What Do You Pack When You Are Leaving Forever? Our Packing List

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See our updated carry-on packing list for 2017.  

So what do you pack when you are leaving with no plans to return?

Well, as little as possible. Although we have no idea how long we’ll be on the road, we shouldn’t need to pack more than we would for a one month trip. Travelling light makes things a lot easier – you can walk around trying to find a place to stay, you can squeeze on a crowded bus and you can run to catch a train. For this trip we are aiming to travel with small enough backpacks that we can fit them on planes as hand luggage to save time at airports, and hopefully be able to take them inside South American buses rather than put them on the roof.

We admire ultralight packers like Tim Ferris and Karol Gajda from Ridiculously Extraordinary, but unfortunately we haven’t managed to do quite as well ourselves. Still, we haven’t done too badly as our backpacks are half the size of most travellers’.

Check out our very first video to see us packing our stuff!

If you can’t see the video click here.

In the video Simon points out some of our space savers including Somerset shaving oil, packing cubes for keeping our stuff organised and Montane featherlite waterproof jackets. Simon’s luxury item is his Martin Backpacker travel guitar, but it’s actually very lightweight and easy to carry along with his backpack.

We did fit everything into our bags, but after this first pack we tried compression bags for our clothes. These worked surprisingly well – squeezing out all of the excess air and giving us some extra space.

Simon’s bag weighs about 10kg and mine is 8kg. This is more than we’d like ideally but it’ll get lighter when we wear our heavier clothes and get rid of some books!

Our backpacks fit into the dimensions required to take on planes as hand luggage, but we do have the travel guitar as well, so we’re not sure we’ll get away with two pieces of hand luggage (UPDATE: We haven’t had any problems except on tiny 18 seater Amazon planes).

So what exactly is in there? Here’s a list of everything we’ll be taking with us as we set off on our indefinite South America travels. It may seem a lot but we’ll be working on the road and visiting different climates. We managed to fit everything into these two small backpacks.

Our fully packed backpacks and travel guitar

All of our stuff



This list was updated in December 2010 and changes made in red. 

Our Packing List

Important Stuff

  • Passport
  • Dollars
  • Traveller’s cheques (not really necessary but an extra back up).
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Driving licence & international driving licence
  • Copy of eticket for first flight
  • Spare passport photos – made them ourselves for free
  • Photocopies of passport – also emailed to family
  • Vaccination card
  • Money belt
  • Wallet


  • 40 litre North Face Overhaul 40 backpack (Simon) – In 2014 he changed to the Tortuga Outbreaker. 
  • 30 litre Vango Transit 30 backpack (Erin) – In 2014 I changed to the Osprey Farpoint 40
  • Backpack raincover – keeps our bags clean, dry & helps prevent pickpockets
  • 1 small combination lock each – the main compartment of our bags are always locked in transit.
  • Light cable lock – for locking our bags to things
  • Thin cotton shoulder bag – for a daybag
  • 2 packing cubes each – 1 large for clothes, 1 small for underwear & other bits
  • 1 Compression bag each for our clothes – saves lots of space.


  • Canon EOS 400D SLR camera + case
  • Tamron 18-200mm lens
  • Charger + 3 batteries
  • 2 x 2GB compact flash cards & 1 x 8GB CF card. I don’t really need this much storage as I can upload regularly on to the Macbook.
  • USB Card reader – This struggled to read the 8GB card so I changed it for a small USB cable.
  • Cleaning brush
  • Canon Ixus 100 IS compact camera with 8GB SD card – for HD video and for when we can’t be bothered to carry the big camera (happens often in cities and at night)
  • Charger + 2 batteries for Ixus
  • Tiny tabletop tripod
  • 2 kettle lead power cords (1 US style, 1 European style) – we can use these for our camera and laptop chargers.
  • Ipod Touch
  • 8GB iPod nano
  • In ear headphones x 2
  • Large headphones – Simon snuck these in at the last minute and I can’t get him to get rid of them. Completely unnecessary and bulky but they fit in the bag so they are staying.
  • iPod cable – so we can charge them from the Macbook
  • Headphone splitter – so we can listen to one iPod at the same time
  • Cheap digital watch (with an alarm)
  • 3G Kindle -we ordered this 10 months into our trip as books were so hard to find (and heavy). It is amazing and now replaces novels, guidebooks and phrasebooks/dictionaries.


  • Pocket size notebook – this is useful to have to make notes when out and about
  • Pen
  • Pencil + rubber
  • Pack of playing cards – we weren’t using them much

Clothes – we are both taking:

  • Sunglasses + travel case – Simon lost his sunglasses & case so now has cheap new glasses and no case
  • Hiking shoes – North Face waterproof ones. Heavier than we’d like but necessary for long treks.
  • Sports sandals (waterproof) – so useful for water sports, river crossings, rocky beach walks etc.
  • Thin Fleece
  • Icebreaker bodyfit baselayer top – made with Merino wool these keep you warm and never smell.
  • Montane Featherlite Smock – tiny waterproof jacket
  • 2 x socks (coolmax) – wish we had quick dry ones
  • Extra warm clothes- the Andes are cold so we had to pick up an extra thick fleece, thick socks, hat, gloves and scarf, and an extra long sleeve top for Erin. We will get rid of what we still have of these once we hit the Caribbean coast.

Clothes – Simon is also taking:

  • North Face trousers – light weight, quickdrying, zipped pockets.
  • Cord trousers – decided to keep these as the temperature is often cool in South America & a second pair of trousers is necessary (plus they look more normal).
  • Shorts
  • 2 x shirts (1 long sleeve, 1 short)
  • 1 x tshirt
  • 3 x underwear
  • Swimming boardshorts

Clothes – Erin is also taking:

  • Cotton trousers – couldn’t find any proper travel trousers that weren’t ugly.
  • Light jeans – decided to keep these as the temperature is often cool in South America & a second pair of trousers is necessary (plus they look more normal).
  • Skirt
  • Thin cotton summer dress – I added this at the last minute and it’s great for really hot weather and doesn’t take up much space.
  • Board shorts
  • 3/4 sleeve black cardigan – sadly lost at a laundry. It was really useful so I will get a replacement if I find one.
  • 2 x tops
  • 1 x tank top
  • 4 x underwear
  • 2 x bras
  • Tankini swimsuit
  • Sun hat
  • Thermal leggings – will dump these once we’ve left the cold Andes. These were really useful for cold nights.

In 2013 I started travelling with an addition pair of shoes—Tieks ballet flats which are stylish, ultra comfortable, and pack up small. 


  • Clear storage bag/cube
  • Insect repellant (50% deet) – we haven’t needed any since the Amazon but we’ll pick more up when we need it.
  • Riemann once a day suncream (2 x 100ml bottles) – it lasts all day. We ran out of this but are getting more sent to us as it’s so useful.
  • 2 x Lush shampoo bars – for hair and body. We ran out but are getting another bar sent to us.
  • Toothbrush each + small cover for end
  • Tiny 15ml Theramed liquid toothpaste x 2 – we can’t get this abroad so we just buy the smallest tube.
  • Travel size hairbrush
  • Deoderant (small roll-on)
  • Lip balm
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Razor + 2 spare blades
  • Shaving oilthis stuff is amazing and this tiny bottle lasted 9 months. We are getting more sent.
  • Hand sanitiser (small 50ml bottle). Useful when trekking and when bathrooms don’t have soap.
  • Moon cup – I think this is essential for travelling women. It takes up less space than tampons (and you don’t have to worry about finding them) and is better for the environment, your body, and your wallet.


  • Ibuprofen
  • Immodium
  • Dimenhydrinate travel sickness pills – a lifesaver!
  • Few antiseptic wipes + plasters
  • Prescription medications
  • Ciprofloxacin antibiotic – really useful to have on hand for stomach illnesses. It can be bought cheaply in many developing countries without a prescription.


  • Moo business cards – they have lots of different photos from our travels on the back.
  • Travel towel – Simon has a small pack towel, which he hates but hostels usually provide towels so he rarely needs it. Erin uses a very old, threadbare towel that packs up small.
  • Small roll gaffa/duct tape – fixes everything
  • Head torch each – really useful for places with no electricity or power cuts
  • Earplugs – essential (for Erin, Simon sleeps through anything)
  • Eye mask – pick up a free one on the plane
  • Tiny sewing kit – a few needles and some thread
  • Few ziplock bags – always come in handy
  • Toilet paper – it’s useful to have some on hand. A whole roll isn’t necessary.

For more tips on travelling light see our post How to Travel Long Term With Only Carry-On Luggage. Our Resources page has detailed write ups of our favourite items.

Don’t forget travel insurance for your gear. The cheapest we’ve found for long term travel is with True Traveller and they allow you to purchase a policy when you are already travelling (most companies don’t). Read more about how to buy travel insurance.

If you’d like to learn more about how to travel carry-on only, see my book, The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light, which is available for Kindle or paperback on Amazon. 

Some of these links are affiliate links so we get a small commission if you buy anything through them, but you don’t pay any extra. Thank you for supporting this site!

What are your top tips for packing light? Do you have any questions for us? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our 47 Useful Gift Ideas for Carry-On Travellers. They are ideal for travel lovers who want to pack light and include something for every budget.

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137 thoughts on What Do You Pack When You Are Leaving Forever? Our Packing List

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  5. Hi Erin and Simon,
    Thanks for sharing! Completely agree with packing light and your inventory. Haven’t yet tried the compression bags but they look like a must-have.
    Lugged a school-sized backpack for a year with my girlfriend (now wife) in Asia. 🙂 Best wishes!
    If you’re interested in quality photos, videos and storytelling on top of traditional travel tips:

  6. How on earth did you get this stuff to fit. I have the same north face bag and pretty much the same packing list – There is no way this lot fits! Gonna have to grab me a 70L bag i think. 🙁

    • The compression bag helps with the clothes. Otherwise it’s just about having a good packing system. We’ve been travelling for five years now in a carry-on and have no problems fitting everything in. Good luck!

  7. Hi guys
    Love your website, it’s so inspiring! I’m heading to South East Asia for 3 months and wanted to know if Erin had any recommendations for women’s clothing that dries fast? I imagine I’ll need to hand wash and air dry occasionally and don’t want to have to worry about clothes being damp. I’ve heard nylon and polyester are better for travel than cotton but I’m concerned about breathability…I don’t want my clothes to make me feel warmer than necessary in the tropical climate.

    Thank you

    • Most of my clothes are actually cotton. As long as you don’t buy anything too thick it dries quick enough and I find it more comfortable and breathable. The only clothes I have that are technical are my North Face fleece and my running clothes. Everything else is just regular clothes.

  8. hello, just today saw your website about light packing. i was delighted to see all your experience about travel. thank you. by the way can you make a PDF for packing list if you ok about it. Have a nice day.

  9. I discovered your website and blog a few weeks ago and it’s so inspiring. Thank for sharing all the info about how you travel and what you pack. Really interesting – and very useful! 🙂 And I guess in cold countries an option is to hire or borrow warm gear to get you through, instead of buying it. Happy ongoing travels!

  10. I’m still planing my travel and would love to pack everything even my car lool…but as my mother says the most important things are those 3:
    Passport / money / Flight ticket. anything else can be bought during the travel.
    very detailed and useful information you’ve got in here! Thanks a lot for the share 🙂

  11. Just found your website this week and I’ve been going through it. Thanks for sharing so much details. We’re in the getting rid of stuff stage. We are in our 50s and want to take a couple years and do some SLOW travel. It’s hard to decide where we will start: South America, Asia, or Europe??? How often and how do you do laundry on the road? I’m curious, how did you find your couch surfing gig in Bolivia – did you arrive, find internet and send off an email? It’s tough to understand how little needs to be prearranged and how to go with the flow.

    • South America, Asia or Europe are all great options. Europe would be the easiest introduction. If budget is a concern start with Asia. Or just go where calls you the most right now.

      We do laundry 1-2 times a week. Sometimes we’ll just wash underwear in the sink to keep us going until we do a big wash.

      We used the http://www.couchsurfing.org/ site in Paraguay and emailed some potential hosts after we’d arrived in the country.

      Try not to get too caught up in the details (I know it’s hard!) but you’ll realise how much can be arranged once you are there. Book your first few nights at least and then try to be flexible.

      Good luck with it!

  12. whats interesting is mine is a light weight camping pack camo tarp twine on curved chopped curtian hooks.mex-cuba.in vallarta now.

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  17. Guys,
    This list was a huge inspiration to us. We did not sell of our stuff but we did do a whole lot of research so that we could travel with only carry ons. It has worked wonderfully well so far for us on our 5th month of travel and just wanted to say that your packing list was a catalyst for getting us going! My fiance and I have also been keeping blogs and we just released a detailed post on what we ended up packing (we researched and researched stuff for months before we decided on what to bring).

    It’s amazing how little you need, especially when you travel as a couple!
    Stop by and visit us at,
    and http://www.eliotpeper.com/2013/07/living-out-of-backpack-minimalist-style.html
    Happy travels!!

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  19. Thanks a bunch!!!
    This article really helped me. I’m doing a country report, and the guidelines asked for a good packing list. I never really had experience in traveling, so I didn’t know what to expect with luggage. This post really helped! So thanks again, and good luck with your voyage.

  20. Hi,

    This is an awesome list – my wife and I are in the ‘Selling’ phase with the plan to leave in August this year!!! Your packing list is a great comfort as it is the first I’ve found that has actually allowed for some ‘luxuries’ – I know they may be annoying to carry at times, but surely the guitar is worth it (and maybe even the bulky headphones too 🙂 :)) Thanks for providing such a detailed list!!!!!!!!!

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  24. Guys,
    Really useful post. Just wondering how you manage with tweezers and sewing kit in hand luggage when flying? Are these not classed as sharp objects??

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  26. This post is brilliant. I took far too much stuff on my first RTW and swore to lighten up next time. No matter how much you take, you always end up wearing the same stuff.
    I love merino wool thermals, and I can’t recommend enough a light cashmere {you can get them real cheap these days} jumper/cardi. They are very light, pack very small and keep you nice and warm, as well as being lovely and soft!
    I couldn’t image travelling, or living, without my Mooncup, greatest invention ever! So hastle free.
    I know what you mean Erin, regarding ugly travel trousers. I ended up having to buy a very expensive pair of light cotton trousers in Topshop, Kuala Lumper as they were the only things I could find to fit. I lived in them though and they were really comfy, and looked normal!

  27. Great traveling tips! Travel packing should be done well in time to avoid forgetting things behind. A list like this comes real handy. Passport and charger are two most important things during travel.

  28. Hi guys, great list by the way, we are trying to finalise ours at the moment and have used yours as a reference for many things. I am still looking for a reliable travel adapter though, I was wondering what you use as you probably have UK gadgets (correct me if I’m wrong).


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  31. Hi Erin,
    Im just wondering if there are any particular clothes brands that you like? It seem to be difficult to find clothes that are fit for purpose yet stylish! If I’m gonna be wearing the items for a year I need them to last but I also want to like them!
    The blog is really great. The articles about selling your stuff and, of course, packing are really informative

    • We tend to just get normal clothes that aren’t made for travel, although Simon likes North Face or Rei for trousers. I would just go for clothes you like and feel comfortable in and if you need to replace them during the year you can usually do that easily.

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  33. Just a quick Thank you message. I found your site while trying to budget for a 6 month trip round south america with my fiance. the packing list is GREAT, 12 days until we’re out of London and in to BsAs. So today I’m off to lush for shampoo bars!

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  36. Just found your packing list. Out of the (many!) that we’ve seen, it’s most similar to what we brought on our RTW trip 🙂

    A much delayed thanks for sharing!

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  38. Hi, love your list!

    I am about to update ours and it seems we have pretty similar setups. I carry a 35l and Henry a 33l, we have had them weighed before most flights so far and have come in between 7-8kg (now nearer 7, 8 was when we first left the UK) I also carry a handbag with my iPad and camera which has never been weighed.

    I agree it is the way to go, I’ll never carry a massive bag again (unless I have a car, then it would be good to have more than 1 pair of shoes for example.) We could not manage without each having a camera and computer (iPad for me, Macbook Air for Henry).

    We have not had to deal with cooler weather though (8 months in India and SE Asia so far) but I reckon with those compression sacks it must be doable.

    Henry has bought and sold 2 small guitars and after reading your post I think he’ll be getting another one and trying to take it on the flight!

    I’ll be following your adventures now I’ve found your site – love it!

    To anyone reading this page and thinking it can’t be done, it absolutely can be! (remember, there are shops all over the world if you need anything) Step away from the 65l bag…


    (p.s. find our packing list at http://www.minisuitcase.co.uk/packing-list-2/)

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  42. Well, we just flew for the first time in a long time in our travels (usually we go overland) and my bag was 16 kg… After I got rid of a ton of stuff… Your post just made me go through my bag again this evening to figure out what the heck I have that makes it so heavy! Thanks for the prompting 🙂

  43. Thanks so much for the advice guys. I now have a big shopping list of space-saving items and just hope that I make the money back by only taking hand luggage and not having my stuff stolen from the top of a bus!

    PS. Have a fantastic time in Burma.

  44. Hey, thanks so much for this incredibly useful post. I am now challenging myself to take a 35L bag on my travels! I have one pernickety question: if you’re now using a compression bag for your clothes, do you still use the bigger packing cube?
    Thank you!

  45. Hi guys,

    I just got back from a 2-month travel round Southern and Northern hemispheres, with a combined (large:55L / day-pack:15L) weight of 11Kgs.

    Having such a capacious pack didn’t make any difference, as it was just packed less-full, and it actually allowed me to buy some running shoes halfway round as I was putting on weight! Running in each place I visited was great fun, and I have returned home much fitter 🙂

    The number one thing I learned after a few weeks on the road was that you don’t need any more than the essentials! You’ll never play your travel chess, you’ll wear your smart shoes once, you’ll rarely wear your smart shirts, you don’t really that spare laptop battery!

    My (final) bag contents was:

    1 x light/warm jacket
    1 x large packing cube: 2 jeans, 1 jumper
    1 x large packing cube: 3 T-shirts & 2 shirts
    1 x small compression sack: 5 x undies & 5 x socks
    3 x footwear: running shoes, day trainers, flip flops
    1 x small packing cube: cables, adapters, electronic extras
    1 x small packing cube: toiletries & medicines
    1 x travel-toiletries bag: toothbrush, paste, earplugs, etc
    1 x 12″ laptop

    I also bought a small USB-charged electric razor as I like the stubbly look, which was a great find.

    Also, I can highly recommend the Osprey Farpoint packs, as they have a very clever design that allows them to remain VERY lightweight. Some of the packs I tried when shopping in real life were heavy when you picked them up empty – the Osprey is virtually weightless.

    Anyway, thanks loads for your great travel tips and awesome blog.

    PS. Simon, I’m also a web dev, and it’s great earning decent money as you travel – much easier and better-paid than picking fruit! Nice one!

    • Thanks for this Dave. It’s great to hear from others who are packing light too. Glad to see you’ve embraced packing cubes – they keep your stuff so organised. The Osprey packs sounds great.

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  47. Thanks for the insight into your personal world. It is such a contrast to the ‘norm’ of modern life where possessions are so highly prized. Very interesting post, thanks again 🙂

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  49. It’s gettin’ serious folks! Bought some ultra-lightweight clothing yesterday at REI. One long-sleeved base layer shirt for me, and we each picked up a Sierra Designs microlight jacket that packs into a tiny sack. We also looked at backpacks but WOW there are a lot of choices. We were especially attracted to the packs that included separate daypacks, but I’m not sure how we’re going to handle that. We intend to stay for 90 days or so in each country, so I’m trying to determine our normal usage patterns. Will we need separate bags for the gadgets and laptops? Maybe, maybe not…

    • Glad to hear it Glenn! It took us sooo long to find a backpack! There is a lot of choice, and yet we found it tough to find exactly what we wanted. We are happy with our choices though.

      We don’t have a separate daypack as all of our electronics can fit into our main bags. Most people can’t travel this light, but we find it a lot easier only having one bag to worry about. You will need something at the destination though for hikes and wandering around cities. We use a foldaway cotton shoulder bag, and when we need something sturdier (for longer hikes or taking the laptop to cafes) we empty out and use my main pack as it’s daypack size anyway.

      It ultimately comes down to how light you can (or want to) travel. Good luck with it!

    • I must say, I found having a separate daypack was invaluable to carry and protect the laptop, as well as throw my coat in when days went from cold and rainy in the morning to blazing sunshine the afternoon.

  50. Hi guys

    Love reading your blog

    I have one quick question I normally travel with a 25ltr day pack but that is for Asia no need for warm weather gear. Am of to South America next week so have up sized to a 40 ltr have you had any problems taking a bag this size onto any planes or buses ?

    I lied 2nd question there was no email or digital cameras when I last travels for a long time what is the best way to store pictures safely while on the road ( not taking laptop only Iphone.)

    Thanks in advance and Travel safe Matt

    • We have never had a problem taking Simon’s 40 litre onto planes or buses. Sometimes it doesn’t fit that well under bus seats and he has to sit with it between his knees. Not very comfortable but at least it’s secure.

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  53. Wow. I’m so glad you made this list, and have kept it updated! We just finished 7 months in a pop-up camper and are getting ready to hop a plane and start our Latin America tour. This, of course, requires a gear make-over! Your setup seems to be very close to what we have been envisioning…

    I did notice one thing that caught my attention a bit. I see no phone. Obviously Skype and things like it allow for a lot of communication when you can sit down and have good bandwidth, but what about mobile? What if you two separate for errands and such? Just wondering how you handle that.

    • We have actually never travelled with a phone and don’t miss having one. There are a few occasions when it would be handy but that doesn’t happen often enough to justify carrying one. We aren’t apart that often but when we are we just do what people did in pre-mobile phone days and just arrange a place to meet etc. Most people we meet do carry phones though so it’s really up to you. We are so connected via the internet that we don’t really want to be even more connected.

      • Well I have to admit that not having to worry about a phone or SIM cards would certainly simplify things. But I do still plan on getting a data card for our mobile hotspot. As someone who happens to remember what it was like in those pre-mobile phone days, it’s a bit scary to consider going back voluntarily. Of course we’re also selling the last of our possessions, which most people would consider pretty scary, so…….

        • Simon would love an iPhone! But we can’t really justify the expense right now. There are times when having access to Google Maps on the go would be handy. We really don’t miss a phone though – we are just used to it.

  54. Wow, I can’t believe how little you travel with.

    Just discovered your site via Jetsetcitizen, really interesting.

    Don’t forget you can wear extra clothes when you fly to help get round the baggage limit. You can also carry things in your pockets. The airlines don’t weigh the passengers – yet!

    Amazing how little stuff you manage to live with. I don’t think I could go as far as just carry on luggage if I did what you’re doing,
    but you’ve proved that it’s possible!

    Good luck on your trips – Im looking forward to following you on your travels via your site.


    • Hi Kevin,
      Welcome to the site and thanks for reading.

      We’ve been lucky that our carry-on bags have never been weighed so we haven’t had a problem taking them on planes. That is a good tip though. We actually feel like we still have too much stuff – there’s definitely things we could cut out!

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  56. we plan to be in
    india 6 weeks
    3 months 2 weeks in se asia
    7 months in oz
    6 months in nz

    we also dont have a flight home yet as we werent sure if we might go else where after nz

    we plan to work for about half of our time in oz and half of our time in nz

    il have to check out those websites thanks alot

  57. hey guys my husband and I are going in febuary to india, se asia, oz and nz
    we have paid for our main flights and also working visa in oz and bought all the things we need to buy to go away with!
    we also have accomadation for 2 weeks in india sorted and plan to stay with family members for some of our time in oz! so thats nice!
    im still panicking we wont have enought cash! by time we go we looking at 8-10 grand between us! i was hoping for 15 but my hubby had few debts to pay off 🙁
    do you think that will be enough for us, thanks
    ps i used ur packing to a t… love it

    • It really depends how long you are going for and how long you spend in India and SE Asia as opposed to Oz and NZ, which will be way more expensive. If you find funds getting low you could always look into working in exchange for food and accommodation (helpx and wwoof), couchsurfing and even house sitting. I am sure you will make it work. If you travel slowly that’s cheaper too. Good luck!

  58. Wow, I’m impressed, A. by how little you manage to live with and B. how much it still is you can squeeze in relatively small backpacks.
    I should seriously reconsider what I am planning to bring with me. I have a lot more space in my pack (55 L and 25 L), and am really wondering how I’m going to squeeze everything in, which is in fact ridiculous…

    • It is amazing how much you get get into a backpack if you pack it right. Compression bags make a big difference to us – they squeeze our clothes down to about half the size. Have a test pack before you go and then you can decide what things to leave out. It’s a good idea to walk around with the backpack on for a while – that’s always a good way to convince you to leave some stuff behind!

  59. hey guys, i was just surfing the internet on backpacking tips and i found your site… i’ve had a read through it and it’s really inspiring me… i’ve wanted to go travelling for some years now and the past couple of weeks it’s become a massive desire for me. i literally want to just go away forever or a very long period of time at least! i’m 18 years old, just finished my a levels and i live with my dad. i don’t have a paid job so i don’t have a huge amount of money and i’ve already looked at sites and organisations such as vso for ideas and opportunities. i was just wondering if you could possibly give me any advice etc. for a first time young aspiring traveller!
    thanks 🙂

    • Hi Alex, that’s great you want to travel. Our first trip was inter railing around Europe for a month – it was a great test trip and we learnt a lot about what to pack, finding places to stay etc. For our trips we have always gotten jobs and saved up for 1-2 years so that we can afford to leave. I would recommend this if you can or you could always look at volunteering, teaching English, working on a cruise ship or getting a working holiday visa for Australia or New Zealand. Many places want you to have a degree to teach English though. Have a look at the wanderingearl.com site for more inspiration – he has been travelling for more than 10 years and started with not much money. Good luck!

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  61. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  62. Hey guys,
    I like this post a lot, it sounds quite some stuff doh, especially all that electronic… I’m planning to stay away from electronic as much as I can during my upcoming trip, so no PC with me but I’ll try to stick to a 2h/week internet cafe’ regime 🙂
    So hopefully a 30L bag should be fine for 3 months…

    Thanks for sharing!

  63. Really useful page! I’m going to Malawi for 2 months this June and hoping to get by with 35l bag (My first time travelling). It was a quick spontaneous decision to go there so haven’t had as much time to prepare but am hoping it will all come together.

  64. Hey there,

    How are you able to take a carry-on with tweezers and razors?? That is the only thing holding me back from going that route.

    • We have taken tweezers and razors on the plane and they haven’t said anything about them, so it seems to be OK. I wouldn’t let it stop you.

  65. I was just wondering, do you find that you can fit more in your bags as you are sharing certain items between you? For example, your medical items, toiletries & electricals. I’m also planning on getting a 30-40 litre pack but as I’m travelling alone, I wonder whether I’ll be able to fit as much into my pack?

    • It does help but I still think a 40 litre bag would be plenty of space for 1 person. I think I could manage with my 30 litre but it would be a bit of a tight fit. 40 litres will give you some contingency space.

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  68. We are so impressed that you fit all that stuff into these two tiny backpacks!! Our backpacks are way too big and too stuffed with all kinds of crap – our New Year’s resolution will be to get rid off some things and to travel lighter 🙂

    Btw – we only found out about the Lush shampoo bars after we had left, but a friend brought us a few to Mexico and we love them too!

    • Most people do have bigger bags, but we still feel like we have too much stuff! The Kindle will help to get rid of some book weight. Lush bars are great. We are getting some more posted to us.

  69. i want to leave everything behind…sell house, and all inside, most every item that i own…can’t wait to leave…job, home. 52 widowed and need something else in my life

  70. Hello! Like you guys, my boyfiend and I are giving up our 9-5’s in January for open ended travel. We’re starting in Argentina and cannot wait to live the life of a digital nomad, but the planning can be pretty daunting!
    I have been reading alot of your posts lately and have found them incredibly helpful, but I wanted to ask you about vaccinations: Which vaccinations would you recommend as necessary for world travel? And did you get them all before you left or are you getting them as you travel?
    I appreciate any advice you have to offer! Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Brittany,
      It depends where you live. In the UK we got almost all of our vaccinations for free, so it was worth getting them there. We got Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid, Diphtheria & Tetanus. We had to pay for Yellow Fever, which you need for many places in South America (not Argentina though). We also paid for Rabies for our last trip, but I don’t think you really need this unless going to very remote areas.

      If you are from the US where vaccinations are expensive then it will probably work out cheaper to get them when you get to Argentina. On our last trip we bought malaria pills in India for much much cheaper.

      I would recommend going to a doctor to confirm all of this though, as obviously we aren’t experts, and it all depends where you are going.

      Good luck with your planning!

    • Being a photographer certainly does make things harder. I couldn’t carry more than my SLR camera, and sometimes I even think about getting rid of that: it takes up about 25% of my bag!

  71. I have a martin backpacker myself as well as a few others. Anyone ever try the Voyage Air. Every time I pack the travel guitar it is my most exciting item. I don’t know, I just love it. I get excited packing it…lol. I’m gonna own a bunch of these things one day.

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  73. I read a handy tip from Rick Steves, the PBS travel guru: Pack your backpack a week or more before your trip and start wearing it now, before you leave. Take it to work, shopping, wherever you normally go. You’ll find out real quick if you REALLY need to haul something around.

    I wish I had followed that advise on my recent trip to Europe. We ended up shipping stuff home that we thought we needed to have with us.

  74. Awesome guitar. I’m going to be a walking backpacker myself, so I’m thinking that I have to have a more balanced pack that distributes the weight better and keeps it closer to my body, but still I’m bringing a standard guitar in addition to that. I’m not quite sure how to carry it though, so it’s gonna be a challenge. I still got 4 months though, so I’ll figure something out.

    Put up a clip of you playing it!
    .-= Samuel´s last blog ..Walking_About: RT @GotSaga 5 Magical places of #Norway that you never heard of http://ow.ly/1xkEQ #travel #lp =-.

      • Yeah, I do see the benefits of such a guitar – but as we’re saving up all our money to extend the trip as long as possible – and at the same time wish to put our money into volunteer-projects – I’ll probably not prioritize a new guitar at this point. But serious thanx for a good recommendation!

  75. Oh man, I’m leaving in 9 days and I still haven’t packed my bag yet. I know it’s a huge mistake but I’m so petrified to put it on.

    The strange part is that I hardly have any clothes, it’s all travel gadgets!

    I promise I will pack it this week. Cross your fingers for me.
    .-= ayngelina´s last blog ..My Trio of Travel Secrets =-.

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  77. I love these types of posts – get to see how others manage.

    I take pretty much the same type of gear – packing cubes are amazing for keeping things organized and they also save space.

    Unfortunately I’m going to be in Seoul next week….and its freezing so my gear has gotten a little heavier due to warm clothing
    .-= Anthony Feint´s last blog ..8 Simple Ways You Can Earn a Passive Income =-.

    • Yes, packing cubes are so awesome. Warm clothing is a big problem. Using compression bags should help create more space. We are going to have to buy some warmer clothes when we get to the Andes.

  78. Look like a mission impossible backpack, full gear up, you would miss anything important when traveling around the World. What about a survival kit, such as a mirror?

  79. Wow! I can’t believe you’re bringing such a comparatively small pack! Inspiration for me. I’m looking at packs now and want as small as possible for the same reasons you’ve listed. Not sure how small I’ll manage, though.
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..My First Rental Car =-.

    • Hi Adam, we found that if you just buy the small bag then you have to make it all fit in! The compression bags have been great for creating extra space.

      Now we are on the road we don’t feel the need for bigger bags at all. We can fit them inside the buses with us, and even this size feels too much when you are trying to find a guesthouse in 37 degrees celsius heat. We wouldn’t want to be carrying more.

  80. Erin & Simon,

    Awesome! I love reading packing lists. 🙂

    Now that I built a guitar in India and will be traveling with it I can no longer consider myself an ultra light packer. But it’s worth it.

    How do you like the Martin Backpacker? I had a Washburn Rover and got rid of it. It just didn’t produce enough sound.

    Baby Taylor is a really sweet travel guitar, but a lot bigger than both the Backpacker and Rover.

    Tangent? 🙂

    Congrats on your never ending voyage!

    .-= Karol Gajda´s last blog ..[Video] Failure Doesn’t Exist =-.

    • Hey Karol,

      If I had built a guitar myself you’d bet I’d be carrying that bad boy wherever I went – maximum kudos!

      I love my Backpacker, it’s a wonderful little instrument. I found it’s got a nice balance between size and weight and tone quality – though if I’m honest, the bass end doesn’t have as much thickness to it as I’d like.

      For jamming on the beach or round a fire, it’s perfect. I’ve even played a gig with it and it did just fine. Most people I play it to are surprised at how good it sounds given its size and shape.

      .-= Simon´s last blog ..Developing A Plugin – Part 5 =-.

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