How and What to Pack for a World Trip | With Checklists!

hiking with full travel gear near machu picchu

Before you go on any extended trip, you need to figure out what you need to bring with you and what you can leave at home. These decisions can be hard if efficiency, comfort and practicality are your goals. Taking a world trip means that you will spend a lot of time in airplanes, trains, buses and maybe even rental cars. With this in mind, bringing a bulky suitcase with 25 kg of luggage on top of a piece of hand luggage and/or a backpack with another 10 kg may not be your best option. The reality is that you will have to leave most of your stuff behind and be happy with whatever you choose to bring. However, we can assure you from personal experience that it feels so much better to travel with as little as possible and you will not regret leaving most of your belongings behind.

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What type of luggage to bring on a world trip

It doesn‘t matter if you choose a suitcase or a backpack. The important thing is to choose only a single backpack or suitcase that allows you to pack a maximum of 10 kg. And yes, you can do it, even if you are a woman. 😉

Don’t believe us? This video shows you how you can do it too:

Generally, we feel a backpack is more practical; especially when you consider that you will also have to walk quite a bit during your travels. Moreover, roads are not very good in most countries and sidewalks are often non-existent, meaning that you will not be able to pull a suitcase behind you. Ultimately, you will have to carry your luggage, which is why a backpack just makes this so much easier.

Therefore, we advise you to buy a backpack with a max. volume of 28 L in order to never exceed your 10 kg limit. But how did we come up with 10 kg? The reason it is so important to not pack more than 10 kg is because most airlines do not allow carry-on bags that are heavier than 10 kg. Additionally, most airlines charge extra for bags that are too heavy and may also charge you for checked bags.

The backpack we took on our world trip was a SIGG 28 L trekking backpack with a built-in raincover and we were very satisfied with its size and quality. However, we’ve found this backpack can be hard to come by, which is why we have another great alternative to recommend: the Jack Wolfskin Orbit 28 Pack Recco

In addition to this backpack, we each carry a fanny pack from Pacsafe. This is where we store our valuables, so that they’re with us at all times. It is extremely difficult for pickpockets to steal or open a Pacsafe, as it comes with many security measures that make it hard to open for anyone who is not familiar with it.

Pacsafe on our world trip

We only carry these two bags, which makes it really easy for us to get around. The more luggage you have, the more responsibility you have and the more difficult it becomes to get around and keep track of everything.

What to Bring on a World Trip: A Complete Packing List

Here is a list of all the things you need to bring on a world trip. The list also includes the quantity of each item. Of course, this list includes items for men and women and you should adjust it according to your needs. The most important thing here is to keep your total weight within the recommended allowance and anything that can be left behind should be. For example, Ryne only brought 4 shirts, one pair of lightweight quick-dry sweatpants and didn’t bring any jeans. In going over the list, you can also easily see the difference between the needs of a woman and the needs of a man. 😉

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TIP! You can actively use all of the following checklists in order to mark off items you’ve already packed or don’t need. (You may lose the checked boxes if you reload the page. All links within this article will open in a new tab so that you don’t lose your checklists here).

Clothing

  • 1 3-in-1 all weather jacket (e.g. combine a hardshell jacket with a compatible interior jacket)
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 sweater jacket (optional)
  • 1 thin pullover
  • 1 dress
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of long pants
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of thin thermal pants for cold weather
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 7 pairs of underpants
  • 2 bras
  • 1 pair of flip flops or sandals
  • 1 pair of waterproof hiking shoes (we found the perfect all weather shoes for hiking/traveling/style)
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 1 pair of pajamas that you can also wear as a normal outfit, if necessary

TIP! Make sure that most of your clothes are quick drying, so you don’t need to wait very long for them to dry after you’ve washed them. This is especially helpful if you’re on the move a lot and, since you don’t have many clothes, it limits the amount of time you have to wait on something to be dry enough for you to wear it.

Electronics

  • 1 laptop or tablet (more compact if you don’t need a laptop)
  • 1 USB laptop mouse (optional)
  • 1 laptop charger
  • 1 phone
  • 1 phone charger
  • 1 universal outlet adapter
  • 1 power strip (this turned out to be a lifesaver)
  • 1 digital scale (for keeping your luggage weight in check)
  • 1 USB stick
  • 1 external hard drive (it’s always good to back up your photos and documents in multiple places)
  • 1 camera
  • 1 camera charger
  • 3 camera batteries
  • 1 SD card for the camera
  • 1 razor for men (electric or standard)
  • 1 portable hotspot (i.e. GlocalMe)
  • 1 pair of headphones
  • 1 power bank (for emergency charging)

Medicine

This list reflects the items we brought with us and can be adjusted to your individual needs. We only brought 1 package each of the following, as you can usually replenish your supply while traveling. Please note: This is not medical advice. Only take medical advice from your doctor or a licensed professional.

  • Pain killers (Ibuprofen and Aspirin)
  • Combination pills for a flu
  • Nausea pills
  • Diarrhea pills
  • Stomach ache pills
  • Nasal spray
  • Sinus pills
  • Allergy pills
  • Eye drops
  • Blatter infection pills
  • Cortisone cream
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Sunburn cream or aloe vera
  • Blisters
  • Bandages
  • First Aid Kit

One thing that you will inevitably experience is that you will be carrying around all of these medical supplies and likely never use some of them. It will definitely feel annoying, but we can assure you that you’d much rather have these and not use them than need them and not have them.

Toiletries

For your toiletries, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to also keep the liquids in a plastic ziploc bag when going through airport security. Furthermore, no liquid can exceed 100 ml (3 fl. oz). We did find, however, that a large tube of toothpaste was allowed in every airport we visited.

  • 1 bathroom bag for all of your toiletries
  • 1 body soap
  • 1 bar of shampoo (yes, bar. Plastic-free, no hassle with airport security, it lasts longer and doesn’t leak)
  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 tube of toothpaste (or toothpaste tabs)
  • 1 body lotion (optional)
  • 1 facial cream (optional)
  • 1 deodorant (not optional. Nobody wants onions they didn’t order)
  • 1 razor (electric or standard)
  • 1 package of razor blades
  • 1 pair of nail clippers
  • 1 pair of cuticle scissors (optional, as these may be taken from you by airport security)
  • 3 bars of curd soap for doing laundry by hand
  • 1 sunscreen
  • 1 mosquito spray with deet (so mosquitoes carrying malaria are less likely to bite you)
  • 1 makeup (optional)
  • 1 disinfectant
  • 2 microfiber towels (small and large)
  • 5 hair ties (for people with longer hair)

Essentials

  • 1 water bottle that keeps liquid cold and warm (stainless steel)
  • 1 clothesline
  • 1 wallet
  • 1 box of earplugs
  • 5 vacuum or ziploc bags for your clothes
  • 2 small 1 liter ziploc bags for your liquids
  • 1 flashlight
  • 1 fold-up backpack for everyday use
  • 1 pair of snorkeling gear (okay, maybe not essential, but who doesn’t love snorkeling??)
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 1 laundry bag
  • Several travel cubes or something similar to sort your things

Documents

  • Passport + copy
  • ID + copy
  • Immunization records
  • Health insurance for abroad (e.g. traveler’s insurance)
  • International driver‘s license
  • Visas
  • Credit Card

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How to pack for a world trip

Since you won‘t have that many things, packing will be quick and easy. Here’s a simple 8 step process. Feel free to check them off as you go.

  1. Sort all your clothes by type and put them in the 5 ziploc or vacuum bags. Make sure to let out all of the air in order to save room in your backpack or suitcase. If it is only a ziploc bag, just sit on it and close it at the same time to have the same effect as with a vacuum bag.
  2. Put all of your toiletries in your bathroom bag apart from the liquids. Put the liquids in one of the smaller ziploc bags.
  3. Put all of the medicine in one travel cube apart from the liquids. Put the liquids in the other small ziploc bag.
  4. Put all of your electronics in one travel cube.
  5. Put your wallet, digital camera, phone, headphones, passport, immunization records, sunglasses and any other things you need easy access to in your fanny pack.
  6. Put all copies and remaining documents in a folder (sealed, if possible).
  7. Pack your laptop and document folder in your backpack’s laptop compartment.
  8. Pack the rest of your items, leaving the items at the top that you will need quick access to (e.g. toiletries for airport security).

That’s it. Now everything is sorted and you’re ready for your world trip!

IMPORTANT: Again, make sure to pack light! You will regret taking unnecessary stuff that you won’t ever need or wear. If you feel like you’re absolutely missing something while traveling, you can usually buy it wherever you are.

Final Thoughts – What we’ve learned from experience

The world trip we took that inspired this article was the first of it’s kind for us. Before going, we basically had to guess in terms of what we would need. We’ve learned from that experience and feel confident that this list truly covers the essentials. That being said, our opinions differ slightly as to whether or not this list can be better. Denise feels it is exactly right and wouldn’t do things any different. Ryne, on the other hand, wishes he would have packed even lighter. We do agree that if it’s possible, you should try to keep your total weight down to as little as 7 kg. We need our laptops for work, but if a laptop isn’t essential for you, then leaving it at home will eliminate at least 1-2 kg of weight. But why 7 kg? It’s not as random as it sounds. Some airlines these days are limiting your free carry-on allowance to 7 kg instead of the usual 10 kg. They won’t always check and there are some sneaky ways around that, even with 10 kg of luggage, but staying around the 7 kg mark will keep you on the safe side and prevent any excess baggage fees.

One last juicy tip: In our experience, airlines are far less likely to check the weight of a backpack than a small suitcase with wheels. When they ask if you have luggage, you should say, “No, just the backpack”, referring to the backpack you are wearing during the check-in process. This is sort of a psychological trick because who would want to wear an overly heavy backpack during the entire check-in process? Furthermore, not considering it luggage and using the word “just” or “only” diminishes it’s perceived size, making it feel superfluous to bother checking it’s weight.

About the Authors

Authors Ryne Cook and Denise Braun from He Said or She Said

Ryne Cook and Denise Braun: We have been traveling our entire lives. Our individual experiences have given us unique insights and perspectives on all things travel related. We started putting together these tips during a 7-month trip around the world and finished it after returning home. Based on our experience, we believe this to be the most comprehensive world trip travel packing list.

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