17 Top RTW Packing List Items + What to Wear & NOT to Bring (2021)

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Updated on March 22, 2021 by Asher Fergusson

Traveling all the way around the world will take you to some exquisite and amazing places. Be prepared for every country you go to, and all the traveling in between, by checking out this list before you jet off into the sunset.

What to pack for Round-the-World – 17 Essentials

1. Packing Cubes

Hero packing cubes These sturdy packing cubes will make the process of packing so much easier and more enjoyable. Each time you reach a new destination you will feel organized and know exactly where each belonging is stored.

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2. Backpack

Backpack Your backpack is definitely by far the most vital necessity while traveling around the world! You’ll need one that’s sturdy and waterproof, and spacious yet compact. Ideally, you should get fitted at a legitimate outdoors store like REI to make sure you get a backpack that is perfect for your body. If you’re tight on money, order one online that has good reviews, like this one.

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3. Medication & First Aid Supply

Medication & First Aid Supply Anything can happen while you’re traveling in faraway places, and a first aid kit filled with bandaids and Neosporin will come in handy at some point, for sure. I’ve had blisters, splinters, scrapes, cuts, and burns happen while on the road, and have used my first aid kit more times to count! Also, keep a little supply of medications like Advil and Dayquil in case you get sick.

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4. Compact Toiletries

Compact Toiletries Limiting toiletries is usually my number one issue when packing for a trip. It helps to downsize on bottles by pouring face wash and body wash into smaller containers. My best advice is to bring toiletries that serve many purposes, like Wilderness Wash. It can be used as shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and dish wash. It’s super concentrated, so one little bottle can last for a few months. Great for your long trip.

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5. Travel Wallet

Travel wallet It’s extremely important to have a safe and organized place to keep your passport, money and credit cards. Protect your privacy and protect your personal information with this RFID-blocking travel wallet. It’s compact but spacious enough to fit everything you need.

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6. Portable Phone Charger

Portable Phone Charger I’ve used my portable phone charger more times than I can count while traveling: when my flight was delayed and there were no outlets available at the airport, or when my phone unexpectedly died on a long bus ride. When this kind of thing happens, avoid getting stuck with a dead phone, or having to sit on the ground to charge your phone by bringing a portable charger.

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7. Travel Journal and Pen

Travel Journal and Pen Having a simple thing like a pen will come in handy when you’re on an international flight and have to fill out customs and immigration forms. Other than that, bringing a pen and notebook is a good idea so that you can knock out some trip planning and doodling while you’re traveling, and it can also double as your travel journal. This Moleskine notebook is flexible, durable, and just about the perfect size for travel.

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8. Ear Plugs/ Eye Mask

Ear plugs/ eye mask This iconic travel duo will make sleeping on planes and trains so much more peaceful. In hostels, you never know what kind of roommates you’ll get: snorers, late-night talkers, super loud coughers, etc. Sleep is important, so make sure you bring along these two items.

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9. Sleeping Bag or Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner If you’re traveling through colder areas and are staying in hostels or camping, definitely invest in a sleeping bag with an appropriate temperature rating. If you plan on staying in warmer climates, a sleeping bag liner will suffice.

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10. Bandana

Bandana A bandana is a traveling multi-use must-have. They serve double or triple duty by moonlighting as headbands, face masks, napkins for snacks, and more. This one comes in many different colors. You can tie it on your backpack and you’re good to go!

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11. Wool Socks

Wool socks These socks are completely necessary if you’re planning on hiking, or surviving any sort of cold weather. Wool socks let your feet breathe and keeps them at a good temperature. They’re also quick drying. I like to bring two pairs with me: one pair to wear with hiking boots that can get dirty, and one pair to wear on airplanes or while I sleep.

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12. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes Using packing cubes will turn you into a packing wizard. They will keep you extremely organized, and make packing and unpacking super easy. These ones come in a set of three different sizes, and also include three laundry pouches and a shoe bag. Perfect for organizing your backpack, and separating your clean clothes from your laundry.

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13. Copy of important documents

Copy of important documents Don’t forget your itinerary, plane ticket, passport, or hotel reservation information! To keep them all in one place, put them into a document holder like this one. It’s lightweight and makes it convenient to carry or keep in your backpack, duffel, or any other bag.

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14. Hiking Boots or Shoes

Hiking boots or shoes If you’re planning on doing a lot of walking or hiking on your trip around the world, bring appropriate shoes. It’s a good idea to try on a few options in a store like REI or Dick’s Sporting goods, and then spend a few days walking around in them before buying them. This pair is my go-to as far as hiking shoes, and can nearly always be found on my feet or hanging on the outside of my backpack.

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15. Headlamp

Headlamp If you’re a budget backpacker, you might find yourself staying in some real budget accommodation, which means crowded hostels with bunk beds! Don’t be that annoying roommate who turns on the bright overhead light to pack in the morning, and wakes up everyone in the room. Also obviously helpful on hikes and treks during your trip. Your headlamp will become your best friend on early morning wake-up calls and late-night adventures.

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16. Reusable Bag

Reusable Bag Give back to the earth by picking up trash during your trip around the world! I always like to bring a reusable bag with me while I travel in case I come across any litter while I’m in a beautiful part of nature. Reusable bags are also very helpful for grocery shopping, or any kind of shopping, while you travel, or for use as a “personal” carry-on item on planes.

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17. Water Bottle

Water Bottle Staying hydrated is always important, but especially while you’re traveling! You should always bring a reusable water bottle or Nalgene with you to refill it at airports and hotels. This water bottle is my favorite because of its sip-friendly spout and spill-proof locking mechanism.

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Other packing list items for Around-the-World traveling


What to wear on Around-the-World traveling

As always, when you’re packing for a big trip, less is always more. Bring and wear clothes that fold down small, dry quickly, and can be mixed and matched. It depends on the weather, and where exactly you’re going, but my staples usually consist of a pair or two of black leggings, a pair of shorts, a sundress, and a few tops in neutral colors. A lightweight jacket is a good thing to bring no matter where you’re headed. Comfort and dual-purpose items are key, and always research weather ahead of time!

What NOT to take on your Around-the-World traveling

1) 🚫 Things you can buy at your destination – Research ahead and find out if you really need to bring that extra shampoo and conditioner.

2) 🚫 Jewelry or valuables – Leave behind valuable items like expensive jewelry so that you don’t make yourself a target for pickpockets. It will ease your mind knowing your important things are safe at home.

3) 🚫 Extra Toiletries – No matter where you’re going, you can usually find what you need locally, toiletry-wise. Bring enough shampoo, body wash, and other essentials to last you a week, then buy as you go to cut down on weight.

4) 🚫 Books – Cut that weight and get yourself a kindle. Books will really weigh you down!


FAQs about Around-the-World traveling

1) Why shouldn’t I bring cotton clothing?

You should try not to bring cotton clothing when packing for a long trip because cotton clothing takes up more space than clothes made of synthetic fabric. It also takes longer to dry, and traps sweat while you’re wearing it. Try to opt for dry-fit clothing when possible.

2) What is the rule for carrying liquids on planes?

You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.

3) What counts as liquids?

Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream, or paste. This includes contact solution, mascara, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, etc. Keeping your liquids in a separate zip lock bag will make the security process go so much more quickly and won’t frustrate TSA!

4) How can I keep my bag organized?

Keep your liquids in Ziploc bags, and your clothes in packing cubes or more zip lock bags. Keep your toiletries separate from your electronics. Make use of your carry-on pockets to stay extra organized, and definitely invest in some packing cubes.

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Please note: We have over 200 packing lists covering practically every popular travel destination in the world. Access them all on our packing list overview page ➜