Background: I’m going on a round-the-world (RTW) trip this summer. This is one of a series of blog posts providing additional details. This particular blog post talks about packing for the trip.
Like the other #rtw2012 posts, this one is long and detailed. It’s as much for my own recollection years from now as for anyone else. If you’re bored, insomniac, or packing for a trip yourself, you might enjoy it.
I tend to travel light anyways, so that’s my default. If possible, I want to avoid checking luggage in, since it tends to get lost. Particularly for this kind of trip, where I’m hopping between cities, countries, and continents on an ongoing basis, lost luggage would be a disaster.
I started, as we all often do, with Google: “RTW packing” and similar terms yield a bonanza of great blog posts from multiple sources. If you read them all, as I did, you will quickly see that things converge onto a handful of common pieces of advice:
Take less than you think you’d need. Particularly for normal items (toiletries, simple clothes, etc.) you can buy them as you go along. Lay everything out and consider cutting it in half.
Think about buying local clothing in some places, using it for a few days, and then discarding it. Besides lowering your luggage weight and size, this also has the side benefit that you look more like a local. You might not pass for one, but you will be slightly less likely to get harrased.
Depending on where you’re going and the season, think about quick-drying clothes. I happen to be traveling to southeast Asia in June, which is very hot in some places (Bangkok, Delhi) but quite mild in others (Tokyo), and then I go way further north (e.g. St. Petersburg) later on in my trip.
Overall it’s a great time of year to travel to these places, but I expect a bunch of heat and humidity in selected areas. I don’t plan to give up my sports, either. Specifically, I plan to participate (not just observe) some unique local sports, such as judo, sumo, sepak, kayaking, and muay thai.
I also plan to be walking a lot, and I don’t want to do so with my “large” pack full of everything. The need for a lighter, smaller day pack becomes clear.
Finally, perhaps unusual for this kind of trip, and not covered in most packing guides: I also plan to go to several “fancy” restaurants, bars, lounges, and night clubs.
While very few of them absolutely require a suit, jeans + jacket is my default look, the one I plan to use much of the time at night, depending on the place, so I need a jacket anyways. And some Michelin-starred places do ask for a suit. I don’t want to feel out of place at Sukiyabashi Jiro or Noma.
After a bunch of reading, some closet inventory, a couple of trips to REI, EMS, and City Sports, here’s my packing list.
Shoes: 1 pair sneakers (I love, love, love my new Adidas Zeros. They are so light! But don’t use them unless you have good running posture and stride), 1 pair dress shoes. Note: no flip flops. I never wear them, even to shower, even in semi-questionable places: deal :).
Finally, in a waterproof ziplock bag, I have backup copies of my passports, my itinerary, some emergency cash, and extra ziplock bags.
The total weight all in the bag is 9kg or just under 20lbs. Not bad for 3+ months of traveling around the world.