What to pack for a year of traveling the world

There are a ton of opinions about packing for a trip ’round the world (RTW), and obviously where you go dictates, among other things, what wardrobe you’re bringing.

Thus, we’re not going to tell you what jacket, pants, undies or boots to include. Or what smartphone or laptop either — because you’re probably already bringing those, too.

On a trip ’round the world, believe it or not, that throw blanket underneath everything else might be the most essential item. Photo: Beau Flemister

The following items are the often-overlooked little extras that I recently brought along on my own year-long trip RTW. Indeed, I ended up finding each, as simple as they may seem, extremely useful.

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Other than that, if there’s any advice I could relay, it’s to keep it (your pack) as light as possible. If you’re lugging over 50 pounds, you’re gonna kick yourself. Shoot for 30 and consider including the following:

Throw blanket

Unroll this easily packable travel blanket and place over any suspect hostel bed for nightly peace of mind. Photo: Courtesy of Beau Flemister
Unroll this easily packable travel blanket and place over any suspect hostel bed for nightly peace of mind. Photo: Beau Flemister
Bring some sort of lightweight, 100 percent cotton throw blanket or bedspread for foreign beds — anything from a dodgy hostel bunk to a hotel room that looked a lot better in the pictures online. Mark which side is “T” for top and “B” for bottom.

The old lady and I brought a Fjallraven Ovik Blanket, which easily can be rolled up into a packable cylinder. We used this in places way more than we thought we would.

Portable speaker

Beyond binge-watching “The Sopranos” (or “Gilmore Girls” … not judging) on your iPad, the music it allows you to access is always a motivator. Good tunes manifest and attract good vibes, new friends and curious locals.

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Tons of companies make portable speakers these days, but one in particular that charges in an outlet or laptop, is waterproof and sounds stunning is the Ultimate Ears Boom 2. You’ve already got a playlist on your smartphone or tablet; the speaker just shares the sound with current (and potential) travel partners.

Chia seeds

What that travel chia looks like AFTER you find a few fruits and a cute bowl. Photo: Sebastian LP
What that travel chia looks like after you find a few pieces of fruit and a cute bowl. Photo: Sebastian LP/Unsplash
“Eat like the locals do,” they say. Yeah, sure. You ever been stuck in Indonesia for weeks at a time waiting for the waves to get good and eaten only what the locals do?

Long story short, you can get riced out. Chia, however, is an easily packable, just-add-water (or almond/coconut milk) superfood that gives you energy and tastes amazing. (Also great for, shall we say, moving things along digestively while traveling.) We took a sealed 1-pound bag with us — what a game-changer.


A photo posted by Leatherman (@leathermanusa) on

We found a Leatherman multi-tool pretty damn helpful — and by helpful, I mean for spreading peanut butter on apple slices or half-drunkenly prying open wine bottles with the corkscrew. Sure, there are dozens of other, more practical uses for the tool on a big trip, but you’d be surprised how often you need to spread peanut butter on fruit.

Brands like Gerber also make great travel knives for under $20. The only caveat: Clearly, you can’t bring these in your carry-on bags.

Travel sweats

A photo posted by VNDA (@vnda_) on

No, this isn’t a symptom of an illness you get while on the road. I’m talking about the outfit — any extra-comfortable pair of sweatpants and/or a sweatshirt for the countless freezing-cold buses, trains, planes and ferries you’re likely to encounter on a year traveling ’round the world. Doesn’t have to be fashionable — just has to work. These are a travel staple.

Portable pour-over coffee drip

Good coffee can be harder to find than you think in some places. Might as well come prepared (and brew your own). Photo: Andrew Welch
Good coffee can be harder to find than you think in some places. Might as well come prepared and brew your own. Photo: Andrew Welch/Unsplash
If you’re a coffee lover, a lightweight, plastic pour-over coffee drip for single brews is a continual day-brightener. It’s never too hard to find good coffee in a grocery store, yet on all types of transportation, they’re usually selling only that crappy instant Nescafé mix.

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Might as well bring a pack of No. 2 filters along and a pour-over drip (some are even collapsible); with some boiling water, you’re drinking better coffee in no time.

Cheap flip-flops

For foreign showers, bathrooms, WCs or anywhere else the floors appear suspect. Keep them in the mesh side pocket of your pack and they’re instant peace of mind. They may even save you from a troublesome case of athlete’s foot.

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