I have been obsessed with engineering the perfect pack since Jordan and I decided to embark on this journey. In my excitement, I read countless packing guides, researched fabrics, tested products & made at least 20 evolving lists. I cannot yet say that I came up with the perfect pack equation, I’ll need time to test it first. We are only 13 days into this trip though, and so far, so good.
Jordan and I choose to travel with a carry-on size backpack over a traditional travel backpack or suitcase. Months of travel means months of hauling what you bring. Once you’ve walked halfway across the city of Paris, sweating and disheveled with what feels like the equivalent of a heifer on your back, you realize that one less change of clothing is way easier to deal with. Also, when you are travelling on a budget checked bag prices can send you home quicker than you intended. Within the budget airlines we frequent, a checked bag can often cost more than the seat you occupy.
As you’ll notice, my backpack wardrobe consists of primarily of grey and black items. this allows me to mix and match nearly every piece.
Something worth noting is that this is a rotating pack. You cannot travel the whole world without traversing every climate. This trip will bring us to the hot/humid season of southeast Asia, the rainiest seasons of Japan and Brazil, the dead of winter in northern western Europe, and the still frozen summer of Antarctica. Most of the things I packed can be layered to take on the bitter cold or pared down to beat the heat. However we may have to supplement a scarf and extra sweater as we progress. It’s helpful to keep in mind that most items can be purchased frugally on the road as you need them.
*Clothing and accessory edition. further gear list to come.
Mountain Hardwear’s Rainshadow 26L Outdry Backpack
After checking the carry-on bag size requirements of all the airlines we were using we found that this waterproof backpack was the perfect size to maximize the strictest limitations(20 in x 11 in x 11in). It’s light weight, pretty comfortable and there’s not much wasted space. Our only wish for this pack is that it came with clips on the compression straps. The clips would make it simple to synch a jacket or other gear to the outside of the bag.
This bag is big enough to for all the things I like to keep with me on the plane & It has a comfortable wide shoulder strap. Zippers on every compartment are an essential feature for my peace of mind, combating pickpockets and my own clumsy nature.
Columbia Heatzone 1000 TurboDown Jacket
This is the warmest jacket that Columbia has ever made, filled with water-resistant goose down & featuring Omni-heat™, a heat reflecting lining, inside. It also makes a great pillow on flights and in airports.
Columbia Timber Pointe Trench
Long 100% waterproof jacket for epic downpours, This jacket is light enough to layer over or under pretty much anything.
Lululemon Stride Jacket ll
This is my all-time favorite technical jacket. Made with moisture wicking four-way stretch fabric. It has a hoodie and neck warmer, thumbholes, and zippered pockets. It’s soft and cozy enough for a long travel day and I feel chic wearing it out in the city.
This dress is amazing. The strechy ruched fabric allows you to fashion it shorter or longer depending on your situation. I have also transformed it into a tank by throwing on pants. It’s sexy yet discreet due to the high neckline, so you never have to feel self-conscious in conservative places.
Aqua Floral Print Dress
Pretty much the only piece with color in my bag, this dress is light and airy and makes me feel pretty and feminine after days of feeling bedraggled on the road. Slap on a little bit of lipstick and “boom!” you’ve got yourself a outfit worthy of date night.
These pants are made from recycled material that never wrinkles and dries in a snap. They are so comfortable that sometime I wear them to bed!
I had no intention of taking yoga pants with me on this trip, however, one day while picking up some last-minute items at REI I noticed these leggings and decided to try them on. HOLY SNAPS these things are good. I mean like chinchillas wrapped in memory foam and crepes soft. I purchased them and regret NOTHING.
I got these over traditional denim shorts because they don’t cling to me and they pack down to almost nothing.
These shorts are breathable and moisture wicking. A polyester/spandex blend, they can be worn on a mountain hike or shaking it in a dance club.
A gift from my cousin. Both super comfortable, I basically rotate between this sports bra and my Icebreaker one (below) every day.
This beauty is a Merino wool blend and no, it’s not itchy. Merino wool is a powerhouse fabric. Moisture wicking, naturally antimicrobial, and temperature regulating, this is the perfect fabric to keep stocked in your pack. I also love the fun pattern but they come in solids as well if that’s more your style.
This 100% soft Merino Wool top is perfect for layering.
- BB Dakota knit tank
- Maeve Llama Button Up- Found this in a consignment shop in San Diego. who doesn’t need a llama shirt?!
- Elie Tahari long sleeve black top
- J. Crew tank top- A thrift shop score!
- James Perse striped top
- Kim & Cami Muscle Tee
- Gap long wool Cardigan
- Wool top I found in a thrift shop without a tag
Nylon/Spandex underwear (7 pairs
I really wanted to try some ExOfficio underwear for the trip as they are known throughout the travel world for being pretty amazing. After seeing how expensive they were I ended up finding other brands made of similar materials, that being primarily nylon with a little bit of spandex
These chonies protect you on your lady days and they seriously work. The last thing I want to deal with is leakage on a 9 hour bus journey through the desert.
Socks (7 pairs)
Costco seasonally carries a really affordable 4 pack (pictured left). I brought 2 long wool socks and 5 pairs of no-show socks, 2 of which are smartwool.
A great go-anywhere shoe that also looks cute paired with a dress.
Steve Madden Jaax Boot
I found these at a thrift shop in Los Angeles a few years ago and they have since become my travel boot. They pack up pretty small because of the soft leather and wool top.
You may think that these are the ugliest sandals ever known and I’ll admit, I once thought that very same thing. But these sandals are now my favorite thing in my pack. These are super durable, rugged enough for long rocky hikes, equipped with grip for trecking through rivers. They are machine washable and have a cushy arched footbed. These are the MVP of my backpack.
Items not pictured above: 1 pair of skinny jeans, 1 bikini, 1 black undershirt, 1 scrubby t-shirt to wear for work/sleep and 1 oversized grandma sweater that was too soft to part with.