Two hundred days in, and how did we do?
Here was our packing list when we embarked, broken down by “sub-bags”. We’ve added italicized notes throughout and updates at the bottom of some sections. At the end there’s a list of items that have been especially helpful throughout the trip.
- 4 dresses
- 2 skirts (1 long, 1 short)
- 10 shirts (1 cardigan, 1 long-sleeve tee, 2 short-sleeve tees, 6 tank tops)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 pair of pants
- 2 jackets (1 hoodie, 1 rain jacket)
- 2 swimsuits (1 bikini, 1 tankini)
- Undergarments (3 bras, 7 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks)
- 3 pairs of shoes (running shoes, flip-flops, flats)
- 3 scarves
- 1 belt
Eric brought the following:
- 2 jackets (1 wool jacket, 1 rain jacket)
- 7 shirts (1 long-sleeved shirt, 1 button-down long-sleeved shirt, 2 button-down short-sleeved shirts, 3 tee shirts)
- 2 pairs of shorts
- Undergarments (6 pairs of boxers, 4 pairs of socks)
- 1 pair of swim trunks
- 1 pair of pants
- 3 pairs of shoes (running shoes, flip-flops, walking shoes) – We both replaced our hiking shoes with running shoes, and Eric added a pair of walking shoes as well.
Six Month Update: Despite all of my efforts to bring the perfect travel wardrobe, I’ve found that it’s probably better to bring a few versatile, high-quality pieces and complement them with clothes that you don’t mind replacing at some point. It’s nice to pick up new clothes that fit in more with the local trends without feeling guilty for setting aside an expensive item that you don’t like anymore. The merino wool clothing we brought has been a worthwhile investment since it’s awesome in all weather. My only complaint would be that it tends to be more prone to small holes and tears than cotton.
After five months all of our shoes needed to be replaced. Large-footed people be warned, finding shoes in Asia is a challenge!
We also purchased hats and gloves for trekking in Nepal and climbing Mt. Fuji, but after China we shouldn’t need them anymore.
First Aid Kit
- Medical tape
- Alcohol swabs
- Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment for bruises, cuts, and bug bites
- UTI Medications
- Rehydration salts
- A year’s supply of doxycycline (malaria medication)
- 6 regimens of Azithromycin for infections
- Pepto pills
- Motion sickness meds
- Candied ginger (also for motion sickness)
- Sleeping/anti-anxiety pills
- Allergy medication
- Oxycodone in case of serious pain emergencies
- Muscle relaxers
- Cold medicine
- Tea tree oil for use as an anti-fungal, antiseptic, for earaches and bug bites
- Blister cushions
- Hydrocortisone cream for rashes and itches
- Hand sanitizer
Six Month Update: Between blisters, cuts and a few stomach bugs (probably food poisoning), our first aid kit has gotten a lot of use. We added an ace bandage for sprains and found that Tang is great for covering up the taste of oral rehydration salts.
- Dive watches
- Headlamps – We would NOT recommend Black Diamond’s Ion model. It’s extremely compact but doesn’t hold up to extended use, has a weak output, and takes a battery size that we haven’t seen outside the US.
- SteriPen Freedom for sterilizing water
- iPod and charger
- Samsung Nexus phone
- Cables to charge the Kindle, phone, cameras and SteriPen (all micro USB)
- Chargers for laptops – We sent one home since they’re so bulky, but haven’t had a problem getting by with one.
- Hard drives/cables
- Universal power adapters – We’re finding that the smaller one-country adapters work better in that they don’t fall out of the wall so easily, and they can fit into smaller spaces.
- External battery for emergency charging
- Kindles – Between the two of us, we’ve had five Kindles on this trip. They may be too fragile for long-term travel.
- Cameras (with spare batteries, wall charger, lenses, and filters)
- SD card readers
- Tripod – We replaced our expandable tripod with a GorillaPod, which takes up less space and works surprisingly well though it’s very limited in height.
- Cleaning cloths
- Extra memory cards
- Camera remote
- Ethernet cable
- Power strip and USB wall adapters
- Tiny flash drive for storing important documents and transferring data
- Headphone splitter for watching movies together
- USB to Ethernet adapter
- Eric’s watch
Six Month Update: Our 11” Macbook Air computers and Sony NEX-6 cameras have been great so far, but we’ve had bad luck with our Kindles and one of the hard drives. We purchased a new macro lens for the cameras so we can photograph food, flowers and other small items in more detail.
- Leave-in conditioner spray
- Face lotion
- Insect repellent
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hair gel
- Red nail polish
- Dry shampoo, which also works as a talc powder
- Sam’s makeup (foundation, mascara, blush, bronzer, brush, eyebrow pencil/sharpener, eyelash curler)
- Glass nail file
- Travel brush
- Bobby pins
- Hair ties
- Lip balm
- Razors with spare blades
- Cotton swabs
- Nail clippers
- Bar soap
- Jewelry – 2 necklaces, 3 pairs of earrings
- Plotting the Course business cards
- Mini Cards Against Humanity – Sent home.
- Duct tape
- Black marker
- Gaffers tape
- Sewing kit (needles, thread, safety scissors, safety pins, rubber bands, small measuring tape)
- Combination lighter and bottle opener
- Emergency whistle
- Zip ties
- Extra plastic bags – all sizes
- Laundry kit (bar soap, sink plug, small brush for cleaning clothes, clothesline)
- Sleep sheets
- Travel towels
- Collapsible water bottle – We wouldn’t recommend the Nalgene wide-mouth canteen from REI – it began leaking after a couple of months of only moderate use.
- Collapsible cup
- Money belt – Sent home
- Current guidebook
- Packable day bags
- Small purse
- Rain covers
- Point-It Book – Very useful in China, where there’s a serious language barrier.
- Combination locks
- Looped metal cable for securing bags on overnight trains – Discarded after a few months.
- Notebooks for recording expenses and journaling
- 2 Lego people with accessories
Six Month Update: We’ve added a few things to this category, including a scrub brush for laundry, packing tape, comfort shoe inserts, bowls, spoons, chopsticks, and a ukulele.
- Copies of passports
- Passports – Sam’s was full, so we had more pages added at the Shanghai consulate.
- Credit and debit cards- Our Charles Schwab card has been great for withdrawing local currency since all ATM fees are waived with the account. Also, the Chase Sapphire card is perfect for international travel since they don’t charge foreign transaction fees, and if you need to call them you get a real person right away.
- Vaccine records
- International driver’s licenses
- PADI certification cards
- Extra passport photos
- Dive Logs
And the Most Valuable Gear (MVG) Awards Go To:
Cocoon Mesh Bags
We use these mesh bags to keep everything in our packs organized, from clothing to electronics. They’ve made living out of two backpacks much easier, and the bags themselves are remarkably strong considering how lightweight they are. We’ve not had one tear even though we stuff things in until it looks like they’ll burst.
The same is true for our backpacks, the Gregory Jade 38 and Arc’Teryx Axios 35. Our only complaint with these is that maybe we should have brought slightly larger bags so that everything isn’t so crammed in all the time. But then, if the packs were bigger we’d just fill them with more stuff. So it’s probably good that we went with the smallest size that would fit the essentials.
When international converters, outlets in hotel rooms, and time are all limited, it can be hard to keep all of our electronics charged. This small battery pack really comes in handy since it will charge our smartphone, cameras, e-books and water filter on the go. The caveat with this is that if we don’t remember to charge the battery itself, it’s just dead weight.
Our SteriPen water purifier has gotten a lot of use given the countries we’ve visited so far. It only takes a minute to sterilize tap water, and it saves us money and countless plastic bottles. At first we were hesitant to use it because there’s no way to really be sure that the water is clean. But we haven’t gotten sick from water once when we’ve purified it with the SteriPen.
Samsung Nexus phone
With a local SIM card this phone is capable of providing internet and phone service. But even if you don’t have internet outside of your hotel room, a smartphone really comes in handy when you’re traveling because you can load maps, hotel emails, and directions before heading out. It’s indispensable on travel days for these reasons, and also for games, music and audiobooks on long train rides. This little thing can multitask more than any other piece of gear we brought.
And so, overall I don’t think we did too badly with our packing. Did we miss anything? What’s your favorite piece of travel gear?