Details of Life on the Road: Street eats, cheap sleeps, budget travel experiences

The Long-Term Travel Packing List

Wondering what I bring with me on my travels? Or, maybe you’re trying to figure out what common items travelers bring during their long-term travels? Look no further. Here is a comprehensive list of everything I travel with at the time of writing. And I mean everything – this is complete list of every single item I have. For simplicity, I’ve divided up the list into five main categories: toiletries and medicines, electronics, miscellaneous items, luggage, and clothes. I’ve also added a brief section at the bottom describing the few things I’ve picked up with traveling.

Although I consider myself to be a frugal traveler, and I always keep some empty room in my pack for things I’ll pick up on the way, I am by no means a minimalist. Traveling light-weight is the way to go, but it’s nice to have a few comfort items with you during months spent on the road.

I’ve provided a brief description of the following items and how useful the items are to me, and some information to help you decide if the item is necessary for you to pack

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Toiletries/Medicines:

Toiletry bag – You always need a decent toiletry bag in order to hold all of your toiletries.

Toothbrush – Keep those teeth clean!

Toothpaste – Goes with the above. I carry a Tom’s brand from back home, until it empties, of course.

Hair brush – This is a small plastic brush with no handle for taming my mane.

Q-tips – Feels nice to do some q-tiping every once and a while.

Floss – Surprisingly, not something I see a lot of travelers carrying. Necessary for good oral hygiene, though.

Deodorant – I carry a particular brand from back home. Nice to try and prevent at least one of the smells of being a roaming nomad.

Mouth wash – I like to carry mouth wash, and to have a quick rinse every now and again. I’m not sure if I’ll replace it when the bottle empties, though.

Electric trimmer – this is a small trimmer I use to shave some parts of my face and to trim my bread. It doesn’t take up much room.

Condoms – Always carry condoms. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation without one. I usually take some from back home trying to ensure quality.

Nail clippers/file – You’ll have to clip your finger and toes nails, won’t you? A file comes in handy, too.

Tweezers – Good for a few reasons. If you’ve got an mad uni-brow like me, you’ll need a pair of these!

Vitamin C – Immune support and more. It’s nice to have some vitamin C on hand.

Probiotics – Good for maintaining a healthy level of good bacteria in your gut. Good for defense against bad bacteria and parasites, and they’ll help combat diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

Vitamin b12 – I take these to keep my Vitamin b12 level healthy.

Oil of oregano – Great for a multitude of purposes. Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic. Take a few drops if you’ve eaten something that’s not sitting well, or if you feel a nasty cold coming on.

Shampoo – I carry a particular type of dandruff shampoo with me. It will last quite a while, but once it empties I’ll likely just use any shampoo I can get my hands on.

Toilet paper – One of the most essential travel items. You do not want to be in a situation where you need some and don’t have any. Rule number one: carry toilet paper. I usually take what’s left over from the hostel I’ve been staying at.

Small tissue pack – I usually have one of these hiding in my large bag just in case. Good if you’ve some how forgotten your toilet paper, otherwise not necessary.

Advil – Nice to have on hand in order to battle a head ache. Good for those Wednesday…. errrr, Sunday morning hangovers.

Sun screen – Necessary to wear in the harsh SEAsian sun. Don’t be silly and end up with crisp red skin on the fast track to getting melanoma. It’s a good idea to bring some from home, as sun screen prices in many parts of SEAsia are outrageous.

Insect repellent (deet) – 30% deet is the percentage to look for. Especially important in malarial areas of the world, and even more important if you’re not taking other precautions such as wearing long clothes, using a mosquito net, and taking malarial prophylactics

Benadryl (allergy pills) – Probably not something I’m likely to use, but I decided to bring them in case my sinuses are acting up.

Malarone (Malarial prophylactic) – Good to have on hand. A lot of travelers take these pills religiously, while others aren’t too concerned about their chances of contracting malaria. Do your research and find out what’s best for you. Depending on where you’re traveling, and for how long, the potential ricks of ingesting such pills might outweigh the chance of contracting malaria. I personally have decided not to take the pills – I use a mozzy net when possible, I have insect repellent readily available, I have had unpleasant symptoms taking the pills previously, and a rarely get bitten.

Charcoal tablets – This help eliminate toxins from the body by soaking up the poisons and getting rid of them. Good to take if you feel like you’ve ingested something that’s not sitting well

Azithromycin – A common antibiotic prescribed to travelers heading to SEAsia.

Grapefruit seed extract – Good to be taken if you’ve feeling like you may have contracted some sort of bug/bacteria/parasite. Good for immune support. I take one of these every now and again as a precaution against anything unwanted in my body.

Face-cloth – I don’t use it every time I shower, but It’s nice to get in a good scrub every now and again.

Polysporin – For applying on cuts, and preventing infection. Better safe than sorry.

First aid kit – I carry a smal first aid kit which holds the following items: mouth-to-mouth mask, safety pins, tweezers, small scissors, adhesive strip, dressing pad, cleansing wipes, soap wipes, iodine pads, bandaids, adhesive tape, triple antibiotic ointment, anti-itch cream, PBT bandage, and a triangular bandage.

Hand sanitizer – It’s great to be able to disinfect your hands after using a toilet for which there is no nearby sink or soap. Great for using prior to eating, making sure you don’t contract any bugs from your hands.

Soap – Not something I typically purchase. Many hostels and guesthouses provide you with a soap bar If you then stay there for a few days you’ll have collected quite a few showers worth of soap.

Electronics:

Ipod touch (64gb) – Prior to departing on this trip, I purchased this Ipod touch in order to replace my broken Ipod classic. The touch is great as it allows me to access the internet, downloads apps, and much more. However, it’s primarily my music player. I also use it to check the time, to make Facetime calls, to text message other Apple users, to make notes, and as an alarm clock. Of course, the Touch has a USB cord and charger, an adapter, as well as a small plastic protector.

Laptop – I carry an Asus X200M notebook. It doesn’t take up much space, and it’s very light weight. For me, this is a must have as I wouldn’t be able to maintain my blog without it. It allows me quick and free access to email and the internet, however, I try and use it as sparsely as possible. With the laptop comes the charger, and I also have a small fabric case for it.

Camera – Before leaving home I purchased a Panasonic Lumix LX7. I’m very happy with my decision to purchase this camera. I’m generally happy with its performance, however I wish it had better zoom (only 3.8X optical). Photography is something that I love more and more as the days go on. I imagine myself owning a decent DSLR for any of my future travels. I keep the camera in a small case with two camera batteries, a USB cord, and a couple of SD cards,

USB flash drive (32gb) – Important to carry in order to back up files. I use it to back up all of my photos.

Miscellaneous:

Batteries (AA) – I travel with a few extra batteries in case I need to replace the ones I’m using in, for instance, my electric shaver.

Duct tape – Great for a multitude of uses. Find a small role, take out the cardboard middle and it’s ready to be packed. At the time of writing I haven’t had to use it yet, but I know it’s handy to have.

Ziplock bags – I keep my shampoo in one bag, qtips in another, medications in another, miscellaneous items in another, and so on. They’re great to have.

Spork – This was given to me by a close friend. It’s a lightweight, small, bamboo spork. It was given to me as a travel gift, and so I felt it would be nice to take with me traveling. At the time of writing I haven’t used it yet, but I know I will.

Headphones – Can’t listen to my MP3 player without these bad boys. Otherwise, I would be stuck listening to obnoxiously loud Asian dance music on all of the bus journeys.

Novel – I’m currently reading Paulo Coelho’s Aleph. Traveling is a great time to get back in the reading form. I always travel with a great book, and once this one is finished I’ll replace it at one of the many book exchanges at cafes and hostels.

Lonely Planet guides – At the time of writing I’m carrying Lonely Planet’s Mekong Region guide, as well as their Sri Lanka guide. I really enjoy travel guides, and I think they’re filled with a lot of beneficial information if you take the time to read them.

Frisbee – As an Ultimate Frisbee enthusiast, I always have a disc on hand. It’s a great way to pass the time, get some exercise, get to know a group of people, and maybe show the locals something new.

Playing cards – Another great way of getting to know people. A great way to pass the time. And, if you’re a drinker, these cards will inevitably be used for drinking games.

Pen – A must have. I usually carry keep three or four in different places in my bags.

Budget Book – I carry a small Moleskin notebook in which I keep track of all my finances. It’s great to see where you’re spending your money and to see where you need to cut costs.

Notebook – I also have two other notebooks. One which has yet to be used, and the other which I use for random notes such as jotting down addresses, getting peoples information, maintaining my food diary, and more.

Locks and keys – Not something I often use. I generally don’t lock up my bag, and if the hostel has a locker space they’ll often provide you with keys. Many travelers carry a combination lock.

Earplugs – Haven’t used them yet, but probably should have dozens of times. Nonetheless, good item to have with you to block out the roosters’ calls. Many travelers swear by them.

Copies of passport, and other documents – Important to have copies of your documents. I have physical and electronic copies of my passport, license, travel insurance, country visas, warranty papers, bank statement, plane tickets, Immunization forms, and more.

Sunglasses – Everyone needs a pair of sunglasses. Buy them for $2.00 in Laos, rather than for $20.00 back home.

Guitar pick – This is a special type of pick, a thumb pick. I use it to play a distinct type of finger-style guitar. Although I’m not traveling with a guitar, many other travelers are, and so it’s nice to play comfortably – with my thumb pick – when the opportunity arises.

Laundry bag – A really small, extremely light-weight bag pictured with a map of the world. It was given to my by a close family member. I keep my dirty laundry in it so the dirty clothes don’t stink up everything else.

Passport – Your most important travel possession. Keep it safe as you won’t be going anywhere without it. I keep it in a small passport holder with extra passport photos, and departure cards.

License – I have my Canadian drivers license as another form of photo ID.

Student Card – Useful as a form of Photo ID, but even more useful to get student discounts.

Credit card – A beneficial item. I try not to use it, but it can really come in handy if you’re stuck.

Bank card – My primary method of getting funds.

Expired Credit Card – Kept in my wallet in the unlikely case that I’m mugged. It has an expired number, so that if the thief were to try and use it with a different expiry date there’s no way it would ever work.

Air Miles and Aeroplan cards – To get those points when possible.

Canadian coins – To give as gifts to fellow travelers and hosts.

Sewing kit – It’s always useful to have that extra needle and thread in case you have a tear in your clothing or need to sew on a new button. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn how to sew.

Shoe laces – In case I need new laces. Otherwise they can be used for tying things together.

Twist ties – Just in case, and they don’t occupy much space.

Extras – I have extra headphones (one headphone broke, but I’ll keep them in case I lose my current pair), headphone ear buds, ear plugs, broken sunglasses (usable if I lose my current pair).

Luggage:

50L North Face Terra backpack – I’m very happy with this purchase. It’s a really nice looking bag, it’s comfortable, it’s reliable, and it’s a modest 50L. At the time of writing, the bag isn’t nearly full. I could probably travel with a 40L, but the extra space will likely be filled over time, and in colder climates when I need to bulk up.

24L Osprey Flare daypack – I also really enjoy this bag. Osprey make reliable bags, and this one is pleasing to the eyes. I carry this bag around on a daily basis – it generally holds my camera, guidebook, notebooks, and random items. I think an 18L or 20L would be the perfect size daypack.

Money belt – I’m not even sure why I bother to carry one of these. I don’t use it, and I probably never will. Although I seldom wore one during previous travels, I’m completely content with just carrying a normal wallet.

Wallet – This is where I keep my money. I keep a couple of fake/really expired cards in here in case I’m mugged. There’s never a really high quantity of cash inside. Some travelers carry with a money belt, others use a wallet and chain, some use a money clip, others opt for loose cash in their pockets, it’s up to you. I noticed that a lot of people use Mighty Wallets.

Clothes:

Sandals – On a daily basis I wear my O’neil Phluff Daddy sandals. They’re a comfortable thong style sandal.

Flip flops – I have an old pair of flips flops which are reserved for showering. There are a lot of showers you don’t want to step into without flip flops. I often ignore this advice, but I do use the flip flops sometimes.

Shoes – I wear Merrell Blaze shoes. I bought a pair for 50% off prior to leaving which was a great decision. The shoes are heavy duty, good for hiking, and they offer a lot of support. They’re not too bulky either, making them pleasing to the eye, and they’re fine to be used as casual walking shoes.

Socks (4) – I have three pairs of ankle socks, and one pair of longer socks. I don’t wear socks all that often due to wearing sandals.

Boxer briefs (4) – I travel with four pair of boxer briefs, and their turn to be washed comes quite quickly. I think five pairs of boxers is best.

Jeans – I wear these during the cold nights, and if I’m going out to a nicer club – unless it’s quite warm. They really don’t take up a lot of space, but they’re a bit on the heavy side. Forget what’s been said by so many people about not traveling with jeans, especially in warm climates. If you want to travel with a pair of jeans, do it.

Long sleeve shirts (2) – I have two light-weight long sleeve shirts. Great to wear during the cool evenings and to keep the mozzies away.

T-shirts (4) – I have four small t-shirts which I rotate wearing. The white one gets dirty almost instantly upon being worn.

Sweater – I have a very light weight, button up fleece. It doesn’t take up much room, and it does the trick on those cold nights.

Swimming shorts – To the beach. Great to have a pair of swimming trucks.

Hiking shorts – These are the shorts that I wear on a daily basis. Lightweight and durable.

Tank tops (2) – I have two tank tops. I wear them more than my t-shirts, and they get quite dirty.

Pants  – These are actually my hiking shorts. They’re the two-in-one type pants, able to be zipped off at the knee to make shorts.

Belt  – To hold up my jeans.

 

Other items:

At the time of writing I’ve picked up a few gifts and keepsakes such as a snake-shaped pottery whistle, a mouth harp, a Vietnamese scarf I received as a birthday gift, sea shells, extra bracelets, fabric headbands from clubs, keepsake currencies, chopsticks, an eraser I received as a gift from a host, and memories in the form of receipts, labels, maps, and the like. These items aren’t really part of my “what I travel with” items, but I am carrying them around with me and so they deserve a mention in this comprehensive list – it just goes to show that people often travel with items that they don’t necessarily use.

I’ve lost a few items as well. Some which I’ve replaced and others which I’ve felt no need replace. I’ve also left behind a couple of items I had deemed unnecessary. Stay tuned for a future post regarding common travel items that I don’t travel with. I hope you’ve enjoyed the list, and maybe it will make your travel planning a little bit easier.

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