The following is a list I composed of absolutely necessary items that we’ve traveled with during the past year + of our around the world trip. It is possible to do things differently but I find that our way allows us to travel lighter and thus more comfortably (and cheaper because we can fly any airlines with just our carry on). Everything pictured is what we actually used!
1. The Perfect Backpack –
Plan on researching these details a year to 6 months before you leave on your trip! Height and weight play a factor in which bag you will be lugging on your back. The waist and chest strap on my Osprey Farpoint 40 S/M really helped to take the weight strain off of my back/shoulders. I literally could not imagine traveling any other way after using this bag! Kenny used the same backpack but in the M/L size which adds an extra 2L of space, and it was still inconspicuous enough not to make us look like “backpackers”!
2. Travel Socks –
Travel socks will be made to wick moisture and odors, eliminating the need to wash them after every use. You may be able to go a week or two before switching them out which means you don’t need to carry so many pairs. I personally love the Smarwool brand socks and started with 3 or 4 pairs. As we near the end of our journey in Asia I currently have 3 socks total. Sad but I will totally be rebuying these!
3. Travel Underwear –
Same idea as the socks but with underwear. Yes, it sounds weird and it may feel weird but traveling with 4 or 5 pairs of travel underwear versus a couple weeks worth of regular underwear makes a huge difference in space. Plus, this leaves more room in your bag for the rest of your absolutely necessary items, and your back will thank you! Kenny and I are all about comfort and ease, making traveling easier and more enjoyable along the way. I tried the Exoficcio and Patagonia brand underwear for the past year. I preferred the material of the Patagonia but both worked very well! Shopping online there seems to be more style options than what they will have stocked in store, but if you do head into an R.E.I. or Patagonia you can get a better idea of sizing before ordering from Amazon etc.
4. Unlocked Cell Phone –
Don’t plan on doing this the week you leave for your trip. Talk to your cell phone provider now to see what steps must be done in order to unlock it. After verifying your information, you may need to finish the payments on the cell phone itself before the company will concur. It may be easier to unlock and old phone which no longer has service attached to it and less of a worry while you travel. This way no matter where you happen to be, purchasing that countries’ SIM card will allow you to have a connection to the world (and maps with directions to your next adventure).
5. No Fee Debit Card –
Fortunately or unfortunately many parts of the world still operate on cash only. Even in high tech societies like Japan, cash is king. Having a debit card that will not charge you those pesky withdrawal fees will save you a nice chunk of change. Plan to get this account set up before you leave, as signing up from another country may be difficult and require an in person visit to a branch if you attempt to do it anyways (I know because it happened to us, HAH!). You can still sign up online though! I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend the Charles Schwab debit card — The way it works is that you can go to any ATM and take out money. It will still warn you about fees. The charges for that transaction will still show up on your account but at the end of the month it all gets reimbursed! You don’t pay a dime!
6. Packing Cube –
Know what will make your life easier. I didn’t realize it at the time but humored my bf by using it for my clothes. It turned out to be a semi structured medium sized packing cube that fit all of my clothes. I repeat, ALL of my clothes. Somehow this magical cube fits more in it than me folding things directly into my backpack or trying the “rolling” method. I don’t know how but — it. just. works. I used the largest sized black one by Eagle Creek and would not go without it.
7. Day Pack/Purse –
Obviously you will not be lugging your awesome travel backpack everywhere so have a nice sized day pack to take on, well, day trips whatever you might be doing. My purse was a bit larger than I’d normally carry but it worked out to be able to hold my cell phone, camera, snacks, a water bottle, etc. I spent $4.99 on my second travel purse, as I did not want anything eye catching going through Central America. The other quality that I got this for was the material, while faux leather was extremely foldable so I could squish it into my backpack no matter how full that already was and have my hands free. Kenny used the Patagonia Atom Sling which also worked out great and was utilized on the daily!
8. Titanium Spork –
You never know when or where you will be chowing down! If you get hangry like me, it doesn’t hurt to have this dual utensil on hand. The titanium makes it super lightweight to always have around, whether on a long bus ride, in the middle of nowhere hiking, or buying food from a convenience store.
9. Credit Card –
Duh! Why worry when you travel? After every trip from Europe I would be notified that I needed a new debit card because of this or that security threat. If you’re planning on traveling for an entire year or longer it may be difficult to have your new card sent out and be able to safely retrieve it wherever you may be. The added bonus of the credit card is that you hopefully choose one that gives you added points that can be redeemed for air miles or other travel perks. I would plan on signing up for these about 6-9 months before your trip so that you have ample time to meet the requirements for the signup bonus and you can then decide the best way to enjoy those perks while you are out and about traveling the world. While looking up flights you may notice that they don’t make much sense. A long international flight may be cheaper than a hop to one country over, or by using rewards a really big trip could be just $100 plus 15,000 miles.
10. Travel Towel –
While many places we stayed provided towels there were some that did not and it would’ve been a shame not to have showered only for the fact of not having a towel! These are not huge fluffy towels that we know and love, but absorbent shammies that also wick moisture and dry fairly quickly. They can also be used as a picnic blanket, sheet, pillow… etc!
11. 64 GB SD memory card!
I highly recommend getting a large one instead of multiple smaller ones. I had one for my camera and never worried about having to delete pics to make more room for others (although we did travel with our laptop). It was really nice to save the memory card and have access to all of our photos and video whenever I needed to. Plus it is less little items to keep track of AKA misplace and lose.
12. Lightweight Waterproof Jacket –
I’m always running a bit colder than everyone else so having a lightweight jacket is always useful whether walking around town or in an airplane. I searched for a waterproof jacket as we were about to leave for SE Asia and found one that rolled up into its pockets and could fit in just about anything (including my purse).
13. Combination lock for my backpack –
I started with three (one for each set of zippers on my backpack) but really only needed one that would loop through all of the zipper pulls. It was more peace of mind if I had to leave my backpack (containing everything I would be traveling with).
14. An All Purpose Soap –
While I still had my shampoo and separate face soap it was nice to have one bar that could do it all and easily go through any airport security. I’m talking about the Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps which you can pick up at any Target or health foods store. They are mild soaps which can be used for the body, face, hair, hands… whatever. I prefer the almond or peppermint smell the best, but there are many too choose from 🙂 We also carried a mini bottle of the liquid soap as well, it was that good!
15. Power Bank (external battery charger)
We used this one by Anker — It was great for anytime we’d be away from our home base as it charges any of your electronic gadgets and will allow you to have about a weeks worth of charges without an electrical outlet! It’s high speed, not too heavy and keeps you connected to the world. It also has two ports so you can charge multiple devices at one time. Phew!
16. Travel with a Partner!
The most cost effective way I know to travel is with someone! This works well for safety of course, but consider splitting food costs, taxi rides, air bnb’s…! Plus you’ll always have someone to help you photograph your adventures!