I pretty much started thinking about what I’d bring on my next trip about a week after arriving home from my last 1½ year trip. This time, although I try to write about each item while I’m traveling, I’m also creating my packing list online here to share with you. I started this page March 2017 and it is an oft-changing work in progress for now.
Backpack for my next long-term travels
The wrong pack can make your life miserable (as can over-packing). When I hit the road in 2011, I used the pack I’d been using for US business and fun trips — an EagleCreek Cordura 63-liter suitcase-style backpack that I bought in 2005. It was the best pack available for me in 2005, but materials and models change over the years. It was time to look again.
Can a woman who is living in the business world as she travels fit into one bag and still have a respectable wardrobe, nice hair, and enough tech to work? I’ve pulled it off with a too-heavy 63-70 Liters but I will never travel that heavy again! My new self-challenge — to downsize to a 50L carry-on. Part of my weight came from the tech I carried to be ready to do presentations or help people with their Macs so I will be dropping some of that. And I am succeeding!
I was happy to meet the folks from Eagle Creek was at The International Travel Goods Expo. I learned and now have the opportunity to try a few packing options. I am now experimenting with 2 beautiful looking, well-made, water resistant Eagle Creek travel bags — and expect one of these will be my turtle-shell home soon:
- Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible 29” — with wheels and backpack straps providing 4760 cubic inches (70 cubic liters).
This bag enables me to carry enough to appear as a respectable woman and carry some light weight luxuries. At 9lbs 7oz/4.3kg it’s heavier than my previous bag so I need to keep the contents more than 5 pounds lighter than on previous trips. Because it has sturdy, durable rollerblade wheels, I won’t have to carry it all the time.
It would be nice to be able to buy gifts or warm clothing along the way and have them fit in this bag.
However… I would always have to check it when I fly and I may fly discount airlines more often on this trip.
- Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler Duffel — a 2lb 1oz (0.95 kg) carry-on size backpack/duffel. It is far more elegant looking than a duffel bag. It’s 3050 cubic inches/50 cubic liters and definitely good for travel where you stay in hotels or when you know you don’t need sneakers. The only downside of this bag is the lack of a hip belt — but I am making one.
My challenge is to make a carry-on work for a year-long trip while carrying my own blanket and a few other necessary items. I have actually been able to fit everything I’d need to travel long-term (1 year) in it! This even includes a small hair dryer. I really want to look like I do in “normal life” when I travel now.)
This would require a second small bag that I use in the cold weather, but can perhaps discard or stash someplace when I am in warmer climates.
- I have learned to always have a regular handbag for when I want to go out like a normal person. For this, I found the ChicoBag Hobo which is so light weight that I get to have that luxury! I’m shocked to find it’s no longer listed. Luckily, I’d just bought a new one and it’s black so much more versatile than my original purple one. I hope ChicoBag will carry them again because I have never found anything as good for the money. Here’s what I wrote about this.
- As a day pack I will bring a new ChicoBag Travel Pack rePETe. My last one lasted so well it’s still reliable but during their winter sale, I purchase a new one to start fresh. 10″w x 17″h x 6″d (25cm w x 43cm h x 15cm d); 915 cu in / 15L; 7.2 oz / .45 lbs. You can simply hand was it and hang it to dry.
The other day pack I’d consider bringing and would likely welcome is one of the Sea To Summit waterproof packs.
- ChicoBag Sling bag — for my days or shopping or a fast couple of backpack-less days away.
- Bottle Sling rePETe — for carrying a water bottle around on hot days. Luckily, my HydraPak Stash 1L water bottle fits in it.
- Snack bags by ChicoBags — reusable bags so you can carry nuts, sandwiches, etc. Also great to wrap your foil-wrapped leftovers so you can take that “doggie bag” when you dine out. (I have another favorite reusable snack bag and it was my original but sadly, the company went out of business.
- Sea To Summit Lightweight Dry Sack — for going on boats or walking in the rain. To go on a boat, my laptop goes in one bag, then that bag goes into another. For rain, I put the large one into my day pack or sling bag.
- Packing cubes to hold my clothing within the backpack (or any suitcase).
Since 2011 I have been using Sea To Summit’s Travelling Light ™ Garment Mesh Bag and an Eagle Creek Original Pack-It Cube.
This time I will only take light fabric and a newer compression style of packing cubes. I’m working with 2 Medium/aka Full EagleCreek Pack-It Specter™ packing cubes right now. Switching to their new Pack-It Specter™ Compression cubes would reduce up to 2″ height per cube which would be handy. At 1″ compressed, that’s the shortest height packing cube I have found. Trying to fit everything into my tiny space, I believe the compression would be very handy. Both of these styles though, only open on one side.
LEWIS N. CLARK’s ElectroLight Expandable Packing Cubes are also light weight and are approximately the same size and compression. Plus, their tops open, making packing and selection easy.
- Travel Space Bag — to compress and protect the clothing I won’t use for 6 months, like spare bras and underwear, or a jacket or long pants.
- Laundry bag. I may sew my own so it’s light-weight and closes well. But now I am thinking about a waterproof soft container instead.
- Plastic zip-seal bags. In the past, I have used some for compressing undies, socks, etc. as they also keep them dry and clean. However, I may switch to packing cubes.
Blanket for my next long-term travels
Throughout all of my travels, I’ve had my original down mummy sleeping bag. Warm and comfy, it was also my “blanky” — a bit of home wherever I slept. I even brought it 5-star hotels as my blanket. But it’s no longer viable and I have found a very light weight actual blanket.
- Double Black Diamond Packable Down Throw, a 60″ x 70″ ultra light, ultra warm blanket of 700 fill powder.
It’s made by Blue Ridge Home Fashions, but you won’t really find their website. As I am 5’8″ I will add some length with unfilled ripstop nylon so I can tuck it under my feet. (I found ripstop nylon for $4.75/year downtown LA, but it’s in fabric stores for about $8/yard, and am adding the length.)
Costco carries these great blankets for $19.99 each at the start of winter. I’ve seen them other places for up to double the price. I have also found other brand similar blankets but smaller and more costly.
Toiletries for my next long-term travels
- Hard plastic container for my toiletries
- Brincatti Refillable Bottles (usually 3). I’ve been writing about them here for some years now.
- Round hair brush — I tried to live without it but won’t do without it again. I have to live without something else instead.
- Light flat hair brush purchased in Germany
- Small hair dryer purchased in Germany.
- Plastic soap dish and bar of Dove soap, which will be replaced by local brands as I travel. I’d like to find one with drainage.
- Washcloth — Fast-drying, very light-weight, durable, long, washable. Preferably not polyester as was Target’s The Bathery washcloth that otherwise was perfect for the 6 months I have used it so far.
- Ear plugs. 3M Disposable Classic Earplugs remain my favorite. They last quite a while, are comfortable and block enough sound.
- Sleeping mask. I’ve loved my Nidra Sleep Mask. However, the heat-fused fabric loses to nightly use and being tossed into my backpack for over 6 months. I am trying a couple more now.
- Children’s toothbrush — does a better job and is smaller
- Towel — the Matador NanoDry™ travel towel because it feels nice, absorbs brilliantly, is incredibly thin, dries quickly, doesn’t smell after 2-3 weeks of use so far, and isn’t that horrid nails-on-chalkboard microfiber. I will also be trying another brand that I like. If I like it, I’ll bring both.
- Crystal Body Deodorant Stick, travel size. My article here.
- Track II razor with refill blades — because it saves room and I detest “disposable” plastic that kills our planet.
- Cocofloss — the only dental floss worthy of space in my travel bag! There’s no other floss as space efficient because no other floss does so much. It’s easy to get by with smaller pieces, giving me 2 times the usable floss per container. (I am taking 4 with me next time.) Normally, I’d buy items like this as I travel.
Makeup for my next long-term travels
- Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Mascara ($12.99) — a lightweight, minimal container, stays on, doesn’t require makeup remover. I’ve used this for years and regret purchasing/using any other.
- Eyeliner — Honeybee Gardens Effortless Eye Liner
- Eyeshadow that’s cream in a tube. Never a powder.
- Lip stain — trying Elf because it’s just $2 and is small enough.
- Cheek color to be determined.
Garments for my next long-term travels
- Sarong — a regular in my life since 2011, I have written about it.
- A decorative scarf for variety – maybe
- Fit Chic headbands — I have 2 colors
- Fit Chic — I love my black and gray one
- Cardigans (2) — a cardigan turns a short-sleeved shirt into a long-sleeved garment and act as a light jacket. Navy blue and black.
- Tops — cotton or silk. How many of them is to be determined.
- Skirts — to be determined. One below-knee, other(s) knee-length. Cotton. Pockets preferred. I am sewing these now.
- Dresses — my preferred garment. Frankly, I’d rather only have dresses, but long pants are necessary. I’ll be sewing.
- Light weight zipperless jeans or Jeggings — not sports pants. Just one for colder weather.
- Light weight soft zipper/buttonless jeans, light blue. 1 pair.
- Thin leggings — black and navy. I have them waiting. (Thanks to Ross Stores.)
- Socks — specifically one pair of low-cut Travelsox. I’ll be discussing this later. I’m actually not bringing sneakers but these socks are just-in-case.
- Light weight underwear that dries quickly. I’ll be discussing this later.
- Light weight sandals with an ankle strap. I found very light cork-bottom Rockport sandals, the Keona Flower T-Strap, in a fits-all-outfits neutral color! I love that my feet fit into the bottom which protects toes. I found them at a Rockport outlet, paying under $40 for them. However, I am finding the top of the sandal becomes sweaty quickly, maybe because it is a large area or perhaps because it is man-made material. Time will tell how well they work for my travels.
- An ankle strap “flip-flop” for water, shower, and daily. I loved both pairs of my Grendha sandals and expect to purchase them again in the future and maybe to try Ipanema, but right now I have a new pair of Havaianas on order.
Light weight sneakers
- Skechers GoWalk rather than sneakers provide more versatility.
- Light-weight closed shoes suitable for colder weather and dresses. This is a tough one because packing tightly breaks the back of most shoes. From 2011-2015 I had and wore one pair of black Aerosols flats because they are great for dress or for walking but I did break them.
- I am considering this pair of Skechers Performance GoStep Lite shoes. They’re light, very comfortable, and will match most outfits. However, I already have a similar more casual blue pair of GoStep shoes that I may bring.
- Packable Raincoat/Windbreaker, Marmot’s Women’s PreCip Jacket. I really prefer a longer coat style and would have loved to try Marmot’s Women’s Mattie Jacket which is 10″ longer and more like a trench coat, better for dresses although it doesn’t get as many great reviews and the hood doesn’t tighten. I found the lighter PreCip first. I was blown away by how light weight it was and how it covered so many issues, plus it was a great price. (SRP $100.) Both are of the same waterproof fabric. Check out this video review of the Marmot PreCip by Backcountry Edge and this one that shows the features as well.
- Rain hat that folds small. This was a gift so I don’t have a source. With the Marmot jacket, I don’t really need it though so it may stay home.
- LIght-weight packable down vest from Costco. It can fit under the raincoat/windbreaker but over most tops.
- A light-weight packable down coat from Costco — only if I use the larger bag which isn’t looking likely.
Tech for my next long-term travels
- Backup drives! My WD Passport 500gb has held up beautifully for all of my travels since 2011 and my 2nd drive, a Seagate Slim hard drive is also still in great condition but to not take chances, I am starting with fresh new drives this time. I’ll be taking a new WD Passport (1T so it’s small-ish) as well as a SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD. This 2.98 x 2.98″ x .42″ drive is just 2.72 oz (78.9g) and combines the performance of a portable SSD with all-terrain durability and water resistance! It has 128-bit encryption for password-protection to keep important files secure should it ever go missing. Plus, it clips onto your bag. I am excited to try this new SanDisk Extreme drive. [A friend will have the WD 4T Passport to do backups for me.
- RadTech ACpower Compact Dual USB Device Charger, Hi-Energy for charging my USB devices. The original model was with me always during all of these travels and before that. This is a new, stronger model.
- RadTech Sleevz — long-time favorite because when your computer falls open, it’s hosed.
- RadTech Savrz — long-time favorite because thumps can fracture a computer’s screen
- RadTech ProCable UHD Lighting cable — because having your charging cable die on your trip is crippling, I know. New product for me to bring!
- IK Multimedia iRig Mic Lav — new model for this trip. I have used and relied on their iRig Mic that goes into the standard audio port. I love being able to record my radio shows from my travel iPhones (which always seem to be two models behind).
- Samson GoMic — this tiny, great USB mic is making its 2nd long-term trip
- Cord Tacos — a must-have that are with me daily, traveling or not, since the day I discovered them.
- Nite Ize Cable Ties — for many reasons, new addition
- Nite Ize DoohicKey — not really tech, new addition
Small Multi-tool— not possible due to the small blade in it. Victorinox Swiss Army knifeI have had since my first 3-year travels and is still perfect. (I’ve had one since I was young.) Ah… the downside of not checking a bag: American flights do not permit knives in a carry-on bag. For the first time, my handy dandy swiss army knife will be sitting out a trip. Sad, because it comes in so handy. Once, my friend Gary even cut several men’s hair with mine in the Himalayas
- Hand-pressing self-charging LED flashlight — for the just in case. (Several if going to remote villages.) Brand to be determined, but I also have one from the 99¢ Store. I loved my Energizer wind-up/solar but it was stolen and I never found it in a store.
Nite Ize Radiant 300 Lumen Rechargeable Lantern— if there is room because I am loving it in my everyday LA life, a new addition to long-term travel, though. Alas, this will remain packed and awaiting my return in a year or two.
- Nite Ize QuikStand Mobile Device Stand — new addition
- Matias MiniRizer — old favorite making its 3rd long-term trip
- Camera — brand to be determined. I loved my Panasonic Lumix DMCZS25 (Point and Shoot size) but it died and I don’t love the heavier Lumix ZS35 that I purchased or the condescending man I asked about their cameras at CES. Maybe it’s time for a Canon or Nikon. Pity because I loved the Panasonic Lumix. I also want a waterproof camera. (Unsure about LUMIX Active Lifestyle Tough Camera.)
- Portable battery for recharging USB devices during the day. I love my Innergie PocketCell battery and will likely bring a 2nd one too.
- Silica packets to dry out electronics due to rain or humidity. I’ve written about this here.
- A paper clip to remove a SIM card
- Cell phone, of course. I’m looking at a few kinds.
- AirScale — luggage scale and USB chargers in one. (I wrote about the AirScale here.)
- Lewis N.Clark Waterseals water resistant pouch, phone size.
- Leash It Luggage Leash — because no one wants their luggage to walk away in the arms of another person.
- Reliefband, original model — so I won’t get queasy when I sail the Mediterranean, which I hope I’ll get to do. If you wish to travel but tend to get motion sickness, Reliefband may enable you to travel more comfortably. It controls air sickness, sea sickness and car sickness. I’ll be reporting on how well it does for me when I sail.
- Tiger Balm or Vicks VapoRub explained by me here.
- Ace bandage
- Hydrogen Peroxide cream antiseptic for wounds — not sold in the US.
- Water purification tablets. I’m looking into ceramic-based but brought iodine tablets in past years.
- A $25 Katadyn BeFree Water Bottle replacement filter for my HydraPak Stash 1L water bottle. I have not tried the filter yet but it has been recommended. I love my HydraPak Stash.
- Activated charcoal capsules
- Burn Cream MD, 3 individual use packets (for when I don’t have an egg handy).
- Prescriptions that I need. I may be able to get them in various location but I bring plenty just in case.
- Umbrella — Fjord Folding Trekking Umbrella by Innate is the lightest one I have come across and it appears to be quite durable. This is a first; I am finally giving in and bringing one because I’ve spent so much time in rain while traveling.
- As a beach blanket or ground cover, I will be sewing a large piece of ripstop nylon. It’s very light-weight and durable. This is a new addition to my packing. If I have space.
- Safety pins. Learn why I bring safety pins here.
- TSA-approved lock by Master Lock. This is a new lock for me, lighter and smaller than the last lock I traveled with and still recommend.
- My own DIY RFID shielded card and passport cases.
- A large beach ball — for more comfortable sleeping on planes, trains, and buses. I haven’t actually tried this yet, but Joey Green, author of the book Last-Minute Travel Secret: 121 Ingenious Tips by, suggests putting it on your meal tray as a pillow so you can lean forward to sleep. It’s worth space in my carry-on to try it.
- Sewing kit — home-made. I put this together in 2011
- Hair dryer — small, light-weight. Dual voltage. I’ve decided this is no longer a luxury.
- Plastic press to close bags — the size that fit a plate and sandwich size. (These are like gold in some places!)
- Baggie ties for other plastic bags for food. (These are like gold for a backpacker in some places.)
- Sink stopper — if I can find a good one again. I’m not sure I’ll find one. The best one I ever found was in Israel but after many months of use, it tore. I’m not sure there is one stopper that is really good for several counties.
- Stain stick (Tide Stain Stick?) or stain wipes — I have carried packets before but never used them.
- Sunscreen wipes or solid?
- 1 Pen. Specifically, an Inka Pen + Stylus by NiteIze. It’s a comfortable ballpoint pen that’s supposed to write anywhere. It comes with a quick clip S-Biner attachment so if I clip it into my bag I may actually not lose it.
- Bottlelight — a cork-shaped USB rechargeable little light that fits into a wine bottle and lights up your room with a romantic ambiance. Not necessary but I like it.
- Floating light — a cork-surrounded UFO-shaped USB rechargeable little light that floats in water, providing some nice shimmering light. Water magnifies light, remember? I’m not bringing the paper lampshade. I like the sight of the floating light.
- Waterproof document envelopes — Innate’s Portal Document Pouch — I’m bringing 2 of them.
- Liquid fabric softener to make wrinkle release spray and a tiny empty spray bottle.
I am not bringing laundry soap. Last trip, I brought 4oz of this Ecos highly concentrated laundry soap and the trip before that, I bought a laundry detergent stick in Costa Rica, but shampoo or soap works when laundry detergent isn’t around. If I bring detergent I’ll get another solid stick.
To be continued.
Other backpack options
Here are other backpacks I’d considered but won’t be choosing.
I was curious about PacSafe backpacks. They doing some important things but at the cost of weight. These are of interest to a long-term traveler:
- Venturesafe™ EXP65 Anti-theft 65L travel pack although that weighs in at 2815 g/6 lb 3.3 oz
- Venturesafe™ EXP45 Anti-theft 45L carry-on travel pack at 1.8 kg/3 lb 13 oz but with no hip support
- Or the Venturesafe™ X40 PLUS anti-theft 40L multi-purpose backpack which weighs in at 1.8 kg / 3 lb 14.8 oz. It’s smaller but has a hip strap.
Having tried on a few Osprey models including the Farpoint 55, I don’t like the feel of them on my back or their hip support. They also have a wheels/backpack combo, Sojourn 60L/25” similar to Eagle Creek’s. It is 3661 cubic inches/60 cubic liters and 9 pounds so 7oz lighter than Eagle Creek’s but also 10 liters smaller. It’s also considerably more costly.