What to Pack for a Trip Around the World in All Climates
Traveling the world can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have, but it takes some work to get there! I mean who actually enjoys saving moolah, quitting your job and of course, packing your life up into a small bag? Not many people do, but it’s all worth it! I promise.
I want to start this post out by saying that below I’ve created an extensive list of what I packed for 14 months!
Before I left on my trip around the world, I did a lot of research on what to pack for a year trip around the world, but could only find people who “decided to chase summer around the world”.
Unfortunately for me, I love fall and winter so I knew I was going to experience both while I was traveling, hence my guide for packing for all climates!
Me right before I got on my flight to travel for 14 months!! This is everything I brought.
So, for all of you who are figuring out what to pack for a year trip around the world and want to know what to pack for all climates you’ve come to the right spot!
My top tip before you start packing is….drum roll please….
You can buy most things on the road while you’re traveling!
Okay, I read many blogs who told me this same tip before I left and I just didn’t believe them. What if I needed contact solution and nowhere had it?I must need to bring a HUGE container to last me a year! WRONG.
Literally (almost) everywhere you go you’ll be able to find what you need and if you’re worried you won’t have something in one country, try and stock up in a country that has it. Same with clothes! You’ll be able to restock on most things while you’re abroad, so I recommend under packing when you leave.
Electronics can be hardest to find, so make sure to bring those with you, but shampoo and stuff like that will be simple.
BAGS & BACKPACKS:
MY MAIN BACKPACK: The Osprey Sojourn 60 Liter Convertible Backpack and Roller Bag I LOVE THIS BAG and it’s been with me for so long it almost feels like part of me! After doing a ton of research for the perfect sized luggage, I finally found it with this one. I got the 60L and it was perfect for me. Yes, I had to check it on a plane, but it meant that I could have just the right amount of space I needed for one year.
I honestly don’t know if I could have done a year in all different climates with just a small carry-on backpack. I mainly love this bag because I could wheel it most places that I traveled, but put it on my back when the terrain was rough.
It’s convertible and super sturdy and opens all the way up with the zipper. It’s also easily expandable when you have more items inside, but can scrunch up smaller when you have less! I never even had to put it on my back for the first chunk of my trip!
MY DAY PACK
So, the main bags you would see on my body as I traveled from country to country were (photo above) my daypack, my Osprey, and my leather purse. Everything else was packed in my other bags. The bag I brought for my daypack was actually given to me for free from a company event and the brand isn’t actually listed anywhere on the bag. I made a video of the daypack here so you can see the compartments that were important for me while traveling. This will hopefully help you find something similar.
The bag is similar to a camelback with many different pockets and a secret compartment for my laptop. Many people decide to bring anti-theft backpacks or other packs with pouches for camera gear and electronics, but this bag was perfect for me. Just find a bag that has lots of space and one you think you can handle for one year! I found a bunch of similar packs to the one I had here: North Face Aleia | Osprey Women’s Mira | Osprey Hikelite | Camelbak Sequoia
MY TOTE: Longchamp Purse
I’ve had my Longchamp since I went to France in 2011! It’s such a durable bag that I knew I had to bring it. It saved my life while traveling in Europe because it packs really small and I could put it in my Osprey pack until I needed a tote. It also made me feel more stylish on days I didn’t want to wear a daypack around. This has been spilled on 1,000+ times, but the fabric is so durable that it just wipes right off. Plus, it’s sort of a Mary Poppins bag and can hold tons of stuff and double as a beach bag for summer months!
ACTIVITY BAG: Waterproof Dry Bag
I’ll be honest, I didn’t use this as much as I thought I would, but it was seriously perfect for days at the beach and when I went diving or kayaking. It even fell in the river in Laos with 2 phones and my camera in it and nothing got wet! HOLLA! If I had the option to bring it again, I definitely would. It packs really small too which is a plus. The one I bought is sold out, but here’s one in a similar color to the one I had.
MY LEATHER PURSE: Italian Leather Purse My sister got me a purse (one I’m wearing in the first photo of this post) in Florence when she studied abroad in 2010! It’s lasted that long! This is almost identical to the one I have. It’s seriously so sturdy and the perfect size for just wandering around the cities. Plus my camera could fit inside which made everything easier!
Another option if you’re looking for a great purse that also protects your camera (I just put mine in a scarf, but I’m bad at taking care of electronics) is this camera bag from Gatta Bag and it’s cute!
Packing Cubes – I can’t speak highly enough about packing cubes. They keep your bag completely organized and helped me so much on my trip. It doesn’t really matter the brand, but I brought three of these TravelWise packing cubes on my trip. Since then, I’ve started to love the Eagle Creek Brand better because of their fabric flexibility which allows you to fit a lot into each pack.
Macbook 13inch + Charger– I chose to get the smaller and newest Macbook for my trip. It’s super light and it was perfect for fitting in my daypack or Longchamp purse. The only issue is that it doesn’t have a USB port so I had to buy a converter, but I still use this computer and love it!
iPhone 6s– I brought this phone because almost all of the iPhone 6s’s are unlocked. I was able to swap out sim cards when I was traveling in different countries.
Apple iPhone Charger Case– This was one of my other favorite travel items and allowed my phone to have double the charge constantly! This thing literally saved my life and my phone never died!
External Battery Charger– I brought one of these at the beginning of my trip and then left it behind because I just used my Apple Iphone charge case instead and my phone rarely ever died, but if you don’t have a charger case then this is the way to go.
GoPro Hero 4+ – Great for selfies, videos, and underwater recording.
iPad – I used this for reading books, but sent it home with my parents halfway through my trip because I found that I was reading more on my phone. I also recommend a Kindle if you don’t want to haul an iPad.
2 x USB Flash Drives
USB Converter– My Mac doesn’t have a USB port, so I used this to plug in USB’s to my computer.
2 x Headphones – I brought the regular earbud type to save room.
I strongly recommend buying your toiletries as you go. They are so easy to find everywhere! Bring the contacts and prescriptions meds that you need, but most of the other items can be found abroad.
Face Wash – Since I had to check my bag everywhere I went, I was able to bring my large fave Kiehl’s face wash, but for the first part of my trip, I just used the generic travel sized face washes to save room.
Dry Shampoo – This is a lifesaver while traveling. You can usually find this in drug stores around the world, but my favorite for travel is this one.
Small Bug Spray – I barely used this, but it was nice to have when I was in the jungle climates.
Sunscreen – You can buy this anywhere, but it’s more expensive when you get to tropical islands. I always just had a small travel size with me.
Shampoo & Conditioner – You can buy these anywhere.
Body Lotion – Can be bought anywhere.
Body Wash – This can be bought anywhere, but my favorite travel soap is the Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Soap because a little goes a long way and it smells awesome!
Face Lotion – If you have a face care routine, bring your stuff. If not, just buy along the way. I brought my travel size Kiehls cause I love it so much.
Makeup – I brought mascara, tinted moisturizer, eyebrow pencil, 2 eyeshadows, 2 matte lipgloss’s, one eyeliner and bronzer.
Chapstick – You can buy this anywhere when you run out.
Earplugs – I recommend buying a pack before you leave. These run out quickly but are a necessity on nights you want a good sleep in a hostel.
Brush/comb – I brought a two in one travel version.
Tampons – You can buy these in most countries, but if you’re heading to a more conservative country you may want to make sure you have some just in case they only sell pads.
Diva Cup – I used this only when I was staying in hotels because it’s just too weird to use in a hostel IMHO.
Bobby pins/Hair ties
I didn’t bring all of these shoes upon leaving and I acquired and ditched as I went. Make sure to just read the descriptions to see how it all went down.
1 Pair of Tennis Shoes -I wore my tennis shoes all the time and bought somewhat cute ones so they would go with different outfits. I bought I new pair once my old ones wore out. Here are the two I had over the course of a year here and here.
1 Pair Hiking Boots – You can bring hiking boots like I did, but I ditched mine after my first country (Iceland) because 2 large shoes like this took up too much room. See ya later hiking boots! If you are going to do lots of trekking I recommend bringing them. Similar to the ones I had here.
1 Pair Flip Flops – You need these for shower shoes and casual days around the hostel or to the beach when it’s summer weather. You can buy them anywhere. I had these.
1 Pair Leather Boots – Okay, so, I brought these on the first leg of my journey because I left in September for Europe and knew that I would be there in winter. I’m so glad I brought them, but I 100% ditched them when I got to Thailand. Just make sure to bring things you don’t care a ton about.
1 Pair of Toms – These pack lite and are comfy for casual walking days. They can also (sorta) be dressed up if need be.
1 Pair of Sandals – I bought these when I was in Chicago for a week in the summer and getting ready to head back to Europe for the remainder of the summer.
The key with the clothing is to go for neutral colors like grey, blacks, navy etc. and to layer, layer, layer. I swapped clothing and ditched stuff so freakin’ much that this list is ever-changing. I’ll note how I acquired each piece if it helps you, but just know that just about every single country you go to you’ll be able to find clothes and shoes if you run out of something!
1x Patagonia Puffer Jacket – This could be folded up really small and was easy to pack. 1x Heavy Duty Workout Jacket– I lived in this for the first leg of my trip when it was colder. 1x Raincoat– Get one that packs up small. 1x Pullover Fleece– I had this only for the winter months and ditched it when it got warmer 1x Sweater – I had this only for the winter months and ditched it when it got warmer 3x T-shirts 2x Long Sleeved Shirts 2-3x Tank Tops 1-3x Pairs Leggings, Jeggings, Joggers– These are what I had and I lived in all of them! 1x Pair of Jeans – I didn’t pack these originally and bought them in Europe while traveling. 1x Maxi Dress 1x Regular Dress 1x Pajama pants 1x Jean Shorts 1x Workout Shorts 1x Scarf – Great to warm up oncold planes and trains. 1x Sarong – Bought this in Bali and then lost it again. You can find these anywhere along the road. 3x Ankle socks 2x Taller Smart Wool hiking socks 2x Normal bra 1x Strapless bra 1x Sports bra 12x Underwear + 2x Travelers Underwear – I brought 14 pairs cause I’m crazy and hate doing laundry. The 2x travelers underwear are Ex-Officio quick drying thongs 1-2x Swimsuit – depending on if you’re doing more summer travel or not. Gloves, Hat, Scarf – All of this was cheap and I bought along the way when I was in the winter season.
SECURITY AND ANTI-THEFT:
I didn’t personally have any theft happen to me while traveling, but I do know people that it did happen to. Many people suggest to purchase anti-theft bags and even though I didn’t, I debated it strongly. I did, however, pack locks which, I found to be necessary for staying in hostels.
2-3x locks – I brought 1 master lock and a few smaller locks that could lock up my luggage. A lot of times I would just leave my entire bag of luggage on the floor unlocked because I’m probably too trusting, but I honestly had the feeling that if someone wanted to steal my dirty clothes then they could go for it. I locked all of my other valuables up inside the lockers provided by the hostel. Almost all hostels I stayed in had lockers.
Money Belt – I brought a money belt and didn’t use it once, so I got rid of it. It definitely depends on where you are going, so make sure to research safety before going.
Passport and a few extra Passport photos – You might have to get a visa for a random country that you want to go to and it makes the process so much easier if you already have extra passport photos.
Visas – Remember to check to see if you need Visas for any countries you plan on going to. Here’s a great site for checking for a visa if you are a U.S. Citizen.
1 Hard Copy of a Scan of your Passport
2-3 Credit Cards/Debit Cards – I brought my Chase Sapphire Visa because it’s got no international fees and I get extra points for travel-related purchases. For my debit card, I mainly used my Charles Schwab card (an account I opened right before I left) because it doesn’t have any ATM fees!
U.S. Dollars – Place some U.S. Dollars scattered throughout your luggage. I left some in my wallet, some in my large bag and some in my day pack just in case.
1x hard copy of your travel insurance – I used World Nomads and it worked out great for me. I just bought 6 months at a time.
I didn’t bring a first aid kit, but a lot of travelers I met had one on them. Also, while traveling you’ll be able to get a lot more medications over the counter than what we can get in the USA with a prescription. If you’re sick you can usually just go to the pharmacy and pick up whatever you need.
Contacts – I bought a years worth of contacts and didn’t use them all because I’m bad about swapping out my contacts, but they are small enough that it didn’t take a lot of room
Meds – Ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, Sinus meds and Anti-Travelers diarrhea meds
Birth control – I brought a year’s worth of pills and in hindsight, I wish I had just gotten an IUD so I didn’t have to haul all of those pills.
Cocoon Travel Sheet – This is great if you’re camping or staying somewhere with gross bedding. It’s a liner to wear inside the sheets. I only had to use it a few times but was nice to know that I had it.
Blow-Up Pillow and/or Travel Pillow– These are very optional, but if you’re ever camping or think you might be somewhere more rustic, then the blow up pillow is a good option. A travel pillow is great for those long-haul flights. Just make sure it’s one like this that you can blow up on the plane.
REI Micro Fiber Towel – I brought a big microfiber quick towel that worked wonders for my wavy hair and dried fast after the shower.
3 x Plastic bags – I brought a few ziplock bags just in case and I ended up using them all.
3 x Hooks – My friend over at Take Me to Murch told me about these and I’m so glad I brought them to hang towels or clothing on when there weren’t hooks close by in a hostel.
Small umbrella and or poncho
Small notepad and pen
Baseball hat and or beanie
Tissues or toilet paper – I only brought a small pack of tissues with me, but when I was in certain countries where TP was scarce in public bathrooms, I would make sure I had tissue or toilet paper with me at all times.
Thank you cards – I brought these to thank friends who let me stay with them on the road.
REMEMBER TO “DO YOU”!
Lastly, remember to DO YOU when you’re packing. Just because I brought a 60L bag and chose to pack a GoPro and iPad doesn’t mean you need to. Just remember that all of us are different, so try and make your choices based on what you currently use in your day-to-day life. Oh, and have fun with it! You’ll never be stranded somewhere without the essentials, so in reality, you’ll be fine if you forget to pack something!
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Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 29-year-old from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.