Bursting At The Seams

10.April 2009

Packing List, Pre-Trip

Packing ListWe put our packing list together last weekend. We’ve decided on and purchased our backpacks so it was time to decide what to put in them.

We’ve been thinking about the packing list almost since we decided to go on a year long jaunt around the world. As soon as we decided to sell or store everything and put the rest on our backs, we’ve wondered what exactly would be in those packs.

I have checked out the packing lists of every travel blog that I come across (and, believe me, I read a good many!) and have read about the virtues of not packing too much but have also worried that I won’t have enough. The classic adage is ‘pack half what you think you need and twice as much money’. I’m sure this is true but, when trying to decide what to put in that pack, I have a hard time leaving stuff out (and the budget isn’t growing either).

So…here is our packing list.

For the first 6 months or so we won’t exactly be in tropical heaven so the list has lots of wool layering items to ensure that I won’t be cold (although I’m still not convinced). Once we hit India and start to warm up we’ll either ditch the cold weather clothing or send it home (I’m guessing I’ll have worn it every other day for 6 months and will be done with it!). Then we’ll purchase more warm weather clothing there – it’ll be nice to have some new clothes!

Personal care items like shampoo, deodorant and razors can take up a lot of space and weight so we’ll share where we can and try to distribute the weight between us. Maybe we’ll become patchouli smelling hippies and dispense with the whole washing idea…that would decrease the weight!

Our electronic list isn’t too bad – we’re not heavily into photography so our little point-and-shoot will do fine, and the little EEE PC doesn’t take up too much space either. Toting around a year’s worth of prescription medication will also take some room – but that will lessen as time goes by.

Then there’s just ‘stuff’. Self-catering dishes and utensils, binoculars, cribbage board, juggling balls etc. Things that will make life on the road a little easier, even if we do have to cart it around the world.

I don’t know if it’s too much or not enough. All I know is that it seems right, right now. I’ll try to keep the list updated and let you know what worked, what didn’t and what we wish we had packed.

In the end, wherever we go, they have these things called ‘stores’ where, I’m sure, we can find whatever we need.

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16 Responses to “Bursting At The Seams”

  1. Taylor Davidson Says:

    I’ve always wondered how to spell “toque”, and now I’m wondering why I never looked it up :)

    It’s a good thing you guys have big bags for all that stuff, wow.

  2. Dirk Says:

    My only major hiking experience was the West Coast Trail several years ago. I over packed by a large margin. I was only gone a week and the packing was a nightmare, I’m sure yours must be daunting.

  3. Pam Says:

    Nice list – you guys are taking a lot more clothing than I am, but I know you’re planning on bigger packs. I’m starting to worry that my list is to big for my pack… some day soon I’ll have to do a big “test pack”. What malaria meds are you taking? I decided on Malarone, and then I found out it only comes in blister packs, which will probably takes up a load of space for the 180 days worth that I plan to take. And I see you decided on the Steripen – it’s on my list too. Do you have it yet? I’d love to hear about it!

    (And thanks for the good words about the sale of my house!)

  4. Geoff Says:

    Good to see you have earplugs on there. They are the single item I am most glad I brought with me. Wherever you go, you can almost guarantee there will be a barking dog, a crowing rooster or a baying donkey right outside your room. I’ve slept through the lot.

  5. Jeremy and Eva Rees Says:

    It’s interesting that you chose sleeping bags. We took only the silk sleep sacks, and have already made significant use of them. Mexico is much too hot to sleep under anything thicker than a sheet, so that makes them perfect. If a bed at a hotel or hostel is sketchy at all we take them out to lessen chances of bites by insects or (shudder) bed bugs. I couldn’t recommend taking something of the sort enough. Packs super small and keeps you warmer than just a sheet. I understand that some hostels even require their use (though I have yet to see that).

    Aside from the sleep sacks, great list! It’s nice that you’ll be able to shave off a little weight in the electronics department — a lot less to worry about too. We took fewer clothes overall, especially shoes (both of us only have 2). We ran out of aloe already (easy to get a little too much sun seeing the sights all day) and were happy with how easy it was to buy more. I packed A LOT of cipro, but I saw that at pharmacies in Mexico it is very easy to get. I’ve had problems buying antihistamines in Europe, though, and packed extra. Did you pack calamine lotion and bug stuff containing Deet? I highly recommend it, and noticed that it’s hard to find here.

  6. Jeremy and Eva Rees Says:

    One more suggestion! I saw your eyeglass repair kit. Both of us wear glasses and this one is important to us too. I saw a clever trick with those twist-ties you get at the supermarket. Strip the paper and the wire is perfect for fixing broken glasses’ arms and you can make the surgery very un-noticeable. I know the kit comes with little screws and a screwdriver, but maybe the twist ties are simpler?

  7. Graham Says:

    I have read that jeans are not good for backpacking because they are heavy and take a long time to dry. Are you concerned about this at all?

  8. nomadicmatt Says:

    pack light pack light pack light pack light

    i’d only take a few shirts and pants…u can just wear them until they fall off then but new ones

  9. Heather Ahrens Says:

    We are just starting our packing list. We are only going backpacking for a month, but that is a huge deal for us! We have a ton of photography equipment which I am trying to sort through and figure out what stays and what goes. Also figuring out exactly how to pack our computer and camera equipment is puzzling us.

    • Gillian Says:

      Wow, thanks for all the comments and suggestions!! I’m getting the sense that maybe we’re taking too much…but I don’t know what I’m willing to do about it! Glad to hear you’re sleeping well Geoff, thanks ForksandJets for the reminder about the Deet and the sleep sack – we’re thinking silk sleep sack once we’re in warmer weather – Pam, I envy your super small bag philosophy, J is attached to his jeans and is willing to sacrifice the dry time (stay tuned!) and Matt, you have been on the road longer than most…I’ll probably rue the day that I didn’t just pack a few shirts and pants! Good luck Heather on your list – that camera equipment is heavy I bet!

      I’ll try to keep the list updated as we travel…

  10. Deidra Says:

    This is something that is still in our heads that we really should get down on paper!

    I see you have 4 different pairs of shoes and Jason has 3. We are hoping to try and bring only two ourselves. Sandals and some sort of cross platform shoe that you can trek in but still pass for a more dressy type shoe in times of need. Haven’t found that solution yet though! Although we really haven’t looked that hard yet.

    Anyways… seeing your list is inspiring me to try and write one this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Dawn Says:

    You may want to scale down on the shoes-they take up a lot of room and add a lot of weight. One hiker and one sandal should be plenty. I agree with Deidra.

    Also, I cannot recommend a headlamp enough. Great for reading, power outages, and negotiating dark streets.

    The less the better as Nomadic Matt said.. We started out with a lot of stuff, and sent stuff home with a friend within a month. Most everything you can get on the road if you feel like you really need something you left behind. Clothes are cheap, and there were very few things I could not find on the road, aside from the more expensive dryfit stuff.

    Bring twice the cash and half the stuff! :)

  12. Jen from CleanBin Says:

    I agree with what everyone else is saying. Less is more. On our last trip, I brought 3 pairs of shorts, one pair of pants and a skirt, and STILL ended up sending stuff home. You’re right, it’s nice to have shoe selection, but once you’re on the road with only 2 pairs, you won’t even miss the others. Same with shirts. You’ve got 11 tops of some sort or another!

    On the other hand, I fully support your 7 pairs of underwear as this is the factor that determines laundry timing. May I also just say that I love Keen sandals -I cycled for two months with nothing but a pair of those and flip flops (for showers and around town).

    Your sleeping bags are tiny right? I’m sure ones that are only rated 0 degrees C would be fine, and they’re about the size of 2 softballs.

    Good call on the ziploc bags. I recommend a tupperware container too – good for leftovers or getting takeout or carrying squishy things like cheese. Also a tiny packable cloth grocery bag. We always end up with a bag of snack food with us for bus rides etc.

  13. Jodi Says:

    Holy cow, that’s a lot of clothes! But, you know what?? You’ll never know your favorites until you hit the road (and then you’ll wear them constantly!) I’ve shipped so many things home, it’s not even funny. But, it works out fine because we’ve always bought local handicrafts and need to ship anyway.

    You’re right on with your other lists. You’ll use that duct tape more than you thought! We would recommend adding raincovers and a bag in a bag thingy for your backpack along with a lock. REI and Osprey both sell them for ~US$30. They really come in handy. Do you have daypacks as well?? And, sometimes a purse is nice for the bigger cities. I’d recommend Pacsafe.

    Looking forward to traveling from the couch with you!

    • Gillian Says:

      Ok, Ok, I hear ya’all! Too many clothes! We’re going to do a serious ‘test pack’ this weekend – we’ll see what stays and goes after that. All the feedback has been good – it’s got me thinking about it, that’s why I posted it!

  14. eric Says:

    ten weeks traveling in turkey….i was happy to have all my camera gear but really took way too much of everything. ya’ll didn’t see the other full bag i had stored in istanbul….it won’t happen again. next trip i hope to take only a few pieces of technical clothing, buy as much local as possible and discard after it’s worn out. still struggling mentally about what i can and can’t live without for 6+ months. even considering lightening my photography equipment and go with a different system….not sure what or how just yet! it was a lot to keep track of and paranoia of loosing or getting stolen was overwhelming at times. love your packing list and that it seems updated since you’ve returned….will refer to it as needed…