This page is intended to be a near-comprehensive packing list of all our travel items. It can be used as a jumping off point for other travelers, and if, in the unfortunate case of something being lost or stolen, it can be used as reference for insurance claims! Keep that in mind for your own journey.
Note that any link sending you to an item on Amazon is part of the Amazon Associates program, and any purchases you make on Amazon via the links will give us a small commission. This does not apply to non-Amazon links. And unless otherwise noted, the links are for the exact items that we have.
Another great packing list by Never Ending Voyage can be found here.
- ID & wallet
- bags, accessories & subdividers
- toiletry kit
- shower kit
- exercise equipment
- bags, accessories & subdividers
- clothes and shoes
- toiletry kit
- sewing kit
- first aid & medical kit
- kitchen items
Christina’s ID & wallet (more or less the same for Dan)
- passport (and case) – A must have! All the rage right now.
- driver’s license – We’ve been asked for ID to get into museums and to pay with credit cards and any form of official ID seems to suffice, making it possible to use the driver’s license and keep the passport stashed someplace safe.
- debit card – We got an account with Schwab Bank that does not charge foreign transaction fees for cash withdrawals, and refunds the charges from other banks’ ATMs! Can save you a lot of money if you’re eligible for an account.
- credit card(s) – We are mainly using a USAA Visa because it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, but eligibility with USAA may be an issue. However, the awesome folks at Nerd Wallet whipped up a post for helping travelers find the best credit card.
- cash – How much cash you need varies heavily on whether the place you’re visiting is set up to allow for credit card payments. We try to keep as little with us as is practical.
- insurance policy info – Make sure you have insurance! See Dan’s post on travel insurance.
- proof of yellow fever vaccination – And the vaccine itself of course. Some countries require this for entry.
Christina’s bags, accessories, and sub-dividers
- large (main) backpack – Osprey Porter 65L – This bag has all the bells and whistles I wanted: locking zippers, subdivisons for organization, it opens from the side (not the top) for easier access, and converts to a duffel bag when you stash the straps. Highly recommend.
- small day pack – Osprey Daylite Plus 20L Pack – I have mixed feelings about this bag. The smaller pocket at the top of the bag is interior to the main compartment, and makes it hard to access the contents at the bottom of the bag if its full. However, the bag is comfortable and isn’t bad for running. Regardless, having a day pack has been very useful.
- bag locks – Samsonite Travel Sentry Key Locks – Good for locking zippers on bags or lockers at hostels, though arguably combo locks (instead of keyed locks) would be better.
- small cable – Good for locking the bag to a piece of furniture for extra security when you are out of your room. Mine is home made, but this (just the wire option) is very similar.
- combination lock – Master Lock Padlock – I use this for lockers in hostel dorms or the bag cable.
- packing cubes and other bags – Eagle Creek 2 piece compression cube set– I have blue version. Having enough dividers (and consistently assigning specific contents to each) is key for being able to find your things without ripping your whole bag apart. I initially underestimated how many subdividers I needed.
- USB battery – Goal Zero Flip 30 Recharger, Green – This works well as a battery, but it is designed to charge by being plugged directly into a USB port, not a cable, making it hard to charge it with a wall outlet. I suggest bringing one that you can charge with a cable for greater flexibility.
- phone (unlocked) – Sony Xperia Z5 – I got this phone for two reasons: 1) it’s got a great camera and 2) it claims to be waterproof. I haven’t submerged it, but so far it’s survived washing in the sink and a questionable visit to some watery caves without a proper dry bag. It is my only camera; the vast majority of the photos on this site I took with this phone. It’s also what I use to listen to music and books, navigate, and post on social media. Also, unlocked enables you to buy local sim cards as desired.
- computer – ASUS Chromebook – I’m doing a lot of writing on the trip, and the Chromebook is a champ; I like the keyboard and its got great battery life. Of course it’s limited in terms of actual computing, if I need to do any photo-manipulation in gimp, or say, do some statistics stuff in R, I’ve got to borrow Dan’s Toshiba.
- e-reader – Kindle E-reader – My 5th generation kindle (no light, no touch screen, but no advertisements, ha!) isn’t offered any more; the link is to the latest (cheapest) version. The compactness of the device is great for travel. It has a long battery life, and if you want to read in foreign languages you can download for example, a Spanish-English dictionary that makes looking up words incredibly easy. You can also carry around as many travel guides as you can find e-versions of.
- two wall plugs for USB charge cables
- three USB charge cables
- wearable fitness device – UP4 by Jawbone – The greatest travel related utility of this device is the silent (vibration) alarm, very nice for hostel dorm situations, but of course, the step, sleep, and heart rate tracking features are nice too. I also like the idle alerts on work days, which reminds me to get up and move around a specified interval if I haven’t moved much. I haven’t, and don’t really expect to use the Amex payment feature, not super useful abroad, so an UP3 would work just as well.
- Bluetooth headphones – Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones – I’m a big fan of these for running and exercise, because they don’t fit into your ear, they sit in front of it, giving you better hearing for situational awareness. The sound is good, but the caveat is you’ll need to use earplugs in noisy environments (like airplanes or on buses).
- crappy non-Bluetooth headphones – I got my set of crappy earbuds from the gym in a fancy hotel, I’m sure you have some lying around. Good for buses or planes where the entertainment system is never Bluetooth enabled.
- shirts – I have too many shirts: 10 tanks and t-shirts, and 3 over shirts (layering for warmth, or sun coverage). Notable inclusions are a Patagonia Capilene base layer shirt for layering in cold conditions or solo use in moderate weather, and two Clever Travel Companion tanks with hidden zipping pockets for avoiding pick pocketing issues. And of course lots of brewery swag shirts.
- pants & shorts – I have: 1 full length pair of yoga pants (with zipping pockets), 1 pair of lightweight slacks, 1 knee length pair of spandex shorts, 1 par of board shorts, and 1 pair of booty shorts that get used for sleeping and yoga.
- dresses – Both are sleeveless, one is knee length and one is a short sun dress.
- sarong – All hail the sarong for it’s multipurpose-ness! I can be worn as a shirt, a skirt, a dress, pants, used as a towel, a privacy screen, a shade source, a blanket, a tourniquet, and sooooo much more! Douglas Adams just didn’t have a sarong, its the only reason he mentions a towel in his books. Depending on where you’re going, you might be able to pick one up as a very useful souvenir. I tried to find one on Amazon and it’s a mess, it’s just a darn piece of fabric!
- light hoodie – It’s comfy, packs up small, and is good for layering in cold situations.
- warm jacket – REI Co-op Down Jacket – I wanted something warm for colder and higher altitude areas, and down packs up well, however, it’s not so good in the rain so I also have…
- rain jacket – Marmot Air Lite jacket – This is a very light windbreaker that is good solo or layers well over the down jacket. It’s only water resistant though, not proof, but that’s the trade I made for getting something that packs up super small.
- poncho – I have a thin crappy plastic poncho that will probably only be good for a few uses, but it IS waterproof, so in a pinch it’ll keep me (or my bag) dry.
- underwear – I have 9 pairs of underwear: 7 pairs of True Body hipsters from True & Co which are easily washed by hand and dry quickly, and I also shelled out some bucks for 2 pairs of Dear Kate Hazel Sport underwear which are all black with a heavy liner, basically, ideal period underwear (stuck on a long haul bus while menstruating? these things are your friend!).
- socks – I have 3 pair of ankle sport socks. With only one pair of shoes that can be worn with socks, I didn’t bother bringing too many.
- bras – Probably more overkill here. I’ve got a total of 6 bras, 4 everyday ones (2 of which are unlined True & Co bras which dry quickly), and 2 sports bras, one of which is Moving Comfort Fiona bra which is great for running (btw, Brooks bought Moving Comfort).
- water shoes – Vibram Women’s VI-B Shoe with AKTIVX sports laces– Good for wandering rivers or beaches, or just around town. For swimming purposes though this particular model will come right off in water, so I got some elastic sport laces to keep them solidly on my feet. I went through a few lacing methods with the mesh before I found my favorite arrangement (pictured above).
- running/hiking shoes – ASICS Women’s Gel Fortius Training Shoe – I originally got these low profile shoes for weight lifting, but discovered I like them for running as well. They’re holding up nicely.
- sandals – Reef Men’s Machado Day Sandal – It looks like Reef discontinued my model, but this model has the same key elements in that they are low profile, with a sewn in strap (not one of those crappy rubber punch throughs, no no), and they’re water friendly. These are my shower shoes, house shoes, whatever shoes.
- foldable flats – Matte Black Tieks – These are for if I want to dress up a little nicer, but they are also comfy enough to just walk around town, site see or museum hop. A caveat though: Tieks are stupid expensive, and my first pair started to disintegrate on me after a few months. However, the customer support was fantastic, and they were very responsive and they replaced my pair for me. Hopefully I just got a bum pair before. If you want something more reasonably priced, Lucky also makes foldable flats, but I haven’t tried them myself.
- ear plugs – SilentEar and foam – The value of ear plugs, for someone like me who has trouble tuning out noise at night, cannot be overstated. Having these to pop in and rest no matter what’s going on is great. I prefer the SilentEar as the foam will give me an ache overnight, but both are highly effective (the gender branding of the foam ones is dumb, but they come with a case, which is great!). I started out with normal size SilentEar, but one of them fell and got lost during a bus trip, and the small version stays put. Small ear canals may also be why the foam ones bother me.
- sleep mask – ALASKA BEAR 2-strap sleep mask – I like to sleep in full dark, and with a mask I can do that even if there’s a lot of stray ambient light. I keep mine wrapped up with a lavender sachet when not in use, so it smells nice at bed time. I have a Mette Vangso, but it looks like discontinued their sleep masks. However, the one above in the link is very similar.
- portable pillow – NEMO Fillo backpacking pillow – The pillow at the hostel might be gross, too hard, or non-existent, so having this along takes the uncertainty of having a good pillow waiting for me out of the picture.
- toiletry bag – Lily Drew Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag – I wanted something that would hang or sit on a counter without falling over, and hold all my stuff, and I’m very happy with this one so far. Only problem, the stitching on the hook came loose, and I’ve got to sew it back on, NBD imho tho.
- hand towel – Manduka Unisex eQua Hand Towel – Mine is an older version without the different colored stitching, but its the same item. This is a favorite of mine, it dries very quickly and folds up small.
- face wash – Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
- head band – Cosmos Stretchy Cotton Headband – I actually have about four with me, generic CVS brand. I use them for fitness activities and during my ablutions.
- deodorant – Old Spice High Endurance Original Scent Men’s Deodorant, 2.25 Oz
- toothbrush – It was free from the dentist! Not too picky here.
- tooth paste – Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Toothpaste, Peppermint
- floss – Premier Value Dental Floss Unwaxed (I have CVS generic floss)
- facial moisturizer – Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Creme, 2 oz
- sun screen – Kiss My Face Sunscreen Sensitive Side SPF 30 – Use it e’day kids!
- menstrual cup – Diva Cup Diva Cup Model 2 – Users of this product are famous for ranting at how amazing it is, and I highly recommend it, especially for travel. For heavy bleeders, it typically works longer than tampons before it needs to be emptied. Note there are two sizes; model 2 is for people >30 years or post-baby. On transit + period days, I combine it with my Dear Kates.
- panty liners – U by Kotex Absorbent Pantiliners – Good for the usual, but in a pinch, theses can also be used to make a “clean” pair of underwear.
- a wad of toilet paper for just in case! You can’t assume there will be toilet paper in a public restroom (or even a toilet seat).
- moist wipes – Wet Ones Moist Towelette For Sensitive Skin – Good for freshening up! Mine are Target brand, but these are comparable.
- cotton swabs – I just have some generics in a ziploc, but if you want a dedicated travel case this looks good Q-tips Cotton Swabs, Purse Pack 30 ct
- foldable hair brush – Kinepin Folding Pocket Hair Styling Brush – This is a beefier version that what I have, but I got mine as a give away at a hotel somewhere, and I couldn’t find the exact one on Amazon.
- nail clippers – Don’t forget these! They’re not on my normal week-trip list, but you will regret attempting to cut your nails with scissors, trust me.
- metal nail file – Keep those freshly clipped nails smooth!
- hair clippers (battery operated) – Wahl Cordless Mini Pro Clipper Kit – I bought mine an age ago in Japan and it has less accessories than this one, but the Wahl here is comparable size/price/functionality
- retainer – get your own!
- topical acne meds – talk to your doctor today!
- moisturizing salve – Mine is homemade by my sister (thanks Alicia!) and here is her recipe
- lip balm – Aquaphor Lip Repair
- extra bar soaps – scooped up during a hotel stay, wink wink
- dry shampoo – for when you haven’t showered, but don’t want that greasy look
- tweezers – Splinters, eyebrows, etc!
- bag – Waterproof Cosmetic Bag – I cannot find my ancient Clinique bag, but link is for something that I think meets the following desirable criteria: something compact without subdivisions that can handle water, and that won’t leak if you put wet things in it.
- chamois – Water Gear Chamois Towel – If you are not familiar with what a chamois is, it. is. magical. A miracle of modern material science. When it is damp it is squishy and super absorbent, and when its fills up with water, you just ring it out and boom, it’s back it’s previous state and ready to suck up more water. Great for toweling off after a shower as it never becomes sodden like terrycloth, it packs up small, and it dries quickly. You can also use it to ring out hand washed clothes for a faster dry time.
- bar soap + box – Ain’t nobody dope as me I’m just so fresh and clean…
- conditioner – I keep a liquid conditioner in a travel size bottle. A solid bar would be better, but I have not found such.
- shampoo (+ box) – shampoo bar by Lush and matching tin – I really like this Lush product, possible because the bars look like magical cakes from Wonderland, but they also have a nice matching tin. And it lasts longer than a liquid shampoo.
- scrub towel – The Body Shop exfoliating towel – This dries and launders better than a poof or loofa, but has great exfoliating power and you can easily get your whole back (shimmy shimmy!). I have a crappy target brand one, but Body Shop generally has good stuff, and it’s a good price.
- disposable razor
- running shoes – See shoes above.
- running belt – Amphipod AirFlow Lite Waistpack, Color:Black, OS – Good for holding phone, keys, etc while going on a run. I really like this particular belt, can be slung around waist or hips as desired.
- yoga mat – Gaiam no-slip yoga mat towel – I’m really happy with this particular mat/towel, as I usually have trouble slipping on most mats, but I feel solid on this one. It is very thin though (I wanted it to be light and easily packable), so I have had to modify my practice to avoid things like pigeon pose which require more cushion, or do fancy folding to compensate.
- set of gymnastic rings and straps – Titan Fitness Wood Gymnastics Rings – Mine are PROCIRCLE wood gymnastic rings, but they don’t seem to be available on Amazon anymore, so I’ve substituted a similar pair above.
- jump rope – Gold’s Gym 9′ speed jump rope – Good for compact cardio.
- lacrosse ball – Champion Sports colored lacrosse ball – My chiropractor gave me mine for free, and they seem to abound at CrossFit gyms, so you might be able to get one gratis if you look around.
- resistance band – TheraBand latex resistance bands – I got the blue/black set and brought only the black one with me. However, I have yet to use it, so it’s up on the discard chopping block.
For more details regarding exercise and travel, see this post.
- clothes pins & line – 6 clothes pins, 2 clips, and ~3 m of parachute chord.
- key chain – Includes keys for bag padlocks, small Swiss army knife, bottle opener, flash light, Tile, ID tag with contact info.
- journal (paper) – Moleskine classic un-ruled notebook – I always keep an analogue journal and planning device with me.
- dry bags – Ansot cellphone dry bag – Good for taking your phone places it might not otherwise survive! So far the Ansot has worked well for me, but I haven’t used it for full submersion.
- headlamp – Waterproof LED headlamp with 4-Modes – Good for evening runs or more secluded areas. Mine is just a simple cheap one, very much like the one in the link.
- pencil case – With pens, pencil, marker. You’ll need to marker to put your name on the stuff you put in the communal fridge in the hostel!
- neti pot – traveller’s neti pot – This is a must have for me that I always travel with; it can head off a cold, or move one along faster. Mine is a light weight plastic Walgreen’s branded one, but I couldn’t find any neti pots on their website currently (weird). The link is cheap and fits the bill. You can just make your own saline by boiling water and adding salt. Learn more about neti pots from the Mayo Clinic (neutral), the FDA (cautionary but cool), and the Chopra Center (pro).
- mirror – light weight laser engraved plastic mirror – Good for looking at your face, or signaling! Mine was a gift from my friend and former colleague Ted, who runs TNT Laser Works, and can do all kinds of cool custom stuff. If you have an idea, send him a message!
- cosmetics & jewelry kit – Itzy Ritzy reusable snack bag containing Eve Organics Beauty mineral powder foundation + concealer brush, retractable kabuki brush, bronzer + brush, lipstick, roll on perfume, necklaces + box, earrings + box
- hand sanitzer – There’s not always hand soap in bathrooms on the road!
- SPF lip balm
- bandannas – Good for drying hands or as a napkin, or wet it down and hang it around your neck in hot weather.
- scratch notebook
- sunglasses (x3) – Again, something I go overboard on!
- koozie – Keep that cold beer cold longer!
bags, accessories, and sub-dividers
- large (main) backpack – Patagonia 60L Black Hole Duffel – This bag is not very good for long term travel. I got it because it’s a simple duffle bag so it’s a very efficient volume for packing without a lot of extra straps and compartments that fit nothing particularly well. But the flap for the bag doesn’t open up enough so it’s difficult to pack well and also difficult to access things in the top and bottom. It’s also quite uncomfortable and sweaty as a backpack. That last point should be pretty obvious but I’m just saying it to confirm. The biggest selling point is the dopeass colorz! Don’t be fooled though. JK, it’s impossible to resist purple and teal.
- small day pack – REI Flash 18L – This is for day trips and for keeping all my super valuable items with me when I’m on a bus or plane. It was chosen because it was free from my parents basement because they got it for free for being REI members. The reasons why it is actually a good bag is that it’s pretty minimal so it packs up small (ish) but is also quite comfortable to wear for hiking and running. And it’s top loading like every day pack should be. The downside is that there isn’t much internal storage, which I’m fine with but it does make it difficult to find things when it’s stuffed full on a plane.
- organizing bags – These are a mix of things here. Most of them were again found in my parent’s basement. There are also two pencil bags that were bought in Mexico. Yay back to school shopping! My selection criteria was that they were less than $1 except that I splurged a few cents on the sparkly Spiderman pencil case.
- tote bag – This tote bag carries all the extra snacks and food that we didn’t plan for in our main bags. It comes in handy for grocery shopping. It’s quite large and sturdy so it’s easy to just toss extra crap in. It’s also quite comfortable to carry, which is great when you already have a super uncomfortable 15 kg bag. We originally ditched this in favor of a bag that would fold up smaller but it was much less comfy to carry. Luckily it was still at the hostel that we left it at when we returned after a few days of couch surfing. When there isn’t extra food to carry I can get everything into my main bag, including this bulky thing but the extra bulk is well worth the comfort when carrying it to me. Don’t know where you’ll find one like it because this was from a conference (thanks AFTE). But go ahead and treat yo’ self, bring your nicest tote on world travels. I don’t regret it. I also have two very light weight small tote bags to wrap my shoes and sandals in when I put them in my bag.
- bag locks – Samsonite Travel Sentry Key Locks – Good for locking zippers on bags or lockers at hostels. I prefer key locks myself, but my version of these locks come with lock specific keys. It would be much nicer if I could use either key for either lock.
- small cable – Made by hand from things from the home improvement store. This has proven incredibly useful for when there aren’t lockers at a hostel. It’s not the most secure but it’s sufficient for preventing an opportunistic thieving.
clothes and shoes and other fabric type things
- shirts – Three t-shirts, three short sleeve button up shirts, two long sleeve button up shirts, one tank top.
- shorts – Two pairs cotton short (with proper pockets and belt loops and such), one pair athletic shorts, one pair of track shorts for sleeping.
- pants – Levi’s 505s and Patagonia All-wear jeans
- swimsuit – Speedo Splice Swimsuit
- rain jacket – Marmot PreCip – Bought on the roadtrip and I’m so glad to have it for light rain and for the unexpected cold that we have encountered so far.
- wool socks – Two pairs Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Micro (suck), two pairs Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Low Cut (ok), one pair Darn Tough No Show Tab Ultralight (the best). Verdict: Darn Tough last longer and are more comfortable.
- underwear – Four pairs of David Archy quick dry boxer briefs, one pair ExOfficio give-n-go 3″ boxer brief (not worth the price but much nicer and you need fewer.
- sarong – something like this – I don’t wear this as elegantly as the ladies on the beach so I just use it as sheet on overnight bus rides. Can also double as bedding or towel potentially but that hasn’t been necessary.
- handkerchiefs – Three, because I think they are all the coolest. These work great as a hand towel with a bathroom kit, as headbands, and are handy to have as a place mat/napkin for meals on buses
- dish towel – I use this as a regular towel just scaled down in size. A chamois would be preferable but this was bought on an a previous trip to Japan and it was sitting in the gift pile for years so I decided that I wanted to use it goshdarnit.
running shoes – ASICS Gel Foundation 12 Running Shoe
regular shoes – Vans Atwood – Starsky with the gumsole.
sandals – Xero Z-Trek Lightweight Sport Sandal – I do not like sandals but I submit to agreeing that they have their place. These are super lightweight and dry reasonably quickly. They work alright for beaches, showers, and still allow you to walk at a normal (fast) pace. They aren’t perfect for any of those things but overall work alright. They are made for barefoot running, which would be great if I could do that and ditch the bulky running shoes and be that weird barefoot runner guy.
- universal travel adapter– UROPHYLLA Universal Adapter Wall Charger with Dual USB Ports
wall plug adapters – Two US wall to USB adapters, one EU to US wall adapter, one AUS wall to US wall adapter.
sound making electronics – Wireless Bluetooth Headphones (previously branded as Coulax) – These are specifically useful for making calls because my corded ones have a broken mic. Also I have a pair of corded headphones so that I can use my phone as a radio. Finally there is the Outdoor Tech Buckshot Bluetooth Speaker that’s not really coming in that much use (we have v1.0).
wireless mouse – Uhuru 2.4 GHz– I didn’t think I needed this but we ordered two so I convince myself it’s super useful sometimes.
backup storage WD 1 TB My Passport HDD, SanDisk 2 GB Cruzer Micro (wow you can still buy this on Amazon) and 8 GB Patriot Memory flash drive – I’m reserving the smaller one for transferring things to public computers or for handing over for printing. The larger 8 GB one may be useful restoring an OS if we need to.
phones – Moto G5 Plus 32 GB – I originally started with a fancy Nexus 6P because I’m using Project Fi and a first generation Moto G with a broken screen. Having a crappy old phone with maps and translation is pretty nice if you are in a dodgy area. Eventually though, the fancy phone broke and the screen on the original Moto G was getting worse. Since my Fi sim card was already activated I was able to use it on any phone. So now I just have the new Moto G because it’s quite reliable and functional, though it feels a bit big and flashy in some areas.
- flashlights – Super useful for hostel dorms. USB recheargeable is huge plus here. I use a Blackburn Flea 2.0 bike light for that. It’s small and quite bright but requires a proprietary charger, boo. I also have this nifty UCO convertible lantern flashlight. The lantern feature is super useful (thanks parents!). There is also a USB rechargeable version but it looks enormous.
USB cables – Maybe four usb micro to regular usb A cables. I don’t know how but they keep multiplying.
laptop power cables
laptop sleeve – Inatek 13″ sleeve
- usb battery – KMASHI 10000 mAh USB power bank – Very useful on bus trips or even when there just aren’t many plugs in a hostel. I purchased this one many years ago and it’s still going strong.
Compact Discs – Ubuntu and Windows recovery disks (hopefully moving to all USB recovery though), one blank CD (for Linux Mint when the current OSes fail or become too annoying)
backups – This is actually digital and I got a request to make a whole post on this, but in general, I have physical backups and/or cloud backups of computer files, id/passport pictures, credit card information, and passwords with the idea that I could get most of everything back even if every physical object we have got dumped in the middle of the ocean.
- water bottles – Nomader collapsible 25 oz – This is my main water bottle and it works great (thanks Nan!). It’s a good compromise between usability and foldability. I also have a Vapur water bag (thanks Em!) from many years ago. This basically disappears when it’s not full so it’s a great extra bottle.
- neck purse – something like this – I don’t know if this is the correct name but it’s like one of those things that you wear under an Ex-officio traveler’s shirt with a wide brim hat when you think that everyone is going to steal your wallet. I find these a bit annoying to wear and they are super obvious if you are wearing a t-shirt. But they do make for good purses when you don’t have pockets or a proper purse. This is actually a badge holder from a conference but it serves the same purpose (Thanks AFTE).
- lighter – just a standard little Bic – Super useful. Even more than you might think because many times the spark on a gas oven will be broken in a hostel. Also fires are great.
- pocket knives – SwissChamp!!! – It’s really the only knife I need because it’s the best and most complete pocket knife ever. I needed an awl, guess what? I obviously had one because of the SwissChamp. I also brought this sweet folding knife. It was also a conference giveaway (thanks AFTE and that’s number three if you were counting, they have the best conference giveaways). I don’t even know what you use knives like these for but 14 year old Dan still thinks they’re cool. Also a mini box cutter because I think those are cool too and they are surprisingly convenient if you keep them handy.
- water filter – MIOX by MSR – I didn’t know how useful this would be at the start of the trip. I highly highly highly recommend taking some kind of water filter when going to a place without potable water. Yeah, you can buy bottled water but not at 4 am when your spouse is sick. I particularly like the MIOX system for it’s size and convenience. All you need is salt and two CR123a batteries (ok not the most convenient but people used to travel with cameras so it made sense at the time). It uses electrolysis extract a chlorine solution from a small amount of salt water. You add this chlorine solution to your water bottle and let it soak for at least 30 minutes and you’re free of viruses, bacterium, and giardia. The purifier is super small and easy to use/clean/replace parts. Unfortunately this purifier isn’t being manufactured anymore but a spin off of the technology called the H2gO is being made by AquaResearch. It looks a bit more awkward to use but it is USB rechargeable. The downside is that it doesn’t filter water but that’s not even a factor if you get the water from the tap anyway. It also tastes a bit like pool water, but see the next item.
- water flavoring – TruLemon Powder – We just brought this along with the seasonings left over in the kitchen but it turns out a great way to cut the chlorine taste and balance the pH of the water made with the Miox (once it’s done sitting of course).
- harmonica – I always tell myself I’m going to find time to learn this but that is not realistic. Don’t be like like me. Shit or get off the pot. This was sent home after several months.
- notebook – small pocket notebook – I used to use these all the time before smartphone. I still have a smartphone. I will never use this.
- pens – Used infinitely more times than the notebook. Always useful to have with you on a plane/bus to fill out migration forms. Three regular pens (oh shit, one of these is also a conference giveaway from AFTE, that makes #4). One felt tip permanent marker which is extremely useful for labeling your food in a hostel.
- wallet – Something with a coin purse because you will need to carry coins.
- checkbook – I dunno it just seemed like a good idea but hasn’t been necessary.
earplugs – Etymotic earplugs – These are for concerts, not for sleeping.
clippy type things – One carabiner and four Nite Ize s-biner.
hats – I’m not a hat person but I changed my tune on this trip. They supplement/lower my reliance on face sun cream and sunglasses and generally keep my head cooler when there is lots of sun. I bought a bucket cap that for ~$3.50 at Teotihuacan in Mexico and then a $3 baseball hat in Medellín so that I can look slightly less dorky.
- toiletry bag – Lewis and Clark hanging toiletry kit – Not recommended, using this because C thought it sucked too, discarded it, and I’m cheap so now I’m using it.
razors – If you buy a multi pack of disposables, you can toss most of the handles and just keep the blades.
shampoo – Starting out with little travel containers and trying to buy small shampoos but eventually I think I will end up with a big bottle of head and shoulders that is going difficult to transport.
soap bin – Mine is way too bulky.
spray bottles – One of these is used to fill with vinegar or rubbing alcohol as a general cleaner and deodorizer. The other is actual eyeglass cleaner and is accompanied by an army of microfiber clothes.
stain remover – Tide stain remover stick – Pretty certain that they don’t make these like they used to.
hand sanitizer – Good for washing hands before and after eating.
- Includes items such as denim patching material, needles, upholstery thread (for more heavy duty repairs, like to backpacks), standard thread of other colors, buttons, snaps, and safety pins.
- ceramic santoku knife – Cuisinart 2-Piece Ceramic Knife Set – I love cooking, and trying to cut fruits and veggies with a dull knife is a real buzz kill, enough so that it’s worth carrying your own knives. Ceramic blades hold their edge a long time and they are very light. Very happy to have these with us. We got ours separately, but the paring knife came from a set like the one in the link.
- ceramic paring knife – Cuisinart 2-Piece Ceramic Knife Set – Same as above.
- plastic ware – We just use the disposable kind and wash it. It’s light and comes in handy on occasion when eating prepared food away from the hostel.
- loose leaf teas – Capital Teas Lavender Earl Grey & Cherry Blossom Rose Green – ‘Cause we fancy!
- tea infuser – Mesh Snap Ball Loose Leaf Tea Infuser – For the loose leaf teas.
- coladera de cafe – Bene Casa Colador for Coffee – This is a new addition, bought it in the grocery store in Colombia, and can be used in a variety of ways to make coffee. While we try to find hostels with free coffee, that’s not always in the cards, so for the caffeine-fond its nice to have a (compact) way to make our own
- ground coffee – Because we can’t haul a grinder with us, we not that fancy!
- seasonings – We keep a variety in small bags and boxes, including: salt, sugar, paprika, cayenne, curry, garlic, salt, ramen seasoning, wakame, and cumin.
- drinking vessels – SiliPint Silicone Pint Glass – These are unbreakable as well as dishwasher and microwave safe. Very useful when kitchen supplies are limited or non-existent.
- cork screw – Hinged Waiter’s Corkscrew – Because wine! The double hinged waiter-style corkscrews are the best in general (you don’t need some fancy rabbit shaped device that you saw advertised in SkyMall and is way too complicated), and its compact. Just remember to put it in your checked luggage.
first aid kit
- altitude sickness meds
- ace bandage
- antiseptic ointment
- rubber bands – great for closing up food bags.
- binder clips – same as above.
- twist ties
- keychain rings
- nitrile gloves
- superglue – bought to repair my de-laminating Vans but has come in handy on so many occasions. True Cinderella story.
- picnic blanket – OutdoorMaster pocket blanket – We were recommended to buy silk sheets in case there was no bedding in a hostel. But they are expensive and we tried them out and they suck to sleep in. We returned them and decided to buy this for use as an undersheet and use sarongs as covers if we come up against that issue. This won’t be super comfortable but it will do in a pinch. We have found this super useful on the beach and in parks. It will also work okay as a rain tarp or poncho.
- laundry stuff – Having a laundry bag is super useful because we have found that laundromats are not super common in some cities and the cheapest ones are usually far way. We also bought some powdered detergent to save a bit of money. It’s not often that you have to buy your own soap so this has been a lot of dead weight in general.
- plastic bags – just a bunch of plastic seal-able bags and left over plastic grocery bags. Good for food, electronics in the rain, and spill-able things.