How to Pack for an Around the World Journey


Experiencing an around the world voyage is on many peoples bucket lists. You try to squeeze in as many countries as you can on your airline ticket, making the most of your maximum mileage allowances and maximum permitted stops.

Combinations of an exotic South America, culturally rich Africa, the classical heritage of Europe, ancient worlds of the Middle East and the bursting flavours of Asia all in one trip are enough to tempt anyone of us!

But how do you pack for such a journey? Crossing seasons, regions, landscapes and altitudes. From sunny beaches with crystal skies, to dry sunburnt deserts and dramatic snow-capped peaks. Here is my advice.

So many seasons to consider
So many seasons to consider

1.       Break down your itinerary into climatic regions

Work out how many climates you are expecting to experience on your travels. E.g. 20 days of hot beach weather, 28 days of snowy winter weather, 10 days of mild weather – not too hot and not too cold. This will help you work out which areas you should carry more gear for.

2.       Create a pile of clothes for each climatic region

Sounds simple enough, but this is where most people struggle. Don’t worry about trying to cull too much at this stage but be sure to have a pen and paper handy. Using the above example, create a pile of the clothes you would LIKE to take for hot beach weather, another pile for freezing snow conditions and another for mild. Write down everything in each pile in separate columns.

3.       Be Realistic

If you are planning on spending time in laid back coastal towns or trekking through mountain ranges, there is no need to carry glittery high heels and a toiletry bag full of make-up and hair products. Ensure the clothes in each pile suit your planned activities in each destination.

4.       CULL, CULL, CULL!

This is the difficult part and this is where your newly created list comes in handy. Begin the challenge of removing two thirds of what is in each pile. Two thirds?!? I hear you say. Yes that’s right. Seriously… look at the pile in front of you. Do you really think that will all fit into your luggage? Try to stick with plain clothing that can mix and match and that can be used for layering across other piles. E.g. Singlets can be a great under layer for cooler weather. Do you really need 4 pairs of jeans? Just choose one and ensure you have a mixture of tops to combine it with. How many jackets do you actually need? Do you have a casual jacket that can be dressed up with a scarf or nice top instead of carrying something dressy for one or two evenings? Do you really need 10 long sleeve tops that are going to be hidden beneath layers and jackets? How often do we come home from our travels and as we are unpacking realise how many of our clothes we didn’t actually wear… I bet it happens to you on almost every trip! It happens to me too! Cross the items you remove from your piles off your list and use your list to help see what you can mix and match as you go.

5.       Roll your clothes

I am not a believer that rolling your clothes saves room. I believe that this is a great way to avoid your clothes from being crushed. Anything being shoved into a bag for an extended period of time will end up crinkled and wrinkled, but rolling helps keeps things taut and firm reducing drag and minimising the ability for clothes to come unfolded which can lead to scrunching.

6.       Shoes CAN be a blessing to pack

I know you are thinking I am crazy. Shoes are the worst to pack. My rule is that you should travel with no more than 3 pairs of shoes. The only pair allowed as a forth is a pair of thongs. Hiking shoes or sneakers are generally a must – but only take one – not both. Thongs are easy to pack because they bend and are light weight and durable. You can even throw them into your hand luggage. Take a pair of snazzy flats that can be used for casual wear during the day (if you don’t want to wear thongs) and they can be dressed up in the evening without having to lug around heels that may only be worn once or twice (unless you are going to a wedding!) The worst are the hefty snow boots for those arctic and heavy winter destinations. Not only are they weighty, but they are bulky too and unfortunately a necessity in these parts of the world. But don’t look at them as a negative. They may look like they are going to take up your whole suitcase, but think of the room INSIDE the boots. Sure, if they are well worn and a bit smelly, you may not want to shove your t-shirts inside, but pop your clothes in a plastic bag slide it into your boots. This is great storage space for those non-crush items like singlets, thermals or pj’s.

7.       Minimise your toiletries and medical supplies

Remember, you are going on a holiday. Not to a beauty pageant (unless of course you are going to a beauty pageant!) There is no need to take every item of make-up, bottles of moisturisers, perfumes, loofers and grooming devices that you own. Take the bare minimum to save on space. The small bottles you receive as Gift with Purchase alongside your cosmetics are perfect for travel and are small in quantity. If you are heading to some of the more exotic and adventurous parts of the world, and have boxes of anti-malarial tablets, Imodium, travel calm, ‘just in case’ antibiotics etc, take them out of their boxes to save space. Take mini shampoos and top them up from your hotels as you travel. Purchase small travel sized deodorants and insect repellents to save space.

8.       No hair dryers or straighteners!

This one speaks for itself. Unless you are going for a wedding, there is no need. You are on holidays. Relax and go a-la-naturale.

9.       Think ahead

Why carry 60 pairs of undies and socks when you can hand wash along the way? Take only a week’s worth and wash as you go. A pegless clothesline is a great travel accessory and takes up almost no space. Travelling with bulky winter jackets? Take them as hand luggage and shove them in the overhead locker instead of having them take up three quarters of your main luggage. Or if you don’t need the jacket/pants etc until the end of your trip, put them in a vacuum sealed bag to save room. Perhaps you are using your bulky gear at the start of your trip and don’t want to lug it around through the rest of your holiday. Are you returning to the same airport you flew into before moving to your next destination? Store bulky things in airport lockers or look if you are not going to need them again for a little while, look into shipping them home by sea. It takes up to two months but is nice and cheap and will free you up.

10.       Zip it shut and weight it!

If it doesn’t zip shut, you’ve over packed and not followed the above correctly. Revert to the above steps until your luggage comfortably closes. The last thing you want is for a zipper to burst or a wheel to break or even worse – a handle to snap or your bag to BURST! (Trust me. I have seen this happen to a poor girl walking to the ferry port in Mykonos with a mega bursting overfilled suitcase. Her luggage literally exploded.) If you can’t carry it, you’ve over packed and chances are you also over your airline luggage allowance. Keep in mind you also need space for those holidays trinkets and gifts you may purchase along the way.

If you have successfully completed the above, you are now set to jet around the world. Just don’t forget your passport!