Many have wondered – and asked – what’s in my bag for my indefinite worldwide solo trek.
NOTE: This post has been updated in October 2018, 7 months since it’s original publish date. When you travel full time, you live and learn daily.
I have to admit, it took me a while to work out what to pack and I’m still tweaking it, over a month later. I have added and subtracted a million times over. Even the night before I left Sydney, I was pulling out things from my bag and shockingly, I was still over on weight.
I’m so used to being a carry-on traveller and I don’t have a lot in my bag when it really comes down to it. But, I’ve learned the lesson to distribute and purge as I go.
Parts of my first year will be spent walking the Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago. It’s an 800km walk, so, I will be taking only what I can carry in my backpack. Everything else that I have in my overall bag will be left with a good friend in England for the duration.
The contents of my bags are straight-forward, despite having to account for four seasons and the plan for indefinite travel. The secret is layering and making sure everything goes together.
I made sure that everything that went into my bag was
necessary, practical, made me feel great and was comfortable.[/dt_quote]
What Luggage Am I Using for this Worldwide Solo Trek?
I have two pieces of luggage (with a caveat):
I chose this suitcase after Virgin Australia cracked the wheel on my trusty ol’ Eagle Creek 22 inch. I’d had it about 15 years, so it lived a good life. It was time for a new suitcase and I’m really happy with the Delsey.
The Delsey has a cavernous space inside so I am utilizing my three Eagle Creek packing cubes along with 2 packing cubes I bought once I got to America. I use these to sort my clothes into tops, underwear, socks, etc. The bottom layer of the suitcase has one side winter clothes, such as merino long sleeve shirts, jumpers (sweaters), a woollen hat, scarves and gloves. The other half has my summer clothing, such as my swimsuit, my two dresses etc so it’s easy to access as I change hemispheres.
The packing cubes hold my all-season wear, the stuff I wear no matter what the weather. My jeans, yoga pants, t-shirts all sit on top of the layer.
The other piece of luggage is my Mountain Designs Escape 40L Daypack.
I am using this daypack for when I walk the Camino so not taking it was not an option. Between the Delsey and this daypack, it’s more than I need. I use it for excess from the suitcase to balance the weight for flying. (I learned that the hard way!)
Until the Camino, and afterwards, I’m using this Mountain Designs Daypack as my electronics bag and as an overnight bag. What I have determined is when I have a rental car and am only staying in an accommodation overnight, it makes better sense for me to pack what I need into the daypack, with my electronics. There’s plenty of room to be able to do this. That way, I’m only carrying what I need for the night instead of taking everything inside.
You can read more about my my Mountain Designs Escape 40L Daypack by clicking here.
UPDATE: As of June, 2018, I have since donated my Mountain Designs Escape 40L Daypack. As mentioned, it was just too much for what I needed. I have since purchased a Wenger laptop backpack which works really well for my needs.
What Clothes Did I Pack?
I considered every piece that went into my Delsey bag. As you’ll see, a lot of these clothes aren’t of high quality but they are clothes I am comfortable in. As I’ve said before, finding clothes that fit and look good on me has always been challenging for me and if I find something at a discount store that fits the bill, all the better. (I am frugal after all!) For other things I packed, I did buy quality, knowing these are items that are hard to come by or some I simply had to lay out the funds for, to find the right fit for me.
(UPDATED AS OF OCTOBER 2018, 10 MONTHS INTO THE WORLDWIDE TREK)
- 1 ‘Valentina Loves’ Grey jumper (sweater)
1 KMart Black Long Length Cardigan.(Donated) 1 North Face Black Fleece jumper –(Donated) 2 Katies black long sleeve layering tees(Worn out, replaced by a second MacPac 220 Henley Top.)
- 2 long sleeve merino tops – 1 MacPac 220 Henley Top and
Mountain Designs Thermal Baselayer(donated). Replaced by a MacPac Victoria 3/4 Scoop 180 Merino Top
- 1 Autograph Long-Sleeved Chambray Shirt
- 3 T-shirts – (1) Blue Illusion scoop Neck Tee, (1) Virtuelle Black and White and (1) Kmart Superman special. (One t-shirt removed)
- 1 Tunic – Black Target Off the Shoulder Beach Dresses (that I wear as a tunic or a dress)
- 1 Yoga pants – Big W Avella (best yoga pants EVER). (I pair removed, worn out)
- 2 leggings – Lane Bryant
- 2 Jeans – Levis (1) straight leg (314), (1) skinny (311) (One pair removed)
- 1 Lightweight Columbia Hiking Pants (Added)
- 2 Dresses – FatFace Simone Dress (Would Wear this EVERY DAY if I could!) and a Polka Dot Short Sleeve Maxi Dress I bought in Spain
- 1 Nightie – Jane Lamerton
- 3 Tank tops – Old Navy
- 10 Target Briefs (underwear)
- 5 Bras – 3 City Chic, 2 Lane Bryant ‘Sports Bras‘
- 4 Socks for hiking – Kathmandu Merino Hiking socks
- 1 Zippered Hoody – Exofficio
- 1 Shorts – (1) Jeans West denim shorts
and (1) Black Lane Bryant shorts
- 3 scarves (I like variety in winter since I’m pairing it with black)
- 1 Purple Wool Beanie
- 1 Buff
- 1 Grey Pair of Uniqlo Gloves
- 1 Speedo Swimsuit
- 1 Hats – (1) Columbia wide-brimmed hat
and (1) Taronga Zoo Ballcap 1 North Face Dryzzle Gortex jacket (my boobs and hips prevent me from buying women’s jackets – they don’t fit)
- 1 Mountain Equipment Waterproof Jacket
- 1 ExOfficio Women’s Emei Trench Coat
What Shoes Did I Pack?
Ah, shoes. I’m not a shoe girl. I hate shoe shopping.
Let me tell you why: Before I started packing, I shopped for a pair of sandals that I could wear during the day, but also have them dressy enough that I could wear in the evening should I go out. (It could happen). I didn’t want to pack heels, because even in my settled life, I only wear them for special occasions, like weddings. I thought I’d found a pair in Sydney. I purchased them and when I tried them on later, on the carpet, they didn’t fit at all. They were too narrow. I have wide feet.
So, shoes are not a big priority, but I know I’m also hard on shoes, so I had to pack quality.
I am not a traveller that wears hiking boots or sneakers. I could not think of anything worse. When I’m hiking, I have the appropriate footwear, but for most of my travels, I am fine in either Merrell sandals, my Eccos or flat blacks.
Did I pack only these three pairs? Of course not!
I had a Camino walk to consider, so packed some Merrell GORETEX sneakers (they take up half my suitcase by the way, but a necessary item to pack).
I had to pack thongs (flip-flops) because I’d be staying in hostels along the way and needed them for showers.
And I have a pair of flat red shoes that I LOVE and go great to dress up an outfit. I also have a scarf that ties it together when I wear the red shoes. Yes, these were included as a whim. (These were sent back to Australia after a few months… never worn)
So, what shoes DID I pack?
Thongs/Flip Flops from Academy that are about 20 years old and are worn out, which is why I packed them.. Replaced with lightweight Flip Flops
- Merrell sandals
- Flat Blacks – you can read about that awesome purchase here. As I said, I hate shoe shopping, but that was the best experience I’ve ever had! Sadly, these wore out as well. I replaced them with these.
Red Flats – shipped back to Australia after a few months.
- Ecco High Top Sneakers – I LOVE these. They keep my feet dry and warm in winter.
- Merrell GORETEX sneakers, mainly for the Camino, but have worn them through Disneyland and the Grand Canyon and have not had any issues with them at all.
What Toiletries Did I Pack?
Before I tell you the contents of my toiletry bag, I’m going to let you in on the best travel products I’ve EVER found: Muji.
I LOVE Muji. I have my all of my toiletries in Muji Polyethylene Bottles and I’ve never had a spill, leak, or worse, an explosion of liquids mid-flight. The caps stay on and you can even get labels from Muji that will help you decipher between body wash and shampoo.
In addition to the bottles, I’ve found some bags that are amazing for those ‘plastic bags’ you need for carry-on. I hate trying to find zip lock bags every time, so I’ve found these clear cases at Muji and they are AMAZING. They are a heavyweight clear plastic and if something does leak (as in a non-Muji container), it’s an easy cleanup.
OK, so here’s what’s in my Kathmandu Toiletry Bag:
- Tea Tree Oil Antiseptic Cream – I never leave home without it. Best stuff around.
- Olay Regenerist moisturizer
- Thank You Geranium and Rosewood Hand Cream / Moisturiser
- Thank You Antibacterial Lemon & Lime Hand Sanitiser
- Face Wash (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Shampoo (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Conditioner (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Body Wash (in a Muji Polyethylene Bottles)
- Small Cosmetics Bag containing: IT Cosmetics CC Cream (the magic stuff), Mascara, Eyelash Curler (yes, I do), Bronzer and Chapstick (nothing but the original).
- Sunscreen – 50+ SPF
- Toothbrush / toothpaste/ mouthwash/ floss
- Antibiotics (1 fill)
- 1 pack of Panadol Extra (medication for migraines)
- 1 bottle of Zyrtek Antihistamine tables
- 1 bottle of 200g Ibruprophin for headaches
- Body sponge
- Headband for washing face
- Razor + refill blades
- Nail polish, nail files, nail clippers. Yeah, it’s a girly thing, but I find when I wear nail polish when I travel, my nails break and split less.
- Portable hair dryer + brush
- Aveda Control Paste (in a screw cap Muji container)
What Miscellaneous Stuff Did I Pack?
There is always stuff that doesn’t fit into the ‘clothes, toiletries or electronics’ categories. It’s miscellaneous but in no way less important.
1 Dooney and Burke Tote Bag – It’s my old handbag that I use every day. It was hard to leave it behind because it’s great for planes and trains. Additionally, it allows me to look less like a tourist and more as a local.Left in Australia. I now use a canvas bag when I need a ‘handbag’
- 1 REI Travel Towel – mine is old, like 20 years old, but still works great.
- 1 Lightweight Torch (Flashlight)
- 1 Travel Clothesline, Sink Stopper, 10 Plastic Pegs
1 pair of Compression socks – My feet swell when I fly, so these are imperative for me.. I have discovered when I wear my Ecco Hightops when flying, I don’t need the compression socks. Would MUCH rather wear the Eccos!
- Transport cards (Oyster card for London, Opal card for AU when I return)
- A small amount of local currency for the first two countries
- Extra photos + copies of documentation for visas
- Vegemite (a must for every Aussie)
Lollies (Candy) – an assortment to share along the way.. Eaten 😉
- Reading glasses (2) – I have two pairs for reading. One is a spare.
- (1) Lightweight Canvas + (1) nylon shopping bags. These are great to carry groceries when I have a rental car along with day to day stuff.
- Sketchpad, drawing pencils, eraser and sharpener, watercolour pencils
What Electronics Did I Pack?
Because I’m a digital nomad, that means that I run this business (and the rest that makes up my patchwork income) from the road. So I have probably more than one would need for travelling. Plus, I’m a serious photographer so I want my stuff with me.
- Selfie stick (don’t judge me)
- Olympus EM-1 Camera – I love this camera, more than any other I’ve owned. You can read my review here.
Manfrotto tripod – I questioned packing this, even though it’s a great travel tripod. But I knew if I didn’t pack it, I’d regret it later. And for my Grand Canyon shots, it was perfect. My only hesitation is I can’t take it as carry-on if I wished to, as it’s looked upon as a weapon (?).. Left in Australia. Too heavy and rarely used it. Apple MacBook 13” – my workhorse.. Replaced with a MacBook Pro 13″.
- iPad Air 2, 64gb with Logitech keyboard
- My electronics bag (an Eagle Creek packing cube). It includes 1 USB stick, camera accessories and chargers, electronics chargers, [extra camera battery], adapters
- WD Passport external drive within it’s own case. I also back up to the cloud via CrashplanPro (It ROCKS)
- Pens, plus strategy planner.
- Business cards – I love the ones I ordered through Moo.com. If you’re interested in purchasing these, let me know and I’ll send you a 20% discount for your first order.
What Do I Wish I Would Have Included?
To be honest, when it comes down to it, there’s really nothing. Now I’m into the travelling, I have realised I have exactly what I need and no more. Maybe when I get on to the next flight, I’ll actually be within weight restrictions. (I was last time, since I learned that lesson with the first flight, but there’s always a chance. My suitcase weights the exact limit of most airlines, so with careful packing and with more culling in the U.S., I should be golden as I head to Europe.)
But, if there was anything I feel I could have added it would be:
- More Thursday Planation Tea Tree Antibacterial cream. I use this for everything. Bites, scratches, itches. It’s the only thing I’ve found that works fast.
- More Thank You Antibacterial Hand Santiser – this stuff is great. It’s not greasy at all. I use it a lot – After filling the car with petrol, when I’m flying, when I’m using public transportation… Best of all, the company gives back in the most important of ways.
- More Thank You Moisturiser. I know I can pick up more toiletries on the road – and that’s one thing I do buy – but this moisturiser smells and feels amazing. If you live in Australia, try it.
- I have been looking for a long maxi dress that I can dress up or down. I’ve yet to find it. When I am it cities, it’s what I search for when I want some ‘retail therapy’. The same could be said for those elusive sandals! (I found one in Spain!)
- Another warm sweater or jacket. I packed when it was summer, and it was really hot the day I finally packed, so my head was not in cold weather. I left my Lands End Jacket in Australia. I did that on purpose, because it had holes in the pockets and it was now just too big. I’m kicking myself now for not throwing it in for my first month. Once I reached America, I went to the North Face Outlet and purchased a fleece jumper and a Goretex jacket, which I will need for the Camino. I wish I had two Merino tops at MacPac in Napier, New Zealand. (The North Face jacket has been shipped back to Australia. I used in on the Camino. I have also bought two more Merinos from MacPac).
- An American adapter for my MacBook Air. I have about ten in Australia, but did I bring ONE with me? No. It was a trip to the Apple Store in the first few days of hitting the American shores for yet another… The good thing is it only cost me $20 thanks to the creative thinking of the Apple employee =)
- My Dick Smith crossover camera bag. I almost packed it and wish I had, but I had no room and I couldn’t take it on the plane with me. It’s the best camera bag I’ve ever had. I’d include a link, but they don’t make it anymore. When I returned to Australia, I grabbed it to take then reconsidered. I just didn’t have the room.
What Do I Wish I Hadn’t Brought With Me?
- So many pairs of shoes. (I know, I know!) As I made it through the summer in the southern hemisphere, I whittled down to one pair of sandals. My flip flops on their last legs too but I will buy a pair that are lighter and quicker to dry before I begin my Camino walk. (You see the updates above)
- I have a lightweight jacket that I wear over a dress that I rarely wear. It just seemed a little too much. (I’ve sent this back to Australia since…)
- I have donated a few clothes along the way that I found I have not needed or worn since leaving Australia.