A few essentials from my long-term travel packing list:

Carry-on Packing List

Moo MiniCards with holder

Moo MiniCards with holder

  • 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.

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Key items from the long-term travel checklists I keep in Evernote:

One Year Before Trip

Taiwan's EVA Airways, United miles partner

Taiwan’s EVA Airways, United miles partner

  • If using miles, flights often need to be booked 11 months in advance to get economy reward seats. Before booking, I pore over guidebooks and travel forums to craft an itinerary and plan flight routes. I prefer to arrive and depart from different cities in order to avoid backtracking. This is easily done by booking two one-way reward tickets; they can be with different airlines.
  • Check passport expiration date and visa requirements for the countries I’ll be visiting

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In November and December 2015 I spent three weeks in Taiwan visiting Taipei, Xincheng (Taroko Gorge), Kaohsiung, Tainan, Lukang, and Taichung.

Three-Week Taiwan Itinerary

DayDaytimeSleep
1Arrive in Taipei from OsakaTaipei
2TaipeiTaipei
3TaipeiTaipei
4TaipeiTaipei
5TaipeiTaipei
6TaipeiTaipei
7Xincheng (Taroko Gorge)Xincheng
8Taroko GorgeXincheng
9Train to KaohsiungKaohsiung
10KaohsiungKaohsiung
11KaohsiungKaohsiung
12Train to TainanTainan
13TainanTainan
14TainanTainan
15Train and bus to LukangLukang
16LukangLukang
17Bus to TaichungTaichung
18Train to TaipeiTaipei
19TaipeiTaipei
20TaipeiTaipei
21Flight back to U.S.
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In November 2015 I spent three weeks in Japan exploring Tokyo, Matsumoto, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa, Uji, Nara, Kyoto, and Osaka, and then headed to Taiwan.

Japan Three-Week Itinerary

DayDaytimeSleep
1Arrive TokyoTokyo
2TokyoTokyo
3Visit Kamakura - Day tripTokyo
4TokyoTokyo
5TokyoTokyo
6Bus to MatsumotoMatsumoto
7MatsumotoMatsumoto
8Bus to Kamikochi, spend half a day, then bus to TakayamaTakayama
9TakayamaTakayama
10Visit Hida-Furukawa - Day tripTakayama
11Bus to Shirakawa-goShirakawa-go
12Bus to KanazawaKanazawa
13KanazawaKanazawa
14KanazawaKanazawa
15KanazawaKanazawa
16Train to Uji via Kyoto, spend half a day, then train to NaraNara
17NaraNara
18NaraNara
19Visit Kyoto - Day tripNara
20Train to OsakaOsaka
21Flight to Taiwan
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Itinerary

DayDaytimeSleep
1Arrive London from USLondon
2LondonLondon
3LondonLondon
4LondonLondon
5Train to BathBath
6BathBath
7Day trip - Cotswolds tourBath
8Day trip - BristolBath
9Train to London, then train to CambridgeCambridge
10CambridgeCambridge
11CambridgeCambridge
12Day trip - ElyCambridge
13Train to YorkYork
14Day trip - North York Moors tourYork
15YorkYork
16YorkYork
17Train to WindermereWindermere
18Lake DistrictWindermere
19Lake DistrictWindermere
20Train to LondonLondon
21LondonLondon
22Day trip - BrightonLondon
23LondonLondon
24LondonLondon
25Fly out of U.K.
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