For anyone who’s considering taking a similar trip (or just curious!), here’s a breakdown of what I packed for my six month journey. So far people I’ve met have been surprised at how little luggage I have, but I still wish I were traveling lighter and am always looking for things to leave behind! I’ve included links to the items I love and couldn’t do without, have noted what I didn’t need or wish I hadn’t brought, and added the additional items I’ve picked up along the way.

Gear

  • Osprey ozone blue hybrid 50L backpack incl/dayback – used this as a rollerbag through Europe but when I arrived in Asia it was too big and uncomfortable to use as a backpack. Would definitely recommend a smaller bag for such an extensive trip (see below)
  • Patagonia black hole blue 25L backpack – I’m head over heels for this bag; halfway through my trip I decided to downsize and this bag was the perfect fit: practical, comfortable and not so obnoxious that I can’t wear it around for the day if needed (and waterproof!) Update: two months in and I’m still in love!
  • eBags slim packing cubes – love! Help keep my bag organized and make finding something super easy
  • Kolumbo TSA travel lock – a must-have when staying in hostels!
  • 3 waterproof travel shoe bags – great for keeping your bag and its contents clean from your schleppy shoes
  • Sea to Summit silk travel sack – have used this several times! Great when you’re not feeling so keen on your hostel’s sheet situation
  • Petzl tikka headlamp – have only used this once, when hiking pre-dawn to catch a sunrise. Still happy I have it though in case of a random power outage or emergency
  • A few carabiners, assorted sizes – so far totally unnecessary but can’t bring myself to toss them! They’re light anyway…
  • Dry Bag – wish I would’ve had this several times on my trip! Would’ve been a total lifesaver keeping my phone and personal items clean and dry when kayaking, tubing or swimming at the beach.
  • Sistema Cutlery Set to Go – along with a Dry Bag, this is an item I wish I’d had on my trip. Invaluable when cutting back on meals out to keep your food budget to a minimum.

Cold Weather Clothing

Worn every day when traveling through Northern Europe but ditched or shipped home from Spain since temperatures were much hotter going forward:

  • Piperlime navy rain jacket
  • Athleta grey down vest (wouldn’t bring this next time, was warm but too clearly screamed TOURIST)
  • Athleta blue fleece hoodie (warm but super touristy too; would advise bringing a lightweight wool sweater instead)
  • 3/4 sleeve black cotton tee & Nordstrom grey graphic cotton tee (would suggest against bringing any cotton; these were too heavy when wet and airdried slowly)
  • Nike Dri-Fit black leggings
  • Athleta black running capris (didn’t need these, always opted for long pants instead)
  • J.Crew tan wool hat – wore this a ton! Hat + light jacket over a tank was a nice lightweight way to spend the day exploring, rather than schlepping around a ton of layers
  • Gap oversized scarf
  • 4 wool ankle socks
  • Clarks leather ankle boots – loved these! Waterproofing was essential

Warm Weather Clothing

Original items I kept after arriving into Spain, plus additional pieces picked up along the way:

  • H&M cream lightweight knit oversized pullover (Beijing)
  • Nike grey Dri-Fit long-sleeve top
  • 2 cap-sleeve synthetic-blend tees (covering shoulders for temples), black and cream (Phnom Penh)
  • Athleta black running tank
  • J.Crew black cotton tank
  • Spanish label navy sequin tank (Bilbao)
  • J.Crew grey cotton leggings replaced by black H&M pair (Stockholm)
  • Gap grey shorts
  • Nike black running shorts
  • Stem black racerback midi dress – I live in this!
  • Inexpensive lightweight cotton print dresses (Hoi An)
  • 2 Gap bras
  • 10 pair underwear
  • J.Crew navy bikini
  • Anthropologie multicolor infinity scarf
  • Puma tennis shoes
  • Birkenstock pink gizeh thong sandals
  • Cheap flip flops – another hostel must-have!

Toiletries/First Aid Kit

  • Travel shampoo + conditioner + leave-in conditioner & oil (curly hair necessities)
  • Soap + travel case
  • Toothpaste + toothbrush + travel case + floss
  • Nail clippers!
  • LUNATEC self-cleaning travel washcloth (too scratchy, ditched in Ireland)
  • Youphoria sport microfiber travel towel – love! Another must-have for hostels, it’s quick drying and doubles as a cozy blanket on cold plane rides
  • 3M Ultrathon insect repellent – planning to use this in India and SE Asia; could probably just pick up something similar when I get there but the SF travel clinic had me super paranoid… Update: HATED THIS. Felt and smelled like plastic. Don’t get this brand
  • Tender Ben’s 30% deet travel wipes
  • Wet Ones antibacterial handwipes
  • Dr. Scholl’s moleskin

Miscellaneous

  • Alaska Bear silk eye mask – love this, use this every night
  • Earplugs (see above)
  • Travelrest inflatable travel pillow – recommended by a friend, this banana shape pillow looks weird but is supposed to be super comfy on long plane and bus rides. Update: SO uncomfortable and awkward, don’t get this.
  • Aloksak 16×24 plastic bag – a portable washing machine
  • Tide liquid laundry detergent packets, travel size
  • Rick Steves clothesline – clothes dryers are a rarity outside the U.S.
  • Do it rubber sink stopper – have yet to use, since I can usually wait to do laundry at an airbnb
  • Quiksilver cheap wallet – I heard that having a decoy wallet is smart. Update: Fortunately after four months I’ve never had to even think of using this. Tossed.
  • Eagle Creek travel gear bra stash – my real wallet, big enough to hold a couple of cards and bills
  • 1 pair cheap sunglasses

Tech

  • iPhone 6 – L O V E. My phone, camera, computer, etc
  • iPad – use for my blog but that’s it; not really necessary if you have an iPhone
  • Kindle paperwhite – best purchase EVER. I downloaded a dozen books from the library (I heart GOT) before I left the States and disconnected from wifi. Plenty of material to last the next six months 🙂

Most of my key learnings so far have revolved around clothing: lightweight really is best from both a spatial and airdrying point-of-view. I personally wouldn’t bring anything 100% cotton next time because it 1) isn’t moisture wicking, 2) dries slowly and 3) stretches out when airdrying. From a stylistic perspective, though I was comfortable in my athletic clothing for the first month of my trip, it didn’t leave a lot of options for dressing up and feeling so casual all the time grew tiresome.

Separately half of the so-called ‘travel necessities’ touted online really aren’t necessary. Of the headlamp, carabiners, clothesline, sink stopper, travel wallet, and sleep sack I’d set aside specifically for this trip, I’ve only really found the sleep sack especially useful. So take all those ‘RTW Long-term Packing Lists’ with a grain of salt.