Planning a Trip Around the World – Part 2 – What to Bring

Here’s the second of my three anticipated posts on planning a trip around the world.  The first post was about the initial planning stages and the long-lead items you need to get ready.

These are the items that I think you should plan on bringing with you.  I spent the two months before my trip consistently ordering and returning things on Amazon, (as well including necessary items on my Christmas wish list)

Tech Items

Two Phones: One of the first items you’ll need to take care of is a phone with international service. Like the credit and ATM cards, I recommend having a spare phone in case your primary phone is lost or stolen.  In my case, I had a cheap dual SIM phone as my primary phone.  I had a KnowRoaming global sim card in one of the slots.  This was my regular and consistent phone number.  It would be the one I used when I was in a country for a short while, or when first arriving in a new country. This was the number I used for my WhatsApp account on that phone, and was therefore my regular contact info throughout my journey.  If I was in a country for a few weeks or more, I would usually get a local SIM card for the other slot.  Then I could use it to make calls if necessary, but more often it was more for data.  These rates would be much cheaper than KnowRoaming, but I would use the data for my WhatsApp with the KnowRoaming number.  In addition to this phone, I had my old US phone unlocked and had an additional KnowRoaming card in it.  This was for emergencies, which did happen, when I was pickpocketed in Bogota.  Having the spare phone made things much easier, especially since it happened the day before I was going to the coast for two weeks.

Currently, my primary phone is a Google Fi phone, which while there are some annoyances about the service, the cost and data plans are great, and it works in almost any country at almost the same cost as in the US.  After my world trip, when I went to Mexico, I had my Google Fi as my primary phone and the old dual-sim phone with the KnowRoaming card as my backup.

Important note: make sure you set up automatic cloud backup on your phone for pictures and video.  I started to set mine up one day and didn’t finish.  Then, when my phone was stolen, I lost many of the pictures from my first few months in Colombia as well as almost all of the pictures and video I had from my trip to Brazil for Carnival.

Hybrid Tablet/Laptop: For my trip I had a Microsoft Surface 3 (not the larger Pro model).  This was perfect.  It had enough power for me to do normal work with the type cover, was good for streaming movies, worked as an e-reader with the Kindle app., and it was small and light enough for me to bring on day trips occasionally. For long-term travel a regular tablet will likely be too small and not able to perform some tasks you need (especially if you’re trying to do any work) and a full laptop will likely be large and heavy when trying to travel.  A hybrid tablet/laptop is the Goldilocks.

Other tech items:

  • This Anker small power bank was great to have in my pocket when out on a day trip or out for the night in case my batter ran low. You don’t want to be out at 3 AM in a strange city with a dead phone.
  • I also brought a portable solar cell and a solar cell power bank. I used them a couple of times, mostly on long (>16 hour) bus rides where there was nowhere to plug in my phone.  So these types of items can be useful, but it really depends on your particular situation.  Now I would probably look at this combination instead.
  • This outlet adapter was extremely useful and light
  • Have two charging cables for your phone
  • Active noise cancelling ear buds. The over the ear variety are obviously much better but can be bulky.  Ear buds with noise cancelling technology do a good enough job on an airplane when you’re trying to watch a movie or listen to music or a podcast, and they take up much less space and weight.

Important apps:

  • Google translate (download any languages you might need in case you don’t have internet when you need it)
  • Google maps or so you can download local maps (again if you don’t have internet)
  • WhatsApp – the most common messaging app outside of the USA
  • FB/IG/SC – whatever social media you prefer
  • Party or social game apps – I’d often play games like “Heads Up” with fellow travelers on a bus


Non-tech Items

  • Hybrid backpack: A lot of travel blogs do not like hybrid backpacks (ones that can be used as rolling luggage) due to the added weight. I can not imagine my journey without this amazing hybrid backpack from Osprey.  Yes, a regular backpack of the same size would have been a little lighter and have a little more room.  However, I had done the standard backpack through Europe for a few weeks previously and it was such a pain to carry and get off and on.  Being able to just roll this behind me at the dozens of airports I travelled through and down city streets made life so much easier.   And similarly, a standard rolling suitcase would not have been feasible in certain situations.  Many hybrid backpacks are really just suitcases with some straps attached to them.  But the Osprey model I had was a true backpack with a supportive hip belt and solid construction.  It is a little expensive, but worth it.
  • Water filter – I actually had two filters, but I never used the LED UV one. Instead, this compact model was all I needed.
  • This collapsible water bottle can be a little bit of a pain to clean, and it can be punctured. But the fact that it can easily be folded and stored, as well as has a clip in its design made it a great asset.
  • This is one of those items that you likely won’t use but you’ll be glad if you have it: a thin sleeping bag liner for those times you find yourself in some bedding you’re just not too sure about
  • I forgot to bring my field glasses, and wish I had, especially when I was whale watching or on safari in Africa. A small pair would not have taken up much space and weight at all.
  • These detergent sheets are amazing. You can use them with regular laundry machines or if you have to do sink laundry.  Additionally, have some dryer sheets in a Ziploc bag.  They help to keep your bag from getting too funky.
  • A quick dry travel towel is also a great thing to have whether for the beach or when you’re staying in a hostel that doesn’t have towels available
  • Some other items that don’t need much explanation
    • Head lamp (better than just a regular flashlight)
    • Waterproof covers for your backpack
    • Thin rope or accessory cord (can be used for a variety of things)
    • Buckle strap wedding (multiple uses, even as a impromptu seatbelt if needed)
    • Travel first aid kit
    • Ear plugs
    • Day bag or smaller backpack
    • Travel duct tape
    • Travel sewing kit
    • Mesh laundry bag
    • Bandana(s)
    • Deck of card
    • Pens & notepad
    • Carabiners
    • Travel locks
    • Strap for your sunglasses
    • Your standard toiletries


There are many theories on clothing.  Much of it depends on what you will be doing and how long you will be staying in an area.  In my case, since I was travelling to a variety of climates and doing a variety of activities, I needed to have a rather versatile wardrobe.  The key to this for me was layers.  This was my travel clothing list, it will obviously be different for your particular needs.  Also, function over fashion should be your priority here.

  • 5 each of underwear, socks, t-shirts. These were all travel material (merino wool, or bamboo, or synthetic) to help with quick and easy cleaning and also to avoid smelling bad if I had to repeat wear them a second time between laundry days
  • Convertible hiking/travel pants– Not very fashionable, but very useful.  Preferably a khaki color to avoid showing dirt
  • Swim shorts that can easily be used as regular walking around shorts
  • Light athletic shorts for sleeping, lounging, laundry day, etc
  • A second set of “nicer” travel pants (really only for going out or when the other pants are dirty.  Great if you can find wrinkle-free ones)
  • Button down travel shirt
  • A pullover or fleece
  • Base layers (long underwear) if you will be going to a colder climate. Tops and bottoms.  I had a thin layer and a thick layer.  They packed nicely, and then I even could double up when necessary.  The tops were also good enough to wear as regular shirts on occasion.
  • A compressible down jacket
  • A waterproof outer shell jacket (a parka is also a good added layer of protection)
  • Hat(s) – something for the sun and something for the cold
  • Thin base layer type gloves. (If you are in a truly winter environment, you can buy thicker gloves when you need them)
  • Trail shoes – I found these to be extremely versatile. They are light/athletic enough that I could use them for running.   They are sturdy enough for hiking.  They have are not obviously sporty, so you can wear them out.
  • Athletic sandals. While they are not stylish (shout out to Jen), athletic sandals like these Tevas are also versatile footwear.  They can be used as casual sandals; and are also good for light hikes and water activities like rafting.  Also, if you happen to ever be off the coast of Antarctica, you might happen to see a penguin using one as a surfboard after an unfortunate loss during a polar plunge….


That pretty much constitutes everything I carried with me.  I was able to get all of these items into my wheeled 45 Liter backpack and my 15 Liter day pack.  And (as long as weight wasn’t an issue) I would be able to carry them both on to flights.  I even had plenty of room to pick up mementos throughout the trip and carry them along the way.

My third installment will discuss some of what to expect during your journey, especially from a mental, physical, and emotional standpoint.