Alright, you could argue that underwear or a sleeping bag should be on this top 5 list for a round-the-world trip. But we’re not talking about the basics here (clothes, laptop, camera, toothbrush). We’re talking about packing the items that could easily be overlooked – those things that half the backpackers I meet are going to see and immediately wish they’d brought. So, what are they?
1. Sleep aids
I’m not talking about pills; with 10 long-haul flights I’m definitely going to be tired enough. But I might want to sleep at odd times of day, or when some dude (or woman?) in the hostel bunkroom is doing his best impression of a Husqvarna. So the eye covers and earplugs are critical. Air France eye covers have long-lasting elastic. Silicone earplugs are comfy.
Sure, a mini Maglite might be nice, but then I have to hold it. Why not get an efficient LED light that straps on my melon? Then I always have light wherever my head is pointed, which often coincides with where my eyes are pointed. The Petzl Zipka has a retracting string and multiple brightness settings.
3. Insect Repellant
I’ve heard that some of the places I’m going might have more insects than Munich (which has close to none). Think: Peruvian rainforest, the Hawaiian islands, and the jungles of Malaysia and Thailand. I’ll take 50% DEET lotion, please. Probably hard to find in Peru, but I can replenish it in Hawaii if I run low. Maybe I’ll be wishing for a mosquito net too, but let’s see.
4. Merino Wool Sweater
From my brief time testing out Smartwool & Icebreaker so far, this non-itchy, fast-drying, warm-when-wet material rocks. I think this sweater is going to be my favorite garment out of the 20 pieces of clothing I bring. Yeah, 20 sounds high, but that’s counting individual socks – hah!
5. 18-200mm Lens
Not everyone brings a D-SLR on their travels, but anyone interested in real sunset photos, action shots, and wide angles does. For my D90, I just substituted the Nikon 18-200mm VR for two other lenses (18-55 and 70-300), saving myself over a pound of weight. Plus I won’t have to switch lenses and get sand in my optics. And there’s only one place worse than your optics get sand… uhm, yeah.
What would you bring?
I want to make sure I’m not missing out on any critical items. What would the 5 (or 4, or 2) most important items in your pack be? If you’re out traveling now, tell me what you are most thankful you brought.
This list might change after the trip. Maybe my mini-umbrella doubles as a boat that keeps my camera above-water during the next Machu Picchu flood, or the 50’ clothesline saves my last Powerbar from being eaten by a bear in the wilderness. Perhaps I meet the Merino whose wool comprises my Icebreaker shirt, and I bring him home as a pet. So, I reserve the right to update this list in August when I’m back… stay tuned!