What’s in our bags?

Posted on March 11th, 2013 by BreAnn

Packing for an around-the-world trip takes a lot of research, thought, and planning. Many people—including us in the beginning—were curious and astonished about how LITTLE you can really bring with you. After all, you really don’t want to have to lug SO much stuff that you are tired, sore, hot, and miserable all the time. ESPECIALLY if you have to lug this all with you for 10+ months!

James and I researched online and in books what others suggested you bring on a RTW trip, and came up with the basics, as well as a lot of other “just in case” type things. In addition, those of you who know my mom or myself know we are people who plan for EVERYTHING most of the time.  If you are with us on a weekend trip or out somewhere, there’s a good chance we probably have a bandaid, safety pin, medicine, or any other random item you need in our purse or bag. So when it came to this trip, you better believe I made sure we were prepared for anything!  Of course, you can buy most anything anywhere…. but when you are sick or in a rush, it is CONVENIENT if you already have the medicine or bandage already with you.

James with his large backpack on back, and daypack on front.

The MOST important decision, however, came with what MAIN bags we would be carrying: we each would need one main large backpack or suitcase, and one smaller daypack/laptop pack. After doing some online research, we went to many outdoors stores (REI, etc.) to see bags in person, try them on, zip open all the different pockets, and ask a LOT of questions to the salespeople. James opted to go with a larger trekking-type backpack: Gregory Baltoro 75 (if you have any interest in these packs and seeing more features, check out this youtube video from zappos), but I was “tormented” for awhile over the thought of having to lug around EVERYTHING on my back.  I have a lot of back and shoulder issues, and I just KNEW I would be miserable if I had no other choice than to lug all my stuff on my back.

So instead, I went with a roller suitcase that converts into a backpack: the Osprey Sojourn 28. What is funny about this all, is in typical man-woman fashion (men usually being more quickly decisive, and women second-guessing their decisions), James decided almost instantly which bag he wanted, while I spent 2 months going back and forth between bags, even buying and returning one of them, before I ended up with my particular pack.

In regards to how much/little to pack for clothing (many people have asked, “How can you pack clothes for a WHOLE year!!!?”), you basically pack enough for a week and a half and just keep re-washing everything. It’s important to actually buy mostly new clothing for the trip that is made of light weight, moisture-wicking material, so that they dry quickly after washing or if you get rained on. Cotton and heavy materials are usually a “no-no”, as they take longer to dry and can be difficult to hand wash and/or ring water out of. You also have to account for very HOT weather and very COLD weather. In this case, we won’t experience any EXTREME cold temperatures—maybe only as low as 40s—-so in that case, we will just layer shirts and pants and wear scarfs and hats if needed.

Packing cubes keep us SO ORGANIZED!

Finally, in order to keep all of our clothes and other below items ORGANIZED, we got a TON of these “packing cubes”, which are different sized and colored small zipper bags that allow you to organize out all your items into separate sections in your suitcase. These have been the MOST helpful of the items we brought on the trip, because when you are moving place to place, it’s SO much easier to just take these bags in and out of your bag over and over and still keep things organized. Not to mention the colors help you know instantly which particular bag/cube has shirts, underwear, or pants in them!

Anyway . . . on to what we ended up packing into our bags to last us a whole year of traveling (sounds like a LOT once you reach the bottom of the list, but we got things very COMPACT in our bags!):

CLOTHING (each of us):

  • 5-7 short sleeve shirts (made of light weight, moisture-wicking material)
  • 2 tank tops (BreAnn)
  • 1 long sleeve shirt (made of light weight, moisture-wicking material)
  • 1 long sleeve thermal shirt
  • 2 pairs of pants (one jeans, one hiking-type pants made of light-weight, moisture-wicking material)
  • 1 pair of cargo pants with zip-off legs (converts into shorts)
  • 1 pair of shorts (BreAnn packed 2 pairs)
  • 1 dress (BreAnn)
  • 1 Pajama pants (BreAnn also brought pajama shorts), and we just wear whatever clean tshirt we happen to have at the time
  • 7-10 pair of underwear
  • 7-10 pair socks
  • 2 bras (BreAnn, obviously)
  • 1 sweatshirt with a hood
  • 1 Columbia fleece sweatshirt (VERY warm!! and has a ton of zipper pockets)
  • 1 Rain coat (acts to obviously protect us against rain, but also used as an outer wind-breaker type material)
  • 1 Swim suit
  • 1 sarong (BreAnn) – VERY useful as a skirt, a towel, and as a beach “blanket”
  • Sunglasses
  • 1 hat with visor (BreAnn)
  • 1 pair comfortable hiking/walking shoes
  • 1 pair running shoes
  • 1 pair flip flops (for the beach and to use in hostel showers)
  • 1 pair cute sandals (BreAnn)
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 pair gloves
  • 1 winter hat
  • 1 workout top (BreAnn)
  • 1 workout pants


TRAVEL ACCESSORIES/OTHER (total items together)

  • 2 Power converter/plugs
  • 2 bandanas
  • When there’s RAIN, our raincoats and backpack raincovers are SO handy!

    2 large raincovers for our larger backpack & suitcase

  • 2 smaller raincovers for our smaller backpacks
  • 15 Woolite packs (for washing clothing)
  • 1 rubber sink-stopper (for washing clothing in a sink)
  • 2 travel clothes lines
  • 2 laundry bags (to put dirty clothes in to keep separate from our clean clothing)
  • 2 blow-up travel pillows (each of us have our own)
  • 2 eye masks (each of us have our own)
  • 10 pair ear plugs
  • 1 travel alarm clock
  • 2 Flashlights
  • 1 mini-lantern
  • 1 head lamp
  • 40 passport photo copies (for obtaining visas in the future when needed) each
  • 2 sporks (one side spoon, other side fork with a serrated side for cutting)
  • 1 small travel salt/pepper shaker (very helpful for cooking your own food in hostels)
  • 1 swiss army knife – with several knives, mini-saw, bottle opener, can opener, mini scissors (SO HELPFUL!!)
  • 1 leatherman/multi-tool (may need screwdriver, pliers, cutter, etc.)
  • Using our water purifier–STERIPEN–which uses UV light–to kill any bacteria, viruses or protozoa! (sunglasses not needed, actually… just goofing around in this pic!)

    1 Steripen (water purifier)

  • Super glue
  • Matches
  • Sewing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Little packet I put together which includes rubber bands, string, paper clips, wire, binder clips, zip-ties, and twisty-ties, and some scotch tape.)
  • Gallon sized, quart-sized, and snack-sized zip lock bags (rolled up)
  • Tiny sized deck of cards
  • Travel books
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters, and sharpies
  • Small packs of Kleenex
  • “Wet wipes” – antibacterial hand wipes



  • First aid kit (with a ton of bandaids, gauze pads, alcohol wipe pads, Iodine pads, etc.)
  • Roll of medical tape
  • Cotton balls
  • Neosporin
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Vaseline
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Ibuprofen/Advil (headaches, body aches)
  • Excedrin (headaches)
  • Lots of medicine, first aid stuff, and more!

    No-doz (caffeine) – help with jet lag

  • Advil PM – help sleep
  • Pepto Bismol (stomach/intestinal problems)
  • Tums (stomach)
  • Imodium (stomach/intestinal problems)
  • Benedryl (allergies, rashes, help sleep/jet lag)
  • Dramamine (motion sickness & help sleep/jet lag)
  • Bonine (motion sickness)
  • Cold medicines (4 different kinds)
  • Cough drops
  • Nuun (rehydration tablets) – like Gatorade, in case of diarrhea or any sickness where we’re dehydrated
  • Prescription cipro (antibiotic for stomach/lower intestinal issues)
  • Prescription Z-pack/azithromycin (antibiotic for upper respiratory issues)
  • Prescription Acetazolamide (to take in high elevation areas to prevent elevation sickness)
  • Prescription Malarone (pills to take daily in areas where you are susceptible to getting Malaria)
  • Acidophilus pills, (5 billion organisms per capsule) – Capsules to take if we are on any antibiotic listed above…  But also to take on a daily basis when we’re in countries with lower sanitation laws when it comes to food . . . if you take acidophilus every day, it will coat your stomach with “good” bacteria so that you have a better chance it will fight off any “bad” bacteria you might ingest from contaminated food.


TOILETRIES, ETC. (each of us)

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste (one tube to share)
  • These fun little toothbrush covers have been handy AND amusing 🙂

    Toothbrush covers (I got some really fun and cute ones that have faces on them! –and it’s VERY useful that they suction-cup to the bathroom mirror for easy access.)

  • Floss
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Deodorant
  • Cologne/perfume
  • 2 bottles sun block (would have only brought one, but we knew we’d use up at least one bottle in the first 2 weeks in French Polynesia)
  • 1 bottle shampoo
  • 1 bottle conditioner
  • Small bottle of hairspray (BreAnn)
  • Small bottle of hair gel (BreAnn)
  • Face lotion with SPF, night face lotion
  • Face soap
  • Body lotion
  • Razor
  • Nail clippers, file, tweezers, mini-scissors
  • Hair ties (BreAnn)
  • Hair-cutting scissors (so we can cut our own hair on the trip!)
  • 2 daily vitamin/pill counter cases (keep track of malaria pills and vitamins)
  • Makeup bag with foundation, powder, 2 eye shadows, 2 eyeliners, concealer, mascara, eye lash curler, blush, 2 makeup brushes (BreAnn)
  • Jewelry roll/bag—didn’t pack ANYTHING expensive! (BreAnn)



  • Laptop computer
  • Digital Camera
  • Extra SD/memory cards for cameras
  • Ipod with headphones
  • Mini-speaker for playing music on iPod or laptop
  • Small tripod (james)
  • Tiny gorilla-pod (tripod) – BreAnn
  • Cellphone
  • Chargers for all electronics



  • Passport
  • Passport ID card
  • Drivers license
  • Vaccination cards (cards we got from our doctors, etc, showing what shots we’ve received)
  • Health insurance card
  • “Important health information” card – information I put together for each of us with our contact information, emergency contact info, medications, allergies, doctor’s info, etc.
  • A card I made with information of our frequent flyer numbers and hotel loyalty program numbers
  • Padi scuba diving certification card
  • Dive book log
  • Credit card(s)
  • ATM/debit card
  • Binder with copies of documents, and printed reservations, tickets, etc., for the trip.


Phew!  Seems like not a lot of clothes, and lot of other stuff, right? Heh . . . the “other stuff” actually all fits into a couple small packing cubes, and has already been SO helpful in our travels!

Hope this list may help you, too, in your travels ahead!




2 responses to “What’s in our bags?”

  1. Ann says:

    You are the most organized and prepared traveler on the face of this earth, so impressed! xo

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