This is what I brought for a 5 week summer trip to New York City, Connecticut, London, Greece (islands and mountains), and Ireland.
I pack my stuff in a 50L duffel bag (Cotopaxi 50L Chumpi Duffel) and a 26L backpack (Cotopaxi 26L Cusco Backpack) as my daypack. Please note that if the airline is weighing your stuff, you MAY have to check your duffel bag, so make sure you can put all your valuables in your daypack just in case, and weigh your bag beforehand so you know what to expect. Every airline is different.
In general, I find that it’s always better to bring too little rather than too much stuff. As long as you have your necessities, you can buy most things abroad. There are a couple of items on the list below that I forgot to mention in the video! Use your best judgment and keep in mind what you typically use on a daily basis.
MY BASIC PACKING LIST FOR ADVENTURE TRAVEL
- Shoes – I don’t mind the extra weight because I like variety.
- Everyday – Blundstone Boots
- Fancy – Black Madewell Heeled Boots (these are similar)
- Athletic – Salomon X-mission Trail Runners
- Sandals – OluKai Upena Sandals
- Shirts – 9, a few of which can be dressed up
- Pants & Shorts
- 2 jeans – one nice
- 2 shorts – one nice
- 1 flowy beach pant
- 1 running shorts
- 1 pair leggings
- 1 pair cozy sweats
- NOTE: I trade out one pair of jeans for more leggings and running shorts if I know I will be doing a lot of hiking or other outdoor activities on the trip.
- 1 cozy sweater/sweatshirt
- 1 warm jacket – I bring the Cotopaxi Kusa Bomber
- 1 rain jacket if you’re going somewhere it’s for sure gonna rain
- Underwear – Lots. I bring 14+ pairs.
- Bras – 7 sports bras or bralettes
- Swimsuit– 1 or 2. I forgot this in the video. SORRY!
- 1 cozy
- 3 athletic
- 3 casual
- Bandanas– I bring 4.
- Laundry bag
- Tech etc.
- Camera with Internal Camera Unit (alternatively, I recommend using a camera bag instead of a regular backpack if your trip is very photography focused)
- Lightweight tripod if you are planning on shooting night photography or lots of self-timer shots
- Mophie charger
- 2 hard drives or back-ups for your data
- Camera battery charger
- Converter if necessary
- Memory card reader
- Memory cards
- Laptop charger
- Phone charger
- Small multi-tool that’s “travel friendly” – I have the Leatherman Style PS. Be aware that TSA can take anything from you, depending on the agent!
- Small TSA approved lock
- Toiletries (all under 100mL and can fit inside a 1 quart ziplock bag)
- Body wash/soap
- Facewash/makeup remover
- Dry shampoo
- Tweezers if not in your multi-tool
- Curling iron (if you’re me)
- Paperback book or kindle
- Wallet with cash, credit cards, ATM card and ID
- Water bottle
- Ibuprofen and/or small first aid kit
- Betadine (also doubles as emergency water treatment)
- Alcohol wipes
- Earplugs (if you are a light sleeper like me, these are a lifesaver)
Some parting words…
On my first trip abroad, I packed as if shirts did not exist anywhere else. Spoiler alert!!! They do. Also, you can buy pants abroad. And toothbrushes. And most other necessary items. Over the years, I’ve noticed that I never say “oh damn, I packed too light.” It is always the other way around–– I am usually kicking myself for overpacking, wishing I had left more room to bring home cool stuff from my travels or just traveled lighter in general.
Overall, my advice is to pack for the type of adventure you are going on. I have traveled with suitcases, expedition packs, duffel bags… and this is what works for me! Know that you will most likely not get it perfect the first time, and that’s OK! You will figure out what works and what doesn’t while you’re on the road– follow your best guess now and you’ll learn to adjust where necessary.
If this video was helpful, let me know in the comments below!
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Nice write up! I was pleased to find out that my packing technique is very close to yours.
Having just completed a two week national park crawl, a the problem I run into is having enough room for your clothes etc, and a sleeping bag/pad in my carry on.
I have found the only way for me to successfully pack a sleeping pad/bag as a carry on is to get VERY packable, lightweight gear, like a down sleeping bag that compresses to a small size and a 3/4-length ultralight Thermarest (or other brand of self-inflating mat). That being said, I really value comfort when I am camping so I tend to gravitate toward the heavier stuff… it is always a trade-off! When I go on trips that involve a lot of camping, I usually bring my 75L backpack with a rain cover instead of a duffel bag, and I usually end up checking it. It has passed for a carry-on size, but only if under-packed quite a bit!
Hi Erin, thanks for sharing!
Just a question, how much does it all weight??
Believe it or not, I started packing too light :S I mostly travel in warm countries in South East Asia, so I don’t really need many warm clothes… But it happened that in a couple of situations (typhoons, strong winds at night) I got pretty cold, so I’m trying to plan a bit more of a warm backup… But I’m scared it’s going to be too heavy! 🙂
Hi Sabrina! It usually weighs between 20-30lbs. Wow!! That is impressive. And also, yes definitely pack some warm jackets 🙂 I would recommend a lightweight down or synthetic puffy and a windbreaker (they are both very packable and light). My windbreaker packs into itself and takes up very little room! I agree it makes a big difference.
Thanks Erin!! <3
So helpful! I’m moving to Australia in 4 months and I’m taking my 95l North Face duffel – I just know I’m going to overpack!
Thanks Annabel! I don’t know about you, but I tend to fill whatever backpack I bring, so if I’m worried about overpacking, I bring a smaller bag!
This is super helpful! Even though I am so accustomed to packing (almost on a weekly basis now), I find myself scratching my head every time a trip comes up. This is a nice packing list that I was probably too lazy to create myself :).
Good to hear, Sheema! Thank you
What is the brand of camera bag/case you have in the video?
It’s by ThinkTank!
Can you post about how you packed for you 9 months in portugal?
I could… but that was my first trip and I packed horribly! 😛 But more packing lists are on the way!
Can you make more packing posts?
• how you travel with your tech?
•what you use day to day? When exploring a new place
• how would you pack for longer trips?
• whats all the luggage you recommend?
Do you recommend just carry ons?
Or rolling luggage?
•What backpacking bag do you recommend?
Sorry for all the packing questions! I know you can never be fully prepared for when you travel but I like to control what I can .
Thanks Erin! Keep it up! I really do enjoy reading your blog.
Evelyn, THANK YOU for all of these awesome questions! I will absolutely be posting more packing lists and info about this topic. 🙂
Only a couple of months late down here lol. Super helpful, more packing videos please?!
Haha–– thanks Jourdan! Yes more on the way 🙂