In addition to preparations before the trip, several of you were interested to know how one packs for a trip that will last (hopefully) around 12 months. Stephan and I spent a lot of time perusing other travel blogs to see what items were most valuable and which were the most discarded along others’ journeys. The overwhelming consensus was that a ‘long-term’ traveler should pack in a single backpack and, if necessary, an additional small daypack.
It sounded like a piece of cake to me. I mean, I’m a pretty light packer. Heck, I went to New York for a friend’s wedding one weekend and packed everything in a large purse (three cheers for wrinkle-free dress fabric). Anyway, the task turned out to be far more daunting than I imagined. Stephan bought himself a new F-stop pack (Tilopa, 50L), great for carrying camera gear and clothing, while I originally intended to pack in my Osprey (Sirrus, 36L) that I use for hiking. A few weeks before leaving, we decided to do a “practice pack,” to see if all our things would even come close to fitting. This was a genius idea, as the practice run went very poorly, leaving one of us sitting in the middle of the floor with dozens of unpacked items sobbing that he/she was simply not going anymore (guesses as to which of us it was?). Needless to say, many other travel bloggers were correct – the hiking bags with all the scaffolding were not great for maximizing space. In the end, I also ended up with an F-stop pack similar to Stephan’s (Ajna, 40L), and just about everything fit on the first attempt. Stephan’s desperate pleas to the packing gods were clearly met.
We ultimately were quite happy to end with one pack each plus a small, shared day pack (containing sneakers and a toiletries kit). We could have easily made due without the day pack if photography wasn’t such an un-friggin-wieldy hobby.
Below are some photos of our packs and their contents:
We each packed about a week’s worth of clothing, suitable for all climates (importantly, all synthetics, as they dry faster than cotton and pack down to the size of a small notepad). I think I ended up with 7 short-sleeved shirts, 2 long-sleeves, 2 pairs of hiking pants, 1 pair of capri pants, 2 shorts, 2 tank tops, 8 underwear, 7 socks, a black pashmina scarf (hopefully versatile for covering shoulders and hair, if customs dictate), and a pair of leggings with a lightweight sweater (in case I need to look slightly more classy than a dirty hobo). We each also brought a rain jacket, synthetic down winter coat (compacts easily), bathing suit, hiking boots, sneakers, and flip-flops.
Our toiletries were pretty basic, and a good chunk of space was taken up by various medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, Benadryl, Pepto, a few courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and malaria prophylactics). Our toiletries consisted of pretty much the obvious: deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a comb, nail clippers, tweezers, chapstick, hand sanitizer, and a small set of clippers (for trimming facial hair as well as haircuts). We intend to buy sunscreen, insect repellant, soap, and 2-in-1 shampoo + conditioner upon arrival.
Because we’ll need to wash our limited clothing selection on a weekly basis, we also packed gear for sink laundry – a universal drain plug, dissolvable laundry soap sheets (they look like those little Listerine strips and a pack of 50 is the size of a matchbook), a travel clothesline, and a super compact laundry bag for segregating stinky hiking attire. Additionally, we got a couple of quick-drying, microfiber travel towels from REI. We figured we’d need some sort of towel for the beach, swimming, and showering at campgrounds or hostels. Many travel bloggers who started out with an unwieldy bath towel ended up just ditching it along the way, so we thought this would be a good way to go. We are also carrying a pair of universal outlet adapters, which are compatible with some 150 countries. The model we chose was by Road Warrior, and appears to be one of the most low-profile adapters on the market – great for saving more space for toys [see section below].
Our other random items include my travel journal and a couple pens, dive logs, two 23-ounce Klean Kanteen water bottles, headlamps, and a money belt (to carry our wallets/passports if we’re out for a run or such). To that end, we also each purchased a minimalist wallet for the trip. They are super thin, with a capacity of about six to eight cards and a few bills. Stephan chose a MastrMind model, while I opted for a vegan-friendly Flowfold. Made by a small company in Maine, the wallets are recycled from ship sails. I mean, does it get any cooler than that?
Okay, this is where the packing list becomes a bit more ridiculous and overwhelming. An absolute MUST for the trip was to be able to enjoy some our favorite hobbies: keeping up with friends and family, photography, and documenting our journey with stories and photos. That said, I present our [disturbing] list of camera gear:
- Nikon D7100 camera body (Stephan)
- Nikon D7000 camera body (Jenn)
- Tamron 90mm f/2.8 (macro lens)
- Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 (ultra wide-angle lens)
- Nikon 18-70 f/3.5-4.5 (wide angle lens)
- Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens
- Nikon 300mm f/4 PF
- Nikon SB-700 flash
- Sirui T-1205X tripod
- 22 memory cards (832 GB; enough for 15,000 – 20,000 photos and some video)
- 6 batteries
- GoPro Session
- USB charger(s)
Additionally (I know, right?!) we have a Surface Pro 4 tablet (for blogging, emailing, and editing photos), a Nexus 6 smart phone (for phone, GPS, and basic internet functions), and an iPad 2 (for Facetime). Although I loathe all things Apple (sorry Kell, Nancy, and Mike), I will concede that their video chat is far superior to any other currently available.
Okay, now that the appalling camera section has been detailed, this concludes the portion of ‘Packing with Jenn & Stephan.’ And yes… all of that crap fits into our one pack apiece (except for the aforementioned daypack of shoes/toiletries). I guess we’ll find out soon if we are under-packed, over-packed, or just right. All you gamblin’ fools out there can place your bets in the comments section.