Round The World travel packing list / Packing for long-term travel

My Round The World travel packing list / How I packed for full-time travel

‘When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money’

– Susan Heller

Below you will find my full-time travel packing tips, hacks as well as packing list. My learnings, mistakes,  dos and don’ts are all based on my personal full-time travel experience. I will list my favourite travel items and those I wish I had never packed. Let’s begin!

I am writing this full-time travel packing tips post from the perspective of a female traveller yet a lot of the items and tips I will list here are pretty universal. 

Packing for full-time or long-term travel, especially if you are unsure where you will end up travelling to and with no set end or destination in mind, can be pretty challenging.

I personally dont travel with a set-in-stone itinerary, mostly following my desires limited by budget. Essentially, I travel to countries that I dream of visiting which at the same time are pretty cheap. My packing style matches this style of travel.

Basically, I fit all my belongings (minus electronics) in one 44l backpack and carry mostly warm weather clothes with one packing cube dedicated to cold weather clothes, comes the need for it. 

If this is the style of packing you are after and looking for some inspiration, useful tips and advice based on my personal experience, stick around. I will lay out all that i know about full-time, budget travel packing.

No Travel Packing List will Answer all Your Questions.

I have probably read all the possible articles and watched all the videos about packing for extended travel out there. I have a slightly unhealthy obsession when it comes to researching backpacks and watching packing YouTube videos. I even made my own!

The truth is that you can gain some, often many, essential tips and information from those articles. But mostly, you will learn when on the road. We are all different and have different travel styles. Some can travel with one pair of shoes and a 30l backpack some travel with a 70l pack. 

But the road will verify your choices and highlight your priorities. I learnt that I want to go as light as possible without sacrificing my choices. I have clothes to fit almost all weather conditions while giving me a sense that I dont sacrifice my style or who I am, while at the same time being as minimal as it feels comfortable to me. 

I review the items I packed regularly. If I find something at the bottom of my pack that I forgot I had and never used, it goes out. I donate or leave it out in a hostel so maybe someone can pick it up. 

As you travel you find out what is important for you. Comfort or choice. Or a combination of both. But don’t worry you don’t need to wait till you start travelling to begin to verify it and get an overall idea. I will share with you some tips on full-time or long-term travel packing and hopefully, you will find some of them useful.

My beginner mistake (back in 2021): Oh, how did I overpack! After reading and watching all of the travel packing list tutorials, I created a pretty long list for myself. For the six months leading to my departure, I kept acquiring things and ticking them off the list. So when the day came to actually pack it all, guess what – there was not enough space in my 55l bag (with detachable day bag).

So instead of leaving certain things behind, I came up with a different strategy. I decided to keep my detachable bag permanently attached (for additional space) and get one more day bag to be carried at the front. This was NorthFace Bolearis 27l. Some travellers would travel with just that one bag!

It was ridiculous! The NorthFace Bolearis is impressive, but I looked and felt like a Camel. After around 3 weeks into my travel, I decided that I could not do it anymore. It was uncomfortable, bags were heavy, and travelling on public transport was just laughable. I looked like and felt like I was moving house! 

I managed to sell my Bolearis bag for a fraction of the money I paid for it and left a few items behind in the hostel for other travellers to enjoy. 

I then stuck to the detachable bag to be used as a day bag and electronics bag and I managed to travel like this for a year.

As I said – the road will verify everything!

Round The World travel packing list / Packing for long-term travel
This is how i started my trip back in 2021

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Full-Time / Long-Term Travel Packing Tips and Hacks

Choosing the Backpack (What I travel with)

Since I set off, at the beginning of 2021, I changed my packing strategy quite a few times now. I started my journey quite heavy and decided to ditch quite a few things along the way. I have also changed my main backpack since then.

There are many great backpacks suitable for full-time travel.

This was probably the most comprehensive research I have done. And to be frank, it continues to this day. I will always be on the lookout for this perfect long-term travel backpack. 

I started with the 55l Osprey Fairview and travelled with this bag for over a year. This is the female version of the very popular Osprey Fairpoint and consists of a 40 main bag and a 15 l detachable day bag. I enjoyed travelling with this bag but it was missing some, essential for me features and swapped it now for Kelty 44l. I will be writing a review on this bag soon, so stay tuned!

I wrote a separate article dedicated to features of Osprey Fairview 55L, so head to this article if you are interested.

Round The World travel packing list / Packing for long-term travel

The bottom line is you have to choose what suits your travel style and needs. There are a few aspects you need to consider when choosing a bag for long-term travel or backpacking:

  • If you want to travel carry on only and avoid checking in your bag. In this case, you would look for a bag no larger than 40l like Osprey Fairpoint 40l or Eagle Creek Global Companion.
  • If comfort is the most important aspect of a travel backpack then you could consider Osprey Aether, Gregory Baltoro/Deva (male and female) or Deuter Futura.
  • If you prefer excellent quality, sleek, digital nomad style (like Peak Design Travel Backpack), or hard-core backpacking gear like Osprey Ariel/Aura
  • And finally, what is your budget? I understand that spending a huge amount of money on a backpack can be difficult, but this is one piece of travel gear you should spend that money on. But there are some more affordable options like the Kelty Redwing backpack I travel with (they don’t do it anymore, but for sure you can get it second hand) or the Forclaz (Decathlon brand) trekking backpack.

Organising your travel Life

I organise my stuff into packing cubes and no argument will sway me otherwise. Not long ago I observed a couple in the hostel who took all of their clothes out of the backpack in order to reach for something that was on the bottom. The whole hostel floor was covered in random loose clothes and other stuff. Not only everyone could see what underwear they were using but also it looked like a hot mess in which you could not find anything.

Especially if you live out of the backpack, packing cubes will make your life extremely easy and more organised.

I have 3 main packing cubes. One dedicated to cold weather gear, jacket, leggings and things I don’t use every day but will need. This cube leaves at the bottom of my bag, and I don’t need to think about it unless its cold or I go on longer high-attitude hikes. 

Then I have one cube for my bottoms (shorts, trousers) and one for the tops.  So instead of looking for my things in between all the stuff randomly thrown into the bag, I take 2 packing cubes whenever I am in a new location and I know everything that I need there. I roll and fold my clothes in a way that I can easily see what is inside. 

I also carry a small packing cube dedicated to my underwear, socks and swimwear. 

Round The World travel packing list / Packing for long-term travel

Fitting it all in!

I would like to think that I mastered packing a ridiculous amount of things into a small space. You will not find an empty area in my backpack.

Apart from squeezing all my packing cubes into the bag, I utilise all the dead space and all the corners of the bag. 

As I tetris the cubes into the bag, I assess if there is anything I can fit in between. A microfibre towel, a t-shirt I slept in and packed at the last minute, a small bottle of sunscreen or a power strip – those things go in between my cubes. 

You will be surprised how much you can fit in if you use ALL the available space in your bag.

Some things are worth spending money on

You buy it cheap, you buy it twice. If you think you are saving money by buying cheap hiking gear, backpack or travel shoes you will soon learn you will spend more money replacing it when it breaks.

Here again, you need to decide what are your priorities and what is important for You when you are packing for long-term travel!

I buy a lot of my clothes in second-hand shops and thrift as much as I can. For economical and sustainable reasons. I don’t care if my top, dress or T-shirt cost me 2 bugs. But whenever I buy anything I ask myself 3 questions:

  • Is it versatile and goes with most of my other clothes?
  • Is it lightweight and packable?
  • Will I use it at least once a week?

Then when it comes to quality things, I don’t save money on my shoes, some hiking clothing, backpack or electronics. Those things are expensive to replace, I make sure I won’t have to. 

But… There are some things that I bought cheaper than I thought I should, and they served me well. There are exceptions to the rule, but still, some quality cannot be beaten.

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Surprisingly Usefull Items every traveller should pack

Before I go ahead and list all the things I pack and share with you my long-term travel packing list, I have a list of items I think every long-term or full-time traveller should pack:

  • A Microfibre travel towel – some hostels don’t provide towels or do so at an extra charge. It’s great to have your own, and the microfibre towel takes up no space in the bag. I used to travel with two with one being my actual towel and the other serving as a beach towel or spare hair towel. I have since gotten rid of the second one and carry a small turban-like hair towel which takes even less space. 
  • Travel Adapter (the all-in-one type) – Just one piece of gear that you will use over and over. You can charge multiple devices via UCB entry, and it works for all sockets around the world. It is truly fantastic. 
  • A couple of travel padlocks for locking your bag locks and for hostel storage. I love those with soft bendy steel cables.
  • Bungee cord – great for hanging washing in the wild (still to happen, but I’m excited about the idea), tying bags together, creating privacy curtains and all sorts of other possible emergencies.
Complete list of perfect gifts for a long-term traveller and backpacker / Round The World travel packing list / Packing for long-term travel
I used the bungee cord and a scarf I have now lost to create a privacy curtain.
  • Head Lamp or a small torch – This came more useful than I anticipated. I originally purchased this headtorch for trekking at the Atlas Mountains, and I used it for hiking in Madeira. I have since used it in jungle-style hostels to light my way to the toilet at night, read at night and on many other occasions. Be sure to get the USB rechargeable one.
  • Bumbag/Funny pack – Initially, I used an over-the-shoulder bag to carry my camera and essential items when out and about in town. But I found this a bit too much at times, and I really wanted to go hands-free. I purchased a bumbag in Madeira and never looked back since. and it is now literally the only thing I use if I go out in the town or even to the beach. This bumbag fitted my documents, camera, phone and purse. Even a beach towel at times! I could not do without it now!
  • Laundry bag – for the dirty laundry, duh. If you think you don’t need it, think twice. Do you really want your dirty stuff to be mixed up with the clean ones? And it’s easy to carry your dirty laundry to the laundromat.
  • Some sort of waterproof bag. Whether for your phone or a bigger one that will fit your camera and documents, might come surprisingly handy. Not only for the beach or boat trip days. But also for when you travel in a downpour and don’t trust your bag is waterproof enough. 
  • Reusable Water Bottle. So many hostels and hotels offer free drinking water that there is no excuse. 
  • Solid Toiletries. Those were revolutionary for me. Not only do you need to worry about your liquids but they use up less space and last for longer. I only use a soap bar and I love this solid shampoo from Lush! Ethique
    does really good ones too! I don’t use solid conditioners as I always have loads of spare conditioners from a hair dye. 
  • Rain Jacket. Mine serves me well when it rains but also on those colder days or nights. 
  • Tote Bag. For grocery shopping, laundry runs but also the food you might want to transfer to another hostel or for when magically you run out of space in your main bag and don’t have time to think about it right now. 
  • Fold up hanging toiletry bag. I have used the same Osprey bag for 3 years now and I swear by it. It folds nicely and I can easily hang it in the shower or above my hostel dorm bed. I think this particular bag has been discontinued but Sea to Summit has a pretty cool bag too.
Round The World travel packing list / Packing for long-term travel

My Round the World Packing List (What I packed for full time travel)

Clothing

Let’s start this full-time travel packing list with the clothing.

I pack enough clothes to get me through 7 days without doing laundry. Depending on the weather and location I’m at – I could push it into 10 days. It took me a long to decide on the clothing I would pack. And this part of my packing process went through the most changes since I left. I still have a few things that I originally packed 3 years ago but many have been replaced. 

Having said that I am no longer hung up on the clothing so much. Some pieces of clothing are essential or important for me like those of very good quality, pricey to replace or hard to replace elsewhere. My yoga leggings, trail runners, down jacket or thermal long-sleeve top are some examples.

The rest of the clothes are totally replaceable. Things like summer tops, shirts or shorts can be bought or replaced easily. And to be honest with you, I do this from time to time just to feel like I’m not wearing the same piece of clothing all the time.

Here is the list of all the clothing I pack for full-time travel:

Tops:

  • 3 t-shirts. Lightweight and breathable. 
  • 7 summer vest tops and tank tops
  • A long sleeve linen shirt – for those cooler nights or when you need to cover up a bit
  • One hiking/sporty tshirt
  • One a bit fancier top. But not too fancy so I can wear it on a normal day too.
  • One thermal long-sleeve top
  • One warmer long-sleeve hiking top, also great for layering in cold weather
  • A rain Jacket – lightweight and packable
  • A down jacket – actually a cheaper Decathlon synthetic version which served me surprisingly well!
  • At the moment I don’t owe a dress but I am on the lookout for one. 
  •  

Bottoms:

  • 4 pair of lightweight trousers. I know I went a bit overboard here, but I love walking in light trousers, culottes and similar! I wear them all! I have 2 pairs of culottes style trousers, one longer floaty black pants and one pair of cool boho trousers I bought at a second-hand market in Albania!
  • I DON’T owe jeans. This justifies this excessive amount of lightweight pants. She says haha
  • Yoga leggings– not just for yoga, but any type of activity. And for colder days as well as hiking. I found yoga leggings to be the most comfortable to wear. 
  • 2 pair of jeans shorts. I don’t like floaty, fabric shorts – they never stay where they are supposed to, so I wear jeans shorts. This however is very personal so if can ditch the jeans, do so!
  • One pair of sporty shorts (the leggings style – for sports, walking, hiking and sleeping)

Underwear and Other clothing:

  • 3 pairs of hiking socks one of which is Merino. Excellent invenstment. I don’t owe any other socks as the only closed shoes I owe are hiking shoes.
  • Underwear – I packed 5 pairs of underpants. I learnt over time that I don’t need more as I wash my underwear in the shower most of the time.  For this, I have quality but also comfortable and moisture-wicking underwear. 
  • 2 bras. My every day favourite one, and one high-impact sports bra which I also often wear on an everyday basis under the t-shirt.
  • Pijamas? I sleep in my sports shorts and a top that is a hiking T-shirt (mentioned above). 
  • 2 Bikinis and I am on the lookout for the one-piece.  

Important long-term travel packing tip: Don’t give up your style or personality only because you are travelling full-time. You want to pack clothes that you like and will wear. You want to feel like you! If you’re going to take this one flowery dress or pineapple print shirt you love – take it! All the clothes I originally packed were very neutral and pretty dull. I ended up buying a couple of tops and floaty pants two months into my journey. I just wanted to feel like me again, and those couple of items did the trick 🙂 

The Three pairs of Shoes I travel with

Birkenstock Madrid (The plastic version)

I live in those shoes. Super lightweight and small to pack. Great for walking around the hostel, showers, and beach but cool enough for walking around town. Very comfortable and super durable. I got them 3 years ago and still going strong. My favourite travel shoes!

Hiking Sandals.

I use the Teva hiking sandals and I would not travel with anything else. Perfect for hiking on hot days but also for travel days and longer walking days around town or countryside. Great for biking and any activity when you need something that stays firmly on your feet.

Also, I crossed the rivers and swam in the sea with rocky bottoms in them. 

Trail Runners.

For more technical hikes or when I need closed shoes, I wear Salomon trail runners. Very comfortable, super lightweight and very breathable. dry very fast if gets wet. Yet I would say those wouldn’t be great in cold weather, snow or heavy downpours. 

Genius Packing Tips:

Put things in your shoes. Socks, small toiletries, anything that fits! Unless you can pack your shoes flat, it’s a dead space you want to use!

Wear the heaviest and bulkiest clothing for when you fly and use up the pockets of your jackets to minimise the with of your luggage. 

Use a shower cup to cover your shoes to avoid dirty soles from touching your clothes.

Use 100ml refillable silicone bottles for your liquid toiletries. In order to avoid any leakages, remove the caps, put a small clingfilm wrap around the opening, and seal the bottle off.

How I packed for full-time travel / My Round The World travel packing list

Toiletries / Long Trem Travel packing List

  • Solid Soap bar
  • Solid Shampoo
  • Solid Face wash bar
  • Small travel bottles of conditioner I got from my hair-dyeing kits
  • Face Cream (50SPF)
  • Body Lotion
  • Shea Butter distributed between a few very small plastic jars
  • Toothpaste and Sonic Toothbrush
  • Solid Deodorant
  • Powder Dry Shampoo
  • Foot Buff
  • A bit of make-up (mascara, BB cream, a couple of eyeshadow and an eyebrow pencil)
  • Razor/shaver
  • Hairbrush
  • A couple of small bottles of nail polish for my toenails 🙂
  • Sunscreen 

Traveller’s Junk Drawer

A separate small bag that holds everything else. I believe that every long-term traveller will end up with one.

  • small scissors
  • tweezers
  • nail clippers and nail file
  • hair bands
  • Spare batteries for the mouse
  • spare gloves for dyeing my hair
  • a couple of pens
  • spare rubber bands and a police of string (rubber bands came in handy)

Mini First Aid/Medicine bag

I don’t carry much. You really can buy anything in most of the places around the world. Often even better and cheaper products. What I carry are a few things I might need immediately, in case I am not around any pharmacy:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Few plasters
  • Diareah pills
  • Allergy pills
  • Blister plaster
  • Strepsils (It works wonders when I feel I might be getting a sore throat. I noticed that when I take it immediately it can stop it completely!)

 

Electronics

It will vary greatly what electronic you pack for long-term travel depending on whether you work online, take photos, videos and many other factors. I work while I travel (writing those posts for you) and I take a lot of photos. So my list of travel electronic might be different from yours. 

All my electronics go into my day bag. On travel days I carry those at the front and never take my eye off it. I also carry my rain jacket, make-up/essential toiletries and camera in this bag. Documents and money go into my bumbag.

Here is the list of what I pack and maybe some of those items will be useful for you too:

  • Laptop and charger
  • Bluetooth Mouse
  • Phone and Charger
  • Spare phone (with my Polish sim card in it, but also in case I lose my main phone)
  • Headphones
  • Mirrorless Camera (Fujifilm xt30)
  • Power Strip.  Quite an unusual item to travel with, but I have used it so much that my life would definitely be much harder without it. This power strip, in combination with the adapter, resolved multiple connection issues for me. Whether the socket was too far, or just one in a whole room! 
  • Power Bank
  • 2 hard Drives. I have a My Passport as well as Crucial.
  • A whole bunch of cords
  • 3 x USB memory cards
  • DJI Action Camera and Joby tripod

How do I store my electronics during long-term travel?

I used to carry all my electronics in the electronics organiser. I loved it because it kept everything very organised and in one place. But last year I decided to go lighter and minimise the with of my day bag (where I carry my electronic) I had to cut down on few things. The organiser was one of them as it was bulky and a bit heavy and hard to wiggle around in the bag.

Now I have two small cosmetic bags. One is for the essential photo editing stuff and things I use every time i sit down on my laptop. The other bag is home to things like a head torch, a few spare cables, a toothbrush charger and lens caps.

It is easier to squeeze them in between other things in my bags and they weigh less. Less space also forced me to take less of ‘just in case’ electronics like an enormous amount of spare cables. 

How I packed for full-time travel / My Round The World travel packing list
Before

Miscellaneous / My full-time travel packing list

Finally a list of random or miscellaneous items that go into my bag, most of the time in between packing cubes and into empty spaces. 

  • An envelope with documents I might need, some copies and spare passport photos.
  • Journal and a few pens – I use them for scheduling my tasks, and ideas and planning the trips. I really like using the traditional pen and paper to put my thoughts together. I am aware that many apps would do this job, but I’m a bit traditional like this. 
  • Few travel padlocks for locking my bag and for hostel storage.
  • Microfibre Travel Towel and Hair Tower
  • Small bag with very basic jewellery. Most of the time, I wear the same pair of earrings and a couple of bead bracelets, but it’s nice to have a choice of a couple of other items in case I am going out and want to feel a bit fancier. It didn’t happen yet, but a couple of extra pairs of earrings don’t take up much space in my bag.
  • Bungee cord 
  • Bumbag 
  • A very lightweight foldable backpack that takes no space but is great for day trips or bike rides. I got it free from work so just packed it with me.
  • Insect repellant – Very essential in mosquito-infested areas of the world. Don’t forget that mosquitoes transport most tropical diseases. Apart from not wanting to get beaten, I also don’t want to get sick.
  • Corkscrew – Hahaha. Yes, I know. But there is nothing worse than buying a nice bottle of wine and not being able to open it. As a former waitress, I already owned around 5 of them, so taking a couple on my trip was a no-brainer.
  • Laundry bag – for the dirty laundry
  • Spork
  • Waterproof bag – I have a small one that will fit my camera, a phone an action camera in case is needed.

 

How I packed for full-time travel / My Round The World travel packing list

Important Learnings After 3 Years of Full Time Travel

 

  • You need less than you think – The first time I travelled, I was petrified when I realized how little I would be able to take with me. But I was perfectly fine, and as time passed, I went down even more. I realized that I really do need less than I thought. Life on the road teaches you how to appreciate what you have, especially when you surround yourself with people who have much less. The world is beautiful! You don’t need 3 wardrobes of clothing to enjoy life 🙂
  • Don’t pack just in case – The possible things that could happen are endless, and there is always a solution without you taking with you a whole cupboard of medicide, bulky multi-tool (experience!!!) and other things you will not use. Before packing an item, I ask myself what would have to happen for me to need this thing and how likely it will happen. The answer to this question helps me in deciding whether I need it or not.
  • Research the country you are travelling to. The weather, safety, if credit cards are widely accepted, culture and customs. Maybe you will need a scarf, a long-sleeved top or waterproof shoes. It is crucial to be prepared and informed.
  • Don’t overthink it. You will change your strategy and your mind many times. Trust me!

 

Final thoughts

 

This is not a perfect long-time travel packing list out there. Nor, it is the most minimal. But as with everything I write on this site – it is a real one. 

This packing list was first created in 2021 and I have completely rewritten it since. As I learn, I share my learnings with you!

I am a solo female traveller well past my 20s, and I travel with one backpack and one day pack. I am writing this article as I travel. Therefore it couldn’t get more real than that.

I am also very open to suggestions and new tips and tricks. Please share yours with me, and I will be happy to try them and add them to the article.

The original text from 2021 (still relevant, minus the location): As I write this, I am sitting on the roof terrace of my hostel in Santa Marta, Colombia. Every now and then, I have to pinch myself. This journey is the best decision I have ever made and the biggest adventure. The rest – are just things. Yes, it is crucial to be well-prepared. But you will learn as you go. It is the experience that matters the most.

Happy travelling!

Pati 

How I packed for full-time travel / My Round The World travel packing list
THAT roof terrace in Santa Marta!

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Enjoying my travel tips? Here is my Travellers and Backpackers Guide to Solo Travel (A great resource for first-time travellers)

And if like me you are past your 20s I recommend you read about how it is to travel and stay in hostels as a more ‘mature’ traveller.

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