Packing has been one of the trickiest parts of planning this trip. We didn't want to over pack and load ourselves down (physically or emotionally) with too much stuff. The main challenges were that we needed clothing for different climates as well as stuff in which we could get dirty. Our focus was on quality items that are versatile, comfortable, and don't scream tourist (fisherman's vest anyone?). Below is what we decided to take, and we'll be updating this list throughout the trip as we find out what works and what doesn't. This roundup contains affiliate links - 50% of any profits from them will be donated to Charity:Water.
Josh really wanted a backpack for ease of getting around quickly and not having to worry about rolling a bag over different terrain. He opted for the Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Pack because of the durability, weight and size.
Shari knew she'd be unhappy carrying a pack all the time so opted for a conversion roller bag / backpack. Her bag is the Osprey Meridian Wheeled Convertible Luggage - 22" bag.
We also decided to get the pack rain covers since we'll have a decent amount of tech gear in there, and it would be bad news bears if we got caught in a rain storm with any of it without any protection.
Not going to sugarcoat it - these bags are not cheap. We're lucky to have an REI not too far from our home, so when we decided to do this trip, we spent way too much time at REI trying on different bags and deciding what we wanted. Then we waited for a sale and bought our bags the second they were 25% off.
We've found packing cubes to be super helpful, both because they can compress your items, but also for organizational purposes. By getting different colors and sizes, it's really easy to know which one to pull out when you want a bathing suit or a pair of socks.
Super compressible daypack - Great for day hikes and beach days.
Toiletry bags - Josh uses a small Osprey UltraLight toiletry kit that Shari bought for herself and quickly realized she couldn't fit even half her stuff in, so she sized-up to an Ohuhu Waterproof Toiletry Bag. Both bags can hang, which is useful in small spaces.
A reusable nylon shopping bag.
Hi, this is Josh, here to let you know what's in my pack. I needed almost half the space in my bag for photo gear, so I had to be really conscious of volume and bulk of clothes. Here's what I decided on:
5-6 short sleeve tees (REI Co-op Sahara, Champion C9, Ably Filium Activated) The REI and Champion shirts are both very affordable, quick dry, and breathable. The Ably shirts, I'm still up in the air about. They repel water, stains, and odor, which is cool; however, since I sweat a lot, it all then drips down my shirt onto my shorts. The verdict is still out on Ably.
1 long sleeve button up - Royal Robbins Double Cloth Reversible - This is an ultra-thin shirt, so it's quick drying. You can also turn it inside out since there's a different pattern on the inside. Two shirts in one!!!
1 long sleeve dress shirt - Banana Republic Stretch Tailored - It's nice to have one shirt that I can wear to a nice dinner. I don't always want to look like I'm in travel mode. It's also fairly thin and dries pretty fast.
1 pair of ExOfficio Venture Pants - Since I was so happy with my shorts I decided to try out their pants. They are extremely quick-drying, and it seems like nothing sticks to them so they don't get dirty. Plus they're UPF 30 for a little sun protection. They also have some great secret pockets, which is awesome for hiding cash or credit cards.
1 pair of Royal Robbins Global Traveler Pants - These pants are super lightweight and roll up into a very small package. They also have a hidden pocket on the seam, are quick-drying with pockets that drain fast if you get in the water and are UPF 40. They're very durable and have a full-length running gusset. I also have a pair of Mountain Hardware pants I wanted to bring that are about the same, but I liked the look of the Royal Robbins better.
(I decided against bringing jeans because of the bulk, but they are pretty much my default uniform at home, and if I feel like I need a pair, I'll pick some up along the way.)
SHORTS & Swim
1 pair ExOfficio Sol Cool Costero shorts - These shorts are incredible! They are also super fast-drying (did I mention I sweat a lot?), and it seems like nothing sticks to them so they don't get dirty. I'll also use them as my swimsuit.
1 pair 32˚ Cool Weatherproof shorts - Great for hiking shorts and a swimsuit. Also fast-drying and they have a UPF rating of 50!
1 The North Face ThermoBall Insulated Full-Zip Jacket - I can't believe how thin and lightweight it is, yet it still keeps me really warm. I wouldn't recommend it for a multi-day hike in the Himalayas, but if you are in 30˚ weather, it's perfect. Plus it zips up into its own pocket, so it's perfect for packing. I did have a problem with the pocket zipper, but The North Face was quick to repair it under their warranty program. They made sure to get it fixed and shipped back to me before this trip.
1 The North Face Venture Jacket - This is a waterproof and windproof jacket that's great for packing away since it also zips into its own pocket. It's an excellent outer shell for all the crappy weather conditions. I love taking it with me when I go fly fishing in the winter. It keeps the wind off, and the Velcro wrists come in handy for when I need to reach deep into the water to unhook a snagged fly.
1 pair of Oboz Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoes - These have been some of the most comfortable hiking shoes I've owned. I have worn them a lot when I shoot in the studio since I stand on concrete all day, and they have saved my back and feet. They are fairly lightweight and are super durable. I couldn't imagine going on this trip without them.
1 pair of Bedrock Cairn Sandals - These are adventure-minimal sandals and are well worth the money. I got these since they're so lightweight, and the construction seems super durable. (They're also American made). I was looking for a thong sandal that would strap to my feet and be great for hiking, so I started looking at zero sandals and came across these bad boys. They are half the weight of my Chacos and are way less bulky. So far I'm super happy with these.
1 pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Ox Sneakers in black - I wanted something that was a little dressier than my other shoes, but I could still walk around in all day. These pack down fairly small since the canvas tops lay down pretty flat.
7 pairs of Smartwool socks - I'm bringing a variety of styles (mid ankle, low cut and no show). These are thin merino wool socks to help with staying dry and cool and to cut down on odor.
1 pair of REI lightweight base layer bottoms - They have mineral-based LAVA XL finish which helps to keep them odor-free. The fabric is fairly thin, which makes them easy to pack. Even though they're thin, they're still very effective. I've worn them several times on winter camping trips when the temps drop down into the 20's.
Shari here! Here's my packing list with a little bit of explanation and commentary. Deciding what to pack was a much more excruciating process than I expected, and there was a lot (A LOT) of internal debate, especially over shoes. Hopefully my decisions help out some other traveling ladies out there!
1 long-sleeve Smartwool base-layer shirt
1 long-sleeve Alternative Apparel* cardigan wrap
1 pair Old Navy Boyfriend Skinny lightweight jeans (Lots of people say not to take jeans on long-term trips, but I want to wear what I'm comfortable in, and I wear jeans almost every day. Plus these guys are light and roll up pretty small.)
1 pair Athleta Ponte Moto pants (essentially jeggings) - These will serve triple-duty as regular old pants in cooler weather, a base layer when needed, and as sleep pants for colder weather.
1 pair lightweight jogger pants
1 pair denim shorts
1 pair Under Armour sporty shorts - workout/hiking shorts
1 packable puffy down coat (bought at Costco ages ago), but would have chosen Uniqlo's Ultra Light Down Jacket if I needed one
1 Marmot rain shell (found on clearance at REI!)
1 winter hat
1 pair of gloves (text-friendly)
1 Kavu short dress - also using as a beach coverup
1 pair Merrell waterproof hiking shoes - I have the worst feet - they're always in pain after standing for longer than, like, 10 minutes. These are the most comfortable shoes, which I've had for years, and I'm going to be so sad when I wear them out.
1 pair Teva Terra-Float Nova sandals - These will be my warm weather hiking shoes, water shoes (ankle strap is key), warm weather shoes (along with my Ahnus), and should pair decently with a dress for a nicer night out. I'm asking a lot of these guys - hopefully they live up to it!
1 pair Ahnu Maia sandals - This sort-of middle-ground shoe was a big debate - sandals, Toms, ballet flats, sneakers? I love these sandals because they can play nice with casual or step it up a bit when paired with a dress, they're incredibly comfy, and they've got decent traction, so they're good for walking.
Not bringing along a pair of sneakers gives me a mini panic attack, as I'm athletic. I am NOT a runner, so no issue there, and I figure I can do lots of exercise barefoot or with socks or opt for the hiking shoes if outside. We'll see if I seriously regret this decision....
3 pairs of Smartwool Hide and Seek socks
2 pairs Puma Athletic socks
1 pair Icebreaker Hike Lite Liner hiking socks
7 pairs - mainly Ex Officio and Patagonia*, bought whenever they went on sale
A couple of headband scarves
A few necklaces, sunglasses, belt
*Signifies "conscious" brands - either fair trade, ethical, slow fashion, produced locally, sustainable, or eco-friendly
Shari again! Here's what we pared down our everyday bathroom items to, which is maybe about half of what we use at home.
face and body
We're pretty minimal here anyway, so it wasn't too hard to narrow down a bit more to these essentials: Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Creme, sunscreen, Kiehl's daytime eye cream, and Teamine nighttime eye cream. Most Airbnb's supply shampoo and conditioner, so we just have a travel size of each for when they don't.
I was really concerned about not having a Sonicare (way too big and bulky to bring), but was super excited to find a slim electric toothbrush - Quip, which ships refill heads and batteries anywhere in the world for free! (Use referral code "shari27356224491" to get $5 off a refill). We also found these brilliant Travel Folding Soft Toothbrushes that we love as an alternative to electric.
At first I thought the foldable Wet Brush would be great (which it was), but it's just too bulky. Ultimately, I wound up with a generic compact folding brush and a full-size comb. I was also adamant about bringing a mini flat iron. After some research, I quickly realized most mini flat irons only have 1/2" plates, and I wanted 1". I ultimately found the BaByliss Pro Nano 1" Mini Straightening Iron, which doesn't have the rounded exterior I was hoping for (to double as a curling iron), but it's worked out so far.
Pretty low maintenance with makeup to begin with, I just took foundation, a retractable makeup brush (probably not even the correct one, but it works!), Origins Underwear for Lashes, mascara, and a mini eyelash brush.
Makeup remover was another debate, but I settled on Micellar makeup remover pads that can be used on the whole face and are also safe for eyes, and which most drug stores sell so I'll be able to replace as we go.
Towels are fairly bulky, but we opted to bring 1 Turkish towel since beaches are big part of our destinations and we aren't staying at too many hotels where we can borrow towels. Plus this guy rolls up pretty small. We also included a pack of self-cleaning travel washcloths.
We also carry a roll of toilet paper in some areas just in case (!), as well as antibiotic gel and wet wipes to keep sanitary on the go.
Josh here with our list of electronics. This area was really tough, especially when it came down to picking and choosing from my camera gear. I feel pretty confident that I have what I need (even though I would have loved to add an extra lens and a flash) - we'll see how it goes! This list starts with the more everyday tech and then gets into the heavier stuff.
iPhone SE 64Gb (Josh's Phone)
iPhone 6 64Gb (Shari's Phone)
T-Mobile ONE plan - We chose this plan and phone service because we already have iPhones, and this is the most affordable plan for world coverage with the most coverage that works well with iPhones. (Project Fi would have been another good choice, but it requires a Google-approved phone.) The T-Mobile plan includes unlimited data, texting, and super cheap phone calls.
Cords - Retractable Lightning Cable Charging Cord - Apple-certified and longer than original cable, but not bulky and avoids get caught up with any other cords.
iPad mini - For Shari to read on the go. She tries to digitally borrow books from our home library as often as possible.
MacBook Pro 13" 2016 - 3.3 GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD + 1 MacBook Pro 13" 2015 - these are downsizes from our 15" machines (plus extra monitors) at home, but well worth it to cut on weight and space.
Western Digital My Passport Ultra - We're carrying each others, so if Shari's bag gets lost or stolen, her computer might be gone, but I've got her files and vice versa. We are each carrying two 2TB USB 3 hard drives.
4-in-1 Adapter - Color-coded and relevant for over 150 countries. (Most chargers these days have built-in converters for 100 - 240V, so we don't need a separate tool for that.)
Decibullz earbuds - These are custom earbuds you mold to your ears. They're super easy to mold, block outside noise incredibly well, and sound amazing. I haven't used them for long, but so far so good.
Philips Earhook headphones - Shari has really small ear canals, and earbuds hurt her ears, so she typically wears over-ear headphones. But those are huge and would take up too much space for this trip, so our solution was to get a decent but cheap pair of earhook headphones and cut off the mushroom part of the rubber ear caps so they don't touch her ears but float in the canals instead.
Canon 5D Mark IV - The Canon 5D series has been my go-to camera for years, and it's the most versatile camera in the Canon lineup in my opinion. (I have also owned the Mark II and III.) Cannons are super durable and reliable and have met my needs more often than not, going everywhere around the world with me. I've dropped these cameras and sweat all over them, and they keep on working. I have used them for product photography, studio portraits, on-location editorials, and even small video projects. It's not often I need something faster or with more megapixels. And if I do, I just rent something beefier.
Canon 5D Mark III - Shari is using an old camera of mine, which will let her shoot as well (since she also enjoys photography as a hobby) and give me a backup option if something happens to my camera.
Canon 24-105mm f4 L Series II with Image Stabilizer Lens - I've been a huge fan of this lens for years because of the versatility. I know it's not as sharp or fast as the 24-70mm f2.8, but it has not let me down. If you know how to use Photoshop, and you're not afraid to use a higher ISO sometimes, this lens is perfect.
Canon 40mm f2.8 pancake lens - I use this guy when I want to be a little more low profile. It's a quality lens for such a low price. Definitely not as sharp as others, but it's great for some on-the-go travel shooting.
I use 2 Canon and 2 Wasabi batteries. I'm a big fan of Wasabi batteries as I've been using them for years and never once had a problem. They are a quarter of the price of Canon batteries and seem to last just as long.
B+W Schneider HTC Polarizer 77mm - This is where quality is definitely important. Schneider makes premium filters. A polarizer is crucial for landscape photos. It helps to deepen the color saturation, reduce reflections (such as on water surfaces or windows) to give the viewer a peak under the surface, and improve contrast. This is great to cut down on some of the post work in Photoshop. You don't want to put a cheap filter on your camera because that will just degrade your lens and can also cause focusing issues and a weird haze or unwanted flare.
B+W Schneider ND-Vario 1-5 stop 77mm - The neutral density is variable with a 1 to 5 stop range. This is great for shooting long exposure shots on a bright and sunny day. If you want that soft blurry look in a river, ocean waves, or a waterfall, etc... this filter will help to slow down your shutter speed and create that effect.
Sirui Tripod ET-2004 - I chose this tripod because of how compact and lightweight it is. It's super fast to use and very versatile. I wish I didn't need a tripod since it takes up so much room, but it's really crucial for quality travel shots.
Memory cards - Lexar 64GB SD Pro 1000x, Lexar 64GB MicroSD 1000x, and SanDisk 32GB MicroSD Extreme - These are fast and reliable. I have been using Lexar and SanDisk premium cards for over 10 years, and they have never let me down. Just make sure to keep them in a case and take care of them!
Lexar Multi-Card 25-In-1 USB 3.0 - The read speeds are really good. So far I'm happy with this memory card reader.
StarTech memory card reader - This stopped working so I got rid of it. I'm much happier with the Lexar
GoPro Hero 5 Black - This is my first true action camera, and I have been very impressed by it so far. I had the Sony FDR x3000 for a very short time and was not as happy with the quality and lack of support, so I ditched it for the GoPro.
GoPro Karma Grip - This was a very tough purchase for me. There are so many options out there, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I chose this over the others after reading and watching so many reviews (so, so many!!!). After all the research, it appears to be the most reliable. I've used it several times, and it always works and maintains the horizon line. A 2-hr battery life does kind of suck while on the road; however, I came up with a solution for that using the Anker Power Core 13000 to keep it charged while on the go. So far, so good.
ASC Pro Selfie Stick - This is a super strong and durable selfie stick. My favorite thing to do with it is use it fully extended in combination with the Karma Grip out on the end. I can create a similar look and feel to using a jib arm crane to create those smooth high-to-low panning shots.
Polar Pro Venture Filters 3 Pack - This pack comes with a polarizer, graduated ND and a 3-stop ND. The 3-stop ND is great to use with the GoPro on a sunny day to slow down the shutter speed and help to give the GoPro a more cinema look and feel. I'm not super happy with the durability and build quality, but they'll do for now.
Other random GoPro attachments
gopro batteries / chargers
3 Batteries (1 GoPro and 2 Wasabi) - I'm super happy with the Wasabi batteries. They cost much less than the GoPro batteries and have been just as reliable.
Wasabi 3-bay battery charger - It's great having a 3-bay charger for these batteries.
external batteries / Chargers
External battery - Anker Power Core 13000 Portable Charger - Great for powering the GoPro Karma when the battery is low. Also nice for charging other devices on the go!
Anker Power Port 1 USB-C - This is a quick charger and has the same specs as the GoPro charger. Plugs directly into the GoPro Karma grip and charges it much faster than plugging it into a computer or standard charger. It also can plug into the Wasabi charge station to charge the GoPro batteries.
H1 Zoom - This is a great compact audio recording device. Zoom makes premium audio recorders and this one is no exception. The record quality is top notch. I have used it as a shotgun mic and with a lavalier mic. Audio is super important when shooting video and this recorder is perfect for traveling. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles as the more expensive nicer models but it gets the job done.
Zoom WSU-1 Hairy Widescreen
Rode smartLav mic - Decent price and great quality.
International driving permit
We knew we'd be renting cars in several countries, including Italy, which requires an international driving permit to rent. AAA makes it super easy to mail in an application and get the license in no time.
vapor collapsible water bottles
These water bottles are so great! They fold up tiny and are durable and BPA-free. Super travel friendly!
Sawyer water filter - We think it's a smart move to have a quality water filter on a trip like this. You never know what your water situation may be. The Sawyer filter is super small, lightweight and easy to use. The 0.10 micron filter removes 99.9% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli and removes 99.9% of all protozoa, such as Giardia and cryptosporidium. This filter will technically last forever since it can be back-flushed to clean it out. Better safe than sorry!
We got the Adventure Medical Ultralight Kit, which we totally could have put together ourselves, but got a little lazy.
We've got typical everyday headache and hangover fixers, prescription traveler's diarrhea meds and altitude sickness pills, and some personal medicine. Medication is one of those items you don't think about taking up space, but it's recommended to keep it in the original prescription packaging for any border crossing inquiries, so it actually claims more of our packs than we'd like.
A deck of cards.
A bunch of travel-friendly workouts saved on Pinterest.
A couple of small notebooks for sketching and note-taking, as well as some pens and mechanical pencils (Shari's sketching tool of choice).
A lacrosse ball for rolling feet over when sore (because Shari's feet suck).