Packing for a RTW Trip

Planning a Round-the-World trip can be one of the most exciting and stressful things you will ever do.  After all the trip planning, what stumps most newbie travelers most is what to pack for the trip before they even leave.


We aren’t talking about your average weeklong holiday but more like an epic, multi-climate, multi-culture, multi-month long trip.  What you take with you will be what you carry around for the next few months and if you leave something at home… Sorry, guess you will just have to see it in a few months.  When packing for a RTW trip, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure you are both prepared and comfortable.


Decide What You’ll Bring

Before you start packing, you’ll probably need to do some research on your trip.  Are you visiting Japan in the middle of winter? Spending weeks surfing in Peru? Climate is hugely important when it comes to deciding what to pack.  Your best bet if you are planning on being in multiple climates is to pack layers. Taking a huge jacket you will only use once probably isn’t the best idea but you can still stay warm by layering up a few shirts, a light jacket, and maybe a scarf.


After climate, you will also need to consider culture.  If you are spending most of your trip in Europe, you probably don’t need to worry too much about covering up but if you have a stop in the Middle East, you’ll definitely want to bring some more conservative clothing.  Again, you can rely on layering to help – if you are a girl, take your maxi-summer dress, add a long sleeved top and scarf, and you are ready for any church or mosque.


You will also need to consider what you might want to bring both for safety and comfort.  No matter the length of the trip, you should always pack a luggage lock. Even a small lock can deter a thief. You should also stick to what you are most comfortable in and take any advice with a grain of salt.  If you are most comfortable in jeans, pack a pair even if it does break some kind of backpacker packing rule.


Decide What You Won’t Bring

The best advice in all of RTW packing tips is to “lay out everything you want to take, then take half of it and twice the money.”  Remember that what you pack now is what you will literally have to drag around the world with you. It’s the worst feeling getting half way around the world and realizing that half the clothes you packed haven’t even left your pack yet.


To help you pack less, consider what you might be able to buy as you go.  There are stores all around the world and most sell the same stuff you might be thinking of bring from back home.  You definitely don’t need a full 6 month supply of shampoo and sure, an extra pair of socks could come in handy… but if you really need them, you can buy them in Argentina, I promise.  


Also, consider what you might want to pick up on the road.  If you leave the bulky sweater home, that will just give you an excuse to pick up a local one in Nepal before your trek.  Coming home with a pair of sandals you bought on a beach in Brazil will help you remember your trip every time you slip them on.  Leaving a bit of room in your bag when you leave home gives you the opportunity to bring home something even more interesting.


Last but not least, trust the experts.  Spend some time checking out the hundreds of RTW packing lists online, written up by expert travelers who have done it already.  Compare lists and narrow down to what is most important to you, for your trip.

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