My RTW Packing Essentials

by Kim on November 23, 2012 · 29 comments

It’s been six months since Brian and I shoved everything we own into our backpacks and set off to see the world and I still haven’t published our packing list. This is mostly because I am a terrible travel blogger who gets bored writing about almost all travel related topics.


I’ve been lugging around a 65-liter pack for awhile now and have learned a thing or two about what I really need out here on the road.

So, in lieu of a publishing a packing list, here’s my list of the things I’m glad I brought on my trip around the world.

The Cannon S100 Point and Shoot Camera

The Canon PowerShot S100 Point and Shoot Camerais the best purchase I’ve ever made. The S100 is small and simple to operate but it takes incredible photos. Brian has a larger, “nicer” camera that we almost never use. We’ve found that we don’t like to walk the streets with a big flashy camera and, besides, the Cannon S100 takes equally great photos and it fits in my pocket.


The world wears jeans and I am so glad that I packed mine. My jeans are my most-worn article of clothing, I feel like I blend in just a little better in denim. Nothing screams tourist! more than those zip-into-shorts traveling pants.

Silk sleep sack

Sure, I don’t use my silk sleep sack every day but I am ever so grateful that I have it when I need it. Like, for example, on one particularly terrifying night in Peru when a spider the size of my face was loose in our room. To save myself, I huddled in my sleep sack, tied it over my head, and cried myself to sleep.


If I knew then what I know now I would have smuggled a years supply of tampons into my backpack. Tampons are relatively hard to find in South America and when I do track them down (normally at the pharmacy) they are locked beneath a glass case like precious jewels. Not only do I have to “order” my tampons from the pharmacist, but they’re only sold in packs of 10. 10! Really! Thanks for the 10-pack, South America. I’ll be back for more tomorrow.

Note: Yes, I bought a Diva Cup and no, I don’t use it. Best intentions, people, but there are some logistics that make using it on the road, in places with questionable water quality, slightly unsanitary. 

S-biner clips

We picked these clips up last-minute at REI and they have been invaluable to us. On travel days we use them to clip our shoes to the outside of our backpacks. During long bus rides we use one to clip our carry-on bags together and the other to clip the bags to the bus (there’s normally a rope that the curtains are strung on; we clip our bags to the rope), ensuring that no one can run off with our bags when we drift off to sleep.

First aid kit

I rolled my eyes when Brian insisted that we buy a first aid kit but it has saved us (and more than one fellow motion-sick bus riders) more times than I can count. From itchy mosquito bites to blisters to barfing, our little yellow bag of magic fixes just about anything. Bring a first aid kit and stock it well.


The SteriPEN sterilizes tap water using ultraviolet light. Not only does this awesome little device save us money, it also prevents us from unnecessarily using hundreds of plastic bottles.

Dirty laundry bag

I’m so glad that we brought stuff sacks to keep our dirty laundry separated from our clean clothes. When traveling, cleanliness really becomes a relative term, but I’m always happy to have that small fabric barrier between my sweaty running socks and my I-was-washed-two-weeks-ago-so-I’m-sorta-clean street clothes.


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