Packing List Ideas
A few essentials from my long-term travel packing list:
Carry-on Packing List
- Mini contact cards from Moo — Fun memento to hand out to travelers and locals I meet on the road. It’s easy to create customized cards using your travel photos, with contact details on the reverse. When giving a card, I usually fan out a selection and let the recipient pick their favorite image. The matching card holder is indispensable.
- Reusable water bottle — I fill this from a drinking fountain once I get past security.
- Ballpoint pen — To fill out immigrations and customs forms
- Eye mask and ear plugs — Good for enabling sleep on the plane
- Basic overnight essentials including any prescription medication — I’ve gotten stuck spending the night without my checked bag more than once due to flight cancellations.
- Over-the-counter sleeping pill — I get generic sleeping pills at Walmart and take one on long flights to ensure a few hours of sleep. Note: leave plenty of time for it to wear off before landing — especially when traveling solo.
General Packing List
- Moleskine travel journal and glue stick — I write daily entries and also use the journal to preserve the tickets and paper souvenirs I’ve collected. I glue them into the journal to create a fun record for later.
- PacSafe travel safe with combination lock — Securely store valuables in the hotel room by locking the safe to something immovable like heavy furniture. I use the 12-liter safe to store my MacBook Air and DSLR with large zoom lens, but you may be able to use the five-liter safe if you have less.
- Gifts for locals — I plan gifts in advance for people who make a special effort like host families, language teachers, and volunteer guides. Successful gifts have included:
- Small scenic calendars of my home state
- Local products like gourmet chocolate bars, handmade soap, and coffee
- Cute souvenir tea towels
- Fridge magnets featuring my hometown
- Colored external luggage strap — When traveling with a generic-looking black suitcase, I fasten a brightly colored external strap so it can be easily spotted. Takes all the stress out of trying to identify my bag at the baggage carousel.
- Laundry soap bar — I hand wash my underwear and socks daily to extend the time between laundry days. I love Dr. Bronner’s and pick it up cheaply at Marshalls.
- Individually wrapped wet wipe towelettes — Great for those situations when you really want to wash your hands but can’t, such as after eating greasy street food.
- Toilet roll — Remove the inner tube so it packs flat. Good for those situations when caught with your pants down, so to speak.
- Melatonin — I take this for a couple of nights upon arrival to recover from jet lag.
- Lightweight plastic netipot and salt packets — I often get sinus infections when traveling; the netipot is a lifesaver.
- Any local money, transport cards, etc. left over from last trip — I have a shoebox labeled Travel used to store leftover cash, transport cards, plug adapters, etc. in baggies tagged by country.
Technology Packing List
- Kindle Paperwhite — Loaded with light travel reading from the library
- Quad-band GSM phone — I use a 32GB Nexus 5X on Google Fi which gives me voice, text, and data coverage in more than 135 countries with the same data costs as at home. (If you’re interested in Google Fi, consider using this referral link, which will give us both a $20 credit.)
- MacBook Air
- Nikon DSLR and zoom lens
- SD card reader — Used to transfer my photos to the Air each night
- Two 32 GB SD cards — Every week or so, I copy my photos from the laptop to an SD card, ensuring they are backed up in two places. On a long trip, I can fill both cards.
- Headlamp — For travel in countries with frequent power cuts
- White noise MP3 — Listening to a white noise track on repeat is sometimes the only thing that allows me to sleep in a noisy environment. I like white noise recordings that are mixed with the sound of steady rain — a good cure for insomnia!
- Evernote — I do all my trip planning in Evernote. I have the Plus plan that enables offline access when a data connection is not available.
- Google Maps — Great for navigating on foot or planning a route using public transport. Available in offline mode for most locations.
- Pocket Casts — Excellent Android podcast app. Listening to podcasts gets me through long travel days.
- BBC News — Lots of offbeat international news. Great way to pass all that downtime while traveling.
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