RTW Packing List
- Women's Clothing
- Men's Clothing
- Travel Gear
As a seasoned traveller and expedition leader I pride myself in my ability to pack light whilst also having everything that I need.
I travel with a 60L backpack. I also carry a foldable 15L daypack to take with me on the plane or for sightseeing. 15kg is my maximum weight, and that’s including the daysack.
I share the same RTW packing list with my clients, but more often than not I see them at the airport appearing with these massive 75L rucksacks. When they go to check them in they are nearly at the 25kg maximum weight that is allowed by most airlines.
That’s crazy! Why didn't they stick to my RTW packing list? I know that they will be moaning about the weight, sweating like pigs in the tropical heat and finally ditching half of their stuff because they can’t bear to carry it all much longer.
When asked why they didn't stick to the RTW packing list their answer is always the same - “we’re going for six months man! That’s a very long time! I want to make sure that I have all I need”...this is the point when I roll my eyes and shout in my head “a week, six months, a year it doesn't matter!!
Going on a long-term, RTW trip its different that a two week vacation. When going on holiday, you don't want to waste time on doing laundry, to much to do and so little time, right? so packing clothes for every day you are gone it makes sense. When you are travelling for months or even years, packing like this is just not practical, so follow my 3 simple RTW packing list rules to lightweight and happy RTW travel
3 golden rules of packing for RTW travel.
RTW packing list rule #1
I take one week’s worth of clothes. Plain in colour, versatile so that you can easily layer or mix and match, period.
I will wash and replace as I am going along. “There are shops abroad you know” I often feel like saying...
RTW packing list rule #2
Don't take things 'just in case' (it's not a holiday!!). If in doubt, leave it behind. Make sure that you have the bare essentials.
Focus instead on items that will be useful for a number of occasions or that double up as something else.
RTW packing list rule #3
Be minimalist with your packing and keep weight to a minimum, you have to carry it on your back wherever you go.
You are responsible for having to lunge it on top of buses and carrying it upstairs in hostels.
RTW packing list step 1 - choose your main backpack
The backpack is one of the most important bits of kit to get right. You need to pick a backpack that matches with your destination and the activities that you are planning to do. You want it to be lightweight, versatile and big enough to carry your belongings.
This is one item that you should be willing to spend an extra penny or two on. It’s a good idea to invest in a strong, comfortable backpack that will last the whole trip. The wrong backpack has the potential to be your worst enemy.
You will also need a daypack. A daypack is great for carrying daily supplies and taking aboard flights, coaches, on day trips and so on.
I will talk you through the different backpacks that you can be use for your RTW trip
Travel backpack: They have been designed with the gap year traveller in mind. They tend to be sturdy backpacks that open like a suitcase, with integrated daypacks giving you extra versatility and hand free mobility.
Hiking backpack: They offer that crucial extra comfort for long trips and are further geared for trips in the wilderness or hiking up mountains. So, if you are planning to tackle some of the famous trails that the world has to offer this might be the right choice for you.
Wheeled backpack: Wheeled backpacks are an interesting hybrid, in that they can be carry like a backpack but have wheels and a trolley handle hidden inside the back panel, These are particularly useful for city trips, interrailing in Europe, or locations where you are going to spend most of your time in urban environments.
Duffel bag: These are simple, lightweight, versatile and durable and it can be carried both as a handbag and as a backpack, which is a great asset in terms of flexibility of usage
Rtw packing list step 2 - weather and the layering system
Weather are one of the most important things to consider when packing for RTW travel, when planning a gap year, if your travels will alternate between locations with hot/ humid and cold /dry climates layering its the way to go.
However the layering system enables us to master nearly any environment, giving us the lightweight and versatility that we need for RTW travel, so your 8 pound winter coat can stay at home and you will still be comfortable in frozen temperatures.
Its like if you where an onion, (I am sure you have been called worse) Layers work both independently and together to keep you in comfort whatever the activity and weather condition.
Thermals are the base layer (remember the onion) moisture-wicking t-shirts/shirts are second layer, mid layer your fleece, top layer your rain jacket, top it up with hat, scarf and some gloves also wool socks and hiking boots and you can face most weathers and conditions.
my RTW packing list have been designed with the layering system in mind, so you don't have to carry all your wardrobe.
From the jungles of Central America and the beaches of South East Asia to the India Himalayas or the Peruvian Andes and also different activities to volunteering with animals in Costa Rica to hiking the Inca trail.
With the layering system and my RTW packing list you will be comfortable in any environment.
Rtw packing list step 3 - organise your stuff
Use packing organisers so you know where everything is. They will save you loads of time and avoid you getting annoyed every-time that you want to find something. You will thank me for this when you are packing and unpacking every time you are in a new destination.
Also, they will save space in your bag as your clothes can be compressed. This will stop them getting all crumpled and avoid you looking as creased as a raisin
You can use compression sacks or compression cubes to reduce the volume of your clothes by up to 70%!
Top Base Layer
Indispensable for colder climates but also good as long sleeve shirt for hiking. Add beneath your fleece and shell as part of your layering system for maximum flexibility so you can tackle any type of weather, you will need this mainly on towns at altitude or mountain environments with hot days and cold nights.
Base Layer Bottoms
Layer this under your pants and you can tackle most adventures. Wear them to bed in colder climates or when camping.
Sports Bras are great because they don't really looked like a bra so you can use them in a variety of occasions. Get one with pattern or colour so it's passable if you want to swim or hike in it, yes you will.
Quick Dry T-Shirts
fleeces are a great mid layer options that adapts to different weathers and environments, Yes, my top choice might be expensive for a fleece, but it’s the one I use at home and take with me on my travels. This Merino wool fleece will keep you warm, dry and last your entire RTW trip. The other options will do the job, but my icebreaker its on a league on its own.
Great on the trails and the city. all this options are great and they will do the job. My personal choice is the Marmot's PreCip it features nylon rip-stop material, waterproof breath-ability to protect you from rain and perspiration alike, and is 100% fully seam-taped. use by itself or wear your fleece underneath for toasty warmth.
Durable, breathable, comfy and attractive. My go-to for chilling, working out, and sleeping.
Lightweight Hiking Pants
Simple, lightweight pants, great for hiking and chilling
Great for hiking, you can pull them up when hot, wear them under a dress, they are great for lounging around or under a dress. A very versatile piece of clothing, exactly what you need on your RTW packing list
Handy for a variety of occasion, beach cover up, picnic blanket, cover your head in any Muslim country, visiting Buddhist temples, when you have to cover your shoulders, dress and so much more
Good for conservative beach towns and doubles as a going-out shirt in not to conservative, fun beach towns... my favourites!
Bring one pair for water sports, running, lounging. Especially nice when you want to visit the beach in more conservative cultures, where your bikinis are far from the norm or want to take some surf lessons
Loved the Crocs sexi flips! they are the ones I own, they are waterproof, light and will take no space on your backpack a must on your RTW packing list. They are good for the boat and beach, but they dress up well too.
Anti Theft Satchel Style Purse
Over the shoulder and discreet is key. this ones are made specially for travel, anti-theft so they can be cut, but still looking great
A wide range of ways to wear it, also protects you from the cold and wind, this is a very versatile piece of kit, I use it in a variate of occasions and climates from boat rides to climbing and trekking.
They are designed to trap a thin layer of warm air against the body and it also works to pull sweat away from the skin, which is known as 'wicking" This process ensures you maintain an optimum body temperature and stay cool and dry. they are a must if trekking on altitude or for colder climates.
You will need some of this to keep you cool on hot and humid climates. In the tropics you will still sweat regardless, and your t shirt will still get wet, the difference between this t shirts and cotton t-shirts its that synthetics will dry faster and thus get you comfortable quicker, also if caught out on a tropical downpour cotton will take much longer to dry and when they finally do, will stink.
You will need this in variety of occasions, to many to mention. Important layer in conjunction with your bomb-proof rain shell, paired up they are the same as a big bulky jacket.
Breathable, waterproof, light-weight, This 3 options will do the job of keeping you dry, holding the wind at bay when on a boat trip or the back of a pick-up, and warm in conjunction with your fleece.
Quick Dry Trousers
These pants are going to get a lot of wear on your trip. Everything from glacier hikes to sightseeing to hostel chilling to volunteer work well you get the drift...get a couple.
Much better option than flip-flops just because they are much more versatile and can accommodate a variety of situations, have you tried to walk on hot sand in the beach with flip-flops? Yes, the sand gets very hot in the tropics, and yes its nearly impossible, they are also great while trekking, river rafting or just sightseeing.
Breathable yet waterproof. Walking boots are great for trekking, walking with your backpacks loaded up, working at volunteer projects or anywhere when you be just a bit rural, this choices wont let you down.
Your backpack will be your trusted companion on your RTW travels. You have to make sure that you love it when its on your back and that it last the whole trip. This choices will outperform your expectations and your gap year.
This are my top picks they will deliver in comfort, ease of use and durability. They accommodate most body types. You don't want anything cheaper than this for your RTW adventure or you will finish carrying your stuff on a bin bag. Check best gap year backpacks for 2017 for further insight
Travel Sheet/Sleeping Bag Liner
They became really handy in hostels. Even when sheets are clean I prefer to wrap myself up with something that is familiar and doesn't have a funky smell on it.
This thief deterrent wire cover will give you great piece of mind while in transit, or if you have to leave your bags for a few days in a hostel.
This is a discreet way to carry your money, passport and cards. It's RFID protected and not sweaty at all. Just remember it goes under your trousers!
I always carry these. The flexible kind can lock to all sorts of packs. They are a must and will last a life time, unless you lose them of course.
They give you extra piece of mind when your hostel door has a flimsy lock or not lock at all. It's a must for the female traveller.
They give you extra piece of mind when your hostel door has a flimsy lock or not lock at all. this have an alarm
They give you extra piece of mind when your hostel door has a flimsy lock or not lock at all just a basic one
If I could only carry one item on a trip around the world that item would be my SteriPEN. All you have to do is charge it and stir the water. It's that good!
It's always good to have a back up for when on long treks or your steriPEN isn't charged. This one doesn't add flavour to the water
If you want to go for the cheap option as a back up its up to you. But just remember I told you that your water will taste like a swimming pool.
Large water bottles are great for trekking or when you need to stock up on good free water. The wide-mouth opening is imperative so you can fit your SteriPEN inside to purify water.
Bring at least 2 of these, lightweight and durable, they pack up to nothing, empty they are like a sheet of plastic. Get 1 litre capacity. The Platypus are the ONLY ones you want, the cheap imitations split.
Good organisation will help you to not lose all your kit within a week, and with your mum not been there to pick up your clothes, packing cubes are the next best thing. They are easy to pack/unpack, which is something you will want as you will be doing it a lot during your travels.
Bring a multi-tool, this one its my personal choice, make sure that it have scissors and pliers. This will come in handy often.
This is just indispensable. A head torch is handy in so many circumstances that I could write a blog post about it!
This tape will save you in situations that you don't even think you will find yourself into, its that good.
Good para-cord its essential. It will became handy in many occasions from clothes line, shoe laces, securing your bags, etc.
This one its durable, permethin permeated and big enough so your body wont be touching it while sleeping in it.
Don't be taking your phone out of your pocket every time you need the time, also handy when you have your backpack on.
Health Safety and Wellbeing
Use it after the toilet and every time before touching any food and you will avoid most stomach upsets. Carry one on your pocket at all times
I am all for natural products but not for mosquito repellents DEET its effective and as long as you follow the instructions and don't bath on it you will be fine.
This is the best ever I have tried when exposed to the elements. Stock up on this one you wont regret it and kill two birds with one stone.
broken lips are not fun. At mountain towns, the beach, well anywhere really. I always carry a few and give away to local kids, better than sweets.
This will save you from forgetting some essentials that will become handy they have been put together with the adventure traveller in mind.
You want this, lightweight and quick drying, never make the mistake of packing a normal towel on your RTW trip or you will regret it big time.
You will definitely want to take some pictures while on your gap year. This cameras are the best suited for round the word travel on their own categories, for their versatility, quality and strength. It depends how much you appreciate your footage.
Whatever camera you decide to take with you, this SD card will provide quality pictures, the bag its big enough to carry a DLSR camera with a lens if need it to and doesn't shout expensive camera inside, and the SD card reader will provide ease of use on internet cafes .
With this ones you can manage your life on your round the world travel , they are small, durable and practical, different specs for different purposes so ask yourself what will you be doing with yours?
Don't forget this ones, a travel adaptor that works all over the world, clever hey! also you will need something to play music for those long overnight busses, and this unlocked quad-band phone will work all over the world with any network you can get an international sim card here or buy a local one and forget about roaming or unexpected charges
This RTW packing list is applicable for any backpacking where you are going to be travelling in an area or continent for any amount of time, but if you are going to stay on at a place volunteering or teaching English you will need a different packing list.