What do you pack for a trip around the world?

How do you pack for a round the world, multi-year trip? We don’t think there’s a definitive answer to this questions, but we’re going to tell you how we did it.

To begin with we don’t really have an end game so we could be gone for a few months or a few years. We plan on doing a bit of volunteering along the way which will be anything from helping at an orphanage in Cambodia, where all we need is a sarong and flip flops, or a dog sled group in Switzerland, where we’ll obviously need some warm winter clothing. Even as we write this, opportunities have already opened in Telluride, CO. 

We decided to not over-think the initial packing situation and looked at what we had, where we are going first and reminded each other that there are jackets, pants, shorts, etc… available to buy in other parts of the world.  

We both had backpacks which where solid, well-used but not over-used and really the perfect size, Cory’s is 65 liters and Kate’s is 50 liters. If we could have changed anything, we would have upgraded Kate’s backpack so that it had access from the bottom as well as the top making storing and pulling out the sleeping bag a lot easier.

Next, we simply tossed all our camping gear into a pile along with the clothes we planned on taking. We had a bit of gear and a lot of clothes and we knew it wasn’t all coming with us. Over a period of 40 some years, you accumulate a lot of stuff. We weren’t going to bring 4 camelbacks and we certainly didn’t need to bring 5 knives and two folding saws. So before we picked and finally settled in on our final selection, we looked at our game plan which we broke into Phase 1, 2 and 3.

Phase 1:  Aug 8 – Sept 1 we will be camping and hiking our way through West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and then on to Minnesota. 

Phase 2:  September 10 (or whenever we leave MN) through roughly November. We plan on more camping and hiking at places like Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, The Tetons, Utah, down to Lake Havasu, over to Palm Springs and then back to Arizona to  sell the Zoom Zoom (aka our Mazda 3).

During phase 1 and 2 we will be driving around in the Zoom Zoom. Although this adds an added expense with gas, insurance and maintenance, it is really the best (and only) way to travel in the United States, especially in these western states where you might have to drive over 100 miles to the next town or gas stop.  Having the Zoom Zoom does allow us to be a bit “lazy” with our gear, we can carry a bit more than we normally would – olive oil, salt and pepper grinders, a cooler for food and when you come across a “Buy 3 bottles of wine for $9.99” and a “2 for 1 deal on Smirnoff vodka” like we did in Holbrook, AZ, well the Zoom  Zoom allows you to soak up those opportunities.

Phase 3:  This starts once the Zoom Zoom is sold and then we start making our way down to and through Central America and on to South America. We have not created an itinerary for this part of the trip because our travel will be inspired and dictated by volunteer opportunities via workaway.info, any other volunteer opportunities that present itself as well as what we learn from other travelers as to what to see and things to do.  Keeping all doors open at this point.  

Cory discovered www.Workaway.Info one day when looking for International Volunteer opportunities and that’s when we really started to dream about the possibilities. Not only would these volunteer opportunities allow us to travel cheaply – most workaways provide room and board – but we could pursue those things about which we are truly passionate.

Okay, getting back to what we packed – here is the list: 

Kate’s pack, weighing in at 30 lbs:

  1. REI Backpack FLASH 50
  2. REI sleeping bag – Radiant +25 F, 650 down fill
  3. Therm-a-rest  – TrailPro Women’s 1877001
  4. Inflatable pillow (Aotu, purchased on eBay from China, 2 for $6)
  5. Therm-a-rest camping pillow
  6. Hammock (no-name, purchased on eBay from China for $5)
  7. Camelback
  8. Seat to Summit dry bag
  9. MSR water bag
  10. REI Flexlite camping chair
  11. Petzl headlamp
  12. iPhone holder and arm band (Quad-Lock)
  13. Silk mummy liner
  14. Washcloth
  15. Rope
  16. Gerber folding knife
  17. Compass
  18. Toiletries
  19. Camera (Nikon J3)
  20. Chaco’s
  21. Go-girl
  22. (3) pairs of socks
  23. (2) pairs of hiking socks
  24. Bandanna
  25. Dress
  26. Bathing suit
  27. (3) pairs underwear
  28. (3) sports bras
  29. (4) shirts
  30. Cold-weather hat
  31. Sun-protection hat
  32. Gloves
  33. Running shorts
  34. Running pants
  35. REI hiking pants
  36. REI rain jacket
  37. Northface fleece
  38. Light jacket
  39. Sarong
  40. Hiking shoes
  41. Flip flops
  42. MacBook Air



Cory’s pack, weighing in at 47 pounds;

  1. Arc’teryx Atmos 65 backpack
  2. Mountain Hardware ? Sleeping bag with compression sack
  3. REI Trekker 1.75 air mattress
  4. MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person tent
  5. Inflatable pillow (Aotu, purchased on eBay from China, 2 for $6)
  6. Hammock
  7. Wingnut day pack with 3 liter Camelback bladder
  8. Dry bag
  9. MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set – I added two sets of silverware, lighter, coffee cup, salt and pepper and Dr Bonners Lavender soap
  10. Optimus Nova Stove
  11. (2) MSR Fuel canisters (22) ounces
  12. Vortex Crossfire 10×42 Binoculars
  13. Trail Blazer Sawvivor 15” folding saw
  14. REI Flexlite camping chair
  15. Petzl headlamp (2)
  16. Silk mummy liner
  17. Towel
  18. Snorkel and mask
  19. Swiss Army Knife
  20. Wine opener
  21. Flask
  22. Gerber folding knife
  23. Compass
  24. Toiletries
  25. (4) carabiners and extra webbing
  26. Chaco’s
  27. Adventure Medical Kits Smart Travel First-Aid Kit
  28. (3) pairs of socks
  29. (2) pairs of hiking socks
  30. Bandanna
  31. Merrell hiking boots
  32. (2) Swim trunks
  33. (3) short sleeve shirts
  34. (1) long sleeve wicking shirt 
  35. (4) shirts
  36. Cold-weather hat 
  37. Cap
  38. Gloves
  39. Running shorts
  40. Running tights
  41. Hiking pants
  42. Rain jacket
  43. Light jacket
  44. Sarong
  45. Flip flops



Kate’s approach to packing was to force herself to make honest decisions about what she will need, with a few wants if there was room. The goal is lightweight and convenience. Cory’s reasons for the gear he packed…practicality with a dash of convenience.

Once we go global, the contents of our backpacks will change  a little. And again, we can always purchase, or have friends and family send us what we need (hint-hint). Once you take a hard look at what your activities are and come to terms with the fact that you will be dirty and without a shower for several days, the decisions become easy. Clothes now have become about necessity.

  2 comments for “What do you pack for a trip around the world?

  1. kim hart
    August 28, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    You guys rock! Csnt wait to hear and see more! Hope to see u here in mn!

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