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One of the most common questions I get after people find out how long Breada and I are traveling for is “so what do you pack for a year abroad?”. Packing your life in a couple backpacks is quite the task, but with enough planning it can be done fairly easily. Some sacrifices will need to be made in order to keep your pack light. For me it was jeans. I wear jeans almost every day back home, but unfortunately they’re heavy and take forever to dry. Instead, I have lightweight quick drying hiking pants. Not necessarily my style, but for what we’re doing they’re a better choice.
I’ve broken up my things in five categories : my backpacks, clothing, toiletries, electronics, and other odds and ends. I’m not gonna lie, I packed more than I had planned. Some things will wear down as we travel, like the body wash and the allergy medicine, making the pack lighter. I also packed a couple extra pairs of socks and some shirts, and will be chucking things as I go. After a month or two we’ll reevaluate our packs and anything not being used regularly will get donated or tossed. Now, without further ado, here is my life in a backpack!
- Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Backpack – I am in love with this backpack. I used an Osprey Atmos 65 previously, which was a good bag but not for what I needed. Now that I have a front loading backpack I don’t think I could ever go back to a traditional top loader. I can get everything I need easily with this bag, unlike a top loader where only the stuff on top is easily accessible. The backpack straps also zip up and can be hidden, which make the pack easier to check on a plane and I don’t have to worry about any of them getting caught. This pack also includes a 15L daypack that zips off if i ever need it, but I think it will mostly stay zipped to the bag.
- Nike Vapor II Backpack – This wasn’t my original choice for a daypack, but the Vapor II has both sternum and hip straps giving the most support of all my smaller backpacks. It also is covered in 3M material ( which i’m obsessed with btw ) and will be good for walking and riding scooters at night. I also already owned it , which saved me the money/hassle of buying something new.
- Salomon Eskape GTX Hiking Shoes – Got these shoes for just $60 right before City Sports went out of business. Shoes fit great and so far have held their own on the couple of hikes i’ve done with them. They’re also stylish enough that I won’t look like a complete asshat should I want to go out and look half decent.
- OluKai Mens Ohana Sandals – These are the nicest flip flops I’ve ever owned. Seriously. I never thought I would spend ~$50 on a pair of sandals but after reading so many good reviews on them I had to see what the hype was about. I gotta say, they’re the real deal. Wore them almost everyday on our trip to London and Lisbon last summer and they are great. For a long term trip like ours, I want something good on my feet not some $2 pair from Old Navy.
- Champion Full Zip Fleece Sweatshirt – Purchased this a while back on clearance at Target. Lightweight, breathable, and has a decent bit of zippers to hold all my junk.
- Marmot Mens Precip Jacket – This thing weighs almost nothing, packs into its own pocket, and is waterproof. What more do I need?
- 2x pairs of Nordic Track Hiking Pants – Got these for $8 a pair marked down from $50 at Sears, the store I love to hate ( Sears stories/deals to come in later posts ). Great pants and a steal considering what I paid.
- 2 pairs of everyday shorts
- 1 pair of Nike running shorts – for lounging around , and maybe running every now and again.
- 1 Bathing Suit – Breada jokes this is my bro bathing suit. I just have a thing for 80’s skiwear colorways
- 1 Button-Down Shirt – for those times I wanna be fancy.
- 2 Everlast Long Sleeve Tees – both purchased at Sears on sale. Moisture wicking, lightweight, and easy to layer.
- 3 Everlast Short Sleeve Tees – more deals from Sears. Pretty much the same materials as the long sleeves.
- 1 Kevin Garnett Celtics Jersey – Gotta rep the hometown, and will be good for lounging around. Plus, I won’t lose sleep if I lose it since he’s been off the team for a while ( but still in our hearts )
- 1 Santarpio’s Pizza Shirt – Of course I gotta rep the job that helped me work and save for this trip! Plus it’s the best pizza and the world needs to know.
- 1 Boston Marathon Nike Dri-Fit Tee circa 2011 – No, I didn’t run the marathon. Hah! That’ll be the day. I bought this shirt at Niketown the day of the race and has traveled the world with me so why not take it on the big adventure? Plus it dries fast and can be chucked if needed.
- 4x ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Mesh Boxers – I can’t say enough good things about these boxers. I purchased 2 pairs last year to test out on a trip to Europe and they were awesome. Antimicrobial, never ride up, and they only weigh a few grams each. I would wash them in the shower with me and they would dry within an hour or so.
- 4x David Archy Micro-Modal Boxers – I like to think of these as my poor man’s ExOfficios. Not quite as well designed as the ExOfficio, but if you aren’t willing to shell out $25 a pair then these are a great alternative.
- 4 Pairs of Smartwool Ultra Light Socks – Again, something I decided to spend a little more money on pre-trip. These socks are similar to the boxers : antimicrobial, and can dry super fast. They are also made of merino wool, which keeps you cool in hot temperatures and warm in cold ones.
- 2 pairs of cheap socks – These will likely be chucked early on, but are good to have on a day when I think I’ll get messy/dirty and don’t want to ruin a good pair.
- 1 pair of Smartwool Hiking Crew Sock – One long pair for when we’re hiking/doing outdoorsy stuff.
- Ebags Pack It Flat Toiletries Case – Fits all of my toiletries in a convenient and well built case. Lies flat in my bag and barely takes up any room. Also has a hook built into it so I can just hang it up in the shower and grab whatever I need.
- 1 Bottle of Body Wash
- 1 Bottle of Face Wash
- 1 Toothbrush
- 1 Bottle of Toothpaste
- 1 Box of Dental Floss
- 1 Stick of Deodorant
- 1 Box of q-tips
- 1 Dorco Razor w/ 10 Cartridges – Same as the Dollar Shave Club Blades, but you cut out the middleman. I’ll never go back to Gillette again.
- 2 bottles of Coppertone 15 SPF Sunscreen ( apparently its very expensive in S.E Asia hence the two )
- 1 Toe Clippers
- 1 Mini Bottle of Medicated Powder
- 13” Macbook Air Laptop w/ protective sleeve and MagSafe Charger – In order to keep up with the blog and edit videos/photos from the GoPro I had to get a laptop. Luckily the Air is wicked light and doesn’t take up much room.
- GoPro Hero 4 Black Camera w/ protective case – After going back and forth between the GoPro and a entry level DSLR I decided on this baby. It weighs just 4 ounces with the housing and can take a beating. Plus, it will give some unbelievable videos during some of the adventures we have planned ( like getting our Open Water Diving Certification in Koh Tao! )
- GoPro Mounts and Accessories ( some not shown ) – Includes head mount, chest mount, backpack clip, floating bobber, 4 batteries plus charger, and 3 64gb micro SD cards.
- 1TB Transcend External HD – I chose this one over its competitors because it’s small, lightweight ( seeing a trend here?) and it is drop tested. Hopefully it works as advertised and keeps all of our photos/videos safe.
- Travel Power Strip – Picked this tip up a couple years ago. Bring one of these small power strips and you can power up to 4 things on one adaptor. This particular one folds up well and takes up very little room in my bag.
Odds and Ends
- Medicines – so.much.medicine! I know some of this stuff I could pick up along the way, but I’d like to have some ready to go as soon as we arrive too.
- 2 Epipens for my peanut allergy ( that I may not have anymore? Post to come soon )
- Nasal Spray (Nasacort and its generic equivalent )
- High Altitude Sickness Pills ( these we probably won’t use for months, but the travel doc prescribed them and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to bring them. )
- Travel Documentation – Includes everything from booking confirmations to my little yellow book proving i received my travel vaccinations. I would also keep electronic copies of anything important you need and have the ready on a laptop or phone in case you lose the physical copies.
- Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner – When the sheets at your hostel are looking a little grim this is a nice thing to have. Keeps you warm when its cold and cool when its hot. Plus it packs up super small and weighs almost nothing.
- Foldable ULU Knife – I love to cook, both at home and on the road. Unfortunately, hostel knives fucking suck. They’re dull and dull = dangerous. I looked everywhere for something close to a chefs knife that would pack well but there is nothing on the market ( perfect opportunity for a knife maker! ) I did find this and it takes little getting used to but it will get the job done. Razor sharp and can switch between tradition and ulu style depending on the task at hand.
- Cheap Pair of Sunglasses
- Mini Microfiber Towel
- International Adaptor
- 2x Plastic Fork and Spoon
- Playing Cards
- Harmonica (i’m hoping to learn along the way )
- 2x Combination Locks
- Sink Stopper
- 8 Packs of Woolite – perfect for washing small loads in a sink.
- 10 Snack Bars – when the mystery meat just isn’t doing it for you.
- 1 Travel Journal
- 1 Reading Book.
- Galaxy S5 Smartphone – I’m still undecided if i’m going to keep my T-Mobile plan ( which includes int’l data ) or buy prepaid SIM cards along the way. T-Mobile is no contract so for now i’m going to play it by ear and see how my service is overseas.
- Point It: Traveller’s Language Kit – I had a few Ebay Bucks I needed to spend and found this. Just a small book with tons of little pictures of everyday things you may have trouble finding the word for. Just point to it in the book and hopefully whoever you’re talking to will know what you mean! We’ll see how it works, but from what I read it gets pretty solid results.
- Hydro Flask Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle – This was recommended by one of the cooks I worked with. Even when the kitchen was 90° + this bottle kept his water cold for hours on end. If it works in the kitchen I think it’ll be good for the trip. The company claims it can keep drinks cold for up to 24 and hot for up to 6. We’ll see!
So that’s my rtw packing list! I’m sure within the next couple days there will be some last minute changes, but overall this is it! At least for now.
We’ll see what stays and what goes, what was worth bringing and what I should have left behind.
If you would like to see how I felt about my rtw packing list six months later, click here!
There is still a few days till Breada and I leave. If there is anything you think I must bring or you just want to leave a comment or question, feel free!