Now that we are about 6 months into this round-the-world thing, it’s probably time for me to show you what I’m carrying with me!
The backpack I use is the Osprey Fairview 40, which is a women’s pack with a 40 liter capacity. It is carryon sized to fit in the overhead bins of most airplanes, opens up like a suitcase, and has a hip belt to give added support and take the pressure off my shoulders. It also comes with a strap that you can clip on to the side to carry it like a duffel, and the shoulder straps zip up inside so they don’t get damaged, for example, while checking a bag for a flight. The Fairview comes in this khaki green/gray color as well as teal. I chose the more neutral color because I want to draw as little attention as possible to the fact that I’m backpacking and everything I own is in this bag.
I actually started our backpacking trip with a different Osprey bag, the Sirrus 36. I used it for about a month, but the design was not conducive to the type of travelling we are doing. The Sirrus is a true backpacking backpack, for, like, hiking and camping. It has a compartment for a sleeping bag and straps to hook on a tent. However, all the compartments were driving me crazy because I couldn’t get my packing cubes to fit properly inside. I had to wear my hiking boots every time we flew or traveled between accommodations because I had no room in my bag to pack them.
It was a struggle each time to pack and repack my bag and I was jealous of Joe’s bag, the Osprey Porter 46, because it was more boxy, opened like a suitcase, and could fit everything he owned and more. I had a mental breakdown in Hong Kong and bought the Fairview and mailed my old Sirrus back home. A new backpack and postage for the old one wasn’t exactly in the budget but the Fairview was a game changer for me and I have no regrets.
I kept the rain cover from the Sirrus and it fits the Fairview, although I have not once used the rain cover while travelling. My backpack is fairly waterproof as it is, since it’s made of a canvas-like material, and we have not had to walk far enough with our bags in the rain to actually warrant putting on the rain cover. The rain cover does not take up much space or weight in the bag, so it’s not a big deal to keep carrying it just in case.
Inside my backpack I carry:
- 1 pair of hiking boots
- 1 large packing cube for clothes
- 2 small packing cubes for underwear and electronics
- 1 toiletry kit
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 quick-dry towel
- Sometimes a book but I mostly read e-books these days
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of outdoor sandals
- 1 daypack with a hydration bladder inside
- 1 hat. I never wear it so I forgot to even take a picture of it. I’m clearly not a hat person. I only wore it in Western Australia to prop my fly net up off my face.
Fully loaded—including hiking boots—my backpack weighs about 8 kilos, about 17.5 pounds. Most budget airlines have a carryon weight limit of 10 kilos, which my bag comes in under, but if they include the weight of my purse I’m probably still over 10 kilos.
We are traveling for almost a year through various climates in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, East Asia, India, Dubai, and Europe, so I had to bring all kinds of clothing. I packed more clothes than Joe did, and I still maintain that I didn’t bring too much since I have worn every item of clothing a lot.
Inside the clothing packing cube:
- 1 pair of jeans
- 3 pairs of leggings
- 2 short sleeve t-shirts
- 1 cardigan
- 1 long sleeve shirt
- 3 tank tops
- 3 dresses
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 hoodie
- 1 pair of athletic shorts
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 lightweight scarf (I picked this up on the road so don’t have a picture of it in my packing cube, but it’s essential. Probably my most worn item of clothing. I wear it in cold weather for warmth and hot weather as a shawl or cover-up).
I researched round-the-world packing lists before we set off and thought a lot about the kinds of clothing I should bring. My guiding principles were that my bottoms should be black and my tops should mostly be gray for the greatest amount of mixing and matching as well as hiding dirt and stains. I picked shirts made of materials other than cotton or blended with cotton because cotton tends to pill, is heavy, and doesn’t wick moisture or dry as easily as other fabrics. I also bought tank tops and dresses with built-in bras to give my one real bra a break every once in a while and also…comfort.
Inside the underwear packing cube:
When I was taking these pictures, Joe asked, “Are you really putting pictures of your underwear on the internet?” Why, yes I am. The people have a right to know.
- 3 pairs of underwear
- 2 pairs of socks
- 1 bra
- 1 belt
- 1 buff
My underwear and socks are where I’m a brand loyalist/gear head. I’m traveling for a year with only three pairs of underwear! They better be good, and they are. My underwear is ExOfficio, which are designed for travel and hiking. I wash them in the sink, wring them out in a towel, and they dry quickly—sometimes in a few hours but definitely overnight. I brought 3 pairs because if I only had 2 I would HAVE to wash them every night and sometimes I don’t have the time or facilities to do so. And, like Joe says, 3 pairs of underwear are really 6 pairs if you flip them inside out ;) My ExOfficio underwear has held up spectacularly to daily wear and they are comfortable and easy to clean on the road. My socks are Smartwool, which wick moisture better than cotton and are less smelly as well. They also stay soft and comfortable and are the best socks for hiking.
Inside the electronics/ packing cube:
- 1 four-port USB charger that Joe and I share
- 1 travel adaptor
- 1 battery pack
- 2 extra camera batteries and charger
- 1 aux cord (we were roadtripping a lot in Australia and New Zealand, otherwise it wouldn’t be necessary)
- 1 car USB charger (see above)
- 1 headlamp
- 1 combination cable padlock (for locking up the zippers on my backpack while traveling and storing bags at hostels)
- 1 carabineer
Inside the hanging toiletry kit:
- 1 small deodorant
- 1 bottle of hand sanitizer
- 1 bottle of tea tree oil (for hair washing, insect repellant, burns, general disinfectant)
- 1 mini spray bottle for mixing tea tree oil and water
- 1 razor
- 1 travel sized lotion
- 1 pack of floss
- 1 mouth guard
- 1 razor
- 1 bottle of eye drops
- 1 bar of castile soap
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 sleep mask
- 1 pack of earplugs
- 1 massage brush
- 1 Diva cup (menstrual cup)
- 1 pair of tweezers
- 1 pair of mini scissors
- 2 razor blade refills
- 1 clothesline
This list sounds long, but compared to the round-the-world packing lists “for women” that I found online, this is nothing. There are apparently women who bring all the items listed above as well as a makeup kit, shampoo, conditioner, hair products, hair dryers, curling irons, face cream, face wash, etc. I kind of don’t believe those people anyway, let alone that they fit all that stuff into a carryon backpack, because with only the toiletries listed above I was bursting out of 2 small toiletry bags! I ended up buying one bigger toiletry bag that was a bit bulkier but had more space and was made of higher quality materials.
The purse I carry is the Travelon anti-theft cross body bucket bag. Because clearly it’s my thing, I research everything completely before I buy anything. I was considering a Pacsafe purse but they are around $100. I found this Travelon purse on Amazon for $35 and it has been a great purchase. It has the same security features as the Pacsafe bags, including slash proof body and straps, locking zippers, RFID-blocking pockets, and straps that you can use to secure your bag to a nonmoving object. I have not needed to use any of the security features but it gives me peace of mind that when I am carrying literally all of my valuables through unfamiliar places I have some added protection from thieves and pickpockets. I also love this purse because it’s cross-body, not too big or too small, is made of high-quality material that has withstood lots of wear and tear, and holds an insane amount of stuff!
Inside my purse:
- 1 wallet
- 1 passport
- 1 address book
- 1 Sony A6000 camera
- 1 additional camera lens
- 1 lens cloth
- 1 16 oz. water bottle
- 1 sunglasses case
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 tablet
- 1 phone charger
- 1 tablet charger
- 1 pair of Bluetooth headphones and case
- 1 comb
- 2 ponytail holders
- 2 packs of ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- 1 pen
- 1 Sharpie (not pictured but surprisingly handy along this trip)
So, there you have it, everything I carry with me on my year-long round-the-world journey. I rarely am carrying all of it at once, as I will leave most of my belongings in the hotel room while we are visiting a place, but when we fly or move between cities or accommodations, I am able to carry everything in just a backpack and a purse. I plan to write another post at the end of this trip to review which items I brought that were essential and which ones I probably could have left behind, and how I’d pack differently if I had to do it all over again. In the meantime I think I’m doing alright when everything I own can fit in the overhead bin. What do you think? Did I over pack? Forget something? Let me know in the comments!