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Packing List Recommendations

International Travel

Carry-On Backpack
1 - Look around and decide if you have a backpack that you want to hold your life.  The dimensions need to be 9 x 14 x 22 inches.  Essentially it needs to be a big school backpack or small backpacking pack.  Mine has 1 compartment.

Protip: Treat the outside of you sleep sac with Permethrin right before your trip to help fight against contracting bed bugs.  It will last up to 6 weeks or 6 washes.


1 - pair sandals - the quicker they dry the better. 

1 - pair well ventilated shoes.  I take my favorite running shoes**

** For trekking purposes


4 - pair synthetic is best.  Simply sport is the socks that I wear religiously.  You can bring cotton if you want, but it takes days to dry


2 pair - I take synthetic, zip offs pants that double as my 3rd & 4th pair of shorts.


1 - pair cargo-esque, synthetic material for quick dry

1 - Pair of your favorite basketball shorts (I save these for my pj's and then wear them on the day when I do my laundry)

2 - Pair zip-off pants - synthetic

  • Low: see above
  • High: see above


3 - synthetic boxers or briefs, note: the less fabric, the faster it dries

1 - Compression shorts (for hiking, biking or swimming),  I take triathlon shorts.


4 - shirts that you love because every single picture you take will have these in them. I recommend synthetic t-shirts as cotton is comfy but takes longer to dry



1- sunglasses - take a pair that you are going to want to wear, but also know that they may get scratched, lost, or stolen

1 - Sunglasses case

1 - hat, for example I substitute 2 or 3 bandannas for a hat.  I have also worn a baseball cap everyday for 2 months.


1 - pull-over, half zip mid layer for warmth.  Full zip would work too, but they are usually thicker and will be too warm.  I have found that a half zip and a raincoat can take me down to 32 degrees so that is all I travel with anymore.


Rain gear
1 - rain coat, it doubles as a wind breaker

0 - Rain pants. Rain pants only are needed when there is overnight camping or wet boat rides involved


1 - either quick drying backpacker type towel or the thinnest normal towel you can find. I have used both.



1 - Mesh dirty laundry bag

1- Stuff sac (optional)

  • Low:  put loose items in backpack pockets, or bring one you already own from a sleeping bag or sleeping pad (just make sure you return it when you get back)
  • Medium: $13.50 Outdoor Research 5L Ultralight Stuff Sack

1- Packing cube (optional) - in theory, all your clothes not being worn should fit in here (rain coat and warm coat excluded)

1- Water proof sack (optional) - to keep select things dry

1- Backpack cover

1- Sleep sack. It is better to sleep in your own filth than get bed bugs.  I have used the sewn sheet in Europe, borrowed a sleep sac from a friend for Africa and now I own my own.

Protip: Treat the outside of you sleep sac with Permethrin right before your trip to help fight against contracting bed bugs.  It will last up to 6 weeks or 6 washes.

*Sleeping Bag (optional)

Unless you are overnight camping consistently, a sleeping bag is unnecessary and often not allowed in hostels around the world.  If you do bring a sleeping bag, I recommend a water proof sac to keep it dry [see above]



1 - Bag (approximately 1/6 of total backpack space)

1 - Toothbrush, I take a regular but you can get a travel one if you want

1 - toothpaste - travel size bottles under 100 ml or 3 oz (so that you don't lose them at security)

1 - Sunscreen, not more than about 3 fluid oz

  • Low: bring some that you already have or buy a large one and fill a Gotoob $6.5 Target http://www.target.com/p/banana-boat-sport-performance-lotion-sunscreen-spf-50-8-oz/-/A-11082880#prodSlot=medium_1_17&term=sunscreen+sport
  • Medium: $10 Target http://www.target.com/p/neutrogena-ultra-sheer-dry-touch-sunscreen-broad-spectrum-spf-70/-/A-10801275?reco=Rec|pdp|10801275|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1&lnk=Rec|pdp|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1
  • High: See Gotoob above

Shaving stuff - I go electric but you can go razor and cream if you are into that

·       Low: bring what you have or buy a travel kit from Target for ~$5 http://www.target.com/p/edge-shave-2-75oz-travel-size-top/-/A-13400200#prodSlot=medium_1_1&term=travel+shave

·       High: $40 Target http://www.target.com/p/remington-r4150-360-176-pivot-flex-rechargeable-rotary-shaver/-/A-13900117#prodSlot=medium_1_11&term=shave

1 - Soap travel box with bar soap

·       Low: bring one you already have or a plastic zip lock bag

·       High: ~$3 Target http://www.target.com/p/travel-by-design-apothecary-soap-dish/-/A-11008830#prodSlot=medium_1_1&term=travel+toiletries+soap

1 - Shampoo/ conditioner

·       Low: find a couple 3 oz single use containers from a hotel

·       Low: $3 REI http://www.rei.com/product/730925/dr-bronners-organic-liquid-soap-travel-size

·       High: See Gotoob

1 - Tide to go pen - highly recommended

·       Low: $3 Target http://www.target.com/p/tide-to-go-stain-remover-pen/-/A-13054706#prodSlot=medium_1_3&term=tide+to+go

1 - Chap stick - optional

·       Low: bring one that you have

·       high: ~$4 Target http://www.target.com/p/burt-s-bees-replenishing-lip-balm-0-15-oz/-/A-13742523#prodSlot=medium_1_19&term=chaostick+burts+bees+lip+balm

1/4 roll of toilet paper - optional, but worth it

·       Low: bring some from home

·       High: ~$4 Target http://www.target.com/p/charmin-ultra-soft-bathroom-tissue-4-pk/-/A-13961782#prodSlot=medium_1_49&term=toilet+paper

1 - Sewing kit - optional I have one so don't worry about it

·       Low: find a tiny, free one

·       High: $3 Target http://www.target.com/p/singer-sewing-repair-kit/-/A-14569217?reco=Rec|pdp|14569217|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1&lnk=Rec|pdp|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1

1 - Tweezers - optional

·       Low: bring some from home

·       High: $5 Target http://www.target.com/p/sally-hansen-beauty-tools-get-to-the-point-round-point-tip-tweezer/-/A-13332834#prodSlot=medium_1_14&term=tweezers

1 - Fingernail clippers - recommended

·       Low: bring some from home

·       High: ~$5 Target http://www.target.com/p/trim-fingernail-clipper/-/A-11058881#prodSlot=medium_1_3&term=finger+nail+clippers


Time device
1 - watch or travel alarm for waking up in the morning

·       Low: bring one that you already own

·       medium: $13 Target http://www.target.com/p/sharp-travel-clock/-/A-12757155#prodSlot=medium_1_1&term=travel+alarm

·       Medium: $16 Target http://www.target.com/p/men-s-c9-by-champion-reflective-nylon-fastwrap-digital-watch-black/-/A-14422633?reco=Rec|pdp|14422633|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1&lnk=Rec|pdp|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1


Cell phone
1 - phone - this is important for pre and post trip pick up from airport - but it will be off for duration (very freeing).*
1 - charger - optional it depends on how many goodbyes you want to say before we board the plane in Seattle. My phone held it charge for 6 weeks (powered off) & still had enough charge to call my pickup from the airport after I went to Africa.
*for contacting family and friends back in the states I set up a weekly-ish email.  Sometimes it isn't always sent out every 7 days, but it keeps them updated and lets them know I'm still alive.  Also, using wifi and Skype allows calling to any cell phone anywhere in the world for 2 cents/ minute

1 - your favorite, you are going to wear it a lot


1 - try to write 1 page everyday no matter what.  It is super challenging, but worth it.

·       Low: bring one that you already have

·       Low: $2 Target http://www.target.com/p/100-sheet-quad-composition-notebook/-/A-13313623?reco=Rec|pdp|13313623|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1&lnk=Rec|pdp|ClickCP|item_page.vertical_1

2-3 pens good for journaling and also filling out "customs" form when entering and leaving new countries


Water bottle
Optional - I don't bring one because we buy bottled water everywhere we go*

·       Low: bring one you have that doesn't leak

·       Medium: $10 Nalgene http://www.rei.com/product/852355/rei-nalgene-wide-mouth-loop-top-water-bottle-32-fl-oz

·       High: $30 MSR http://www.rei.com/product/733955/msr-dromlite-4-liter

*while trekking, you do need a water bottle.  Plastic disposable water bottles can be refilled by water purification

I use nalgene with aquamire or sawyer squeeze but you may look into a Grayl water bottle as well.


1 - make sure it has new batteries

·       Low: bring one you already have or borrow one

·       Medium: $22 Mammut http://www.rei.com/product/808895/mammut-s-lite-headlamp

·       Medium: $30 Petzl http://www.rei.com/product/838548/petzl-elite-headlamp

·       Medium: $35 Coast http://www.amazon.com/Coast-HL7-Focusing-Lumen-Headlamp/dp/B005NXPW5W


Laundry detergent
1 bag - powdered (put it inside 2 zip lock bags so it doesn't spill)

·       Low: put some powdered detergent in a zip lock

·       Medium: $4 Method http://methodhome.com/shop/method-laundry-detergent-8-loads/



1 - Make sure that you have 6 months or more validity from the date of beginning travel, some countries won't let you in if you don't. If you need to renew your passport because it has less than 6 month validity here is the site: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/renew.html

(?) - Visas. Many countries offer visa upon arrival.  Some don't. Check lonelyplanet.com for individual country visa requirements.  Set aside $USD in zip lock bags for all the visas you may need to buy upon arrival.


Money belt
1 - Eagle Creek waist belt

·       Low: $16.50 REI http://www.rei.com/product/837261/rei-rfid-money-belt

·       High: $30 Eagle Creek http://www.rei.com/product/819720/eagle-creek-silk-undercover-money-belt


1 - this is for holding about $50 worth or cash in for 1 day's use.  Your passport, credit cards and cash go in the money belt*

·       Low: bring a wallet from home, just make sure you empty if of things that you don't need to have in it

·       Medium: buy a wallet that has a small pocket for loose change ex) http://www.amazon.com/Original-Velcro-Wallet-Black-Made/dp/B004N6FOZ8/ref=pd_sim_sg_5

*money - have a debit card (most important!), credit card (optional, I never seem to use credit card), to get money out of ATM's.  $5 transaction fees mean we withdraw large sums of money about once per week.  Cash - we exchange for currencies in the Seattle airport on our way out of the country.

·       Basic: Use your debit card of your current bank and when you get back call and ask for the $5 atm fees to be waive as a "one time courtesy"

·       Advanced: Open a Charles Schwab Checking account with linked brokerage account.  No need to invest money, just use the fee ATM fee reimbursement http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/banking_lending/checking_account/?src=nsg&sv1=szfIL3R5F_dc&sv2=35125798340&sv3=xpxe4op6q0


Paper documents

1 - copy of passport (color recommended) and email to yourself as well

Address list (for postcards, list of important contact #'s) - this can also be saved on your email account

passport sized photos - 2 for each country you go to, just in case

travel insurance info - worldnomads.com - I recommend the "explorer plan" It is one of those things that is worth it.  If you buy it, nothing tends to happen, which is a good thing.  I have been using and recommending it for 5 years.

Looking for a cheaper option?  Sometimes you can get lower coverage limits in exchange for less cash at Allianz Travelers Insurance

Airline Itinerary info.  Print them all out, I have seen check in refused without a paper print out before

1 - yellow international shots card*

*talk to a city/country health doctor about travel shots and medicine. A little research and a stop into your county health department can get you vaccinated and give you a "yellow card" to fill out and bring with you

First aid kit: as mentioned here

  • duct tape
  • Plastic sandwich type container
  • Steril pad 3 in by 3 in
  • Aleve or Ibuprofen/aspirin
  • Imodium – for diaraha or Pepto Bismol 
  • Small pill box x2
  • Pink eye drops
  • Tiny band aid x5 2in x 1 in
  • Treasers
  • 1in wide atheletic tape
  • nexcare badages by 3m 2in x 6 in x4
  • alcohol swab x2
  • ciprofloxacin for diareaha
  • Flexicon elastic gauze bandage 2in x 4.5 yards
  • Ondansetron – for nausea
  • Sewing kit
  • Baid aid normal size 1 in x 4 in Johnson and Johnson coverlet
  • 2nd skin blister kit
  • 2nd skin moist pd
  • Scisors
  • Doughnuts
  • Adhesive tape
  • First aid non adherent pads
  • cold/flu pills like Tylenol
  • something for a sore throat maybe Emergen-C


1 - IPod - I bring an IPod touch for using wifi and writing emails.  A smart phone also works

·       Low: use a Smartphone you already have

·       medium: ~$150 Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Apple-touch-Generation-Discontinued-Manufacturer/dp/B0097BEF0O/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1391383355&sr=8-4&keywords=ipod+touch+4th+generation

·       High: $229 Apple http://www.apple.com/ipod/compare-ipod-models/

1 - Charger chord - mine is for a IPod

·       Low: Use the one that comes with your device

1 - Wall charger - I have a wall to USB charger

·       Low: use the one that comes with your device

1 - Head phones - ear buds for sure.  Having a microphone included allows for the use of Skype while using an IPod Touch

·       Low: use ones you already have

·       High: $11 Apple http://www.amazon.com/Earphones-Stereo-Headset-Remote-Classic/dp/B0064ED1U2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391383545&sr=8-1&keywords=ipod+earbuds+with+microphone


Flash drive

1 - No smaller than 1-gig.  You will be surprised how nice it is to be able to put pictures on it and free your memory card up

·       Low: use one you already own

·       Medium: $8.50 Amazon http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Cruzer-Flash-Drive-SDCZ36-008G-AFFP/dp/B007JR532C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391383625&sr=8-1&keywords=8+gb+memory+stick


1 - camera - I have a point and shoot - I don't believe in the bulky, nice cameras.  They don't always get used because they are bulky.  Bring what you've got

·       Low: bring what you have

·       Medium: Canon PowerShot SD780IS: As mentioned here

·       High: Start with this article & this one

1 or 2 - memory cards I have done 2 trips with a 512 mb and a flash drive but now I have an 8 gig card that takes 2600 pictures

·       Low: use the one that came with you camera

1 - Camera to computer chord - good for transferring full card pictures to a flash drive

·       Low: use the one that came with you camera

1 or 2 - camera batteries - I have had good luck buying a spare for $4 from Amazon - it worked great

·       Low: use the one that came with your camera

1 - Camera battery charger - don't forget this! One girl on a trip to Africa trip did

·       Low: use the one that came with your camera


Power adapters
1 -Don't get the voltage converter it doesn't matter that much and it isn't worth the weight.

·       Low: $5 eForCity http://www.amazon.com/eForCity-COTHPLUGUN01-Universal-Charger-Adapter/dp/B000YN01X4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391378431&sr=8-1&keywords=travel+electricity+converters

·       Low: $8 Lenmar http://www.amazon.com/Lenmar-International-Philippines-Australia-PacificIslands/dp/B00013BL18/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1391378347&sr=8-2&keywords=travel+adapter+set



1 - Breakfasts and lunch of peanut butter and bread (or anything spreadable!) become a lot more manageable

·       Low: Bring a Spoon from home (try to avoid metal)

·       Low: $3 Light My Fire http://www.rei.com/product/854547/light-my-fire-spork


1- short 4 digit cable bike lock for locking your backpack to posts, trees, my backpack, chair legs, etc.

·       Low: if you already have a cable bike lock

·       High: $15 Eagle Creek http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001M0O0EE/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001M0O0EE&linkCode=as2&tag=sparttrave-20

1 or 2 - Multi-digit locks for locking 2 zippers of a backpack together

·       Low: use one you already have

·       High: $9 Eagle Creek http://shop.eaglecreek.com/superlight-tsa-lock/d/1151_c_315


Day Backpack

1 - for day trips out of the town. Also for carry the excess of "things' accumulated while traveling i.e. souvenirs, food, clothes, etc.

·       Low: use one you already own

·       Low: $5 Mato & Hash http://www.amazon.com/Mato-Hash-Basic-Drawstring-Tote/dp/B006W8QR56/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1391379335&sr=8-4&keywords=drawstring+backpack

·       Medium: $33 Sea to Summit http://www.amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Ultra-Sil-Pack-20-Liter/dp/B002ZHS6JS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391379615&sr=8-1&keywords=Ultra-Sil%C2%AE+Day+Pack

·       Medium $34 REI http://www.rei.com/product/861436/rei-flash18-pack

·       High: $55 Sea to Summit http://www.amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Ultra-Sil-Pack-22-Liter/dp/B005RY3NP8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391379524&sr=8-1&keywords=Ultra-Sil%C2%AE+Dry+Daypack


1 - Guide book. You will save the ~$20 a guide book will cost you by the time you have been in a foreign country for 24 hours.  It will be your bible. http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/?mckv=srHgg7F4b_dc|pcrid|37245745295|pkw|lonelyplanet.com|pmt|e&affil=SEM_lpcom-google-us

1 - Personal favorite or book that you have been meaning to read.  You can always buy another book out on the road.


Diving Log

1 - Scuba Certification Card

1 - Log book for showing Scuba ability.  Perhaps consider getting a waterproof sac to store it in and leaving the Log Book at Home http://www.amazon.com/ALOKSAK-Water-Sand-Proof-Multi/dp/B001DPY6QK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391381546&sr=8-1&keywords=aloksak+bags


Malaria medication
Check if the country you are going to has malaria present.  http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/map/

Take enough for all the days of our trip plus the recommended before and after doses.  I would recommend Malarone.  It is a once per day that can cost about $300 for 3 months worth of it.  3 days before, plus the whole trip, plus 7 days afterwards.


Backcountry Backpacking




Bicycle Touring


Disclaimer: Please keep in mind external links policy & subjectivefinancial servicesadvice

Only a certifiable nerd curates the 3 most credible resources:  Packing Lists About International Travel

  1. http://www.rtwblog.com/2010/08/no-baggage-challenge-the-travel-clothing/
  2. Nomadic Matt: Female Travel Packing List
  3. http://www.rtwblog.com/2010/08/how-to-pack-for-a-journey-with-no-luggage/
  4. http://www.travelindependent.info/whattopack.htm

+ Discover What the Geeks Know That You May Not

  • http://spartantraveler.com/what-to-pack-for-a-trip-around-the-world/

  • http://lifereengineeredblog.com/2013/2013-life-reengineered-minimalist-packing-guide/

  • http://fourhourworkweek.com/2007/07/11/how-to-travel-the-world-with-10-pounds-or-less-plus-how-to-negotiate-convertibles-and-luxury-treehouses/

  • http://cdn1.ricksteves.com//Projects/cms/production/000/014/077/original/be69ed30e24a48490b363fe7596bb5cf/RickStevesPackingList.pdf

  • http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/04/13/world-travel-101-part-7-packing/

  • http://chrisguillebeau.com/packing-list/

  • http://chrisguillebeau.com/packing-essentials/


Only a certifiable nerd curates the 3 most credible resources:  Packing Lists About Back-Country Backpacking

  1. http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/a/11136/Dream-Backpacking-Gear-List
  2. http://andrewskurka.com/2010/gear-lists-past-trips/
  3. http://andrewskurka.com/tag/core-13/

+ Discover What the Geeks Know That You May Not

  • http://andrewskurka.com/2014/backpacking-gear-list-high-sierra-late-summer/

  • http://www.pctplanner.com/tips/gear.php

  • http://andrewskurka.com/2015/backpacking-clothing-systems-3-season-conditions/


Only a certifiable nerd curates the 3 most credible resources:  Packing Lists About Bicycle Touring


+ Discover What the Geeks Know That You May Not

  • *

Disclaimer: Please regard editorial policy