The list below details the gear that I began my around-the-world adventure with. I thought I was packing light, so I wasn’t happy when I weighed in at almost 35 pounds of gear. I hope to revisit it as the trip progresses to update what has been added and removed. I’m also apologizing that my first post to the blog is of such a sterile nature, but hopefully more interesting posts are soon to follow!
I read a lot of blogs about how to pack for a year-long around-the-world adventure. Probably the most useful was this comprehensive packing list.
- Osprey Exos 46 backpack
I bought this ultralight backpack (2 lbs, 5 oz) prior to my 7-day backpacking trip on the West Coast Trail. My existing bag weighed over seven pounds empty, and shaving five pounds off of my pack weight was crucial. So far it has been working out great, although it was probably not designed to carry a 35 pound load.
- REI Flash 18 Daypack
At 11 oz, this daypack will come in useful when walking around the city and not wanting to carry my larger pack. Or so I thought before I was gifted an even lighter-weight daypack discussed next. Because of that, it’s life on this trip may be short-lived.
- Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack
It’s hard to figure out what to buy for an around-the-world traveler, because I simply didn’t want to bring anything that wasn’t going to be needed frequently. Only what could fit into my 46L pack was allowed. However, my friend Raffy delivered big time a few days before my departure with this addition. At only 2.4 oz, it is my go-to daypack for walking around the city.
- Pacsafe 55L locking system
These PacSafe locking systems allow you to leave your bag locked inside a mesh cage, often wrapped around a metal pole or other fixed object. I’ve heard it will come in very useful in some places, but it remains to be seen if the weight trade-off was worth it.
- 20-liter ultra-light dry sack
- Rain cover for my pack
- 13″ MacBook Pro with Charger and Ethernet-to-USB adapter
Forgoing all travel advice of not taking your own laptop on an around-the-world adventure, or at least avoiding an expensive attention-attracting Apple product, this was somewhat of a necessity as my job requires me to be somewhat available (more so than internet cafes allow) and the occasional programming update to an iPhone app. My old MacBook Air was a little slower than desired for video editing, and so I upgraded just prior to the trip.
- GoPro HERO3 Black Edition with accessories
Hopefully Lisa and I will get into some adventures where this compact video camera comes in handy! I’ve already recorded some great footage on my Southwest road trip and Fright Flight ultimate tournament before even leaving for this trip. I brought with it several mounts (including vehicle suction cup mount), a head strap, four batteries, charger, 64GB micro-SD, wi-fi remote and more. It’s a lot of gear to be carrying around.
- iPhone 4S with charger and headphones
Fortunately, my AT&T two-year contract ended a month before my trip. I was able to unlock my existing iPhone 4S so that it would work with carriers worldwide. I’ll have a separate post at some point about how I was able to keep my phone number and get service throughout our travels.
- Passport and Driver’s License
- T-Tech Passport holder
I tested out several passport holders and this one won the battle. I wanted something as small as possible that could hold my passport, a credit card, an ATM card and a small amount of cash.
- Credit cards: United Mileage Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Capital One
All of these credit cards charge no foreign transaction fees, which make them ideal for a trip like this. In Southeast Asia, cash will prevail, but as we transition to Europe or purchase travel plans online, these will come in handy. Plus, I got signup bonuses of 50,000 miles from the United Mileage Plus card and 40,000 from the Sapphire Preferred, which will significantly reduce travel costs throughout the trip.
- ATM card: Schwab Checking Account
I ended up bringing only one ATM card. This checking account is free, pays interest, gives you free checks and rebates all ATM fees worldwide. At the end of each statement, they just credit back any ATM fees you were charged (no limit to this amount). It’s already saved me money on domestic trips and should help us carry limited cash as we can withdraw several times a week if necessary.
- Yellow Card + Vaccine Record
This probably won’t be needed where we are going, but I have it in case. I had already received Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and Hepatitis A+B vaccines for my Kilimanjaro trip last year. I added Japanese Encephalitis for this trip.
- A dozen passport-sized photos
Various entry visas we obtain could require passport-sized photos. We know Vietnam for sure will require two of them. I created my own with this online generator and then just printed them online prior to the trip.
- A scan of important identification and certification cards
Rather than carry my PADI scuba-dive certification card, I am hoping a scanned version that I can show on my phone will suffice. Similarly, I scanned all of the above documents, as well as hostel membership cards, prescriptions, electronics user manuals, and other items I might need but didn’t want to carry.
- Philips Norelco QG3360/42 Multigroom Plus dual-voltage beard trimmer
I searched around for the ideal travel-sized beard trimmer. My requirements were something with a foil shaver, beard trimmer and it needed to work on international voltages (100-240v). After a couple disappointing products that were returned, I settled on this, leaving some of the attachments at home. If haircuts become problematic, I can use it to buzz cut my whole head.
- 6-12 month supply of Acuvue 2 contact lenses
I have 4 boxes of Acuvue 2 contact lenses, which according to two-week disposable schedule, would last 24 weeks. I have a bad habit of wearing them for a month or more, so they could easily last a year.
- Mitchum Deodorant
I sweat a lot. Hopefully I can find good deodorant/antiperspirant on the road!
- Advil / ibuprofen
You might think this would be in the medical kit, but I use it too frequently.
- Disposable Ear Plugs
In case someone besides me is snoring in the hostels.
- Nail clippers
- Contact lens solution (two travel-size bottles) + case
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Razor, blades and shaving cream
- Chapstick w/ sunscreen
- Bar of soap
- Eye Glasses
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Keen Marshall WP Hiking Shoes
These black and yellow shoes seemed like the right mix of lightweight hiking/walking shoes that can also look somewhat dressy. I bought Keen hiking boots for the West Coast Trail and decided I really like their shoe fit and comfort level.
- Keen Clearwater CNX sandals
I bought a new, lighter-weight pair of Keen sandals. I don’t like flip flop straps between my toes, so although these aren’t stylish (so I’ve been told many times), they will work great for the warmer and humid climates as well as any water adventures we get into.
- Puma cleats
I found some pretty sweet Puma cleats at Ross before leaving for just $30. Perfect for all of the ultimate frisbee we are playing on this trip! Plus, these cleats are pretty bad-ass!
- GoLite Rain Jacket
Another light-weight purchase acquired for the dual purpose of the West Coast Trail hike and the around-the-world trip.
- Outdoor Research Sun Runner Sun Hat
This hat earned me the nickname of Safari Matt on the West Coast Trail hike. Worth it for that alone!
- 4 pairs of Ex Officio Underwear
This underwear is advertised as “17 Countries. 6 Weeks. And one pair of underwear. Okay, maybe two.” Four was the minimum level I was comfortable traveling with!
- 4 pairs of Wigwam Socks and 2 pairs of other sports socks
Two higher-cut pairs for hiking and wearing with long pants, two shorter pair for use with shorts and a couple other sports pairs for use with cleats at ultimate tournaments. I tend to like wearing socks rather than going barefoot in sandals, but that may already be changing.
- A comfortable, light-weight cotton hoodie
Useful for travel, layering in cooler weather and looking a little nicer.
- 2 pairs of O’Neill Hybrid Shorts
Pre-trip research led me to these hybrid board shorts that look good, dry quickly and can also be worn in the water. The pairs I got have zippered pockets as well, great for travel and holding onto my valuables.
- 1 pair of Five Ultimate hydro shorts
Useful for playing ultimate and sleeping in. Lack of pockets make them useless for much else.
- 1 white and 3 dark jerseys
These are the only shirts I brought other than the hoodie. Regretting that I didn’t ask Lisa for her packing list sooner, or I would have found out about these Icebreaker shirt she has which seem amazing! We are also picking up two more jerseys less than a week after arriving, thanks to the team we picked up with at the Manila Spirits ultimate tournament. One of the jerseys I brought is a white polo style, which can look dressy, and the other three I will be happy to trade away if I find any takers!
- Two pairs of lightweight hiking pants
One pair I have had for years and includes zip-off legs to convert into shorts. The second pair (Kuhl Raptr, was acquired after a lot of testing at REI. They look a little dressier when needed. I’ll miss jeans, but they were too heavy and hot for where we are headed.
- Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Set
I took only the medium and small sized bags from this set, but they allow me to compress my clothes so they take minimal space within my pack.
- Eagle Creek Undercover Neck Wallet w/ 50 $1 bills
I wasn’t initially going to bring something like this, but my Aunt Wendy bought it for me just before the trip and filled it with 50 single dollar bills which she said would be useful as we traveled.
- Small laundry bag for dirty clothes
- Cold and Flu pills
- Neosporin (antibiotic cream)
- Immodium / anti diarrheal
- Digital thermometer
- Ben’s 100 MAX Formula Insect repellant
- Discraft ultrastar disc
I brought along a disc to be traded or given away. I already decided that this will be gifted to Lester, the person who has gotten us onto our Manila Spirits team and introduced us to so many wonderful people! Plus, we are picking up discs at the tournament as part of the player’s pack and I have no need to carry more than one at a time.
- Sea to Summit Premium Blend Silk/Cotton Liner
This was an item I debated over, but decided to bring in case we are staying in any sketchy hostels or couchsurfing with a host that doesn’t have any linens for us. It is pretty small and lightweight, but probably infrequently used.
- REI MultiTowel Lite (54″ x 25″)
Two light-weight, fast-drying towels from REI. The second one is much smaller, but useful if camping at all.
- Combination and keyed locks
Useful for hostel lockers and attaching the pacsafe locking system to our bags.
- Universal power adapter for electronics + small power strip
All of my electronics have chargers that run on dual voltage, so I simply needed a lightweight universal power adapter for the plugs. I also brought along a small power strip so that multiple devices can be charged at once.
- Headlamp with six rechargeable AAA batteries
- Nalgene Water Bottle
- Flexo-line clothesline, universal drain stopper and small detergent packs
- Bullfrog Water Armor QuikGel Sunscreen
- Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-canceling headphones
These are a luxury that might be shipped home at some point, but between all of the plane, bus and train rides we will be taking, they could be very comforting.
- Classic Swiss Army Pocket knife
- Rite in the Rain Notepad w/ Pen
A friend recommended these notepads that you can write on, even when they are totally wet!
- GoalZero Guide 10 battery charger
Initially was going to bring my solar charger that goes with this, but it was sacrificed for space and weight. This will be used to recharge the AAA and AA batteries that go with my headlamp, Bose headphones and GPS unit.
- Garmin GPSMAP 60CSX Hiking GPS unit
- Bucky 40 Blinks Eye Mask
I like to sleep in. I don’t like sunlight in the morning!
- Small sewing kit with needle for medical uses.
- Pack of gum