Around the table there was a friendly discussion about luggage. The question being, how much is too much and do you need a packing list? I call it a discussion, however it had quickly descended into derogatory remarks about strength, honour and manhood, as happens once an impasse has been reached. In the end we agreed to disagree, which means each side agreed the others were a bunch of idiots.
Given the option, I can throw some shit into a pack and be out the door. You give me five minutes notice and I will be waiting at the front door with a smile and enough gear to see me through. I might have to stop at a store though when I inevitably find I haven’t packed enough undies.
However, I prefer preparation. I have a master list which I modify as needed. Geeky I know. I even lay it all out on the floor as I’m getting it together and tick it all off. So satisfying! Tick tick tick, as it goes onto the floor. Then tick tick tick as it goes into my pack. You can laugh, but I know I’m not the only one who delights in this.
I also like to pack light. The way I travel, having a pack is more practical and the smaller the pack, the easier it is to get around. Of course, I spend a bit of time washing clothes in the shower and inevitably have to wear something that has only partially dried, but what can I say? I like to balance my inconveniences.
You’ll probably notice in the list below, I have a lot of merino wool clothes and I swear by them. I have merino t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, jumpers, socks and long merino thermals. It’s definitely not the cheapest material, but I haven’t found anything better. They’re comfortable in hot or cold weather, they look good, they don’t smell, the t-shirts dry quickly and they have lasted me years. Most of mine was made by Icebreaker.
The only issue I have had is with the t-shirts which tend to ladder if they get damaged. Most of my t-shirts have this. I wear them anyway.
Here is my master list. This is how much gear I will take with me for anything longer than a week. I can pack all of this into my carry-on bag, though if I go over weight then I will separate out some carry-on items.
You can decide for yourself if it works for you. This list includes the things I wear. You can download a version here!
- 5 merino tees
- 1 collared, long-sleeved shirt – nice enough to go to dinner in, but not so nice I can’t wear it during the day.
- 1 merino hoodie
- 5 pairs underwear
- 1 pair board shorts/swimmers
- 1 pair long travel pants
- 2 pair merino socks – light
- 1 pair of jandals/thongs/flip flops. You know what I mean.
- 1 pair shoes. If it’s cold and wet, I take waterproof walking shoes. If it’s hot and dry, I take my trusty Chuck Taylors.
- 1 rain jacket
- Something to sleep in
- Toothpaste – a small tube. You can buy this at your destination.
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Tissues. These double as emergency toilet paper
- Travel towel
- Tampons and pads. For the ladies…You’d be amazed how hard they can be to find in some places.
- Eye drops
- First Aid Kit – Here’s a separate list for my first aid kit.
- Prescription Medication
- Spare glasses
- Hair clippers
- GoPro + extras
- Power Bank
- Cables and adaptor
- Power strip
Other bits and pieces:
- Water bottle
- Notebook and pens
- Needle and thread
- Travel clothes line. It’s basically a piece of elastic with a hook at each end
- Cloth grocery bag
- Dry bag, which doubles as a day bag, a laundry bag and a pack organiser.
- 2 Padlocks – for locking your pack or for hostel lockers
- Sleeping Bag Liner – I have a silk liner for when I don’t trust the linen.
- 2 Pillowcases – as above, plus it doubles as a way to organise your pack.
- Spork/Cutlery/Chopsticks – I’ve been caught out without cutlery. A plastic spork can come in handy!
- Universal bath plug. Yeah, they come in handy sometimes, especially if you do your laundry in the sink like I do.
- Local currency + transit currency
- Money belt. Not anything obvious. I have a Cashsafe 25 by PacSafe. It wont win any fashion awards.
- Credit cards
- US Currency. The good old greenback. I usually have a few hundred US dollars on me. It has saved my ass a couple of times. Credit card hasn’t worked. ATMs are down. Not to worry. The US dollar can be exchanged almost anywhere.
Summer places I add the following:
- 3 singlets
- 2 pairs of boardshorts
- Dive mask
- Insect repellent
- Mosquito net – depending on where I’m going and where I’m staying.
Winter places I add the following:
- 1 pair of long pants. This makes 2 pairs. I might take a third if I’m going to be getting wet or dirty.
- 2 pairs of thick merino socks
- 1 jacket – Usually a Primaloft jacket. It’s a synthetic down jacket which stays warm when it’s wet.
- 2 pairs of merino thermals
- A pair of gloves
It isn’t a lot of kit and I know people will be tempted to take more, which is perfectly fine, if you’re going to use it. What I try to avoid though is taking things along “just in case”. I just make do. It is a great feeling when you have to make do with what you have. I’ve felt under dressed, or I’ve had to wear a shirt for a day longer than I could have, but those minor inconveniences aren’t worth carrying a larger pack with more gear.
Now, remember to roll all your clothes, make sure you pack your carry on and don’t forget your passport on the way out the door.