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. This page is an oft-changing work in progress for now.
Last updated Friday, May 5, 2017
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 50L. Part of my weight came from the tech I carried to be ready to do presentations or help people with their Macs. I will be dropping that this time.
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” — a 9lbs 7oz/4.3 kg -pound wheelie that is also a backpack. It’s 4760 cubic inches (70 cubic liters).
This bag enables me to carry enough to appear as a respectable woman and have a few little luxuries. The trick to keeping this manageable for carrying will be to not fill it fully.
At over 9 pounds it’s heavier than my previous bag but if I keep the contents lower-weight than on previous trips. And, of course, 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.
- Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler Duffel — a 2lb 1oz (0.95 kg) carry-on size backpack/duffel that 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.
My challenge is to make it work for a year-long trip 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.)
However, that accounts for a light cloth coat and a down vest but not for a winter coat. It is with cotton clothing but not a cotton sweater as my shirt for the cold. It does include 1 or 2 pairs of thin “denim” “jeggings,” and 2 pairs of tights to wear with dresses or tunic tops. It includes sneakers and sandals but not closed shoes.
So, 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.
Backpacks 50 liters and under do not come with hip straps so that may be a problem for long walks, but then again, they are lighter to carry. I’ll report back on that.
- I learned the hard way that I should 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 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. The other daypack 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.
- Bottle Sling rePETe — for carrying a water bottle around on hot days
- 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.
- Lewis N.Clark incredibly light dry sack. To really protect a laptop it’s safest to double wrap it.
- 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. But is it viable?
- 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 finally not viable any longer. Now 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.
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, flat hair brush (I tried to live without the round one but won’t do without it next time. I have to live without something else instead. But my smallest diameter brush is coming!
- My great small hair dryer purchased in Germany.
- My plastic soap dish and some 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. So far the 3M Disposable Classic Earplugs have been my favorite. Each lasts me quite a while. I’m trying ones meant to last longer. Ear plugs fall on floors so you don’t want to use them again. They also get lost.
- 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
- 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. (My first, the original REI towel smelled horrible; REI may have agreed because they discontinued it.) 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 will be 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.
- A combo rouge/lip stain 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.
- Tunic-length shirts — cotton or silk. Still to be found.
- Skirts — to be determined. One below-knee, other(s) knee-length. Cotton. Pockets preferred.
- 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.
- Thin leggings — black and navy. I have them waiting. (Thanks to Ross Stores.)
- Socks — specifically one pair of low-cut Travelsox. Maybe a 2nd pair of low-cut socks. I’ll be discussing this later.
- Light-weight underwear that dries quickly. I’ll be discussing this later.
- Light-weight sneakers — maybe.
- Light-weight sandals with an ankle strap. I found great 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. And I found them at a Rockport outlet, paying under $40 for them!
- An ankle strap “flip-flop” for water, shower, and daily. I am unsure of the brand I loved twice. Not finding them now, I may try Ipanema or get another pair of Havanans.
- Light-weight closed shoes suitable for colder weather and dresses. Last time I took Aerosols because they are great for dress or for walking. This is a tough one because packing tightly breaks the back of most shoes.
- Packable windbreaker, preferably longer coat style.
- Rain hat that folds small. This was a gift so I don’t have a source.
- LIght-weight packable down vest from Costco.
Tech for my next long-term travels
- RadTech ACpower Hi-Energy for charging my USB devices, with me always for more years than I can count.
- 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
- Seagate Slim hard drive — making its 2nd long-term trip
- Western Digital Passport hard drive — old favorite making its 3rd long-term trip (shown here are newer models).
- 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 — a gift I may not resist bringing
- Victorinox Swiss Army knife I have had since my first 3-year travels and is still perfect. (I’ve never not had one since I was young.)
- 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.
- 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 hate the much heavier, lagging replacement Lumix ZS35 that I purchased and don’t like 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.
- Tiny Bluetooth speaker/mic — maybe. (Perhaps my iFrogz little Bluetooth speaker again.)
- AirScale — luggage scale and USB chargers in one. (I wrote about the AirScale here.)
- Tiger Balm or Vicks VapoRub explained by me here.
- Ace bandage
- Antiseptic for wounds
- Water purification tablets. I’m looking into ceramic-based but brought iodine tablets in past years. Certainly Katadyn’s Micropur mp1 tablets.
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrogen Peroxide cream — not sold in the US.
- Activated charcoal capsules
- 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.
- 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.
- Laundry detergent stick? Common in Central America, I carried on. But shampoo or soap works when laundry detergent isn’t around.
- Sunscreen wipes or solid?
- Pen. Specifically, an Inka Pen + Stylus by NiteIze that I was given at CES. 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.
To be continued.
Other backpack options I may still consider
I was curious about PacSafe backpacks. but didn’t get to speak with them. (My error.) 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.
I have not met the people of Osprey and never had serious attention at REI or another place Osprey is sold. From what I see theirs all have poor hip support — as is the trend for the past years.
- Sojourn 60L/25” — wheels/backpack combo 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.
- Farpoint 55 — weight unknown. A concern is that from what I see their bags all have poor hip support — as is the trend for the past years.
- Porter — weight unknown. Again hip support issue.