Planning a packing list for a year of travel through a variety of climates can be daunting. You want to be prepared for a wide range of activities, temperatures and situations while keeping in mind the need to be mobile. It’s a bad idea to pack so much that you topple over from the weight of your backpack or make it so heavy that you can’t walk from the train station your hostel. It’s not easy!
I conducted innumerable internet searches on the topic in my quest for the perfectly edited assembly of travel gear and clothing for my year-long trip. For a list of my absolute favorite items – my travel “secret weapons” – click this link.
Now that I’m nearly two months into my year of travel, this post is a bit overdue. However, I think it’s still relevant and will hopefully be helpful to you if you’re planning a similar trip. When my year of travel is finished, I plan to make a follow-up post on the items I could have left behind!
BACKPACK CONTENTS: I carry an Osprey 65-liter travel backpack, which I love.
The key here is to pack items that layer well, especially when you’ll be visiting a variety of climates. You’ll also want to pack items that don’t wrinkle and that dry quickly. Clothing produced for hiking, yoga, etc. often works best.
Packing cube #1:
- 2 fitted tank tops/camis
- 3 looser workout tank tops
- 2 long-sleeved tops
- 1 short-sleeved top
- 2 cardigans
- 3 scarves
Packing cube #2:
- 1 pair Columbia zip-off hiking pants
- 3 pairs yoga pants
- 3 pairs leggings (black, gray, blue)
- 1 pair warm leggings (with lining)
- 2 skirts (for layering over leggings or wearing alone)
- 1 dress
Packing cube #3:
- 3 sports bras
- 3 bras (black, ivory, strapless)
- 4 pairs workout socks
- 2 pairs wool socks
- 2 pairs thin black socks
- 1 bikini
- 1 short black slip
- lots of underwear 🙂
I keep thinking that I packed too many pairs of shoes because they take up a lot of room, but so far I’ve used all of them regularly.
- 1 pair black suede ankle boots
- 1 pair closed-toe walking shoes
- 1 pair walking sandals
- 1 pair flip flops (for showers and the beach)
Packing cube #4:
- Columbia hooded windbreaker
- Scrubba wash bag
- Combination lock (for hostel lockers)
- Jewelry (just a few cheap necklaces and earrings)
- Mac power cord
- Mini emergency kit
- Duct tape
- Fork, spoon and knife
- Various medications for cold, flu, indigestion, etc.
- Compact sleeping bag*
- Sleeping bag liner & pillowcase*
- Puffer jacket in packable drawstring bag
- Microfiber towel
- Hanging toiletry bag with shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/razor/facial cleanser, etc.
- Woven sock cap
- Lined gloves
- Spare contacts
- Ziplock bags
- Bag of foam earplugs
- Small combination lock for backpack zippers
- Spare notebooks
- Prescription antibiotics
- Dry bag
- Wine bottle opener (purchased on the road!)
*The hostels in Iceland do not provide bedding, so these items are important to have when traveling there. They can also come in handy when couchsurfing or camping.
MESSENGER BAG CONTENTS: For transport between cities, I put my everyday Pacsafe messenger bag into a larger canvas Jansport bag, which holds more stuff! I keep thinking I need to consolidate…
- Journal and two notebooks
- MacBook Air laptop with neoprene case
- Cords in zip-up cord keeper
- Canon Powershot 2500
- Bottle Opener
- Compass/thermometer/whistle combination
- Small blender bottle
- Glasses in case
- Various snacks for the road!
I have learned that most things can be purchased on the road, especially if you’re visiting larger cities. Many long-term travelers advocate packing very light – in only a small carry-on-size backpack -and buy things as they go. In contrast, I always have to check my bag.
There’s really a balance between shopping in each destination and having what you need always at your fingertips (or on your back), and each traveler has to choose their individual comfort level along that packing continuum.
I don’t enjoy repacking all of my stuff every few days and lugging it between locations, but at this point I’m not ready to part with more than the two pairs of pants and one long-sleeve shirt that I’ve already left behind. We’ll see if things change as the year progresses!