Any important journey usually starts with two lists.
The first is The Bucket List. This is the list that’s responsible for getting you into the whole thing in the first place. Although The Bucket List is a lot of fun to write, you might want to be careful about what you so jauntily scribble down on it. Because The Bucket List leads inevitably to The Packing List.
Each packing list brings its own challenges. Unfortunately, I was so gung-ho with my bucket list that my packing list was only slightly less complicated to co-ordinate than a manned mission to Mars.
Pack everything you need for a year-long round-the-world trip that covers 20 countries and all types of climates – from jungles to glaciers – into bags that you can carry yourself for at least eight hours at a time.
Oh, and you have to take your rock-climbing gear.
Bag 1: 40 Litre Backpack
- 20 litre dry sack. (For keeping clothes dry when wading across rivers. Or something.)
- Heavy-duty waterproof jacket. (Tested in the shower.)
- Set of thermal underwear. (Doesn’t look too much like underwear, so can double as pajamas.)
- Down jacket. (Wearable duvet.)
- Fleece jacket. (Boring. Warm. Practical.)
- Fleece pullover. (Ditto.)
- Tracksuit pants. (Only slightly scruffy.)
- Leggings. (For climbing. Don’t worry, I won’t wear them as pants.)
- Convertible pants. (Super dorky.)
- Other pants. (Slightly less dorky.)
- Playsuit. (About to fall apart, but deserves a last outing.)
- 2 x collared shirts.
- 3 x lightweight t-shirts.
- 1 x leopard print blouse. (To show I am from Africa.)
- 1 x long dress. (In case I ever need to wear a dress again.)
- 6 pairs of socks. (Some thick, some thin.)
- 6 pairs of underwear. (Cotton, so my bottom can breathe.)
- 3 bras. (Men can skip these. Oh, and probably the dress too.)
- Sunhat and summer buff.
- Pair of warm gloves.
- Thermal buff with South African flag print. (Could be used as flag if I summit any hitherto unscaled peaks.)
- Pair of flip-flops.
- Pair of lightweight pumps. (No idea what male equivalent would be.)
- Swiss army knife. (In pocket of fleece jacket, at bottom of dry sack, so Joburg baggage handlers can’t nick it. I hope.)
- Silk sleeping bag liner. (Because nothing says luxury like sleeping on silk sheets, even if your bed is someone’s living room floor.)
- Bikini. (For lying on beaches.)
- Swimming costume. (For swimming.)
- Kikoi. (Kenyan version of a sarong.)
- Sport towel. (Because it’s smaller, lighter and dries much faster than a real towel.)
- Real towel. (Because I’d be a fool not to pay attention to advice from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)
- Climbing harness and belay device.
- Sling and spare locking carabiner.
- Climbing shoes.
- Chalk bag.
- Lucky Frog Mascot. (To cheer self up when lonely.)
Bag 2: 15 Litre Daypack
- Canon Powershot G1X. (The camera I thought I should buy.)
- Canon Powershot S100. (The camera I should have bought.)
- Camera accessories: chargers, spare batteries, cables, Gorillapod, flash drives, international converter plugs.
- Mini binoculars. (Bought on a whim. Should probably use them sometime.)
- MacBook Air and power supply.
- Headlamp. (To avoid bumping into things in dark places.)
- Laundry bag with 2 spare t-shirts, socks and underwear.
Bag 3: Nylon shoulder bag
- Kindle and charger.
- iPhone and charger. (To use as a camera and MP3 player, and so I can get SMSs from my bank.)
- Non-smart phone and charger. (To put local SIM cards into.)
- Antique iPod Shuffle.
- 2 pairs in-ear headphones. (In case I grow an extra set of ears.)
- Toiletry bag. (Deserves a list of its own.)
- Money belt with passports, flight itinerary, vaccination card, international driver’s license.
- Make-up bag. (Result of spending a year working for women’s magazines.)
- Medicine bag. (Prescription medication, painkillers, etc.)
- Map of South America. (In case I get lost.)
- Spanish phrasebook. (Because I won’t look enough like a tourist otherwise.)
To wear while travelling:
- Jeggings. (I know you’re not supposed to pack jeans, but I can’t wear khakhi pants non-stop for a year.)
- Shrug. (A fluffy jersey-type object knitted by my mother. Doubles as a scarf.)
- Waterproof walking shoes. (Tried to find ones that wouldn’t scream ‘Tourist!’ Failed spectacularly.)
So there you have it. Everything I need to survive indefinitely almost anywhere in the world, packed into three bags that I can carry quite easily, as long as I don’t mind looking like a pregnant camel.
Is there anything I’ve left out? If so, I’m not too worried. My first stop is Buenos Aires and, from what I hear, they have shops there.
In case it’s of any use to you, I’ve created a downloadable pdf of this round the world packing list.
Thumbs up for the silk sleeping bag liner and make-up!
Thanks! I’m afraid I’m going to be a far cry from a stylish digitalista though…
that is a pretty comprehensive list – although you DID forget the kitchen sink J
Stuff I would pack (if you haven’t already)
*Spare bootlaces…INCREDIBLY frustrating when they break and you have no spares and three hours of hiking still ahead of you (been there, done that LOL)
*Bin liner – useful to keep the contents of your rucksack dry in extreme cases AND you can stash your trash in there too
*Leatherman (if you don’t already have one) – the Swiss Army Knife should cover most eventualities but there could be one or two instances where you need the bit of extra leverage that the LM handles provide (I always carry both)
*Mini Maglite as a back-up to the head torch
*I’d cover any maps you will be using on a regular basis with that cling film-type plastic we used to cover school textbooks with – that way they will be water- and tear-proof
*Steel mirror (cos a girl’s gotta look good and it won’t break either LOL)
* Lighter (Zippo or Bic)
(and the frog is cute too LOL)