What to Carry When Traveling the World
Post from March 16, 2015 (↻ June 8, 2021), filed under Adventure.
The story of my 18 months of travel around the world, including this and other articles, is available as a big but humble e-book: Journey of J.
For my 557-day journey around the world I had prepared thoroughly. Emphasis had been on light luggage, and so I had focused on necessities and gear that didn’t weigh much and, for clothes, could dry quickly.
Here I’ll share some parts of my inventory. Overall I was pleased with how everything turned out; although I dismissed a couple of items I had initially packed, and replaced others during the journey, the core stayed the same. Much of what I carried is still in use, though that’s mostly due to the fact that I’m still waiting for my old household to arrive in Germany.
Start Gear (August 2013)
I’ll let photos do the talking, and at the end discuss the items I consider key.
Within a few days of travel I had dropped a handful of items (like these finger trainers, for example, or that one sweater) but, to be confirmed now, most stayed with me.
End Gear (February 2015)
(Unfortunately I missed to look at the pre-trip photos above before I shot these final ones. Doing so would have made it easier to compare.)
The most important thing to note is that the last two months of my travels led me through the winter in South Korea, Japan, and then Europe. I hence transported a little more than before.
I did carry some stuff, and yet not all of it was critical. Let’s have a brief look at what I’ve deemed crucial:
Quick dry, non-cotton clothes: although I rarely needed to “quick-dry” anything, I appreciated the option; more important were the weight savings by avoiding anything cotton and wool. Special shout-out to Kühl, manufacturer of my two pairs of technical pants—I had to reinforce the seams but they’ve otherwise held up well.
Mountain Hardwear Paladin backpack: Key. I love this bag. Robust, waterproof enough, not too flashy, either. I normally avoid backpacks but this one has been a great companion of great service.
Apple MacBook Air 11″ notebook: From my point of view, the best notebook to travel with. Although I managed to crack the display when cleaning it (fortunately just in the least important, bottom right corner), I use it to this date.
LG Nexus 4 mobile phone: It served me throughout the entire journey, and the photos were okay (well, good enough that some of my EyeEm shots actually sell on Getty!). Alas, the phone’s slowly dying now because of an inch of a strip on the screen that doesn’t take touch input anymore (I’ve moved on to an A3).
Limeade Blast L130X external battery: So useful. This one has saved me (and travel friends) during times when we had no electricity at all, and then it helped me sustain many long day trips that evidently meant more extensive battery use on my phone—because, photos.
Toshiba 1 TB hard drive: This backup solution came in late, some time in Singapore, but quickly proved indispensable because my USB stick ran out of space, and I got worried one of my web hosting providers might condemn my regular photo backups to their servers.
Kensington international travel adapter: I needed it almost everywhere. The only place where it let me down was South Africa, but that turned out to be a non-issue (an alternative adapter cost perhaps two dollars).
Austin House leg wallet: One important psychological help. On some deserted, foreign, unsafe parts of my journey I felt much better stripping my passport and some cash to my legs. Like on some occasions in South America, and in Africa.
Ogio Doppler Kit toiletry bag: This thing is just a nice solid handy, container.
I think that gives a good idea. I’m keeping key items as well as clothes for future trips—I’m longing to wear ties again!—, and I’m then curious about deciding the fate of my emergency backpack. 😊
❧ By the way, compare! See for example someone else’s must-have items for an RTW trip (I disagree by 60%) or, for maximum contrast, what gear you need to climb Mount Everest (I’m just stunned). But, there are many different kinds of trips, they’re our very individual trips, and it’s on us to carry what we choose to carry.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
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Perhaps my most interesting book: 100 Things I Learned as an Everyday Adventurer (2013). During my time in the States I started trying everything. Everything. Then I noticed that wasn’t only fun, it was also useful. Available at Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.