What to Pack for a Round The World Trip

Published by riseandbrine on

Deciding what to pack for a round the world trip is exciting! But it can also be stressful if you aren’t especially great at editing your fashion choices (ahem.. like me..), and prioritizing what you NEED over what looks good.

Luckily you can [generally] fit-in just about anywhere with a simple travel capsule wardrobe. After returning from my 6-week round-the-world backpacking trip, across a huge array of climates, activities, and cultures, I’ve got some tips on what you actually need to pack, and what you can leave behind.

Below, are my top tips of what to pack for a round the world trip to make your life much easier – and simpler – on the road.

My husband did a better job of editing his choices and packed very lightly while still having all the clothes he needed. So for all you dudes out there looking to pack for your round the world trip, I’ll share his packing list as well.

What to Pack for a Round the World Trip | riseandbrine.com

But First, Let’s Talk About Your Luggage

For this trip, we went carry-on only with one Osprey Porter 46L backpack each — and HIGHLY suggest you also go carry-on only for a round the world trip! Ideally, your carry on will be a 35-46L travel backpack, which makes bumpy terrain, hills, and stairs MUCH more navigable, and way less exhausting. Backpacks up to 45L usually fit the carry-one requirements for most airlines (but not camping packs! they are too tall – It’s worth investing in a good travel pack).

Worried about carrying all your things on your back? The right backpack will make it seem like you’re barely carrying any weight, dispersing the weight evenly over your hips, instead of on your back. My back feels totally fine after backpacking all the way around while carrying about 20 pounds on my back in my Osprey Porter 46. I’d absolutely recommend you consider your luggage before you decide what to pack for a round the world trip.

Osprey Porter 46L BACKPACK REVIEW | riseandbrine.com

How to Pack for a Round The World Trip

When packing for a round the world trip, you need to consider all the climates and activities you’ll be experiencing along the way. You might need a set of fancy clothes for the theater or a nice restaurant, going-out clothes for nightlife, and adventure clothes for hiking… in freezing cold and hot humid weather! …Plus everything in-between!… It sounds daunting, but it can be done.

Our trip started in Boston, and then it went like this:
Boston > Portugal > Germany > Russia > Transiberian Rail > Mongolia > China > Japan > Boston

Temps ranged from 15F – 85F. We were in cities, in the desert, in rural areas, and in high-fashion meccas.

This is how to cover all of your bases…. even this:

What to Pack for a Round the World Trip | riseandbrine.com



What to Pack on a round The World Trip | riseandbrine.com

Here is exactly what I packed for my round the world trip:

* Disclaimer! Even though this is what I packed, I do not recommend bringing all these things. I outline what you should actually bring, further down in the blog post.

  • Pants – 3 (jeans + 2 black skinny pants)
  • Tanks – 3
  • Tshirts – 2
  • Packable down jacket + light rain jacket
  • Super-lightweight Pajamas from Uniqlo – 1
  • Knee-length shorts – 1
  • Jersey Skirt – 1
  • Tights – 1
  • Thermal Long sleeve – 1
  • Merino Wool Pullover Sweater – 2
  • Cardigan sweaters – 2
  • Lightweight Collared shirt – 1
  • Smart Wool Socks – 3
  • Shoes: Teva DeLaVina mid boot (<-BEST everything-boot ever) +”dressy” Crocs sandals + Jambu mesh sneakers
  • Underwear: 2 wireless bras + 14 pairs underwear
  • Other things: Scarf, Sunglasses, swim suit, med kit, light steel mug + instant coffee, belt, sleeping mask, toiletries, travel alarm clock, folding hairbrush, merino wool hat, books, various wipes, headphones, small Travelon purse, sleeping bag liner, chapstick, vitamins, buff.

Don’t Leave Home Without These

I was pretty proud of myself for editing the packing list down to JUST these things above, which all comfortably fit in my pack. And although this packing list worked out just fine, I would have made a bunch of edits to (1) really streamline my wardrobe, (2) maximize my good fashion choices, and (3) reduce excess weight and bulk.

That said, I packed a few VERY KEY pieces that really took me EVERYWHERE. Do not leave home without these five pieces:

  1. My Teva De La Vina waterproof leather boots looked great on the streets of Moscow, and kept me warm in the snow in St Petersburg. They held up to quite a beating in Mongolia when we hiked through the steppe in search of wild horses and rode camels through the desert. They easily slipped on and off in Japan (where you wear house slippers everywhere). And they folded up nicely into my backpack in southern China, where it was way too hot to wear boots.
  2. Merino Wool Leggings were super comfy when spending five days on the trans-siberian train and on the plane. Every time we traveled a long distance, these leggings went on. The Merino wool dried quickly when I hand-washed these in the hostel sink, and they held their shape and never smelled… even when I wore them for five days straight.
  3. My slightly-too-big, very thin, black-striped merino wool sweater was my favorite cozy, warm, and good-looking piece in my suitcase. I picked this up from a thrift store for about $6 before I left, because I felt the need to have more merino in my bag. I ended up wearing this every chance I got.
  4. TShirts – bring more than one! Most people in the world wear tshirts – not tank tops. I didn’t know this, having traveled to Europe, Central America, and Africa in the past where tank tops are everywhere! But in Asia, fashion is all about loose and stylish coverage. I ended up buying a new t-shirt along the way because I had only brought two, and one had sustained a fatal blow from an aggressive ramen splatter in Tokyo. Donald Brought 5 Tshirts from Uniqlo since they look good, are odor resistant, and pack up super small.
  5. I took along three pairs of Smartwool Socks, and that’s all I needed. You can wear these things for a week or more and they won’t smell, they hold their shape, and they don’t fall down. I brought two pairs of thick ones for under my boots, and they were so thick and cozy they felt like slippers! I also brought a thin, low pair for my sneakers, which kept all the blisters away.

I’ll also unofficially add travel insurance to this list on necessities. Especially when you’re heading out on a round the world trip, insurance gives you peace of mind that – even if all your things get stolen (like mine did in Costa Rica 11 years ago) – you can get reimbursed for your lost goods. It also covers travel interruption, if your plane is delayed or cancelled, if there’s a disaster of some kind, or you’re too sick to travel.

I was happy I went with World Nomads Travel Insurance for this 6-week RTW trip since it fit all my criteria. You use this tool below to instantly get a quote:


Below, I outline the ideal packing list for a round the world trip, for a female traveler, and a male traveler, based on the edits I would have made to my actual RTW packing choices.

What to Pack for a Round the World Trip: FEMALE

That buff was very key – for those times when I didn’t want to face the reality of my hair. Here it is in action, in a cafe in Berlin, and in the rice paddies in southern China:

What to Pack on a round The World Trip | riseandbrine.com

What to Pack on a round The World Trip | riseandbrine.com

*A note about the Travelon Purse: The internet makes these purses appear much smaller than they really are in-person. I’ll spare you the buy-and-return dance: this purse is the perfect size (see photo of me wearing it, above) – it fits a standard water bottle, and has plenty of room for all your other things like sunglasses, cell phone, passport, snacks, and it isn’t obnoxiously huge…. It has security clips on two of the pockets so you can secure your belongings and not worry about pickpockets. The strap and the fabric are slash-proof.  It felt very secure and I used it throughout the whole trip. It should definitely be on your list of what to pack for a round the world trip.Travelon Purse - What to Pack on a Round the World trip

What to Pack for a Round the World Trip: MALE

These wardrobe choices will take you pretty much anywhere – and won’t weigh you down while you’re off on adventures. Happy packing!

Have any suggestions/edits about what to pack for a round the world trip? Drop me a line in the comments below!



What to Pack for a Round the World Trip | riseandbrine.com

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