Packing for long-term travel with round-the-world flights, when you’re going to be away for up to a year or more, is a bit of a juggling act. While you need to take enough to get by, you’ll likely be spending a lot of your time in transit from place to place, and that means lugging your possessions around with you in a backpack. Every item you pack adds to the weight you’ll be carrying, so you’ll want to make sure you’re traveling as light as possible. Obviously, you will need to think about what you personally feel comfortable in, as well as the weather conditions you are likely to encounter on your particular trip. As a basic guide, however, you may find the below useful.
Underwear won’t take up much room, and as it may not always be possible to get laundry done when you need to, it’s the one thing you shouldn’t skimp on.
A few t-shirts and/or vest tops for women are essential, while a long-sleeved, loose-fitting cotton shirt or blouse will keep you cool, look reasonably smart in the evenings and offer protection against sun and mosquitoes. For women in particular, such a blouse will come in useful in countries where showing more skin is inadvisable.
A couple of pairs of lightweight trousers are essential for both men and women. Jeans can be useful in cooler temperatures, but if you’ll be spending most of your time in hot countries, you may find them uncomfortable to wear and bulky to carry. Men could consider one pair of slightly smarter trousers that could double up for going out in the evenings, while women may find a long skirt similarly useful. A pair of shorts is optional, although they could mark you out as a tourist in many countries.
One pair of swimming trunks/bathing suit should suffice as such items are usually quick to wash and dry.
Unless you’re planning on spending a lot of time in cold conditions or doing some serious trekking, in which case you will need some specialist gear, you can probably make do with a fleece and a wind/waterproof jacket. Worn together or separately, these items should protect you against most poor weather you are likely to encounter. As a general rule of thumb, it is better to pack lighter clothing that can be layered, as opposed to one or two bulky items specifically for bad weather. A lightweight jumper or two could come in handy, as could a rain poncho that will cover both you and your backpack in the event of a sudden downpour. In hot weather, a sunhat is advisable, and cloth ones will fold easily into your bag. For women, a headscarf may be necessary in some Middle Eastern countries or when visiting mosques, for example.
You’ll need a good pair of comfortable walking shoes or trainers as well as a pair of flip-flops or sandals. One smarter pair of shoes is an optional extra for going out in the evenings.
Sticking to a neutral colour palette will maximize your clothing options as everything in your bag will go with everything else. White is best avoided, though, as it will quickly discolour in traveling conditions. It’s also a good idea to stick to fabrics that will withstand the constant crumpling and washing, such as cotton or linen. Anything delicate will likely not last the trip. Don’t forget that you will find some great shopping opportunities along the way, so if you forget something, it’s not the end of the world.
Invest in a good backpack – a wheeled one is a great idea – and try packing using the rolling method, as many travelers swear by it. Finally, don’t forget the travel wash! It can be your best friend when you’re traveling light.