Packing List for RTW Travel: What’s In My Bag

Ever fit all your belongings into a backpack and hit the road? If not, this post is for you!

I spent a year compiling my “RTW Packing List” based on months of research and hours of consumer reviews. This list breaks down the bare essentials for long-term travel with honest rankings on each item’s importance. All but a few link directly to the items I purchased with details on what to look for and how to use them.

Note: The list is mostly unisex with a few items specific to female-travelers.

Let’s begin!

★★★★★ = Must have
★★★★ = Highly recommend
★★★ = Nice to have
★★ = Not a necessity
★ = Could do without

Importance Overview
Backpack ★★★★★
Your backpack is your dearest companion during your travels; choose wisely.

Read my post on my current bag and what to look for.

UPDATE: Replaced with North Face Rolling Thunder 22″ Rolling Duffel.

with reservoir
This serves as your daypack, hiking bag, and “personal item” when flying. Add the reservoir for more versatility on long treks.
Anti-theft Purse ★★★
If you’re bringing a purse atop your daypack, make sure it’s practical. My anti-theft bag from Travelon features slash-proof straps, locking zippers, and RFID protection.
Packing Cubes ★★★★
Once you go packing-cube, you never go back. They keep items compressed, organized, and easy to transport. I can’t imagine a trip without them.
Toiletry Case ★★★★
Keep your toiletries together to make travel a breeze! Not only at airport security, but also at hostels/public spaces where fumbling with bottles can be a pain in the ass.
Camera Case ★★★★
Highly recommended to keep your camera protected from rain, heat, humidity, falls and pickpockets.
Laptop Sleeve ★★★★
Same as above. Traveling is bumpy; keep your valuables safe.
Passport Holder
You’re either a passport holder or not; the benefits are RFID protection and ease on travel days. Not a necessity, but good for those who like to stay organized.
Laptop ★★★★★
The life-force of any traveler, the laptop is key! Not just for socializing, but for research of destinations and travel deals. Find something lightweight; you’ll be carrying this a lot.
Camera ★★★★★
Depending on your experience level, you’ll buy a compact or DSLR. Don’t be shy with your research; find something with good specs by a respected company.
I consider this more entertainment as your laptop serves any purpose a tablet would. But for $50 and 11 oz., my Amazon Fire has been nice company for beachside reading and travel days.
Roku Stick
The Roku Stick, another entertainment piece (and guilty obsession). You can plug this sucker in anywhere with Wifi and an HDMI television for music and movie streaming.
Travel Adaptor ★★★★★
An obvious need is the travel adaptor. I vouched for a dual adaptor and voltage converter with extension cable. It lets me charge all my devices at once and weighs in at just 1.2 lbs.
USB Charger
Anything that can take a USB charge will benefit from this; cell phones, cameras, tablets, etc. I can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve used this on long bus rides or day trips. Look for something portable with sufficient capacity.
Charging Cables ★★★★★
An obvious one, but easily forgotten and space that needs to be accounted for.
Hiking Sneakers ★★★★★
Hiking sneakers, another dear friend on your travels. You want something waterproof, breathable, and lightweight. Don’t fret packing these in your bag; you’ll wear them on the days you move.

Break them in before you go!

Hiking Sandals ★★★★★
Great for city-walking and hiking trails, your sandals should be durable with comfortable straps (no blisters, please). Particularly useful on hot days when the thought of wearing sneakers makes you cringe.
Flip-flops ★★★
Your hiking sandals do the job just fine, but when you’re looking for something more lightweight with a local feel, grab your flip flops. You can also use them at “questionably sanitary” shower stalls at your common hostel.
I understand most people aren’t as obsessed with slippers as I am (which is why I conservatively rated them a “1”). But I find my Isotoner flats to be lightweight, compact, and a good barrier between hostel/hotel floors without dirtying a pair of socks.
Multi-Climate Jacket ★★★★★
What a room saver!! Your standard multi-climate has a thin down interior with removable waterproof exterior. This gives you three jackets in one: windbreaker, thermal, and ski jacket. Covers any climate you’ll need.
Essential for the bitter cold, winter sports, and snowy hikes.
Night Cap
Good for the day; even better for nights when the temperature drops.
Athletic Shirts
* The key here is that your clothes are multi-functional and can be used during daytime activities as well as bedtime. Athletic fabrics are comfortable enough for both, are lightweight and dry quickly.
Athletic Shirts
* See above
Tank Tops
* See above
Long Athletic Pants
* See above
Capri Athletic Pants
* See above
Athletic Shorts
* See above
The age-old argument of jeans for RTW travel; I vote “YES!”. I call these my “civilian pants” and wear them when I want to blend in a bit more. The bulk/weight is real though; wear them on travel days to save room.
Dress Shirt
Good for a night on the town, special occasions, and work engagements.
I’m convinced that men’s socks are better constructed and longer-lasting than women’s socks. I’ve been buying this brand for years and haven’t looked back.
Variety! Variety! Variety! Bring different colors, styles, and comforts so you have something for every occasion.
Sports Bra
A staple for any woman who hikes or exercises.
Contrary to popular belief, washing machines are relatively easy to come by. This is plenty.
Bathing Suit
If you plan to swim, sun bathe or boat, a swim suit is a must.
Toothbrush / Toothpaste ★★★★★
A modern day accessory I pair with a toothbrush case, keeping my toiletries dry on mornings of travel.
Shampoo / Conditioner ★★★★★
You can buy these anywhere; all you need is travel size to start.
Soap ★★★★★
I was always a body wash kind of gal, but bars of soap are far more affordable and last twice as long. Throw them in a Ziplock between destinations and you’re good-to-go.
Face Wash ★★★★
Your face takes the brunt of everything you do – the sun, dirt, sweat. Show your thanks with a good cleansing.
Lotion ★★★★
You’ll face dry air, cold temperatures and salt water on your travels. Keep your skin hydrated with a good moisturizer.
Sunscreen ★★★★★
Sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent long-term skin damage. Don’t ignore it!
Razor ★★★★
Whether you’re preening, pruning, or manscaping, a razor is key. I haven’t been stopped yet when traveling through security.
Deodorant ★★★★★
Save yourself (and fellow travelers) a stinky ordeal. Particularly on those hot-sweaty travel days.
Q-tips / Cotton Balls ★★★
These are the types of items that when you need them, you really need them. Keep a few packed for emergencies.
Chapstick ★★★
I’ll never understand how people survive without chapstick in their daily lives. But dry airplanes and cold weather make it mandatory. Don’t skip on the stick.
Diva Cup ★★★★★
One of the longest items I researched for this trip: the Diva Cup. It took two-months to master, but is more practical/hygienic than any tampon I’ve met.
I went from wearing makeup every day to a few times a month. It’s nice to dress up every now and then, for friends and Tinder dates (just kidding) (half-kidding).
Locker Lock ★★★★★
A staple to budget travel is the faithful luggage lock. Used primarily in hostels, this’ll save your sanity from the thought of theft.
Luggage Locks ★★★★★
I actually don’t use these on luggage (since I never check a bag). I use them to secure my backpack/daypack when traveling through towns or hostels. The locks aren’t impenetrable, but they’re a deterrent to possible thieves.
Earplugs ★★★★
An absolute must for shared accommodations. And not just hostels, but private rooms, apartments and campsites. Don’t neglect good sleep and risk being tired (or sick) on your next adventure.
Eye Mask
Can you sleep through a sun-filled room at 6 in the morning? If not, eye masks make all the difference for a restful sleep.

I’ve also used a sock. But it’s not as comfortable.

Travel Sheets ★★★
Every blog I read swore by the bed liner. However, I’ve only used mine twice for warmth rather than cleanliness. Unless you’re staying in some seriously sketchy places, you’ll be fine without one.

If you do choose to invest, choose silk which is versatile in both warm and cold climates.

Travel Towel ★★★
Two sizes fits all: 24×48 and 12×24. Microfiber is fast-drying and highly absorbent. Antibacterial options are also available.

As a bonus, you can wrap them around your waist on laundry days when everything else is dirty!

Nylon Shopping Bag ★★
Another item you’ll use more than you think is a nylon bag. They’re incredibly light, water resistant, and support substantial weight.
Ziplocks /
Plastic Shopping Bags
“Man, I wish I had a bag for this” said every backpacker always.
Laundry Bags
Hostel and laundromat washing machines ruin your clothes over time; putting your delicates in bags helps extend their lifespan (bras, sports bras, bathing suits, etc.).
Clothesline ★★★★
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing your clothesline: material, elasticity, and function. I chose Coghlan because it’s practical; the braided bungee eliminates the need for clothespins, and the adjustable straps fit any environment.

Look forward to some serious creativity when you have clothes to hang! Doorknobs become mainstays, chair legs anchor points. Your room will become a masterpiece in minutes.

First Aid Kit ★★★★
First aid kits don’t have to be big and clunky (mine’s the size of an Altoid box). But when you need a Band-Aid for blood or blisters, these can be a savior.
Nail Care ★★★★
Sure, this is good for aesthetics. But it’s also good for hiking! There’s nothing worse than a rogue toenail jabbing into your skin on a multi-day decent. Take my word for it.
Sewing Kit
Great for mending on the go, a sewing kit is compact and practical for clothing, gear, and MacGyvering.
Safety Pins ★★★
You’ll use these more than you know for things you never thought existed.
Vitamins ★★★★
Depending on your destination(s), it can be a struggle to eat healthy while traveling. On top of that, your body’s exhausted and immune system is down. Vitamins are a quick fix when you’re feeling low.
Emergen-C ★★★★
The most important thing while traveling is your health. Emergen-C (or other supplements) boost your immune system when nutritional/physical resources are limited.
Ibuprofen ★★★★
I take medications as little as possible, but when I do, I prefer them to be on-hand and from a company I know. Ibuprofen covers headaches, inflammation, and fevers – good for sickness and late nights.
Medications ★★★★★
Ask your doctor for multiple refills and oversees options when your supply runs out.
Antibacterial Hand Wipes
I use these for hiking and other long-term excursions. When nature calls, you’ll be thankful you have them.
Snacks ★★★★
There’s nothing more torturous than being stuck on a 6-hour bus starving with no food to save you. Look for high-protein snacks like nuts and protein bars with healthy accompaniments like rice crisps and fruit. They keep you nourished and take the edge off when the end seems near.
Collapsable Water Bottle ★★★
Stop spending money on bottles of water (if tap water is drinkable). A collapsible bottle keeps you hydrated and doesn’t take up space when empty.
Portable Flashlight ★★
Depending on your destination(s), a flashlight could be trivial or the-most-important-thing-in-your-life. Personally, I’ve used it for caves, camping, and loss of electricity – infrequent, but good to have.
Umbrella ★★★★
Don’t get stuck inside because it’s raining. Find something compact, durable and wind-tested.
Tripod ★★
Important for photography enthusiasts looking to capture low-light imagery. I ordered the ever-famous GorillaPod due to its flexible joins and lightweight construction.
Playing Cards
Nothing more than an icebreaker. You’ll meet lots of travelers on your trip, and a deck of cards helps bring people together.
Passport ★★★★★
Check your expiration date! Some countries don’t let you travel if your passport is set to expire within (x) months time.
Visas ★★★★★
Another big one: travel visas. These can take weeks or months to process (mine took over 2x the promised rate), so start early.
Vaccinations ★★★★★
Get your vaccines in advance. You want to ensure your body doesn’t have a negative effect before you leave (which usually takes 2-3 months).
Driver’s License ★★★★★
I’ve heard of International Driver’s Licenses, but have never needed one (or met someone who did). My State DL works fine.
Cash / Credit Cards ★★★★★
Cash is gold while traveling; keep it on hand, as well as your favorite travel credit card(s).
Cloud Backup ★★★★
For all those pictures! Don’t loose memories over a broken/stolen laptop.
Travel Insurance ★★★★★
One of the most important (and often overlooked) necessities of travel. Travel Insurance is vital for medical costs and preferred service.
Property Insurance ★★★★
A lot more affordable than people think, property insurance gives you peace of mind for you valuables (laptops, cameras, etc.).

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