Packing for a year long trip around the world is not an easy task. Imagine trying to fit all the stuff you use on a daily basis into one small bag that you carry on your back. Although it wasn't easy, we found a way to do it.

The first step for us was choosing a backpack and then deciding what to cram inside. We wanted to choose a bag with enough space for our items but nothing too large or heavy that would prevent us from being mobile. The compromise was a 55L backpack. After months of planning and debating, here is the list of what we packed.

Note: This post was first written in May 2012 but was updated in May 2013 to reflect what we actually kept or added to our packs while traveling. I've made all updates in red so you can see differences between before and after our trip.

Packing for a round the world trip

Clothing / Apparel

  • 3-4 t-shirts & 1 collar shirt (this number increased to 6-7 shirts)
  • 1 pair each of pants, shorts, & swimsuit (in the end we had 2 pairs of pants including jeans)
  • 4 pairs of underwear & socks (more like 6 pairs by the end)
  • Light jacket
  • Running shoes / sandals / casual shoes
  • Sunglasses


  • Camera
  • iPad & netbook
  • Global cell phone
  • iPhones (unlocked)
  • Power adapters & extension cord

Security / Safety Items

  • Padlock (for lockers) (we used our wire bag lock for both lockers and locking our bag, no need for both)
  • Wire lock (for backpacks)
  • First aid kit, that complied to the guidelines laid down by It is extremely important to carry the right first aid kit on a year long travel.

Misc Travel Items

  • Flashlight
  • Pocket knife
  • Water bottle
  • Travel pillow
  • Backpacking towel (a big, high quality one!)
  • Small mess kit
  • Drying line
  • Sewing kit
  • Duct tape (we carried it the whole year but only ended up using it once)
  • Lighter
  • Ear plugs / eye mask
  • Playing cards (we only used these one or twice. not worth bringing again)
  • Travel umbrella
  • Squash ball (to plug sinks)
  • Small travel mirror
  • Toiletries
  • Resistance Bands (for staying fit on the road)

Packing Equipment

  • Ziplock bags
  • Daypack
  • Compression sacks

Documents & Money

  • Passport / ID
  • Student ID – for discounts, though we aren’t students anymore)
  • Travel insurance policy
  • Vaccination certificates
  • 2 Credits cards & 1 Debit card

Vaccinations for a round the world trip
And don't forget the ridiculous amount of pills you'll have to take with you!

After two long nights of organizing, we managed to pack all this stuff and still have room to spare. I’m taking bets on how long David can go with such a small choice of outfits! (Of course, I was right since he ended up buying 3 more shirts, extra pants and shorts) Deciding to backpack around the world is the best decision we have ever made but packing for the trip was one of the most difficult tasks!