Packing for Around the World Travel – James’ List

James Johnson Travel

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So how does one pack for a year of travel around the world across six continents and over twenty countries? When we first contemplated our expedition, we considered packing inside one big roller bag that could get checked in addition to larger individual carry-on luggage. We even purchased a large roller bag when it went on sale. As we neared our trip and gave the logistics a little more thought, we started asking ourselves some questions. If we had to take a bus or train to a new location, what could we realistically carry? What if we didn’t feel comfortable leaving our luggage somewhere while we wanted to explore a town during a layover? What do we REALLY need for a year? The more we started asking ourselves these questions, and with a little guidance from some of our favorite around the world travel blogs, we made the decision to at least attempt carrying everything we needed as carry-on only. We’re living by the “less is more” motto. Once that decision was made, we eventually honed in on the Osprey Farpoint 40L as our main bag of choice.

Osprey Farpoint 40L for around the world

The Osprey Farpoint 40L bags are our packing choice for a year of travel around the world.

These bags zip open like a regular suitcase (great for rummaging around to get what you need easily) and include a padded compartment for your laptop. If you have to check them, and some international carriers really restrict the weight of carry-on luggage, you can tuck all the backpack straps into a zippered compartment and…voila…you have a nifty, robust duffle bag!

Packing in the Osprey Farpoint 40L

The Osprey Farpoint 40L can hold all you need for a year around the world!

Because we wanted smaller bags for exploring around cities, day hikes, or in the event our carry-on luggage came across more restrictive limitations than we typically see in the United States, both Jayleen and I acquired some smaller bags for our ‘hand luggage’. While she went with an Osprey Daylite 15L, as one to always have a camera at the ready, I opted for the Pacsafe Luggage Camsafe Venture V12. Now for the fun of what all can fit into those bags for a yearlong journey!

Since our packing lists vary a bit, we opted to compile a “his” and “hers” packing list for our readers, so if you want to see what all Jayleen is packing, check out her post: Packing for Around the World Travel – Jayleen’s List.

When I do my packing for a trip, I usually think in layers starting from the bottom up. It’s one of those engineer traits to categorize things.

Packing bottom layers for travel around the world.

The bottom layers I need for a year’s travel around the world (a few not pictured).

In my Farpoint 40, I managed to get the following bottom layers snugly packed away:

In addition to the above which I tucked into some Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Packing Cubes, I’ll be wearing an additional pair of ExOfficio’s, my KEEN Targhee II Hiking Shoes, and a pair of prAna Brion Inseam Pants when traveling between major destinations. I also have a basic Bison Belt that I’m wearing occasionally with my shorts or the prAna Brion pants.

Once I have all those bottom layers all rolled up and packed away, I usually go on to think about my upper layers.

Packing upper layers for travel around the world.

The upper layers I’m packing into the Farpoint 40.

The upper layers going into the voluminous Farpoint:

As with my lower layers, I’m usually wearing one of my long sleeve shirts when traveling and have the Arcteryx outside my bag to leave a little more room in the carry-on or in case the airplane gets chilly. You’ll notice that most of our layering is geared towards pretty moderate climates. For the majority of our journey, we’re targeting the spring/summer/fall seasons and expect to be experiencing fairly mild temperatures. Jumping between hemispheres helps with that! For the few destinations where we may hit very hot or cold temperatures, we’ll buy what we need then or just before.

While not a layer, I’m also usually sporting my Timex Expedition watch which serves dual-purpose as an alarm clock. It’s cheap, not flashy, and works. Being one that usually resorts to my phone for keeping time, I’m transitioning to using the watch for those times when I may not want to advertise that I’m carrying a smartphone. Lastly, I’m usually carrying some local currency, ID, and a credit and debit card in my PacSafe bi-fold wallet. The wallet is RFID blocking…which I could have benefited from on a work trip to Boston back in the US. I tend not to mess with the security leash that comes with the wallet unless I plan to be in really busy spots where pickpocketing might be a concern.

What about toiletries and other supplies you ask? But wait, there’s more room! Apart from sounding like a bad infomercial, yes, the Farpoint 40 really can carry quite a bit and yet it is still rated as being carry-on sized.

Packing accessories for travel around the world.

A collection of the accessories I’m packing into the Osprey Farpoint.

Other accessories I’m traveling with:

  • Small first-aid kit – Packing a collection of small band-aids, safety pins, Neosporin, alcohol wipes, tweezers, mole skin for blisters, and the like.
  • Small Toiletry kit – Inside my REI Micro Shower Kit, I’m carrying a travel toothbrush, razor & small collection of spare blades, dental floss, soap dish and bar soap, and travel-sized toothpaste and shave gel.
  • Spare glasses – I have two sets of prescription Julbo Dolgan sunglasses and two pairs of regular glasses. One set is always with me and the spare set gets tucked into the Farpoint.
  • Black Diamond Storm Headlamp – This guy has accompanied me to the summit of Mr. Rainier and I trust he’ll be rock solid for our journey around the world too.
  • Eagle Creek Packing Cubes – Confession: Jayleen got these and then I wanted them too. Simple as that.
  • PacSafe Bag Wrap – This handy little mesh bag is meant to guard against opportunistic thieves by wrapping around the Osprey Farpoint and then attaching to something heavy & immobile. Not sure if it’ll be worth the weight, but then that’s a small price to pay for guarding against seeing our electronics disappear.
  • MasterLock Luggage Lock – While the PacSafe Bag Wrap comes with a lock, it also comes with a key…which I’d inevitably lose at some point. Having a combo lock is much more convenient as long as I don’t lose my memory.
  • 1 Pack Towel (XL size) – Since plenty of budget accommodations don’t provide towels, or for hitting the random swimming hole (Note: The Pack Towel is actually pictured in the photo of all my upper layers).
  • 1 Sea-to-Summit Pillow – You adjust the firmness by how much you inflate this guy. I must say, have been happy with it so far for our 23 days of exploring the South Island of New Zealand via campervan.
  • 1 Sea-to-Summit Ultrasil 20L Drybag – for keeping our electronics dry when we’re in wetter environments (ferries, really rainy days, kayaking, etc.)

If you’ve read Jayleen’s list, you can see our packing lists are similar; however, I had extra margin in my Farpoint 40 so I included more camera gear as I didn’t have as bulky shoes. I’ve got the compact Giottos Carbon Fiber Tripod  taking up the remaining space and it has come in handy for waterfall shots, self portraits, and night time photography. As an engineer and amateur photographer, I could easily geek out into details on camera gear and electronics, so look forward to a future post on what electronic wizardry to pack for exploring the globe. Most of the camera gear gets carried in the PacSafe V12 Sling for transportation days and when not in use, some of it gets transferred to my Farpoint 40 as a holding location.

In looking at all we’re carrying, I’m sure we could get by with less…or more if we really wanted to pamper ourselves. Ultimately, packing for an around the world journey like this needs to strike a balance between staying light and nimble. So what would you pack for a journey around the globe?

Fair Disclosure: If you purchase any items off of the Amazon links we provided, we’ll get a tiny kickback at no extra cost to you.

About the Author

James Johnson


James is an innovation storyteller and photographer for Simple Discoveries. He's previously served in NASA’s Mission Control for 18 Space Shuttle missions and is passionate about cultivating innovation through personal exploration and discovery.

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