It’s been a year abroad now, and I have no idea how it went by so quickly. There’s so much about me that’s changed in 12 months on the road. “Change is the only constant” so they say, and it applies to a lot of my mindsets and beliefs, but also my belongings, clothing choices, etc. Things are always in flex!
BUT there are some things that never change. This is a list of long term travel gear that I left America with over a year ago. If I ever lost any of these long term travel gear essentials, I would without a doubt buy new ones the next day.
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Gregory Jade 63L Backpack – My Trusty Companion
This is what will house the rest of your long term travel gear, so the decision on what backpack to get should not be taken lightly. I did a LOT of research before selecting this bag that I would spend months and years with. I ultimately went with Gregory and I would highly recommend it for anyone starting out with backpacking.
I specifically love the Jade 63 L for a couple of reasons:
- It comes with a rain cover and lightweight day bag
- It has an option to open life a duffel bag
- More pockets than your average multi-day bag
- Side pockets to hold water bottles, perfect for hiking
- The color is kinda nice too!
This poor bag has been through a lot – the rain cover was torn in a bus in India and I’ve spilled both honey and super glue on the inside of it. I even spilled some battery acid down the side of it when I used it to move out of my apartment in Houston (car broke down, long story). No long term travel gear comes out unscathed.
My backpack also spent a night by itself in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia when it was left behind for my flight to Dubai! It arrived late the next day, so I didn’t have any change of clothes for my layover in Dubai…
Portable Power Bank
A portable power bank or battery pack is a real lifesaver, and a long term travel gear essential. The most popular brand for backpackers is Anker, which sells portable chargers in small and large sizes.
They are great to have on big treks with limited electricity, such any trek in Nepal. Without a power bank you may have to pay $5-$10 USD to charge your phone!
Power banks are also great for when you’re sleeping in hostels. Only too often there are waaaaay few outlets for the number of guests.
All-In-One Travel Adaptor
Out of every long term travel gear item I have with me, my bulky travel adaptor gets scoffed at the most (usually by short-term travelers). People laugh at how big and heavy it is, but I don’t think they understand how useful it is too!! I don’t lose it because of its size, and it’s the only thing I need all over the world to charge my things. I love it, and it was an amazing travel gift.
Big travel adaptors come with USB ports on the side, which is super useful for our electronic age. Check out the brand NEWVANGA for great adaptors. Consider adding these to your long-term travel gear wish list.
Another piece of long term travel gear I can’t live without. I read voraciously while backpacking, especially at the beach, waiting around at airports, or before bed when I’ve reached my hostel after a long day. My lightweight Kindle ensures I don’t need to carry around actual heavy books.
The Kindle Paperwhite is perfect because it’s lightweight and has a backlight – my favorite feature. In hostels when others around me are sleeping and the lights are off, I can have the backlight on and be able to read perfectly without disturbing them. The battery also lasts such a long time that I feel like I never have to worry about charging it. For day trips or even week-long trips, I don’t need to bring an extra charger with me.
Of course Amazon is always coming out with something bigger and better, so check out the new Kindle Oasis also!
Blow-Up Neck Pillow
This was the last thing that I bought in the States before boarding my flight to Thailand. It was an impulse buy, but one of the best decisions I made. I’ve spent 21 nights (at the time of writing) on overnight busses or trains, most of which I had to sleep sitting up. Every time I whip out the neck pillow, I can properly sleep.
I got a blow-up version because it shrinks and fits nicely in my day bag. Maybe the ones filled with fancy foams or styrofoam beads are softer, but I chose packability over comfort. The perfect long-term travel gear item.
Organization is key when you’re living your life out of a 63L backpack. I use a hodge-podge of different brands, but Eagle Creek is the most famous and lusted-after brand because of how light-weight their packing cubes are. The perfect long-term travel gear because every ounce counts.
I personally use packing cubes or bags for almost all of my things:
- One small bag is my pharmacy where I keep my vitamins and medicines (ibuprofen, charcoal pills, imodium, allergy pills, etc)
- Another is my “clutter bag” where I keep everything that has potential to get lost in my big bag such as pens, lotions, a flashing crown I bought in Thailand, and other junk
- A medium-sized bag I keep exclusively for socks and underwear
- A small make-up, deodorant, and lotion bag
- The biggest packing cube is where I keep clothes that aren’t relevant for the season I’m currently in. For example I had some warm leggings, a hat, gloves, and Underarmour shirts for trekking in Nepal when I was still in Southeast Asia. Once I reached Nepal, I packed away my swimsuit, beach sarong, and tank tops.
Hanging Shower Bag
Hostel bathrooms really aren’t that great most of the time. Occasionally they’re really dirty and you don’t want your stuff touching anything in there if you can help it.
That’s when a shower bag with a built-in hook comes in handy. Shampoo, soaps, razors, loofahs stay in one place that’s easily accessible, and portable. After the shower, hang it on your dorm bed to dry.
I got mine from the Japanese goods store MUJI as a gift, but there are many other great options to choose from!
Shawl or Sarong
Public transport while traveling is usually hit or miss when it comes to crazy hot or crazy cold. Having a shawl or sarong on me when it happens to be a crazy cold 10 hour bus ride is a lifesaver. Even if you’re not cold, to protect yourself from the icy AC blasts is not a bad thing.
When its hot, take it to the beach and use it as a beach towel!
Sometimes it’s required to cover up before entering a temple or other religious site, which is another time a shawl or sarong comes in handy for long-term travel. As a woman traveler, cover up will also help prevent unwanted attention.