What to Pack for a Year of Traveling
Quitting my job. Telling my family. Moving out of my apartment. Nothing leading up to my one-year trip around the world was quite as scary as figuring out what to pack.
Nobody wants to get stuck wearing the same thing every day—especially when you are visiting amazing places and documenting your every move in photographs to be cherished for years to come. But you also do not (I repeat, you DO NOT) want to be weighed down by excessive baggage. When you’ve finally saved up and taken the leap to a year of freedom, few things make you feel less free than having too much stuff. Someone once told me, “The longer the trip, the less you should pack.” And after two trips around the world, I could not agree more. To minimize my luggage and maximize my fun, this is what I packed for a year of travel.
They say you can change your outfit every day, or change your city. I prefer the latter! I stick to easily mixed and matched basics in solid colors or simple prints I won’t get sick of looking at after too long. This list assumes travel in moderate climates; the list would of course need to be modified for winter destinations. Make sure you leave a little space in your bag to buy things along the way!
Two pairs of shorts: One denim pair, and one more comfortable pair.
Two pairs of pants: One pair of jeans, and one pair of activewear pants for hiking and adventuring.
Four tops: I like to have an active tank, a cute tank, a T-shirt, and a light blouse.
One dress: A sundress or skirt—or both, if you must!
One sweater: A hoodie, cardigan, or pullover to keep you cozy on airplanes and warm on cool evenings.
One set of pajamas or loungewear: Loose-fitting garments that you can sleep or travel in.
14 pairs of underwear: This assumes you’ll be doing laundry at least every other week.
Four pairs of socks: Depending on how often you plan to wear them— me, not so often.
Three pairs of shoes: One comfortable pair of sneakers, one basic pair of flip-flops, and one stylish pair of flats or sandals.
One swimsuit: Okay I’ll admit it: on predominantly beach trips, I bring two.
One sarong: It doubles as a towel, scarf, pillow, blanket, cover-up, you name it.
One hat: Protect yourself from all that extra time in the sunshine!
One pair of sunglasses: You WILL lose them. You WILL buy more.
This will, of course, vary widely from person to person. For me, documenting our trip was high on the priority list. I also needed a way to write on the road. So I carry the following.
One camera: Plus memory cards and a backup battery.
One smartphone: For additional photos, games, and apps.
One laptop: For email, writing and uploading photos.
One external hard drive: To back up photos as you go, so you don’t risk losing them!
One power converter: Check the needs of the particular countries you’re visiting.
Multiple cases and chargers for all of the above!
Western Digital My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive ($67)
Who doesn’t love travel accessories? I’m pretty sure I have tried them all. From laptop-security pouches to plastic travel sporks, just about everything in REI’s travel section has at one time accompanied me on a trip. However, I’ve found that most clever gadgets are completely unnecessary and quickly fall to the bottom of my pack. Here is my short list of miscellaneous essentials.
One headlamp: For nighttime reading, digging through luggage in the dark, power outages, etc.
Multiple combination locks: One for every opening on your bag.
Toiletries: Just enough to get started. Remember, you can buy more on the road!
An emergency kit: A small amount of over-the-counter meds, bandages, etc.
Plastic baggies: These come in handy for so many reasons: organizing power cords, saving snacks, protecting devices, etc. I even bring an extra-large one to seal my dirty clothes in.
Hand sanitizer: The most useful item for not getting sick on the road!
A lighter: You never know when you’ll need it.
Landing Gear TSA Lock Heavy Duty 3-Digit Combination Luggage Padlock ($11)
Don't even approach a plane, train, or automobile without the follow essentials below!
Your passport: Duh!
Extra passport photos: For visa applications and whatnot.
A photocopy of your passport: If yours gets lost or stolen, this will make your life much easier.
A driver’s license or ID: You won’t want to be carrying your passport out at night.
ATM cards: I carry two, linked to different accounts.
A credit card, with no foreign transaction fees: Plus a backup emergency card.
An immunization record: You’ll need this to enter some countries.
A sense of adventure—above all else!
Ted Baker London Joei Patent Metal Bow Leather Passport Holder ($49)
Have you traveled for an extended period? What were your essentials?
Opening photo: Dewey Nicks