Packing! It can be the most difficult part of travel. Deciding what to take, what to leave behind, what to wish you’d brought with you. With this in mind we’ve put together our ultimate list for travel packing, based around our experiences from years of adventure. We’ve also sprinkled some photos in from our travels, to help inspire you to go beyond just making the list!
This list is aimed at folks travelling for a little longer, and hoping to do some work from the road. Hence the snappy title. It should act as a great master list though, from which you can pick and choose based on your destination and specific trip type.
List updated August 2017 with latest products and recommendations, as well as the latest discount codes where I’ve been able to source them!
Now, let’s get started with:
With photography being the thing we do as our main stay, our photography gear is pretty extensive, so much so that we have a whole post about it – check that out for more detailed gear recommendations, including lightweight tripods and SLRs.
For the long term traveller looking for maximum performance for minimum weight though, we recommend the following:
- Camera: Sony’s Mirrorless A6000. The A6000 is the mirrorless travel camera to beat, featuring an awesome sensor in a portable package and a great selection of lenses. We’ve been using its predecessor, the NEX-6, and can’t imagine travelling without it. Newer models have been released, but the prices are higher, so we still think the A6000 is the Sony to get. Get it on Amazon US | UK
- Action camera: GoPro HERO5 Black. The go-to choice for all your action, sports, underwater or just general messing around on the beach camera. Go Pro cameras are the standard for a reason, and if your life requires you to capture action stills or video, you need one of these. Get one on Amazon
If you’re going to be working on the road, you’re going to want something to work on. Here’s our definitive list of tech gear to get your work groove on, as well as keep you entertained in between work sessions.
- Laptop: A powerful Ultrabook. We’ve had a lot of positive experiences with the Dell XPS line, with the the Dell XPS 13 being our pick for 2017 travel notebook. Get it on Amazon
- Smartphone: Nexus 6P. The Nexus series of smartphones rocked the boat when Google launched them, offering flagship performance at a seriously reduced price compared to the competition. The prices have since readjusted, but these are still the best Android smartphones out there, featuring the latest specs and regularly updated software. A smartphone is so handy for travelling with, being everything from an entertainment device, to a map, to a torch, to a dictionary. Invaluable, even without a SIM card. Get it on Amazon US | UK.
- External Hard Drives: Transcend StoreJet 2TB USB 3.0. We’ve tried a variety of portable external hard drives, from brands including Western Digitial and ADATA. The most reliable to date have been these StoreJet models, which offer military grade shock resistance, loads of storage and a fast USB 3.0 connection. Reliable and sturdy. Just what you need for your data on the go. Get them from Amazon US | UK.
- External Mouse: Gigabyte Compact Bluetooth Laser Mouse. If you’re planning on being productive for prolonged periods of time, you’ll need an external mouse. We recommend a Bluetooth model as it won’t waste a USB port with a radio received. This model from Gigabyte is portable with all the features you need. Get it on Amazon US | UK.
- Portable Power Pack: Anker PowerCore 10000. All these tech devices use up a lot of power, which means a portable power pack might be just the thing you need. Anker are a leader in external battery packs, and this is one of the smallest and lightest 10,000mAh options out there.
- Headphones: Shure SE215. The outside world can be a busy place sometimes, and you might want to retreat into your own peaceful sanctum. These headphones from Shure are just perfect for that, offering a sound isolating design and comfortable over-ear fit. They also work perfectly for running, and the linked version comes with a mic and remote cable for making calls, too. Get them from Amazon US | UK + cable.
- eReader: Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. Books! So 20th century. They take up space, they’re cumbersome, and the hostel’s book swap collection is likely to send you to sleep. So, get a Kindle, and carry the equivalent of a modest library around with you instead. The new Kindle Paperwhite even works in the dark, so you can keep on reading with the lights off. It’ll change the way you travel, and the way you read! If you do go for a Kindle, then check out the Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial – letting you try out Amazon’s awesome Kindle Unlimited program, with access to over 1 million ebooks! Get the Kindle Paperwhite direct from Amazon US and UK.
- Power strip: Belkin SurgePlus 3 Outlet Protector. With all the above tech gear, you’re going to need plenty of power points, and these aren’t always as easy to come by as you might think. This handy adaptor from Belkin features three normal plug ports as well as two fast USB charging ports, and is surge protected to boot. Pair it up with a world travel adapter, and you’re ready to rock. See more on travel adapters and how to choose one for your trip in our guide to the best travel adapters. Available on Amazon US and UK (similar product from Masterplug to fit UK sockets).
- Portable speaker: Ultimate Ears Roll Bluetooth Wireless Speaker. Sometimes you want to be able to share the tunes, and this compact speaker from Ultimate Ears is the best portable speaker I’ve come across with great sound from such a portable device. It features a ten hour battery life and bluetooth connectivity, meaning it’s just plug and play from your smartphone or laptop, plus it’s waterproof! Get it on Amazon US | UK (Roll not currently available in UK, Mini Boom is the previous version)
You’re going to want to put your stuff somewhere, and over our many years of travel we’ve tried everything, from giant backpacks, to wheeled luggage systems, to a collection of “inbetweeners”. Below our are current recommendations for all types of travel.
- Day pack: Osprey Ozone 35L. We’ve used Oprey packs since 2010, and they are yet to let us down. Fantastically built with just enough storage space for everything we need when out and about doing everything from hiking up a mountain to photographing a city. Plus, the warranty is outstanding. Highly recommended!
- Cabin luggage only: Osprey Ozone 35L / 46L. If you’re flying on a budget airline, you’re probably aware that the cheapest way to go is with carry-on only. This 36L wheeled pack from Osprey is well inside the limits of those budget EU airlines, and 36L is more than enough for a short break. There’s also a 46L version available for US flights. If you’re going for longer, you’re likely going to need to pack more anyway, in which case this stays convenient as a carry-on option if you’re not the backpack type.
- Hold luggage: Osprey Sojourn 60L. We’ve been moving away from backpacks in our travels, and towards wheeled luggage, which are generally easy to cart around and suit 90% of destinations. The Osprey Sojourn offers the best of both worlds, with a world-class wheel system for most situations, and the option to carry it like a backpack when the going gets tough. 60L is perfect for any trip – any more and you’ll overpack, any less, and you’ll likely find all the gear in this list will result in unsightly bulges! Get it on Amazon US
- Packing assistance: GobiGear Hobo Roll. Before the Hobo Roll, my packing system was… well, it didn’t exist. Thankfully, thanks to the Hobo Roll, I can now get all my clothes and squishable items into my bag with ease, with this super lightweight packing roll, designed for nomads. As a bonus for you guys, you can save 10% on GobiGear – just use the code FINDING10 on checkout on this site.
Ok, so that’s all the fun stuff out the way! Let’s talk clothing. Generally we pack with enough clothing for 7-10 days of travel, and wash as we go. Naturally you’ll want to vary what you travel with based on your destinations climate, but if you’re travelling longer term, you’ll want to be ready for a fairly wide range of climates, apart from extreme cold, which usually requires very bulky gear that isn’t worth carting around for the rest of your trip.
- Travel Vest: Scottevest Travel Vest (also for Women). Whilst vests like this aren’t our usual attire, we’ve found the Scottevest travel vest invaluable for, well, travel. Particularly on those low budget airlines which have seriously restricted luggage. The pockets in these things are unbelievably handy for keeping inside your carry-on allowance, if you’ve slipped up and packed a tiny bit too much. Available on Amazon US | not currently available in UK.
- Hiking pants: or trousers as we Brits call them. Something that dries quickly, maybe with those handy zip off legs that let them turn into shorts. One or two pairs, depending on how much hiking you want to do / how outdoorsy you want to look at all other times.
- Smarter pants for evenings or more formal occasions. At this point many packing lists will rail against jeans as being bulky, a poor choice if it rains, and generally Not Good For Travel. If you want jeans, take jeans. It’s your life.
- Shorts: like pants, but shorter. For when it’s warmer. I’m not sure a full description is entirely necessary. Again, a couple of pairs should suffice.
- Swimsuit: for all those exciting water based activities you might get up to. Laurence just travels with one pair of board shorts. Jess has a couple of bikinis. Because a girl’s got to have choice, right?
- T-shirts: we generally travel with two or three of the fast-drying hiking variety that wick moisture, and two or three slightly more normal options for when we don’t want to look like we’re scaling a mountain.
- Actual shirts – Laurence usually has at least one short and one long sleeved shirt, just in case the circumstances require a slightly smarter turn out.
- A dress – Jess travels with a couple of dresses that can be worn on both smarter occasions, and for cocktails on the beach. Versatility is the key to long term lightweight travel!
- A thin fleece: for locations where it is cooler in the evenings or at higher elevations. Just the one will do.
- A thicker fleece: for when it gets colder. We’ve always used and liked North Face gear. Some of it is over ten years old now and still going strong.
- A lightweight raincoat: for when the weather turns inclement. This should fit on top of all your other gear, and keep the wind and rain out.
- Running shoes: if you’re going to be walking a lot around cities, your feet will thank you for putting them in a lightweight pair of decent runners. We’ve tried multiple brands, and believe that the most important thing is a good comfortable fit.
- Sandals / flip flops / Jandals: whatever you call them, you need something for the beach / casual wear in warmer climates
- Smarter shoes: you never know when you’re going to need to hit up a conference / attend a swanky sky bar. It helps to be prepared.
- Scarf – Some sort of scarf is always handy. We swear by our Keffiyeh scarves, they are awesome in all kinds of scenarios and are massively versatile.
- Your unmentionables – underwear, socks, sports bras: those things. Take as many as you feel will last you between washes. We won’t judge. We just might choose not to sit near you. Load them all into your HoboRoll. Job done.
- Sunglasses: For when it’s sunny. Or you need to pretend to be a celebrity. Your call.
You’ve still got room in your bag, right? Here are a few more bits and pieces that we always travel with, and recommend that you do, too.
- A micro-fibre travel towel: Laurence loves his micro-fibre towel because it packs small and gets the job done. Jess prefers to use a sarong because it feels nicer, and can be used for all kinds of things beyond mopping up moisture.
- Toiletries: you know, sun cream, medication, insect repellent, toothpaste. All that kind of stuff. Although, bear in mind most of this stuff can be bought anywhere in the world, so don’t stress about it too much. Also, if you’re travelling carry-on only, don’t forget to put it in one of those handy zip-lock bags, at airplane regulation size.
- Rehydration salts: dehydration can be a major issue to travel, and has affected both of us to varying degrees on our travel. For that reason we always travel with rehydration salts, which can fix you up in no time. Read all about our tips for recognising the signs of dehydration and dealing with it, in this post.
- Pens / paper / notebook: You’ll need pens because you’ll inevitably have to fill in forms. Some sort of notebook may also be useful for, well, making notes.
- Paper copies of your essential documentation: We always travel with photocopy of our passports, travel insurance, and flight information, which we keep in a separate location to our real copies. We also have electronic copies stored securely in the cloud. If the real ones get stolen, these should at least help out.
- Basic medical kit: Whilst you can get medical supplies pretty much everywhere, we find a travel medical kit to be a handy thing to travel with, particularly for out of the way locations. There are a variety of options online depending on your needs – this option is fairly comprehensive for example. Get one on Amazon US | UK
Handy to Have
- Water purification: Steripen Freedom USB. Not all the water everywhere in the world is exactly good to drink, and usually the alternative is to plough through environmentally unfriendly bottled water. The Steripen solves this problem by killing off the germs in the water you can find, and making it safe to drink. This version is USB chargeable, meaning it’ll go forever, and will purify half a litre of water in under a minute. Available on Amazon US and UK.
- Multi-tool: Leatherman Charge TI. There are many options for multi-tools, but I’ve been using this model of Leatherman for years, and it has never let me down. It has a tool for nearly everything, and it’s got me out of a pickle on multiple occasions, from fixing a broken winch in the depths of the Australian outback to tripod maintenance on a photo shoot. In my mind, essential. Available on Amazon
- Water carrying: Camelbak Water bladder / bottles. Even if you don’t get a Steripen, then you can still be more environmentally conscious by buying larger bottles of water and decanting them into water bottles or bladders. For hiking, we always carry 2 litre water bladders with us – our day packs have special pouches to carry these, and it makes hydration so much easier. Available on both Amazon US and UK.
- Footwear: Scarpa leather Hiking boots. Ok, so only useful if you plan on doing serious hiking, but man, these things will make those hikes so much more pleasurable. Laurence has owned his pair of leather Scarpa’s for over a decade, and they have proven themselves through sand, up mountains, and across rivers. They may cost more than cheaper options, but the investment will more than pay for itself. Whilst these are available on both Amazon, we would advise you go to a specialist to ensure you get the right fit.
- Dry Bag: Coleman Dry Gear bag. In the future, tech gear will be naturally water proof and immune to dust. Until then, we make do by packing a dry bag, which keeps everything safe in the event of a sudden tropical downpour, or the need to hop in and out of boats in the Galapagos. Available on both Amazon US and UK.
- Duct Tape: Essential! You will always need some of this. We’ve used it to repair everything, from bits of a Toyota Landcruiser to backpacks and trainers. Truly amazing in its ability to hold everything together. Available from every hardware store on the planet, as well as Amazon US | UK
- Head torch: Whilst Laurence is generally happy to use the flashlight on his smartphone, Jess swears by her headtorch for hands free lighting on the go. And to be honest, Laurence is pretty happy she brings it with her!
- Padlock / bike lock: If your travel is likely to involve dorm rooms, then you’ll want a way to lock your stuff away into a locker. We also travel with a lightweight bike lock just in case we have to lock something to something else. This 3 Dial TSA Lock and Cable from Eagle Creek is a good choice, offering the best of both worlds. Available on Amazon US
- Tiny sewing kit: Sometimes stuff goes wrong that can’t be fixed with duct tape. Well, ok, so it likely can be fixed with duct tape, but you might look a bit weird duct taping your shirt closed. In these instances, a tiny sewing kit can be a life saver.
And that’s it! An exhaustive list of nearly everything you need to travel the world. Not exhausted enough? We recommend taking a look at Jodi Ettenberg’s extensive world travellers resource page over at Legal Nomads for even more knowledge and ideas.