How to travel around the world for 10 months – with only one backpack

around the world travel packing list

It took me just over a year to prepare myself for my RTW trip. This included spending hours upon hours research on where to go, countless discussions with travel agents, severely reducing activities in my social life to save money and, much more frequently than anything else, agonising on what to bring with me. So, here’s my full, comprehensive list of things I packed, along with other bits and bobs that I HOPE will help any of you planning your own RTW trip (in which case, I wish you the very best of luck – you’ll love it!)

Okay, so! First of all, you’re going to need a decent bag. I bought mine – an Osprey Farpoint 40 – for ÂŖ80 from Snow&Rock, chosen due to its many compartments, durability, waterproofness and, most importantly, its size. Weighing in at just over 1.2kg and being the perfect size to take on board as hand luggage, it boasts convenience and won’t break your back before you’ve even filled it (it looks great too!). Sadly, mine was stolen somewhere in Christchurch, but a Kathmandu Cubic 32L made a more than acceptable replacement (RIP Osprey FP40!)
The next staple you’re going to need – especially if hostelling – is a Travel Towel. These are made of microfibres that can hold up to 8x their weight in water, yet dry really quickly. An absolute necessity, since not EVERY hostel will provide you with one, and some say they can even double up as a long skirt for temple visiting, or a sarong on the beach 🙂

around the world travel packing list

Now onto clothes/shoes/accessories. I’m going to say it right now. Ditch the accessories. Valuables are too easily lost (or stolen), and you don’t need that extra weight. As for clothes? They say you should pack half what you think you’ll need, but take double the money. And I’m inclined to agree. This doesn’t mean you have to skimp on style though, just create a capsule wardrobe in your backpack and you’re set!
I packed:
– 3 t-shirts and 2 vest tops – perfect for layering or worn separately, depending on weather,
– 2 pairs of shorts and leggings,
– 1 smart, stretch pencil skirt – long enough to hoik up and wear for going-out (if needs be)
– 1 smart dress, below knee-length – for visiting temples and Islamic countries,
– 1 base layer – in case it gets cold in the evenings. A friend of mine printed something on mine, so it’s also a great memento from home 🙂
– 1 chunky woolly cardigan – not originally planned, but one of my favourite people bought me this before I left and I couldn’t bear to part with it for a whole year (and it helped on cooler evenings)
– 1 swimsuit (that one doesn’t need explaining!),
– 1 pair each of sandals, trainers and formal shoes (I chose some black flats),
– Some sunglasses (and spare glasses if you need them – keep a copy of your prescription in there too),
– A large silk scarf (has a multitude of uses – can be used as an eye mask, furoshiku bag, headband, and put around your neck to keep yourself cool, to name a few. Earplugs may also be helpful)
And, lastly, enough underwear to last a week 🙂

Now, toiletries. Bear in mind that you will only have a 20x20cm bag for hand luggage, and no single liquid item is to exceed 100ml. Additionally, most of what you don’t bring you’re most likely able to pick up easily. I’ve found a Boots on almost every street in Thailand, and a standard pharmacy on all the others. Nonetheless, here’s my list:
– Face cleanser and moisturiser,
– Solid deodorant,
– Suncream (and after sun! Aloe gel can be used for cuts and scrapes too),
– Antibac. gel (because you might not be able to wash your hands properly everywhere you go),
– Travel wash and washing line (SO useful to be able to do your own washing when you have so little clothes, although there’s usually laundry service at hostels)
– Insect repellent (at least 50% DEET, especially in tropical countries. Because mozzy bites really ARE a bitch),
– Tooth brush/toothpaste (a miniature tube should last about 2 weeks),
– Lip balm with SPF
– Hairbrush (Tangle Teezers work best, and can even be used with wet hair).

Okay, so we’ve covered everything you’d probably already thought of. However, here are some bare necessities that you should absolutely take:
– A small, homemade first aid kit – including plasters, rehydration sachets, anti-cold/flu meds, pain killers, tweezers and tissues (because there’s nothing worse than getting sick and having to go out in an unfamiliar city to find meds. Just check local laws about whether they allow your preferred medication in and out of their country – UAE are particularly strict)
– A travel torch (a light on your phone will do fine),
– Travel journal (I have one with pockets to tuck bits and bobs in… Although it was too heavy to take with me, I have pledged to fill it in when I get home! A Moleskine notebook is perfect),
– Electronics! – a camera, tablet PC (I can wholeheartedly recommend the Google Nexus 7 2013 – perfectly functional yet inexpensive) and a travel adaptor.
– Currency! – at least enough in the local currency to last you a day when you land, a debit card AND an STA cashcard (these are fantastic for use abroad, with no fee on transactions and only a tiny fee on ATM withdrawals)
And, lastly, although this one maybe goes without saying… Your passport. Better not forget that one 😛

Of course, this can only help you with ideas, and negate any worry that you’ve forgotten about anything crucial! To make your own, printable checklist (with built in ‘To Do’ list to ensure you have all bases covered before you leave), which will be tailored to your destination(s), visit .

Happy travels!


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