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Blog of the Week: What to pack for an extended trip

Our featured blogger, Whitney Shindelar, passes on hard-won advice. But do you agree with her?

What goes in your backpack (Whitney Shindelar)

Packing sucks. It’s overwhelming. You never know what to take. You generally take way more than is necessary. And that’s just for a week visiting your Grandma.

How do you pack for a place you’ve never been? You know it’s hot, but how hot? Do you plan to look cute, or plan to sweat, or work? What if you go out for a nice dinner? Do they have nice restaurants there?

I mentally prepared my backpack and what would be inside for my trip around the world for months prior to leaving. I ordered multiple pairs of shoes, tried them on, and sent them back. I was constantly shopping online, ordering the essentials for being on the road for a year. I’ve travelled before, but not like this. In the midst of packing, I miraculously came up with a‘system’ that seemed to make sense, and now that I’m on the road, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Here are a list of things you should consider packing.

Disclaimer: For the next year, I plan to chase the sun, meaning I have 80% warm weather clothing. The clothing listed here is clearly not appropriate for an Antarctic expedition.

You’re not going far without these:

  • Passport
  • International phone with international SIM card
  • International adapter(s)
  • Shower bag (including shampoo, soap, etc)
  • Bathroom bag (including toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, etc)
  • Quick dry towel (preferably two: one for the beach, one for the shower)


  • Shoes (three pairs: walking sandals, flip-flops (for the beach/shower), tennis shoes (to hike, run, etc)
  • Shorts (six total: three comfortable ‘travel’ shorts, one running style shorts, which are also good to sleep in, two jean/colored shorts for special occasions)
  • Pants (five total: one cargo, one jean, one running/sweatpant, two leggings)
  • T-shirts (ten total: two wool, four that can be ‘dressed up’, and four comfortable)
  • Long-sleeved shirt (two total, both wool)
  • Sweatshirt
  • Workout top (good for hiking, working in the heat)
  • Swimsuit
  • Raincoat
  • Scarf
  • Socks (four pairs: two wool, two padded for running/hiking)
  • Underwear (three pairs: yes, only three. Hand wash daily, quick-dry material.
  • Bras (five total: one normal with tank top style to layer (Soma), one convertible/strapless, one Danskin racerback, two sports bras)
  • Sundress

Gadgets, miscellaneous necessities

  • Travel sized toiletries (for overnight/day trip, in case your bags are lost)
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (tripod for the wannabe photographers)
  • Bag/Purse (three: one big enough to hold computer, iPad, etc, one small, one small backpack for overnight trips)
  • Wallet (two: one real, one fake stuffed with expired cards and small amount of cash to hand over if threatened)
  • Moneybelt to wear, holding majority of cash, passport, etc
  • International driver's license
  • iPad, iPod with headphones (headphone splitter if traveling with friends)
  • USB multi-charger
  • Small dry sack
  • Deck of cards
  • PacSafe to protect your bags in hostels
  • Pepper spray
  • Jungle Juice insect repellent/After Bite
  • Laundry detergent (concentrated)
  • Sunscreen (body and face)
  • Small medical bag (icy hot for super sore shoulder/back muscles, bandaids, earplugs, antibacterial ointment, etc)
  • Epilator (for ladies to avoid searching for razors in random countries)
  • Jewellery and nail polish (to look pretty once in awhile)
  • Sleeping bag liner (to use in questionable hostel beds and when sheets are not provided)

Just in case you're wondering, I did manage to fit it all in one big backpack! But that's another blog post in itself.

Do you agree with Whitney? Is there an item that she hasn't listed that you feel is a travel essential? Have your say in the comments below.

Whitney ShindelarUndiscovered Sunsets | Whitney Shindelar

"I am a language-addicted, coffee-drinking, world traveler, making my way around the world one language and culture at a time. My blog recounts my most passionate experiences while also giving others a little motivation to live a dynamic, ever-spontaneous life."

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