Long Term Travel Packing List

Written by Marco Morawec

Topics: Featured, Travel Advice, Travel Equipment, Travel Planning

“The lighter you pack, the happier you are!”

After carrying my own backpack through almost 40 countries, I could not agree more with this statement. Especially when you plan on traveling long-term, say more than your average two or three weeks vacation trip, you have to stick to the pack light, stay happy motto.

Before we jump into listing everything you might need, let’s think about this motto and your main goal: getting new places with the least amount of self-imposed resistance. A heavy backpack on your shoulders will  give you so much resistance when you are moving that it takes all the fun out of being on the road.  It just drains you energy levels in no time and will always hold  you back from exploring and going for the next adventure.

By the way,  if you’re thinking about bringing one of those rolling suitcases please do not read any further. Instead, take  your rolling friend for a half hour walk over the nearest dirt road. Once you realize that those things only work on smooth airport alleys, go ahead and continue reading. We are on the same page now.

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Now let’s go and tackle that packing list!


Here’s my essential around the world travel packing list:

Clothes

Take very little clothes and use the layering technique to stay warm in colder climates. I literary played a Cool Runnings scene when I arrived at the Munich airport for Christmas and wore everything I could find in my pack. What I do watch out for is that my clothes consist of 100% polyester. That way my stuff is dry the next morning after a wash in the sink the evening before.

  • 4 collar shirts (No T-Shirts for me. Hey, Survivorman doesn’t wear T-Shirts either! And he probably would go with a Dickies Work Shirt like me – cheap, tough and quick drying)
  • 2 Hiking Pants
    (I have one pair of high-tech Patagonia pants and one cheap drugstore pair)
  • 1 Boardshort (surfing, swimming, sleeping, you name it. Make sure to have a key loop)
  • 1 pair of shorts (those are for hiking and rock climbing)
  • 1 Patagonia Fleece Jacket (this should be top notch quality, as it is your only jumper)
  • 1 Patagonia Rain Jacket (don’t save money on a rain jacket since this is the only consistent roof above your head while you’re on the road)
  • 2 pair of High-Tech hiking Sock (you will walk a ton of miles on your trip and protecting your feet from blisters is key)

Shoes

Don’t mess around here. If your shoes suck, your trip sucks. Why? Because you will be walking every time you check out a city, climb up a mountain or go on a trek.  In sticking to my pack light and keep smiling motto, I only need one pair of 100% waterproof, breathable and super comfortable low cut Keen Voyageur Hiking Shoes. They are awesome and I use them for everything, from hiking, over clubbing and sailing. The only thing I could not do with them was dance Tango. The soles were just too sticky to slide over the wooden floors. Remember, your feet are your most important asset, so make sure to spend some money on good shoes and your feet will thank you every single day for it.

Entertainment and Electronics

This is a tough one and will depend on you more than anything else. I did trips with no electronics at all – even my camera was an old turn-the-wheel kind of machine -  and some where I carried the full load.  Either way, what will definitely kill you if you decide to bring electronics is the weight of all the different chargers for each device. So think ahead.

Here’s what’s in my backpack starting with what I use the most:

  • iPod Touch ( I use it almost every day to stay in touch, write blog posts on overland bus rides, Skype, Music, Budgeting…you name it)
  • Amazon Kindle (If you love reading great books but hate to carry all of them or search for them abroad, then the Kindle will be your new best friend forever)
  • Nikon COOLPIX Camera with a 4GB card
  • Netbook (I use it for all the web design, programming and analytic tasks I cannot do on my IPod Touch)
  • Old unlocked cell phone (pop in a SIM card and start making cheap calls to your new local friends)
  • Old school photo album with pictures from home (great conversation starter, especially if the album is full with pics from Hawaii)

Safety and Fun

Going to a place without clean tab water? Save yourself a ton of money and the environment at the same time and bring a good Water Purifier. The $100 price tag for the First Need Water Purifier is steep, but it pays for itself after one month. Plus you avoid that about 60 plastic bottles a month get dumped into a landfill or more likely somewhere into a local river.

Bringing your own adventure gear or rent it on location? This depends big time on what kind of thrill you’re seeking out in the wild. For me it’s surfing, hiking and rock climbing. Since I cannot carry all the gear for every sport with me, I go with what’s most important to me. Unfortunately that’s having my own trusty – but very bulky – surfboard right with me where the waves are breaking. It sucks big time and I often times hate lugging my surfboard with me, especially, when I am in a place like Cuzco, Peru where the next wave is a 21 hours bus ride away…but hey, it’s all worth it when I arrive at the longest wave in the world, pull out my own board and go surfing right away.

Now it’s your turn: What’s the most important thing in your backpack?

Note: This post contains my affiliate links to Amazon. If you go through my links you will pay the exact same amount but I’ll receive a tiny commission. Thanks for helping me out!

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7 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. We’re leaving for an extended trip next week and are just about to write a similar packing list. I try really hard to keep everything I carry under 20 lbs, but it seems impossible. I’m taking my MB Pro and that alone is almost 5 lbs. Argh! At the same time, arguably, I’d say it’s the most important gear in my pack as it allows me to do work on the road.

    • Marco Morawec says:

      Keeping everything under 20 lbs is a real challenge, especially when you bring electronics. One thing you might want to think about is switching your MB Pro for a super-light and much cheaper netbook. Not only do you safe some weight but you might not feel that devastated if your cheap laptop gets lost, stolen or damaged.

      Aloha and safe travels!

  2. Frank Food says:

    I am a beginner in traveling and am looking forward to my first exploration on Alaska. I have found some websites that sell traveling clothes that are extrememly light weight and durable. I hope this helps with my packing.

    • Marco Morawec says:

      Aloha Frank, Sounds to me like you’re quite the traveling Pro if you’re going to Antarctica! Yes, you can find good stuff all over the Internet. Personally my Patagonia stuff outlasted every other brand.

      Have fun and safe travels!

  3. bangkok says:

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  4. Josef Covey says:

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