What we packed to travel around the world – couples packing list

Josh decided fairly early on that we would try and travel with only one carry on size bag each. Josh knew it was possible as he read many blogs from people who do it, mostly Erin & Simon over on Never Ending Voyage and he thought that the benefits of having only one bag massively outweighed the benefit of carrying that extra t-shirt or pair of trousers.

It took a little while to convince Nikki that this was a good idea but after several trial runs at packing we had our lists whittled down enough to fit in our bags.

Nearly everyone we meet is surprised at how little we have with us Having one small bag each meant that we could keep them next to us on sleeper trains

We've found the decision to travel with only a carry on bag each a huge help when taking multiple part flights and getting on and off coaches. It means you never have to wonder whether you'll see your bag again, or if you have to collect it at the end of each leg of your flight. You can carry it with you at all times and if you need to you can put it on your lap on a coach or under the seat in front on a plane.

Even things like getting on the metro in Bangkok was made easier, rather than trying to drag a big suitcase around

We've found that both our bags have got lighter as we've travelled, not because we've lost things but because we've not bothered replacing some worn out stuff or just binned stuff that we found we didn't really need. We strongly recommend going carry on only, you really don't need that much stuff! With all that said, here's some info on everything we currently have with us…

Nikki showing just how small our bags are!

Josh

I spent most of my time thinking about what camera and other electronic gear to take, clothes came second. Every item in my bag is in there for a good reason, with carry on only you can't afford to take things "just in case".

My bag does end up being over weight at around 10.5kg but so far it hasn't raised any issues when getting on flights as it's a small bag and it's not bursting at the seams.

Logistical

  • Osprey Farpoint 40(We both use Osprey bags at home, mostly owing to my time working at Cotswold Outdoor. Osprey make some great bags and the Farpoint 40 model is favoured among carry on travellers)
  • 2 × Eagle Creek Spectre packing cubes(1 large one for most of my clothes and 1 small one for my underwear)
  • 3 × Eagle Creek Spectre pouches(I keep random electronic accessories in one and my GoPro stuff in another, the third I don't actually use regularly. I cut the little hooks off because I don't use them)
  • 2 × Eagle Creek pouch(I use a normal style Eagle Creek pouch for my toiletries as I think the Spectre pouches would get pierced by the nail clippers but they're tough enough otherwise. We also both carry a red Eagle Creek pouch in which we keep our important documents, which I'll list later)
  • 3 × Exped Dry Bags(Dry bags are always useful for keeping stuff separated and waterproof, I've got a few different sizes)
  • Ortlieb Light Pack Pro Waterproof Backpack – (I searched for ages for a lightweight waterproof day bag that I could carry my camera around in and eventually found this Ortlieb bag, it's pretty expensive and too large really for what I want. It's also now developed a hole in the bottom, which sucks as I've not been rough with it. Otherwise it's a good bag, it's comfy and doesn't get ridiculously sweaty)
  • 2 × DMM Wiregate Carabiners – (One even has my name etched onto it from when I visited the DMM factory!)

Clothes

  • 1 × Prana Brion trousers in Charcoal – (I spent a while debating what size to get but ordered a 30 and found them true to size. These are great lightweight trousers, they dry quickly and are stretchy but look fairly normal)
  • 1 × Prana Brion shorts in Khaki – (As above with the trouser version. I live in these 99% of the time, they've been great)
  • 1 × Hurley Phantom Boardshorts(I started the trip using some old boardshorts that were always too big and falling apart, then binned them and used some running shorts instead which soaked up water like a sponge. I finally picked up some decent boardshorts in Indonesia. I'd never heard of Hurley before but loved their board shorts and found a style and colour that looked good. Also the Phantom material they use doesn't even really seem to get wet and they dry super quickly)
  • 2 × Hurley Dri-Fit T-Shirts(I've swapped a couple of old tops for these as one was falling apart and one was cotton and cotton isn't great for travelling. These tops look nice and have a soft, quick drying fabric)
  • 1 × Icebreaker Merino T-Shirt(I started out with 3 of these but two were already pretty old and had loads of holes in so they've been binned and I have 1 left)
  • 1 × Uniqlo Cotton T-Shirt – (I started out with 2 of these but replaced one with a Hurley top. Cotton is hard wearing and comfy but dries slowly and gets sweaty quickly, so I opted to keep one and bin one)
  • 1 × Rab Aeon Long Sleeve Top(I don't wear this often but it's so small and light that I don't mind carrying it for the times I've needed something with long sleeves. It's super quick drying too.)
  • 1 × Rab Long Sleeve Shirt Blue Check – (I live in casual shirts at home, particularly blue check ones so I couldn't leave home without one. This is much lighter weight fabric than the ones I wear at home and is quick drying and ok to wear in the heat in Asia and good to wear over a t-shirt when it gets a little chilly. It took me ages to find a lightweight travel shirt that wasn't butt-ugly but this one manages it)
  • 1 × Rab waterproof jacket(I used to work at Cotswold Outdoor and have had this jacket for years, I can't remember what model it is but I generally recommend either Rab or Mountain equipment if you want a really good jacket. We've not used them much so far, and mostly just for an extra layer when we have. If I was going to leave anything at home next time it would be this)
  • 5 × Uniqlo Airism boxers(I spent more time than I care to admit looking at mens underwear while trying to decide what to pack, I even found a review of these specific ones! These were the only ones that seemed to do what they should and for a reasonable price. I've worn them everyday since July and while Nikki's had to replace her underwear these are still going fine)
  • 1 × Smartwool Socks(I prefer merino socks to cotton or synthetic socks and use these socks at home but we've mostly lived in sandals while we've been travelling so these have seen little use)
  • 1 × Bridgedale ridiculously lightweight trainer socks – (I'm not sure if they make the specific model I have anymore but these are super thin, super quick drying socks)
  • 1 × Salomon Socks – (I bought these last minute thinking I'd need more socks. I don't know what model these are and I started out with 2 pairs but binned one as they're quite bulky and we rarely wear socks)
  • 1 × Teva Original Sandals(These ugly things tore my feet to pieces for the first two weeks I wore them but now we get along and they're super comfy and I wear them everyday. They shrug off whatever you throw at them and are great in the heat. The only issue is that while most of your foot can breathe, your sole can get very sweaty as the base of the sandal is solid with no airflow. I did also start out with a pair of flip flops which died in Greece but haven't replaced them because I just wear the Teva's the whole time, just loosely done up)
  • 1 × Salomon XA Chill 2 – (I've worn Salomon shoes at home for years and my feet are definitely Salomon shape. These are more casual versions of the walking shoes I wear at home and are great for travelling as they're super comfy and can do double duty as lightweight walking shoes and normal looking shoes to wear around town. Similarly to the Rab shirt and Prana trousers these shoes were one of the few practical but not complete stupid looking options)

Toiletries

My toiletries list is pretty short as Nikki carries stuff like shower gel and shampoo and we generally only carry one of something we can both use so each of our lists is shorter than it would otherwise be for one person.

  • Toothbrush
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail File – (This is a short ~4cm one I picked up in Norway and we've not had any issues with customs/security so far and its metal)
  • Wahl Pocket Pro Hair Trimmer(I picked up this smaller beard trimmer shortly before we left, it runs on one AA battery and sounds a little pathetic and runs out quickly but it does the job. If you find a lighter weight alternative let me know, I feel there's better trimmers out there)
  • Metal Lush Tin – (This used to hold some solid deodorant from lush but now holds left over soap we get from different places)
  • Small packet of baby wipes – (These are generally handy to have. I've used them to clean my camera when it got salt water on it, dirty hands, our laptop, whatever)
  • 2 × Lifeventure Travel towels – (1 large one to use as an actual towel and 1 pocket size one to wipe my camera with if it gets wet. We normally have towels in the accommodation we're staying in but it's good to have your own just in case or for the beach)

Electronics

This is the stuff that I spent longest deciding what to take and it occupies half of my bag and more than half of my weight!

  • Fuji X-T2 body, lenses and other kit – (I wrote a separate blog post about this, so read that if you want a full list of the camera kit I'm carrying)
  • GoPro Hero 3+ Black – (I've got the minimum of accessories to go with it stored loose in one of the Eagle Creek pouches. The key thing to carry is lots of batteries and if possible a dual battery charger. I find that I don't often use the GoPro as I have the Fuji and a compact camera but it's good for use in/around water)
  • Sony RX100III & USB battery charger(This is a great little compact camera with an extensive set of features, the key one being a larger than normal sensor for its size. If you're not carrying a 'proper' camera and just want to take a compact travelling definitely take a look at the RX100 range or its bigger brother the RX10 which has the same size sensor but a much better zoom range in a still quite compact size. I carry two batteries and a USB charger which was very awkward to track down)
  • Mu Duo Folding Charger(This is a neat little folding UK style plug with two USB ports on it)
  • 2 × Travel Adaptors – (We started with just a single UK to Europe style adaptor which did us proud until we reached the Philippines where one of the hotels only had the flat blade style sockets so we searched around for another adaptor and came up trumps in a hardware store with a cheap, compact world adaptor)
  • Micro-B USB cable – (These charge most things we carry, like our cameras and kindles. Check your different devices, you probably don't need a separate cable for each)
  • Anker Lighting iPhone Cable(This is a solid alternative to the Apple provided cable which people seem to have issues with)
  • Kingston 128GB memory stick(This memory stick is tiny and confuses nearly everyone I hand it to, I've had to tie a bit of bright orange cord to it so I don't lose it!)
  • Petzl Tikka Plus² Headtorch – (Don't cheap out on a head torch, these were great in Greece where we needed them regularly for our work with Archelon and we've used them when we've had power cuts in other countries)
  • Kindle Touch – (The touch model is ancient now but any of the new Kindles will be the same but better. If you like reading even a little bit definitely look into getting an e-reader, taking books travelling eats up a lot of space!)
  • FiiO F5 in-ear headphones(For the first four and a half months of our trip I was using my trusty Sennheiser CX500 earphones but finally, after 7 years, the left speaker stopped working so I replaced them with the FiiO's. I can't recommend taking some good headphones enough, they don't have to be mega expensive or even noise cancelling, just comfy and with good enough sound for your use)
  • MacBook Air 11 inch – (Bought second hand from eBay specifically for this trip. I didn't want to bring my MacBook Pro, but decided I did want a laptop and this is a perfect little travelling laptop. I reinforced the charger with Sugru before we left, to help prevent any issues with stuffing it in a bag all the time)
  • 2 × Western Digital 2TB Hard Drives(You can read more about the drives and laptop in my camera kit post but for now I'll repeat – never trust your data to just one hard drive, hard drives die (they do, it might not have happened to you yet but it will). I use WD drives at home and am yet to personally have an issue with them, but hard drives do die. I picked up a couple of cheap neoprene pouches for the drives in Thailand)

Travel Documents

We both carry originals and copies of our own documents. We also carry copies of each others documents. We both carry these in a red Eagle Creek pouch so we know where everything is.

  • Travel insurance from World Nomads(For us it was either World Nomads or True Travellers, in the end we went with World Nomands. Get insurance, it's expensive but so worth it if anything does go wrong. We opted for the extra "Explorer" cover and it's meant we didn't have to pay extra for car hire excess reduction through the hire company. It also covers a load of extra stuff their basic one doesn't. It's probably worth going for just for peace of mind)
  • EHIC card
  • Vaccination card – (We got all the recommended vaccinations, which again was expensive but worth it for peace of mind)
  • Passport
  • Driving license
  • Caxton card(To say I was skeptical of this card when we first found it was an understatement. I kept looking for the catch, the fatal flaw. But we've been using them for a few months now and they've been mostly great. Sometimes they aren't accepted, though this is random and very rare. And you might still be charged fees for withdrawing cash but this is a fee from the bank not Caxton)
  • Bank cards
  • Photocopies of mine and Nikki's documents

We also keep digital copies of all our documents on our laptop and I've made a copy available for us to download securely from anywhere if things go really wrong.

Additional Items

  • Qalo wedding ring – (I wear this at home as well but it's perfect for travelling as it's not expensive and doesn't look it. It also copes with your hands swelling in the heat well and removes the danger of getting caught on anything. Also they come in different colours, I love the blue one I have)
  • Oakley Jupiter Squared Sunglasses, Matte Black & Polarised – (I've had these for a while and they are starting to show it but they are comfy and stay on unlike Nikki's sunglasses which always fall off. I definitely recommend getting polarised lenses as they cut out so much glare and make a lot of things look better)
  • Homemade Tyvek wallet – (I got tired of carrying around unnecessarily thick wallets so I bought some Tyvek and made my own super thin wallet. I just found this wallet which is what mine looks like but this model didn't exist when I made mine)
  • Moleskine – (For our daily dairy which we use to help write our blog posts)
  • Pentel Energel 0.7 mm Black(Yes, I list the specific pen we use because it's the only one I've found that isn't horrible to write with for a left handed person)

Nikki

I found packing to be the most intimidating part of planning our trip. What would happen if I didn't have everything I needed? What if I took the wrong clothes? How on earth was I going to cope with so few clothes without looking like a major tourist? Well it turns out that as soon as you get travelling you soon forget about all those worries and make do with what you have. I tried to focus my efforts on using what I had already and replacing as we went along, ensuring that my items were small, lightweight and relatively quick dry.

So here's what I currently carry with me:

Logistical

Clothes

  • 5 × knickers – (I started with Marks and Spencer stuff but they soon got holes in and I'm now on La Senza sale stuff from Indonesia, anything will honestly do as long as they're comfy!)
  • 2 × Nike sports bras – (not particularly flattering under clothes but useful for the daily workouts and they don't have annoying metal underwires)
  • 1 × Uniqlo wireless bra – (supportive but not underwired - perfect)
  • 1 × trainer socks – (I had these before I left, they're thicker than necessary but my thinner ones all got holes in from the Greek beaches and have gone in the bin)
  • 1 × Bamboo Blonde denim shorts – (my holy grail item that I now live in if I don't have to worry much about modesty)
  • 1 × Hollister mini skirt – (a patterned one that goes with all my t-shirts as they're plain colours, although this now has a massive hole in that I've repaired with limited success so this will probably be replaced soon)
  • 1 × Reebok colourful patterned leggings – (beautiful and flattering, what more could I ask for? I bought these for exercise and casual wear when I was in Indonesia and had already repaired the leggings that I brought out. They also go with all my t-shirts)
  • 1 × Prana Briann trousers(flattering and quick dry, perfect for when modesty is required)
  • 1 × Nike vest top – (I wanted this for my workouts as its quick dry)
  • 1 × H&M vest top – (I'll probably replace my t-shirts if/when they get holes with more vest tops when we're out of SE Asia and modesty isn't such an issue)
  • 2 × sports t-shirts – (They look relatively okay and were bargains in an outlet shop, but their main pro is their quick dry ability)
  • 2 × t-shirts – (one super casual baggy thing from H&M which I've had for ages, one slightly nicer one from Uniqlo that I can wear out and is super quick drying)
  • 1 × Next long-sleeve shirt – (used as my 'nice' outfit or as a layer to keep off the chill that I found in an outlet shop)
  • 1 × American Eagle dress – (easy to chuck on over swimwear)
  • 1 × Rab waterproof jacket – (Has proved to be good at keeping me slightly warm when the temperatures have chilled)
  • 1 × ski midlayer – (A good layer to keep off the chill)
  • 1 × H&M scarf – (I've had this since I started sixth form but it's useful to keep off the chill at night or used as a blanket on planes)
  • 2 × bikinis – (These both need replacing now, one has the fabric wearing out and the other is too loose now my body's changed shape)
  • 1 × Teva Original Sandals(Ugly as hell but the only things I wear now as they're super breathable and practical on all the beaches)
  • 1 × flip flops – (They're good for short term wear but cut my feet up if I wear them all day)

Toiletries

  • Travel Tangle Teaser(the lid means I'm not constantly finding annoying stray hairs in my bag)
  • Hair bands
  • Kirby grips
  • Bandana – (perfect to cover those greasy roots)
  • Compact Mirror
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Sun cream – (frequently replenished)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • L'Occitane Foot cream – (Needed after walking around in sandals everyday!)
  • Shower gel – (I carry one for both Josh and I to use)
  • Shampoo – (Again I carry one for both of us)
  • Disposable razor
  • Toothbrush and cover
  • Toothpaste – (Again I carry one for both of us)
  • Deodorant – (Again I carry one for both of us)
  • Paracetamol and ibuprofen – (We always regret it when we don't replenish them)
  • Handful of sanitary towels – (just replenish in each country)
  • Handful of tampons – (used sparingly as these are more difficult to come by in Asia!)
  • Contraceptive pill
  • Tweezers

Electronics

Travel Documents

  • EHIC card
  • Travel insurance from World Nomads
  • Vaccination card
  • Passport
  • Driving license
  • Caxton card
  • Bank cards and HSBC security key
  • Photocopies of mine and Josh's travel documents

Additional Items

  • 2 × necklaces
  • 4 × pairs of earrings
  • 1 × anklet
  • 1 × toe ring – (barely worn, I should change that)
  • 3 × QALO wedding rings – (I wear 2 at a time and then have a spare one incase)
  • 1 × CASIO watch Pink – (super easy to change the time when the timezones change)
  • 2 × sketch books, pencil, eraser, sharpener and fineline pen
  • Travel sewing kit – (sewed up plenty of holes in my clothes)
  • Eye mask – (useful for overnight transport)
  • Sunglasses – (some cheap ones I picked up in an outlet shop, wish I'd got polarised!)
  • Purse – (the smallest one I could find in a Thai airport when my old one fell apart)
  • Handbag – (found in a Thai market that's not pretty but met my requirements of across the body, had a zip and a flap over the zip for security)
  • Pack of playing cards – (great for those times when you need to fill time whilst waiting for transport or for food at a restaurant)

It turns out that when I've weighed my bag at airports – (without my handbag containing purse and travel documents in it) my bag weighs about 7kg. So I fit within the carry on weight limits. Hooray!


We've found that having one bag each makes every step of travelling easier. Once you get used to it you don't notice that you're missing anything. We'd recommend that everyone give it a go, whether you're going around the world or for a week long holiday. You probably don't need half the stuff you've got out ready to put in your suitcase/bag!


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