. My all day every day shoes are a couple of sneakers. I have some light running shoes from Under Armour called Under Armour Women’s Charged Bandit 3 Running Shoes, and I love them so much. The sole is thick and comfortable, and I can walk in them for hours.

Get your Under Armour Running Shoes now on amazon.com!

Update: My first pair of sneakers got holes and I had to replace them (after two years). So, I bought exactly the same model again, just in a different color. They are still the most comfortable shoes I have ever had.

Rain and Hiking Shoes - Salomon Women's X Ultra 2 GTX W Hiking Shoe

If it’s raining my sneakers and feet inside them will be wet in seconds, that’s why I am also bringing some shoes that are waterproof. I bought the Salomon Women’s X Ultra 2 GTX W Hiking Shoe, and so far I am pleased with them.

Check the latest prices of the Salomon Women’s X Ultra 2 GTX W Hiking Shoe on amazon.com

Update: These shoes are amazing. On rainy days I can wear them all day without getting wet feet. They are not heavy at all and very comfortable even for long walks or even some easy hikes. They will get the ultimate test when I am climbing Machu Picchu later this year.

Flip Flops - Crocs Classic Flip Flop Sandal

For the beach or dirty showers, there is nothing better than having a pair of flip flops. I use some simple cheap Puma flip flops with a rubber sole and straps made from woven textile. Flip flops should be on every round the world trip packing list.

Update: Unfortunately, while my Puma flip flops are super comfortable the material is not quick drying and so the shoes are constantly damp. I recommend buying some made from waterproof rubber such as the Crocs Classic Flip Flop Sandal.

Buy the Crocs Classic Flip Flow Sandal for men or women today on amazon.com!

Toiletries

toiletries on my gap year packing list

My travel toiletries list isn’t as long as other girls’ I’m sure. Here is my list of things I am going to bring.

  • Tampons
  • Hand Disinfectant
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Contact Lenses
  • Shampoo
  • Body Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Nail Scissors & Nail File
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Mascara & Other Makeup
  • Makeup Remover
  • Reusable Pads
  • Lip Balm
  • Q-Tips

Tampons

As girls, we can’t get around having our periods even while traveling the world. Therefore we need to mention certain products on our travel girl packing list.

I rely on tampons, but if you are using napkins bring those, and if you are looking for an entirely different alternative have a look at Menstrual Cups such as the DivaCup. I haven’t tried it yet, but I am seriously thinking about it.

Update: I am still using tampons and haven’t had any major issues. I mad sure to bring enough from home to last the whole trip, so I can’t really tell you how easy it is to buy quality tampons in other countries.

Hand Sanitizer

Don’t upset your stomach just because your hands are dirty. Before you eat, wash your hands and disinfect them afterward with some Purell

Update: I must have been optimistic when I wrote the above sentences. The times where I couldn’t wash my hands before eating were many, and I can’t tell you how happy I am about having my hand sanitizer on me every time.

Buy some Purell now, it might safe you!

Bug Spray

Still no end in sight on this backpacking packing guide. Up next: Mosquitos!

Some mosquitos can get you far worse than an itching red spot on your skin. To avoid dangerous diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes use bug spray generously and wear long sleeves and closed shoes at all times.

There are some organic options available as well. Buy your bug spray on amazon.com today!

Update: I stand by my statement. Bug spray is as good as gold and should definitely by on your round the world packing list.

Sunscreen

I am as white as one get, and if I am in the sun for more than 10 minutes, I will be red. Therefore I can’t leave the house without sunscreen in summer, I recently learned that lesson again in Japan. I dutifully protected my face shoulders and arms, but guess what, I forgot my feet. At night I had bright red patterns on the top of my feet and the back of my legs. Unpleasant and so avoidable.

Contact Lenses

I can’t go anywhere without my glasses, but sometimes it just isn’t practical to wear glasses. For example when swimming in the ocean, or watching a 3D movie. While I do believe there will be much more swimming than 3D movies during my trip around the world, I am bringing a supply of contact lenses for the year.

Update: I have used my contact lenses exactly once so far, to go snorkeling in Zanzibar. I guess it is good that I brought some but a couple would have been enough.

Shampoo - Lush Shampoo Bar

I did some research about what kind of shampoo to buy, and of course, you can bring a travel sized shampoo and buy a new one every time your bottle is empty. But I have a much nicer option that will save you a lot of space and is even good for the environment: Lush Shampoo Bar.

This is a bar of soap for your hair. It comes with a uniquely designed metal case and is suitable for 80 hair washes.

Update: I am still using my Lush Shampoo Bar and I love it! Highly recommend!

Body Soap

I bought a bar of body soap also at Lush. The shampoo and soap are both in separate metal boxes, and I put both into a small zip-lock bag so they can get wet without getting everything in my backpack wet.

Update: My body soap ran out about 5 months into my trip so I replaced it with a soap bar bought at Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. It’s lemongras and organic!

Deodorant

While traveling to more off the beaten path destinations a daily shower might be impossible. Still, your body odor shouldn’t be the reason no one wants to sit next to you on a bus. Bring some deodorant to keep from smelling too ripe.

Update: Actually so far I haven’t been anywhere I couldn’t take a shower. Sometimes the showers are cold but I have never left civilization so far behind that there wasn’t a shower around. Still pack a deodorant and use it, especially in hot climates.

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Nail Scissors & Nail File

I am bringing some nail scissors, they can be used for cutting other things besides nails and are very handy for that reason.

Also don’t forget to bring a nail file if you usually use one at home to file your nails. You will have more broken nails than usual. Trust me.

Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Don’t forget your toothbrush and remember to use it even if you are traveling through different time zones, or on dirty buses.

Bring a travel size toothpaste, you can pick up a new one on the way.

Update: Actually a normal sized toothpaste is better, then you don’t have to buy a new one all the time. And really a normal sized toothpaste is also only 100 grams.

Mascara & Other Makeup

As I said, I am not using much makeup but if you are making a detailed list and only bring what you really think you will need.

Update: I stopped using makeup alltogether. It is very freeing not having to put on and remove makeup every day. All I use is sunblocker so I don’t burn.

Makeup Remover

Don’t forget to bring something to remove your makeup correctly.

Reusable Pads

Here is a super secret tip for you. Bringing cotton pads seems kind of bothersome doesn’t it. You can buy reusable pads made of bamboo. They are washable and super cheap and additionally good for the environment. I haven’t bought mine yet, because for some reason they are not available in Japan so I will get them in Germany next month.

Update: I got my resuable bamboo pads and used them exactly 3 times in 7 months. They work well, I just stopped using makeup so I stopped using makeup remover. Therefore I don’t need reusable makeup pads anymore.

Lip Balm

Dry air in airplanes is nasty for my lips, so I always have some lip balm handy.

Q-Tips

If you use q-tips at home for your makeup or anything else, don’t forget to bring some on your trip around the world.

Electronics

electronics on my gap year packing list

I have to admit something. I am carrying way too many electronic devices, but I really can’t help myself. If you can go with less, that’s always better because things break, get stolen or even if everything goes well, they are super heavy.

  • Smartphone & Charger
  • Power Bank
  • Adapter
  • USB Multi Plug
  • Laptop & Charger
  • External Hard Drive
  • Camera
  • iPad & Charger
  • Smart Watch
  • Headphones

Smartphone & Charger

I can’t live without my phone. I try to update you all about my travels in real time. If you are interested in what I am up to on a day to day basis check out my Instagram and Twitter and follow along.

For this reason, I always try to have internet access everywhere I go. Currently, I am using an international SIM sticker from FLEXIROAM. You just stick the sticker on your home countries SIM card, and you are able to switch between the two networks whenever you want. If you want 100 MB of free data feel free to use my FLEXIROAM referal link. Also if you purchase from within the FLEXIROAM app you might get 50% off any starter plan so have a look (FLEXIROAM iPhone App & FLEXIROAM Android App).

I am also going to buy portable WIFI routers or local SIM cards where possible since they are much cheaper than the international ones. The mobile WIFI router I use in Hong Kong is from klook.com and can be picked up at the airport. Super useful! I did the same in Taiwan.
Have a look at klook.com especially if you are planning on traveling in Asia.

Update: I am not updating my Instagram or Twitter. I am too busy traveling.

But still I am using my phone all the time. To look up directions most of the time, or to call an Uber or Grab when I just arrived in a new country or city. The cheapest way to stay connected is by buying a local sim card whenever you arrive in a new country. Usually, this is very easy and in many countries you can pick up a sim card upon arrival at the airport or after crossing the border. 

Power Bank

If you run out of battery while you are away from civilization (it happens), you will be happy to have a power bank with you to recharge your phone. The newer and better power banks can charge your phone fully around 5 times. I recommend you invest the money rather than buying a cheap one.

Power Plug Adapter

The shape of power plugs differs worldwide. For simplicity, I have one adapter that can be used basically everywhere. If you believe one adapter won’t be enough, it makes a lot of sense to buy an extension cord with multiple outlets from your home country rather than more adapters.

Update: Bringing an extension cord with multiple outlets is a real game changer. In dormitories and even some hotels you only have a single power outlet you can use and your power strip will be super useful to charge all your devices at the same time.

USB Multi Plug

Another thing you can do is buy a little USB multi plug. You can use multiple USB cables but only need to plug it in once. This is especially useful for all the charging wires of your various devices like phone, power bank and whatever else you have.

Laptop and Charger

I need my computer to work on my blog, to send out emails to my followers or other interested parties and also to store the pictures and videos I have taken on my external hard drive. So I have it with me always. I am using a MacBook Air and so far it hasn’t let me down.

External Hard Drive

Some people store their pictures on SD cards and just buy new ones once the old one is full. I heard this is not a right way to store data as it might get lost over time. To be entirely sure you should save your data in multiple places. An external hard drive is just one of these places.
I am using the Silicon Power 5TB  Portable External Hard Drive and think it is very good. You can check it out on amazon.com

It is safest to store data on a cloud somewhere, but depending on the amount of data you want to save this can get expensive. And you don’t always have access to the internet everywhere you are. So storing in multiple places is the right thing to do.

Camera

We are traveling with two cameras. One for pictures and one for videos, or if I wanted to put it differently, one for me and one for Taka. We now own an Olympus OM-D E Mark II and a LUMIX G85. They can use the same lenses, and we have 4 lenses at the moment. Don’t forget to bring enough batteries and your camera charger, and everything else you might need for additional equipment. We, for example, use an external microphone for video recordings.

Update: Having two cameras is very bothersome, so I left my Olympus camera in Japan after 4 months of traveling. One camera is enough to take videos and pictures. And there is always the option to take pictures with my iPhone. As long as it is bright outside and I don’t have to zoom these pictures are high quality as well.

Want to do a trip around the world?
Start planning NOW!

Using the RTW Travel Prep Checklist including 50+ planning tasks

iPad and Charger

If you have an iPad or tablet and you are planning on taking it with you don’t forget to pack it including a charging cable. I use my iPad to write, play games or watch movies I have previously downloaded on Netflix. Great to kill time on a long plane or train ride.

Smart Watch

I am a first generation Apple Watch user, but I don’t want to take it with me. First, it was expensive, and it isn’t dust or waterproof and second, I need to charge the watch every day. That is just way too much of a bother, so I bought a super cheap smart watch for 20 USD. It does basically everything I used to do with my Apple Watch, but only needs to be charged once in two weeks or so because it doesn’t have a fancy color display. Perfect for traveling.

Update: My cheap watch works fine, but at some point I just stopped using it alltogether. I realized I don’t need to know the time. If I want to know I can check my phone or ask someone. Counting steps is also kind of overrated and bothersome. Who needs a smart watch.

Headphones - BOSE QuietComfort 20

I finally invested in proper headphones. The cheap ones always break, and I used to buy new ones for about 10 USD every year. I invested in BOSE quiet comfort recently, and I love them. They are really good at canceling out noise such as the droning noise on a train. I haven’t used them on a plane yet, but I will get that chance all the time from now on. I hope they are as good as I think they will be.

Buy BOSE QuietComfort 20 now on amazon.com!

Update: BOSE QuietComfort 20 are amazing on planes. The always present engine noise is reduced to almost nothing and it is much easier to concentrate on your movie or the music you are listening to.

First Aid & Other Emergancies

Items on my gap year packing list

Don’t forget to create a little first aid kit, even if you have a travel health insurance. You don’t want to go to a doctor for every kind of pain and especially if you are traveling to more remote places it will be good if you have the necessities with you. There are other emergencies besides sickness. Ripped clothing and broken equipment are something that can’t really be avoided when traveling long term, so pack equipment to mend it right away.

  • Backpack
  • Handbag
  • Daypack
  • Toiletries Bag
  • Packing Cubes
  • Shoe Bags
  • Zip-Lock Bags
  • Laundry Bag

Painkillers

I get headaches and traveling is no fun at all with a pounding head. So I always have painkillers with me. They can be used for other kinds of pains as well.

Bandaids

Cuts, bruises, and blisters are something you probably have to calculate with for a trip around the world so pack some band-aids for your gap year.

Cold Medicine

Even in hot climates, you can get a cold, and bringing some good cold medicine to fight the symptoms is the right thing to do.

Stomach Medicine

Not everyone has an iron stomach. I am usually okay with foreign food, but many people aren’t. Bring some medicine for stomach pain and diarrhea.

Motion Sickness Medicine

I am terrible on ships and boats, and so I want to have something that will stop me from vomiting while traveling from island to island.

Other Medicine

If you have any other conditions you know about, bring a supply of medicine for that as well.

Tape

Tape is great to protect your feet from blisters but also to tape something together when it’s broken.

Safety Pins

If you lose a button on your pant but don’t want to hold up your pants all the time use a safety pin. There are other uses for safety pins so bring a couple.

Rubber Bands

Rubber bands keep together your stuff like cables. Bring a couple.

Sewing Kit

When your clothing rips but you can’t replace it right away a travel sewing kit will be a great help.

Other

other items on my gap year packing list

Here are some other things to pack for a gap year around the world that didn’t really go in any of the different categories.

  • Backpack
  • Handbag
  • Daypack
  • Toiletries Bag
  • Packing Cubes
  • Shoe Bags
  • Zip-Lock Bags
  • Laundry Bag

Sunglasses

I have my sunglasses handy in my daypack always, so I can switch whenever I am outside and back when I go inside.

Handkerchief

Bring a small towel or handkerchief to dry your hands or to wipe your sweat. It’s super useful.

Tissues

A pack of tissues easily reached in your daypack.

Sleeping Bag

If you don’t know 100% where you will stay yet than a sleeping bag might be something you should bring with you. If you plan on only staying in hotels, you won’t need it, but if you want to stay with locals or in a tent having your own sleeping bag will be great. There are super small ones available also.

Update: My sleeping bag has saved me a couple of times. Sometimes dormitory rooms are way too cold just to sleep with a sheet. Sometimes the blankets that are provided in cheap places are dirty and you don’t really want to cover yourself with it. For these times a sleeping bag is great.

Eye Mask

If you are a light sleeper, an eye mask might do the trick. Maybe in addition to earplugs. Try it out.

I have an eye mask with me just in case, but I have never needed one before, I am a very deep sleeper no matter where.

Update: I have used the eye mask once or twice when I stayed in places where the light stayed on it was very useful.

Travel Pillow

I bought a travel pillow that is great for sleeping in trains or plains or every time you can’t lay down. The TRTL travel pillow supports your head like no other pillow can. I love it so much.

I also wrote a review for the pillow which you can read here.

Buy your Trtl Travel Pillow today on amazon.com!

Travel Towel

We recently bought super small travel towels from mont-bell. They fold to the size of a small bag of tissues, are super absorbent and quick drying. Perfect for travel.

Notebook

You never know when you want to note something down. Bring a small notebook.

Want to do a trip around the world?
Start planning NOW!

Using the RTW Travel Prep Checklist including 50+ planning tasks

Pen

I always bring a pen or two, mainly because you need to fill out forms in airplanes and other places. A pen should always be somewhere where it is easy to get to at all times.

In Conclusion

If after reading through this extensive world travel packing list you still don’t know what to pack when traveling around the world, I’m not sure how to help you. If you have items you would add on this travel gear list please let me know in the comments!

Over the course of my travels, I will update this post by telling you whether it was necessary to buy any other items on the way or if there were any items that I didn’t need at all. Once I do some updates, I will let you know in my monthly email newsletter. If you sign up to receive my round the world packing list, you will also instantly receive my monthly newsletters so you will stay up to date with my adventures and of course helpful resources.

If you can’t wait to finally start on your trip and are looking for some additional reading material, why don’t you check out the post about the benefits of traveling. A list of things you will learn about yourself and the world when you travel.

If you are still in the planning process have a look at my 50 RTW travel planning tasks post.

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My round the world packing list
What to pack for a trip around the world

Authors Note:
None of the experiences in this post are in any way sponsored and have all been paid for by myself. The opinions stated are all my own and have not been influenced in any way.
This post might contain affiliate links. I receive a commission if a product is purchased through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. Please support me by buying products through my links!

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About Lena

Hi, I'm Lena the founder of The Social Travel Experiment. My mission is to help bussy millennials plan an unforgettable trip around the world, through stays with locals, without wasting valuable time and money.

Find out more About Me and The Social Travel Experiment

If you are a business we might be able to work together so check out the Work With Me page for more details

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About Lena

Hi, I'm Lena the founder of The Social Travel Experiment. My mission is to help bussy millennials plan an unforgettable trip around the world, through stays with locals, without wasting valuable time and money.

Find out more About Me and The Social Travel Experiment

If you are a business we might be able to work together so check out the Work With Me page for more details

Amazon Disclosure

The Social Travel Experiment is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Affiliate Disclosure

Posts on The Social Travel Experiment contain affiliate links. I receive a commission if a product is purchased through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. Please support me by buying products through my links!

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