Carry-On Travel Packing List for Long-Term Travel

**NOTE: Be sure to read my post-travel review of this packing list to see what worked and what didn’t**

It’s T minus 1 week until I leave, and I think I have my full packing list figured out!

Before getting into the nitty-gritty I want to cover one weird yet important thing:  while making this packing list I was almost brainwashed by the internet.  I have traveled extensively prior to this trip, but it’s always been with a [pretty] big backpack.  Granted, that backpack was mostly filled with camping gear, not clothing, but still, I had a little more leeway.

Lots of people have written about “minimalist packing” and I learned a lot while obsessively reading those posts.  But while reading them my list of “things I must bring otherwise I’ll fail at traveling” increased exponentially.  I suddenly found myself lusting after compression sacks, high-end water bottles, cute footwear, and a theft-proof purse.  I almost went out and bought those things before remembering:  in my normal life I don’t wear cute shoes or carry a purse.  In fact, I have never owned a purse, and yet I almost bought one for travel!  Seriously, people, the power of the internet is strong, but you have to keep things in perspective.  

So, the following is my packing list, and by “my” I mean it’s incredibly specific to me, the girl who feels overdone in black eyeliner and considers Chacos chic enough for fine dining.  But I hope some of you find this useful when you’re working on your own list.

Oh, one other note, my packing list was complicated by the following two reasons:

1.  Along the way I will be doing a lot of sportsy-type-things, including climbing at least eight big mountains, cycling between many cities, swimming three major bodies of water, and hiking hundreds of miles in the tropics and the Himalayas.  That’s in addition to the usual stuff like chilling on a beach and walking through famous cities.

2.  I am packing for my longest trip to date (14 months?) in my smallest pack yet (40 liters, carry-on size).  I limited myself to 40 liters to avoid this scenario:

So, without further ado, the contents of my backpack:


For my day-to-day wardrobe I chose items that can all be worn together, are comfortable (both physically and mentally), don’t show stains, do wash easily, and aren’t too bulky.  The “comfort” qualification is a big one.  For me, a comfortable shirt is one that I can wear without ever thinking, “Does this show my stomach pudge?  Are there sweat stains in my pits?  Am I flashing the kindly shop-owner when I lean over this mound of fresh produce?”  There are plenty of things to think about when exploring a foreign country–I don’t want my appearance to be one of them.

  • Two t-shirts and two tank tops
  • One pair of Prana Monarch pants that zip off into cute capris
  • One pair of shorts
  • One sarong-style skirt (modest length, doubles [quadruples?] as a towel, beach wrap, blanket, etc.)



The key to packing lightly and still being prepared is layers.  Given my itinerary of peaks to climb in a variety of conditions I need to be warm and waterproof from time to time:

  •  Kuhl Wunderer long-sleeve shirt for cool days or as a layer on cold days
  • Rain jacket to weather-proof myself (this one is from GoLite–it’s tiny and fits great–so far I love it)


That’s it!  When it gets legitimately cold I can wear a t-shirt, my long underwear (see below), the blue shirt, and my rain jacket.  If it’s really cold I’ll buy a sweater or something.


  • Underwear, sports bra, daily bra (girls, find yourself a damn good bra–I can’t stress this enough)
  • The underwear are cheap ones from Target, but I love them–comfy and quick-drying
  • One pair of hiking socks, and one little pair of casual socks for chilly days around the hostel
  • Sun hat (mostly for hiking)
  • Long underwear top and bottom
  • Bikini for beaches
  • Athletic swim wear for my big swims
  • Buff (great little thing, useful in hot and cold weather)



I think I put more thought into my footwear than anything else, and this is what I came up with.  I’ll wear the Chacos 90% of the time.  On chillier days or on casual explorations I’ll wear the Jambu shoes.  And the hiking boots–they’re the full-size real deal.  I wrote down all of my hiking/mountain adventures and marked off which ones will require legitimate hiking boots and it was almost everything, so I’m taking them.  I loath the space the take up but it’s going to be a good decision, I know it.



Only the essentials.

No, really:

  • Tiny loofah, body wash, razor and blades, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss
  • Glasses, contacts, contact solution
  • Deodorant and wet wipes
  • Hair brush, hair ties, bobby pins
  • Tinted lip balm, eyeliner and sharpener, tweezers, nail clippers
  • Feminine care (just enough for the first few months)



  • Two Ace bandages for my bum knees :(
  • Handful of bandaids, various sizes
  • Neosporin
  • Arnica (homeopathic for bruising)
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • Thermometer (to see if I’m really sick or just feel crappy)
  • DEET
  • Malarone anti-malarials (three-month supply)
  • Ibuprofen for headaches, injuries, cramps, etc.
  • Old floss container full of my BIG THREE pills:
    • benedryl (in case someone gets stung by a bee)
    • acetometaphin (for fevers or pain)
    • immodium (in case someone gets the poops on a 12-hour busride).



This is my first time traveling with anything more than an iPhone.  This time I’m leaving the iPhone and, because I’m trying to be a legitimate blogger on an epic project, I’m bringing a computer and a real camera.

  • Asus Transformer Book netbook with detachable touch screen
  • Canon SX280 HS camera with charger, spare battery and case
  • GoPro Hero2 HD with waterproof housing and a couple of mounts
  • X-shot extension for cool camera shots
  • Sansa Clip MP3 player with 32 GB microSD card
  • Kindle touch (with all my Richard Halliburton books on it)
  • SteriPen Adventure Opti for water purification
  • Extra memory cards



And the things that either didn’t fit into another category or I forgot to include in other pictures:

photo (2) extras

And that’s it!  I can’t believe this all fit into my little 40-L pack, but see for yourself.  The red/orange pack is the main pack.  The little purplish one is for dayhikes and banging around town–it is not a front-pack.  I abhor the front-pack.


And here it is packed:

photo 2

And here it is packed with me wearing it—-so tiny!

 photo 1 (1)

Questions?  Comments?  Think I’m a fool for bringing ______ and not _______ ?  Leave a message below!

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  1. Hi! Loved this post and how you showcased all of your equipment. Great job – and thank.
    Question – what did you use to put the nice red lines around each piece of equipment. I love that and would like to use it in some of my posts.

    If you’re going to be in Spain from Sept 2-12 – why not join us on the Camino from Leon to Santiago? Or if you’ll be in Italy from Sept 17-26, why not join us in Tuscany and Cinque Terre when time permits?

    I’ll have two different groups and a local guide on each of the trips. After those two trips, my plan is to do the Coast to Coast in England. Up for an adventure in England?

    In any case, I admire and love what you’re doing. Great adventures await! I look forward to learning from you experiences!

    Ciao – and Buen Camino!


  2. Hi! Thanks for posting great information on what you’re going to pack for your trip and how you decided on what you’ll take. Also, I love how you arranged the photos so nicely. Clean and easy to see and understand.

    Question. How did you get the nice red lines around the different items you’re taking? I’d love to know how to do that.

    And, if you’re in Spain in September, why not join us on the Camino from Sept 2-12 or in Italy from Sept 17-26 in Tuscany and Cinque Terra. After I run these two trips I’ll head to England to walk the Coast to Coast. You’re more than welcome on any of these trips.

    I admire and love what you’re doing and look forward to following your escapades!

    Ward Luthi

    • Hi Ward, thanks for commenting! I took the pictures on a white sheet out in full sunlight and added the red boxes in Microsoft Paint to clean it up a bit. Glad you like it! I’ll be in Greece the whole month of Spain, but thanks for the invite–hate to miss that opportunity. Enjoy your travels!

  3. Freakin’ impressive.

  4. All the best for your big adventure and kudos on the small pack! I would be replacing the loofah with a beanie and extra socks. Of course you can easily add these to your kit in any of the mountain spots you’re headed to. But trust me, you will require additional socks : ) I’ll be in the alps in July so hope to keep up with the posts.

    • Hi Anna, thanks for commenting! The loofa is a bit of a splurge but I think it’ll be worth it. I’m planning on washing my socks often, but you’re right, I may want to throw a second pair of hikers in there–there’s enough room for a couple small items. As for the beanie, that’s what the Buff is for! I’ve used it before to keep my head warm and it does a darn good job. Where in the Alps will you be? Have fun!

      • Hi Sarah, I’ll be climbing all through the Alps from mid July – mid August (France, Switzerland and Italy). And I agree that a buff is an essential piece of kit, but not warm enough for when you’re up high in the mountains!

  5. This kind of “how I do it” post with pictures etc is invaluable. I don’t foresee a lengthy trip of your type in the future but even for shorter plans that involve traveling within the destination for hiking and other non-tourist type activities this is a brilliant bit of help. Thanks!

  6. Wow. Having finally traveled a bit doing a variety of sport things ranging from surfing at sea level to climbing in the high mountains, I cannot tell you how impressive your packing job is. Well done! That size pack will make traveling infinitely more comfortable amd less of a pain. I imagine you can jam a fair amount of stuff inside of those hiking boots no?

    Packing the bag makes the trip so imminent. T-Minus one week!!! Amped for you!

    PS – Did you remember an adaptor for that micro sd card?

    • Yep, got the adapter! Thanks :) Yeah, it’s imminent and getting more real by the moment–time to start freaking out.

  7. Very interesting post. Thanks for detailing it! For water purification how did you decide on the SteriPen? Did you consider chlorine dioxide (aquamira)and prefer the SteriPen? Looking forward to following your adventure from afar.

    • Hey Neal, thanks for reading! I used the original Steripen for the past four years, including on an international trip. It’s very simple and easy to use, doesn’t alter the taste, and takes 90 seconds instead of half an hour to be ready to drink. For my purposes (1-2 L a day) it’s perfect….as long as it works! My last one worked great and this one is even better reviewed, so here’s hoping!

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