The ultimate packing list

What a daunting thought packing a bag to live out of for the foreseeable future.

First things first which bag are you going to try to pack it all in to? You need to try before you buy. The bag needs to be big enough for what you need but not too big that you cannot lift it. Once you have the right size the most important element is comfort. Look for padded straps that can be adjusted to your shape and a strap around the hips and chest to balance out the weight. Quality and hard wearing materials is also essential, you may look after your bag (after all its your new wardrobe!) but it will get chucked on and off aeroplanes, trains, buses etc. Look for small hidden pockets as they are good to store valuables in, back up bank cards for example. It will be one of the most expensive items on your list but it’s also one of the most important so invest.

We chose the Osprey Aether 70L which was cheaper on Amazon at £180.00 than in the shops. So far, so good; comfortable, hard wearing and spacious.

In order for you to have any type of organisation in your bag (to keep you sane) you will need packing cubes. Sadly, we only discovered these once we had left home and fellow travelers would advise us on their life saving cubes whilst watching us struggle to find things in our bin liners waking everyone up rustling in the mornings! You can buy a pack of them for around £7-10 which includes different coloured and sized pouches to separate your belongings; underwear, swimwear, beachwear, evening clothes, electricals etc. They even include smell proof pouches for your washing. No one wants you stinking out the room with those old socks.

Once that is all sorted it’s time to create the ultimate shopping list. Start writing this 2-3 months before departure to give yourself enough time to shop till you drop (the fun part). We followed online ‘travel the world’ packing lists. Now we wished we never did. They are a little too cautious on not over packing, let’s face it 7 pairs of pants just isn’t enough. They also suggest things like only 5 tops and 3 pairs of bottoms, again just not enough especially if you are travelling for more than a few months. One of the most crucial things to do before writing your list is research into the weather conditions of everywhere you will be going at the exact time of year. We headed to New Zealand in spring with our shorts and a couple of jumpers in case it went off chilly. It turns out New Zealand has one hell of a cold spring! As soon as we landed and shivered to the hostel we had to head straight to the charity shops to invest in thermals, coats and hats, it was that cold.

Don’t be too scared to over pack you will need a lot of things for all different circumstances. You are never carrying your bag for more than 30 minutes, maybe the odd time you will have to walk longer to get to your accommodation but usually ten minutes while you check it in. It’s better to have what you need rather than need to buy when you are budgeting. We under packed and we have two packages from home on their way (thanks mothers) so we will be good to go for a long time.

Here is our packing list to help you get started…

  • Main bag

  • Day bag (smaller) – we have North Face Jester and recommend

  • Packing cubes

  • Toiletry bag (highly recommend 'Wind blows rivers flow, created by travel' £15-25. Expands to fit what you have with lot's of handy compartments.)

  • Water bottle (most western countries you can drink from the tap saving money)

  • Travel adapter (round the world)

  • Travel towel

  • Compact mirror (with case to avoid breakage and a whole load of bad luck)

  • 10 pairs of pants

  • 10 pairs of socks

  • 4 bras’ (include strapless, I found cotton sports bras comfier and lighter)

  • 4 pieces of swimwear

  • 2 warm jumpers

  • 2 long sleeve tops

  • 6 t-shirts or vests (pack at least 2 t-shirts for shoulder coverage)

  • 1 shirt boys

  • 1 jumpsuit or playsuit

  • 1 sarong (can also be used as a scarf or wrap)

  • 3 pairs of light trousers

  • 1 pair of jeans

  • 5 pairs of shorts or skirts (shorts are way more practical for day time wear, maybe 1 skirt. Avoid too much denim here)

  • 1 warm coat (depending on where you are travelling and when)

  • 1 pack a mac

  • 1 scarf that is also a blanket wrap

  • Walking shoes and / or good trainers with grip

  • 1 Flip flops

  • 1 Sandals

  • Sunglasses

  • 2 sun hats

  • 1 wool hat (depending on where you are travelling and when)

  • 1 gloves (depending on where you are travelling and when)

  • Journal / note book

  • Good document holder for travelling (one to fit spare cards, passports, tickets, documents)

  • Any bank cards you need

  • Drivers licence (card and paper counterpart if hiring cars)

  • Passport

  • Printed travel insurance documents

  • Boarding passes for first flight

  • £50 cash in local currency for first country you arrive in

  • Padlock (combination so you don’t lose the key!)

  • Clothes line

  • Pegs

Some of the above you may find a little excessive but we are clothes lovers!

Electricals… quite personal but just to give you an ideal of what we bought with us

  • Phone

  • Ipad

  • Charger leads (2 each, already down to 1 between us)

  • Laptop

  • Camera

  • Polaroid camera

First aid bag…

  • Personal medication (ensure you have enough for the time you will be away and have a doctor’s note to prove you need this, cost £20)

  • Paracetamol

  • Ibuprofen

  • Renee

  • Imodium

  • Dehydration sachets

  • Anti-sickness tablets

  • Antihistamine

  • Anti-bacterial wash and cream

  • Insect repellent (50 deet)

  • Insect bite relief

  • Water purifier (depending on where you are travelling)

  • Plasters

  • Bandage

  • Medical tape

  • Scissors

  • Safety pins

  • Vaccine record card

Toiletries are quite self-explanatory and personal. Just buy one of each and then when you run out buy as you go, don’t stock up on a years’ worth of shampoo as that will be quite heavy. Girls I forgot my make up so don’t forget to bring your essentials with you. A good concealer and bronzer is worth investing in, in a darker tone for when that glow grows and a cheap waterproof mascara will do the job. If you are going to NZ, Fiji or Aus first bring factor 50 sun screen the sun is so much stronger here. Oh, and travel wash great for doing your smalls in the sink when you don’t want to pay to do a big wash.

With all that you should be good to go and ready to take on the world. If you do forget something it isn’t the end of the world you can always find what you need somewhere, it’s just more cost effective to bring what you need and avoid shopping whilst in Western countries and on a budget.

Top tips:

  • Travel towel – get a travel towel but don’t get the ‘felt’ looking one (like drying in a shamae) get the more ‘towel’ looking material

  • If it fits in your bag bring it, if not decide what’s more important and maybe swap it for something

  • Create your own first aid bag (a kids packed lunch bag will do just fine), don’t buy a pre-made one they are too general and more expensive

  • Leave a copy of all important documents, passport and bank cards with loved ones at home

  • Be it a necklace, bracelet or a badge on your bag be sure to carry a Saint Christopher for safe travels



  • Finally fitting it all in your bag and strapping it up

With love from The Globe,

Isabelle & George x

Currently in New Zealand.

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