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Minimalist RTW Packing List


**Edit** 11/7/17 This list has been updated after three months on the road. This packing list has been tested on some pretty epic roadtrips like the Pamir Highway, Gobi Desert, and Everest Base Camp.

We are about to set off on the first international leg of our round the world and thought it would be useful to share this post on our approach to a Minimalist RTW Packing List.

Our Qualifications

We recently did a tally of the places we’ve each traveled, Quan’s count is 58 countries and Jesse’s is 36. Jesse’s longest overseas trip was two months traveling across Southeast Asia including Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. Quan’s longest was also two months sailing in Thailand, hiking in Nepal, and visiting Bhutan before she moved to Colorado. We also made travel a priority even when we were working. In the past two years we traveled to Cuba, Colombia, Spain, Italy, and have hiked several National Parks across the US. We love travel and we place priority on doing it in a way where we focus on experiences rather than things. We have found that the key to doing this is traveling light.


Based on our itinerary we will travel through all 4 seasons. We’ll also need clothes for hiking, beach, and city. Finally we are attending a wedding in Italy during our RTW, but were lucky to have a friend bring us our clothes for the wedding so we did not have to include that into the pack.

A Few Ground Rules

Here are some general guidelines we used when putting together our packing list:

So with these ground rule in place, here is the list of items on our Minimalist RTW Packing List.

Travel Comfort Kit Given the amount we’ll be on planes, trains, and automobiles we felt that this was an important packing item. We cobbled together ours from airplanes kits we received in the past

We plan to replace these items as we use them on the road.

Travel Pillow: Lewis N. Clark On Air Adjustable and Inflatable Neck Pillow Perfect for Travel, Blue

After lots of test drives of other travel pillows, we can’t say enough good things about this pillow! It inflates easily and has a button which allows you to easily deflate to your comfort level. There is a removable covering so you can throw it in the wash. It quickly folds away and stores in a compact bag that comes with the pillow. There is nothing grosser than a travel pillow that’s run through a TSA security screen!

Sleep Liner:   Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner with Insect Shield This is the closest thing to carrying your own sheets with you. We plan to use this on our camping trips as well as when we are staying at unsavory hostels where we would prefer to not sleep on the sheets.

Starter Toiletry Kit

We expect to buy toiletries along the way, but did make ourself a starter pack which includes:

To Carry The Load

Where we spent the most time and effort was researching the best backpack for carrying the RTW load. After a lot of research and several trips to REI to personally test out options, we decided on Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack. Quan got it in Caribbean Blue and Jesse in Black. Here is the criteria we used to make this selection:

Our Top Pick: Osprey Packs Fairpoint 5 Travel BackPack

This is what it looks like packed with the straps tucked away:

In addition we are also bringing these storage items:

Women’s Packing List

Even after taking this photo, we did another round of minimizing so here is where we landed for a woman’s RTW pack:

Women’s Footwear List:


Men’s Packing List


In terms of electronics, we opted to keep it very simple. We will each bring an iPhone which we’ll use as as camera, phone, and for mobile blogging. We did bring a small travel laptop as we read that most low cost airlines and travel booking sites work best on a laptop.  We also each brought an iPad with books, movies and songs. We opted to leave our iWatches behind as they would mean additional cords and chargers. We will have several legs where we’ll go a few days without easy access to electricity so opted for these two remote battery options:

Finally, here are the additional miscellaneous items we included in our pack:

Important Documents

Health & Travel Insurance

Health insurance while you travel is a must.  While it doesn’t supplement your insurance at home, it does cover any medical costs that could arise from diseases or accidents, as well as baggage issues, cancellations and delays.  It will also cover the cost to get you home if you do have a medical issue, where your health insurance back home will cover your healthcare costs from there.

We decided that health insurance was not an item to be cheap. We opted for a high deductible plan at home for catastrophic coverage. For travel, we bought a policy with World Nomads Insurance, which consistently has the best reviews for coverage as well as speed of paying out claims.  Our policy for 6 months (which we will extend if we travel longer) was approximately $700 each (this was for the Explorer plan, the Standard plan, which has less coverage limits would have been $630 each).  This cost includes up to $100,000 for Emergency issues, $500,000 (the Standard plan covers up to $300,000) for evacuation and repatriation expenses, $10,000 for trip cancellation and up to $35,000 for Collision insurance.


So there you have it our Minimalist packing list. We weighed our bags, Quan’s is 22lbs and Jesse’s is 18.5lbs. This is light enough to travel without checking the bag and for us to carry on our backs for extended periods of time during our commute within a country.

Here we are on our way to Kazakhstan with our Minimalist RTW pack on. The only addition you’ll see here is a lightweight sleeping bag which we’ll use during our trekking expedition through the Stans. We bought these used for $5 each as they will get left behind once we’re done with that leg of the trip.

We will come back and update this post as we continue with our travels to adjust for items that we discard or buy along the way.



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