Leading up to my trip around the world, one of my biggest stressors was deciding what to pack in my backpack. I’ve always been an over-packer. I come from a family that brings one to two large suitcases per person when we go on a seven-day vacation. Without knowing what type of weather and terrain to anticipate, it was a real challenge to pack appropriately. My goal was to have at leave one of everything I might need with the ultimate goal of bringing items that can be repurposed and reused.
Disclosure: I’ve been on the road for nearly two full months and I definitely overpacked for this trip which I’ll elaborate on throughout this post. My backpack was SO heavy when I started my adventure that I kept worrying I’d fall backward while climbing stairs and escalators. Since leaving home, I have given away shirts, thrown out old items, and tossed things I never used once.
I started off by purchasing a large backpack from REI.
In terms of clothing, I had two main objectives.
- Only pack articles that I’m fine with the possibility of losing or ruining forever.
- Mainly pack articles that are dark in color (harder to stain) for easy mix-and-match outfits.
- 7 t-shirts (I actually have 8 now because I bought another one while traveling haha)
- 1 orange t-shirt for work purposes
- 1 long-sleeve shirt (I will rely on a coat when the time comes, I guess?)
- 1 heavy sweater (you would be amazed how much space 1 shirt can take up…)
- 4 tank tops (only 3 remain because I gave 1 away)
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of sneakers (they’re going to need to be replaced VERY SOON)
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 7 pairs of socks
- 7 pairs of everything else
As you can see, I’ve had to eliminate a lot of items because there just wasn’t enough space while packing…
Still, I made sure to make space in my backpack for Shout Color Catchers. I swear by these. It is so convenient being able to do laundry without sorting colors. It keeps white shirts crisp and removes any fear of lighter colored clothes absorbing potent dyes from other items.
Toiletries & Necessities
- Travel-friendly toiletry bag
- 6 Prescription Azithromycin tablets
- AfterBite (I’ve needed this very frequently!!!)
- Pepto-Bismol for an upset stomach
- Imodium for traveler’s diarrhea
- Tylenol for pain and fever
- Insect repellant
- Nail clippers
- Contact lenses
- Prescription eyeglasses
- Chapstick (this is my favorite chapstick after years of searching and experimenting)
There are some items you might be able to get away with not packing and buying once you arrive (ie. toothpaste, shampoos, etc.) but because I am super-picky about the chemicals I use on my body, I went ahead and packed double of the products I prefer. For example, I have naturally curly hair so I avoid abrasive sulfates, non-soluble silicones, and parabens whenever possible. Sometimes that luxury means paying a little bit extra but I don’t necessarily mind since I have much less skin irritation from using these types of products.
- Sulfate-free shampoo
- Silicone-free conditioner
- Sulfate-free toothpaste
- Microfiber quick-dry towels
- Beard trimmer (This is the best men’s hair trimmer I have ever used.)
- Beard oil
- Beard brush
I also had a ton of immunizations too which you can read more about here.
Technology For Bloggers
- Anti-theft backpack
- TSA-approved luggage locks
- Laptop hard shell case
- Backup hard drive (used for photo/video storage)
- Blank notebook
- 2 airplane-safe pens
- Dongles and Adapters
- Amazon Basics iPhone charger (they last longer than authentic Apple ones!)
- GoPro and Poles
- Worldwide plug adapter (this is the one I use and it works GREAT!)
VIPKID Nomad Essentials
- Orange Shirt (technically this isn’t even required at VIPKID anymore!)
- Headphones (great for listening to music on airplanes too!)
- Star Plush Toy
- Monkey Plush Toy
- Felt Paper & Felt Rewards
- Energizer LED Lantern Light
- Energizer Batteries
For more ideas, you can read my official VIPKID Shopping List Guide.
Free Guide on How To Become a VIPKID Teacher!
The Official VIPKID Teacher Application Form
Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or suggestions! You know I love hearing from you! 😀
have you seen the movie/book ‘Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed’ she talks about filling her backpack to the point where she could not stand up (then various people telling her what to not pack/buy along the way lol)
my only experience with a backpack like that was in Air Force basic training. We were given one baf for all of our military issue clothing, supplies, etc- i could never find anything because when it came time to “pack up” i always went for speed over neatness, so i had a massive clump of “stuff” that i had to go through every time.
Haha thanks! No, I haven’t heard of the movie or book actually. That sounds a whole lot like me though! I’m curious to check it out now! Don’t feel bad, the contents of my backpack are pretty much squeezed in while traveling. I find it very stressful not having everything neatly spaced out and separate but I haven’t found a reasonable solution to keeping things neat while living out of a backpack. That’s also part of why it’s important to keep inventory and remain aware of what you do and don’t have in it!
It helps to be well organized!
Good informative post keep going, need support from you. Thanks for linking to the most affordable products.
Thank you very much! I will!
Wow! You sure took a lot of clothing. When I left I started with 7 of each t shirts, underwear and socks and jeans and these heavy shorts. I have since downsized to three changes of clothing and no jeans only cheap shorts I bought in Hanoi. I also got rid of all the TSA approved garbage and the stupid little bottles of lotion, shampoo, soap. I just buy the stuff where I go. You ever thought about getting rid of like half the clothing? I can get laundry done in Vietnam for about $2.00 a week. For me, the magic number for clothing is 4. That means laundry gets done once a week. I also have laptop, phone, and a dongle for my mac laptop. The charger is a multiport with three usb plugs and two AC adapters. Have you thought about generally downsizing almost all your stuff? 🙂 Just curious.
Agreed. With specific items, it IS easier to buy them while on the road. I’ve experienced this with everything from laundry detergents to umbrellas and other odd items that vary in usefulness depending on when/where you are. I have to say, I really don’t know if I could get by with less clothes though. Maybe with time my feelings will change but right now, I’m using absolutely everything I brought and feeling very content with how I am managing what I have. I do wish it wasn’t so heavy but its still within the realm of being acceptable for my own standards of what I’m willing to lug haha.
If it works for you, it works. I would say after 7 months of being on the road myself and never going back, that I made some decisions when I left that seemed okay clothing wise. I rethought those because it became apparent that 7 changes of clothing made my pack way too heavy. I got rid of the other stuff like soap, shampoo, toothpaste early on. If you like what you took, fantastic! If the pack feels heavy, look at what you took 🙂
I’ll probably lose stuff over time but I’ll have to adjust to living with even less. I’ll probably do it gradually so I don’t go into total backpacking shock haha. The one thing I do know is that I couldn’t have taken anything more than I already have. There’s really NO extra space haha.
Hey Rocky. Here’s an idea just to test. Try packing your backpack with less stuff. Say you went with three changes and the one you have one. That would be four total sets of clothing. Also try with less numbers of pants. Say one pair you have on and one pair packed. Try not packing the heaver clothing at all or long sleeve shirts or other stuff. Just see what the backpack feels like. You may reach a common ground where the shock of having less is not so bad and your back and shoulders thank you a bit more.
Yeah, I think that’s a very clever idea! I will have to try it out! ? It might be too tempting to ever pack it any heavier once I see what’s possible haha. Thanks for that idea!
Cool. I’d agree, you definitely over-packed! Naked hugs!
Ahhh I know 🙁 I am happy with everything I’ve taken at least. It’s really just the weight that makes it unappealing to have so much.
My own extended travels are a few years off, but this is a very nice synopsis of what is needed, to live out of a backpack, for several months at a time. Thanks for sharing, Rocky!
You are most welcome!!! I hope you enjoyed reading through the list and I hope it will be of even more use to you when the time comes for your own travels! Let me know if you have any questions or comments at any point in your own preparations.
lots of useful tips and of course the photos made it more memorable – the antibiotics threw me off though – LOL!
I’m glad you found it useful, Singledust! Hahahaha in which sense did the antibiotics throw you off? As in you didn’t expect to see them on a packing list? These were purchased on the recommendation of my travel medical doctor who suggested that I have them on hand in the case of an upset stomach or bacterial infection while traveling in more remote areas. I have travel insurance as well for treatment along the way! 🙂 https://www.therockysafari.com/2018/06/22/how-to-get-affordable-travel-health-insurance/
Yes indeed I did, as a keen traveler myself I enjoy practical tips from other adventure seekers. Those antibiotics seem quite strong and too specific for a travel bug and I am intrigued that it can be purchased off the counter where you are from. Where I live these are controlled meds that need a physician’s prescription. I would imagine a more broad spectrum antibiotic suits better, that would allow a second dose if the infection continued, if one was travelling for a length of time and exposed to new environments, there’s a possibility of another infection too. Just my 2 cents.
Oh no, they can’t be! They’re prescription only. My travel medical doctor wrote several prescriptions for me before I left which I purchased from a pharmacy. The azythromycin, for example, was for persistent traveler’s diarrea specifically. The only thing you can get over the counter for that is maybe Imodium which might be useful to cover the problem but it does little to cure what is actually going on inside of you. He gave me enough for two courses of that. I do have several immunizations and over the counter products for other things in case I need them. I hope that helps clarify any confusion over the medicine!
it does but I am still concerned over the blatant misuse of antibiotics over the world, it is the main reason for more treatment resistant bugs. it’s a very academic discussion so I won’t go on. i am happy to read that you are well protected and make informed decisions on your travel health plans.
Oh right, I see your point. I’m familiar with the issue of antibiotic resistance. I guess it is somewhat surprising that a doctor would just write the ‘script and trust that an ordinary person might know when or when not to actually use them. Hence the potential for misuse. Still, it’s good to have them in case of an absolute emergency in a remote place.
agreed on the emergency definitely. not everyone understands the dangers of antibiotic misuse and even not completing a course, as I say it gets very academic. Our world is shifting rapidly, borders are almost no existent these days and diseases spread without a particular pattern, it just concerns me that’s all. Anyway I won’t dampen this really wonderful post of yours with such morbid thoughts, I did really enjoy your thoughts very much. I am glad you were highlighted at the GDG. We don’t often get information pieces like yours. well done!!
Most definitely. The globalized world has changed the way diseases spread drastically. Fear not, these are great conversations to have! Very real and important.
Sorry, one question. You mentioned I was highlighted at the GDG? What’s that? Haha
I have really enjoyed this intelligent and stimulating conversation thank you
That is awesome. I just saw! Thank you for letting me know!