Globetrekking takes guts and a little bit of planning. Here’s my personal check list of items not to leave at home.
I’ve chosen to keep brand names down to a minimum with the hopes that people will make their own informed decisions on products to purchase. exceptions were made for brands that define a product, e.g. Band-Aid or Zip-Lock.
Clothing & Threads
In general, nylon/polyester blends and synthetics are cherished among travelers because they dry quicker, pack smaller, and weigh less when wet. other advantages include the ability to wick sweat away from your body and maintain comfort in nearly any climate or condition.
- sleep sheet - silk or synthetic wicking recommended
- super-absorbent travel towel one medium/body sized and one small face-cloth.
- rain gear (expensive) or a poncho (affordable)
- fleece jacket
- tee-shirts, tank tops, easy to buy/replace along the way
- button-down long sleve shirt (wrinkle-resistance cotton or comfortable synthetic)
- long pants (brushed nylon for quick drying, denim for comfort/style)
- shorts that can double as swiming trunks
- 3 pair of socks - some smart synthetics are highly recommended
- 3 pair of boxers/briefs - some smart synthetics are highly recommended
- stuff sack / containers for clothing
Cold Climate Gear
- fleece gloves
- long underwear - silk, capilene, polypro, or fleece
- heavy wool socks
- sandals - greco-roman-sinch style are preferable over flip flops
- light but sturdy travel shoes - well broken in
- hiking boots - optional
- photocopy of passport (use if you dont want/need to show the real thing)
- driver’s license
- airplane tickets
- ATM card
- untouchable US$ backup
- daily allotment of cash
- all credit card numbers and the phone number to call to cancel them if big pack archive gets compromised
- earplugs (and keep an extra pair in your first aid kit)
- travel lock (combination code, TSA-approved lock is better than keeping up with those tiny keys)
- small leatherman “multiplier” tool with scissors on inside
- pocketknife with corkscrew and good sharp blade
- flashlight (headlamp style recommended)
- ziplock & plastic bags (various sizes: for maps, food, medecines, wet clothes)
- wristwatch with loud alarm (cheap plastic variant)
- travel alarm clock (optional, if you dont like wearing time on your wrist)
- sunglasses (not too expensive, replaceable)
- chapstick with sun protector
- bandana / handkerchief
- digital camera
- protective camera case
- memory card(s)
- battery charger
- USB cord for uploading images from camera
- sturdy journal: use it for everything travel expenses, travel diary, scrap book, photo albums and address book.
- reliable ball-point pen or dark pencil
- charcoal pencil for sketching (optional)
Personal Distraction Assistance
- smart phone (iPhone or Android), packed with favorite mp3s + camera device for recording the trip
- Portable E-reader (eg, Amazon Kindle)
First Aid Kit
- moleskin (or a little duct-tape + toilet paper)
- Stomach: pepto-bismol tablets + vitamin i
- Meds: (headache / pain relief / allergy / cold&flu / Malaria)
- antibiotic ointment
- bug repellent
Patch kit (optional)
- black thread of varying thickness
- needle (two sizes)
- small squares of rip-stop nylon with adhesive on one side
Backcountry gear (optional)
- boots (gore-tex and broken in)
- trekking poles - also useful for shelter… see “tarp” below
- sleeping bag - 700 fill down bag, 15° - 20° (Fahrenheit) rating is recommended for general purpose goodness
- shelter; either…
- backpackers tent - its bulky, but best for two or more people and unpredictable weather
- bivy sack - a lightweight soloist “sock” that goes around your sleeping bag, not recommended for winter extremes
- tarp - a silicon empregnated nylon tarp is the lightest possible shelter available
- water purifier - use Polar Pure iodine crystals to zap those nasty microbes
- water bladder (eg, camelbak / platypus)
- nalgene or aluminum water bottle
- titanium cookset & cookware - the lightest way to fry
- backpackers stove - whisperlite
- facecloth - super-absorbant mini-towel (mentioned above in “Threads” section)
- liquid all purpose soap (such as Dr. Bonners)
- shampoo / conditioner
- laundry detergent - bar recommended for hand washing
- razor and a couple extra blades
- toothbrush / toothpaste / dental-floss
- perfume / cologne (optional)
- fingernail clippers (alternatively, leatherman tool)
- nail file (alternatively, leatherman tool)
The list of infrequently used but really important stuff to store at the bottom of the pack:
- photocopies of:
- passport photo page
- any relevant visa pages
- credit cards
- vaccination sheet
- driver’s license from home country
- international drivers license (optional) this really depends on the country
- extra flash memory card for camera
- backup US$ currency
Here are a few things to occupy your time before you leave home…
- Create email distribution lists, one for friends and another for family.
- Create a blog. Wordpress or Blogger are free alternatives. There are also tons of specialized travel journal communities that help set you up with a website thats ready out of the box for charting your travels.
- Create an online photo album: Flickr or Google Photos are ubiquitous free options, but you can also find Wordpress plugins to host the photos on your own server.
- Scan all important documents and email them to yourself.
Preparing for your trip
- Google your destinations. (do I even need to suggest this?)
- A good place to explore is The Lonely Planet worldguide.
- Get intimate with your guidebook; this will be your bible while you are on the road.
- Scour the thorntree travel forums for posts about your intended destination, there are many people currently traveling where you are about to be so its a good idea to see whats going on.
- Buy a big map and study the routes, cities, towns, and topography of the entire country / region. Even though the guidebooks have plenty of maps, you’ll appreciate having a nice big one to reference when you need to plan logistics and get a better idea of distances and terrain between stops. is there even a road that will take you to that remote pueblo in the jungle?
- Prepare a narrative or powerpoint of where you are from, with maps, pictures of family and friends, and local things of interest from your part of the world. Make it humorous if possible :) great for showing host families or giving presentations to school children.
Inspiration and ideas from Rolf Pott’s book Vagabonding.
A very special thanks to sol whose personal packing list was a a basis for this post.