What to Pack for World TravelAn Essential Packing List
Are you looking for the perfect travel gear for your next vacation? Perfect backpack? Perfect shoes? Perfect packing cubes? Perfect camera? This list includes backpacks, tech gear, shoes, clothes, and camera gear that I’ve been using since I started traveling full-time in April 2021. I use 95% of the items on this list. The other 5% are substitutes for things that are no longer sold or that friends of mine swear by. I hope you find this list useful.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see this website’s Disclosure for more info.
Best Travel Backpack
- 40L, 55L, and 70L
- Comfortable to carry for short and long-term travel
- Accessible from the front making it easier to find things in your bag than backpacks that are accessed from the top.
- The back harness and hip belt can be stowed away, perfect for when you have to check your luggage
- The 40L meets carry-on requirements for most airlines
- Works perfectly for traveling to Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Central and South America
- When I was traveling through Japan and Southeast Asia, I saw so many other travelers with this backpack
- Updated version for 2022
- Very affordable
- Back panel gives great support and ventilation
- Shaped specifically for women
- 5 storage compartments – 2 sides, 1 top, 1 front, and the main compartment
- Main compartment is part top loading and part front loading making it easier to access your things than most hiking backpacks
- Side mesh pockets for water bottles and storing hiking polls
- I have an older version of this backpack that I bought in 2020 and that I have been using since I started traveling full-time in April 2021.
Best Backpack Rain Cover
- Comes in 5 sizes and 6 colors
- Uses a 3-layer waterproof technology
- Reflective strip so vehicle drivers can see you
- The buckle strap helps keep the rain cover on and keeps as much of the backpack covered as possible
- Comes with a handy pouch to keep the rain cover in when not using it.
- I have a rain cover for my big backpack and my smaller daypack.
- Choice of 19″, 21″, 25″, and 29″
- The 19″ and 21″ is accepted as a carry-on on many airlines
- Lightweight and durable
- TSA-approved lock
- Expandable compartment up to 2”
- Lined dividers and tie-down straps help prevent your stuff from moving around too much
- Spinning wheels
Best Travel Daypack
- Laptop Sleeve in the back
- Side water bottle sleeves that expand – great for big water bottles
- Stretchy easy-access front pocket – great for storing your windbreakers or wet things
- Loads of pockets for organizing things
- Straps are designed for women; lots of padding on the back
- The harness system is super comfortable and it’s endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, which is perfect for carrying lots of stuff
Best Travel Purse
- Super comfortable
- Adjustable strap
- 4 compartments with 2 additional zipped internal compartments
- 3 compartments can be locked
- 2 RFID blocking card slots and 1 RFID internal compartment
- Slash-resistant body and shoulder strap
- Side mesh pocket for thin water bottle
- I’ve been using this purse for 20 months of continuous full-time travel
Best Packing Cubes
- 4 packing cubes (2 small + 2 medium), 1 shoe bag, and 1 laundry bag
- Compresses the air out of the bag, saving you space in your luggage
- These packing cubes are narrower than most other packing cubes, so they fit really well in backpacks, especially front-top loading ones
- I’ve been using these packing cubes since I started traveling full-time in April 2021, and I’ve had no problems with them.
Best Dry Bag
- 10L, 20L, 30L, 40L, and 55L
- Keeps your stuff dry when on a boat or at a waterfall; perfect to take with you on snorkeling trips (on the boat)
- Has straps so you can use it as a backpack
- I’ve been using this bag since I started traveling full-time in April 2021; It’s always kept my stuff dry
- If you’re doing long-term travel, get one that’ll fit all your electronics and documents.
Best Money Belt
- Most comfortable money belt I’ve ever used
- Fits passport, money, and credit cards
- 4 pockets; 1 pocket has a zipper
- It doesn’t look as bulky as the more traditional money belts
- There’s no strap that thieves can cut to steal your belt
- After trying out several types of money belts, this is the one I’ve been using since 2018. One problem is that it can get smelly, so I need to wash it every once in a while.
Best Toiletry Bag
- Not too big and not too small
- It’s narrower than most toiletry bags so it works really well with backpacks
- 3 sections–4 zippered pockets and 2 drop pockets
- Has a hanger so you can hang it on the toilet rod in the bathroom
- I keep my everyday toiletry items in here and I have a secondary toilet bag for bulkier items that go at the bottom of the luggage. This toiletry bag sits at the top so it’s easy to access.
- Rick Steves sells one that’s similar, but his bag lasted a week before it fell apart.
Best Secondary Toiletry Bag
- Packs of 2, 3, or 4
- 7.7 x 5.9 x 2.8 inches; large enough 100 ml liquid bottles
- Transparent fabric, making it a breeze to get through TSA and making it easy to find your things
- Very inexpensive
- I’ve used mine since 2018; sadly, the zipper broke in 2021, so I had to buy new ones in 2022.
- I use these 2 bags for my bulky shampoo bottles and my first-aid items. When you travel long-term, it’s difficult finding small shampoo bottles–you need to buy bulky shampoo bottles that don’t fit in normal-sized toiletry bags.
Best Soap Container for Travel
- The soap box comes with a sponge to help soak up the excess water, keeping your soap dry and preventing it from getting mushy. Thus, it helps the soap keep longer.
- The soap container has a band that goes around it, preventing the box from leaking.
- Inexpensive but the quality is still good.
- I’ve had this for just a few months, and I love it! It has been a game changer for my toiletries. My other one would leak all over my bag or not stay closed.
Best Toothbrush Holder
- Works with manual and electric toothbrushes
Uses an ingredient found in mouthwashes to keep toothbrushes smelling clean and fresh for up to 3 months
- I’ve struggled with finding a holder that doesn’t fill up with slimy stuff that is impossible to clean and still keeps my toothbrush clean. These steripods solve all of this. Just replace every 3 months
Best Towels for Travel
- Comes in 6 sizes from a face towel to a beach towel
- Comes in 11 beautiful colors
- Quick dry towels
- Super absorbent
- Very compact–doesn’t take up much space in your luggage
- Suitable for drying off after a shower and taking to the beach
- At the beach, you can easily and effectively shake the sand off the towel and it doesn’t stick.
- I’ve had this same beach towel since 2019 and a small one since 2020.
Best Power Bank for Travel
- 1 USB-A input/output port
- 1 USB-C port
- Charges my phone super fast – 100% in a bit over 60 minutes
- Not heavy compared to other power banks
- A power bank for your cell phone and Kindle is an absolute must when you travel! Mophie is my favorite brand of power banks–reliable and the only one I could find whose USB-A port is for both input and output.
Best Power Plug Adapter
- Accepts plugs from over 150 countries including those in North and South America, Asia including Japan, and Europe.
- 2 USB-C ports
- Surge protector
- Light and compact
- This does not change voltage; it just changes the plug.
- This is necessary if you’re an American traveling in Asia or Europe
Best Item Trackers
- Keeps track of your items and helps you find them
- Easy to connect Air Tag with your iPhone or iPad
- Put it in your checked luggage and you’ll always know where your luggage is
- I don’t use Apple products. If you don’t either, jump to the next item on this list for those who don’t have an iPhone.
- Helps you keep track of and find lost items
- This is for Android products like Samsung phones
- It works the same way as an Apple AirTag
- The Tile Slim is thin enough to go into your wallet, so if you lose it, you can find it using an App on your phone.
- You can use it for your suitcase, backpack, and purse
- Other Tile Tracker Items: Tile Mate and Tile Sticker
Best Shoes for Travel
- Great shoes for when you need to do a lot of walking
- Provides superb stability and support, especially for those with plantar fasciitis
- Comes in Wide and Extra Wide sizes, making them excellent shoes for people with bunions
- Great for running
- Comes in many different colors but the color is limited for those who need Wide or Extra Wide
- I have plantar fasciitis and bunions and I can only wear these shoes–no pain when I talk!
- Read this terrific post on why these are the best travel shoes
- Tevas are some of the best sandals out there when you need to do a lot of walking (10,000 steps a day)
- Great support and comfort
- Super durable and long-lasting
- Good for people with plantar fasciitis
- Comes in 23 different colors
- I’ve been wearing Tevas for years; always took them with me when traveling
- Comes in 9 colors
- Ideal for those with plantar fasciitis, knee pain, Achilles tendinitis, heel pain, ball of foot pain, and back pain
- Good for the beach but also works in more formal settings when on vacation
- 58 different colors and patterns
- Lightweight and compact–don’t take up much space in your luggage
- Ideal for beach and pool
- If you’re staying in a hostel, you definitely need a pair of flip flops in the bathroom
- Rubber soles to prevent slipping
- I’ve had my water shoes since I started traveling full-time in April 2021. They’re still in decent shape
- I wear mine whenever I’m on a boat, at a waterfall, at the beach, in the ocean, and snorkeling. They’re excellent to wear when you need to walk on slippery rocks.
- They don’t take up much space in my backpack
Best Pants for Travel
- Super comfortable
- Comes in 8 colors
- I love that they come in short sizes (for short people who are not thin) as well as regular sizes.
- Dry fairly quickly
- Thin and lightweight
- I’ve had the same pants since 2017.
- Super super super comfortable (did I say super?)
- Comes in 9 colors
- Elastic band and drawstring
- 3 pockets, one of which has a zipper!
- Dries quickly
- Great for hiking and walking around the city
- Even if you gain a little weight, they still feel comfortable
- I’ve had these pants since 2017 and I wear them a lot since I started traveling full-time in April 2021.
- Alternatives: North Face Aphrodite Pants/Trousers
Best Skirt for Travel
- Comes in 10 super cute colors/patterns as well as basic black
- Wrap skirt
- You can wear it to the beach as well as around town
- Dries super fast
- Doesn’t wrinkle
- I’ve had this skirt since I started traveling full-time in April 2021
- I love this skirt and wish i had bought more than one
- Alternative lengths: RipSkirt Length 1, RipSkirt Length 3, and RipSkirt Length 4
Best Tops for Travel
- Comes in loads of different colors
- Thin and lightweight
- Simple and easy to wear when traveling
- These shirts will not last long if you’re traveling long-term in humid climates.
Best Fleece for Travel
- Super comfortable
- Machine washable
- Comes in 10 colors
- Zippered pockets
- I always pack a fleece with me whenever I travel even in the summer months
- Ideal for layering.
- I’ve had this fleece since 2020.
Best Rain Jacket
- Comes in loads of beautiful colors
- Got 2 zippered pockets
- Thin and lightweight
- Reasonably priced
- Easy to wrap it up in a ball and stick it in your backpack
- Great for layering–fits well over my fleece
- I’ve worn this in many rainstorms in Costa Rica, and it did keep my top and arms dry
Best Water Bottle
- Comes in 10 different colors
- I love how slim it is, making it easy to store in the side pocket of my purse and backpack
- Safe and nontoxic: BPA-free
- Volume markers on the outside
- Comes with an internal strainer so you can add fruit
- It does the trick!
Best Lock for Travel
- Durable: steel cables and alloy lock bodies
- Easy to set combination
- Cables are thin enough to thread through your bags zippers and small lock holes
- The TSA agent has to re-lock your suitcase to remove their key, so you can be assured that your luggage will be locked after inspected
- If you’re staying in hostels, a combination lock is ESSENTIAL. Make sure your lock isn’t too thick and wide.
- Also perfect for locking the zippers on your backpack
Best Security Cable for Luggage
- Durable: Stainless steel cable
- Lightweight and compact
- A security cable to attach your luggage to something non-movable is ESSENTIAL when traveling.
- You can attach this to a pole when you’re on a bus or train, so if you fall asleep, a thief is less likely to abscond with your bag
Best Document Holder
- Size: 13.3 x 9.84 Inches (34 x 25cm)
- Can store letter-sized paper, notebooks, pens, phones, receipts, a passport, cosmetics, and other documents for travel
- Zipper with nylon strip to protect documents from getting wet and dirty or falling out
- Soft and flexible material
- A document holder to store important paper documents is ESSENTIAL when you travel overseas
Best Cameras for Travel
- Very retro design–fun to use
- Beautiful image quality–especially the colors
- Built-in Stabilization
- Flexible screen
- 4K video
- Comes with 16-80 mm lens or 18-55 mm lens
- I’ve been using a Fuji camera since 2018 and love it!
- Comes with 28 – 70mm lens
- Full-frame sensor
- Shoots 4k video
- Stunning image quality
- This is the most popular full-frame camera for its price point
- Right now the a7III is a bargain since the a7IV just came out
Best Lens for Wildlife Photography
- Fujinon lens – 70-300mm
- If you plan to visit Costa Rica, go birdwatching anywhere, or go on a safari AND you’re serious about photography, a telephoto lens is a must.
- The first time I visited Costa Rica, I didn’t have a telephoto lens and I missed out on a lot of shots. The second time I had this one here and I enjoyed my time more because of the opportunities to shoot birds, monkeys, and sloths up close.
- Make sure to buy weather-resistant lenses.
Best Lens for Interiors, Architecture, & Landscape
Best Drone for Travel
- Ultralight foldable drone–weighs less than an apple and can fit in the palm of your hand
- 4k Camera
- 4x digital zoom
- Shoots professional-level video
- Can fly up to 31 minutes
- Can take camera shots in JPG and JPG+RAW
- Very beginner friendly
- This is the most popular drone among travelers
- Alternative: DJI Mini 3 Pro
- Light-weight–Only weighs .89 pounds
- High stability–Legs support 44 pounds and ball head supports 4.4 pounds
- Flexible–360-degree rotation
- Solid support–Rubber feet prevent the tripod from sliding
- Compact–fits into my backpack and smaller than a gorilla pod
- This tripod replaced my gorilla pod and my full-length tripod
Best Camera Strap
- Works with all camera brands–Sony, Nikon, Canon, Fuji, etc.
- Durable and sturdy
- Adjustable strap
- Very comfortable shoulder strap
- Watch videos on YouTube to learn how to attach it
- I’ve had my strap since 2018 and it’s in great condition
Best Lens Cleaning Tools
- Sensor Cleaning Fluid
- Rocket air blower
- Lens pen
- Soft brush
- Microfiber cloth
- Cleaning swabs
- Don’t leave for on your trip without buying tools for cleaning your lenses and camera. I guarantee you will need to clean your camera lenses several times during your trip.
- This is the kit that I have and it’s great. It has everything I need to clean my lenses.
Essential Camera Protection Against Humidity
- Most people don’t think about taking silicone gel paks with them when they travel, but I ruined an expensive lens and camera because of humidity
- Essential for your camera if you’re going to a humid climate
- These gel packs will absorb moisture thus keeping your camera and lenses dry
- These gel packs can be reactivated by defrosting in a microwave
Best Portable Hard Drive
- 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB
- Anti-slip texture
- An anti-shock protection system to protect data stored on the drive if the hard drive is dropped
- Fast transfer rates
- I’ve had this external hard drive for 6 years
- Necessary for storing Raw photo files but get on with 4 TB of storage
Best Camera Bags
- Small and compact: 18L; 16.25″ x 10.5″ x 5.5″
- 4 compartments + one small side compartment for phone or money
- Camera compartment: fits my Fuji mirrorless camera, 3 lenses & my lens cleaning tools
- Camera compartment opens from the front and side
- Top compartment: fits my tripod, rain jacket, sunscreen and insect repellent (there’s a zipped internal compartment as well)
- Front compartment: nice for storing pens, notebooks, camera batteries, and other miscellaneous items
- Laptop compartment: fits a 16″ laptop
- Hiden phone compartment on the side
- Water bottle or tripod side pocket
- Tripod strap on the bottom
- Discreet – it doesn’t look like your are carrying expensive camera equipment
- Decent support
- Backpack comes in 4 sizes: 11L, 21L, 31L, 41L
- I bought this backpack in either the 21L or 31L. I loved EVERYTHING about it except that it was too big and heavy for me to carry along with my bigger 40L backpack, so I returned it to the store and bought the Brevite Jumper. HOWEVER, Wandrd just came out with an 11L, which I’d buy over the Brevite because it’s a better backpack.
- Expandable roll top so you can expand the 11L to 16L so you can add extra light things like a jacket
- Material is weather resistant
- Front outside pocket for storing travel documents or notebook
- Main compartment opens from the back–where your camera gear and 15″ laptop sleeve are located, giving you added security
- It looks like the bag can fit your camera with a lens attached and 2 additional lenses and a drone
- 3 small zippered pockets in the main compartment to keep your things organized.
- Top compartment also opens from top and back–you can store a rain jacket and a teach gear case
- Small felted top compartment for sunglasses or whatever you want
- Side access to the camera
- Expandable side water bottle/tripod holder
- Back panel has good padding and ventilation, making it comfortable to carry