Packing For Long-term Travel: His/Her Top Six


1. Merrell Avian Light Ventilator Hiking Shoes

I couldn’t be happier with this choice because I did a lot of research on shoes. When I was shopping for our trip, I wanted to find a shoe that I could use for running, hiking and taking long walks. These comfortable and durable Merrells have been through a lot and have yet to disappoint me.

Merrell Shoes

Tara’s Merrell shoes.

2. BaByliss PRO travel hair straightener

I really thought this would be a superfluous item that I wouldn’t end up using. The truth is that I love it. Its weight and the space it takes up in my pack are negligible. When I take five minutes to straighten parts of my hair, it’s easier to handle. And after eight months and 19 countries, this straightener still works very, very well.

3. REI Convertible Pants

I had mixed feelings about bringing a pair of two-in-ones with me. Would they look dorky? Tear easily? The truth is that you stop caring about how they look because comfort, durability and handiness are all that matter in the end. These are my go-to travel day pants because they’re comfortable to be in for hours at a time and the pockets are very useful to stash coins, my iPod, and toilet paper in while I’m on a train, for example.

Tara's REI Zip-off Pants

Tara’s REI zip-off pants. They are even roomy enough to double up in cold weather!

4. Washcloth

You read that right. Not my quick-dry towel but a washcloth. I use it mostly in hostels and on overnight trains. Sometimes your face and hands need the feeling of being wiped dry by a real towel. It has also come in handy when we have kitchen access and need a hand towel. Not to mention the times I’ve used it as a plate or napkin.

5. Shawl

I don’t use shawls much at home, but I assumed it would come in handy while traveling. It might just be my most-used item. In Muslim countries and other places where you have to dress conservatively, I’ve used it to cover my shoulders. When we’ve been in chilly temps, it’s been my scarf or head cover. In the desert I wrapped it like a turban and also used it to protect my nose and mouth from sandstorms. I’ve bunched it up and used it as a pillow on trains and buses. And I’ve used it as the ultimate protector, wrapping it around wine bottles that I put into my bag on travel days.

Tara's Shawl

Tara’s shawl

6. Bag and body protectors: Silk Sheet and Rain Cover

The silk sheet protects me from bed sheets and pillows I don’t want my body to touch (because they look dirty or are dirty). It also comes in handy in mosquito-ridden areas when I want to cover my exposed skin. The rain cover for my pack protects it from wet conditions as well as dirty ones (and therefore is added protection to what’s inside). When my bag gets shoved under a bus or left on a dirty floor, I don’t have to worry about the canvas collecting dirt and a stench. Additionally, when my bag is sitting in a luggage room while I’m sightseeing all day, I like to think that the rain cover adds a slight deterrent to petty theft.

Bonus Six

Starbucks Via Packets

Starbucks Via packets. They’re delicious, but unfortunately we’re all out of Starbucks now.

All long-term travelers have items they prefer not to be on the road without. We always refill our toiletries (like cotton swabs, mouthwash, toilet paper, laundry soap, etc.), but there are also food-related items we like to travel with since we’re on a budget. They really don’t take up much space or weight, and when we have leftover food or access to hot water or a kitchen, they go a long way.

1. Gum
2. Spices
3. Tea bags and instant coffee
4. Silverware
5. Sandwich bags
6. A food container

What are your must-have items when traveling?

Go back to Mike’s



6 responses to “Packing For Long-term Travel: His/Her Top Six

  1. Good list! Being coffee addicted, we also carry instant coffee and a small travel mug so we can have it anytime, hot water is super easy to find especially at the famous 7 Eleven shops (you’ll see when you get to SEA, they are at every corner).
    We also have food containers that we use occasionally.
    I couldn’t agree with you more about the washcloth, I couldn’t do without too.

    • We just got to Singapore, and we’re pretty shocked to see 7-11 everywhere. We haven’t seen one since the USA. Anyway, we go through spurts when we use/don’t use the food container, but it’s always worth having. It allows us to get pomegranates and enjoy the seeds on long-haul bus rides, for example. I never thought the washcloth would make my top six, but it’s definitely one of the best items I brought!

  2. Love this list! We leave for our RTW in 4 months and I have the following items on your list already in my pile of stuff to pack: mini straightner, shawl, silk sleep sheet, rain cover & airporter for backpack, wash cloth, spork, and sandwich bags . I have the REI pants but not convertible dont think I can do it…I also have a travel hair dryer that works well, my hair doesnt look right if it air drys!

    • I should’ve made a top six in the beginning of the trip, because I think the items have changed dramatically. For example, we really didn’t start using the silk sheet very often until we hit India. Same with the rain cover (it was mostly for protection against theft and dirt). In the beginning of our trip (Europe), I used my jacket more than my shawl. It really depends on where you go and your style of travel. Good luck, and enjoy your trip!

  3. I totally agree with bringing some sort of shawl/scarf. Personally I never go anywhere without my sarong, as we’re often headed to tropical places 🙂 I have been looking for good advice on a travel straightener though, so I was really glad to see yours has held up!

    • Glad to help! I highly recommend the brand I got. I did a ton of research before we left, and this seemed like the best. I used a Chi at home, so I’m used to high quality. For a travel straightener, this is up there. It’s held up in 20 countries and three continents. That speaks for itself!

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