Our RTW Travel Essentials
Early on in our travel planning, we made the decision to travel carry-on only. Knowing that we were going to be moving from place to place pretty often, we knew that having to lug around big suitcases with us was not something we wanted to do. Similar with our Tech travel essentials, we were very deliberate in what we brought with us since we had limited space.
Here’s a list of things that we used on a regular basis during our RTW trip and will continue to bring with us on any extended trips:
Every packing list will have packing cubes on their list, and ours is no exception. These things are game-changers! We picked up the Eagle Creek Compression Cube Set, that have a second zipper that allows you to compress your clothes even further down after being rolled and placed into these tiny cubes! It’s pretty impressive the amount of clothing we’re able to stuff into these little bags. There are plenty of packing cube options available, but we went with Eagle Creek, as the overall material is very thin and durable, In addition, Eagle Creek has an amazing warranty on their products. One of the tabs on the zipper somehow broke in half during our travels and they sent us a new set of compression bags, no questions asked! We never had any problems with the bags after that, despite how much we stuffed them. We continue to use these every time we travel!
Another item that is on every traveler’s packing list is wool clothing – specifically Merino Wool, due to its versatility. Merino wool helps to regulate your temperature and basically keeps you cool when you’re hot, and warm when you’re cold. It’s also much thinner than traditional (itchy!) thick wool garments, making it easier to pack. We didn’t go too crazy with investing in too many pieces, as it can get really expensive. We stuck to base layers and socks. The main item we would recommend for anyone on a budget, is to invest in merino wool socks! You’ll be doing a great amount of walking around exploring and merino wool socks are comfortable, durable, and don’t stink easily! We’ve been merino wool sock converts ever since.
A gift we received from Tiff’s sister and brother-in-law, the SteriPen is a rechargeable UV water purifier. Dunk this little device into the water for about 60 seconds, and the UV light kills all the bacteria and any water-borne illnesses floating around in it, making it safe to drink. We used this every morning and night to sterilize the water we used when brushing our teeth. Early into our travels while in South America, Minh was skeptical that sterilizing the water every morning and night was doing anything and decided to rinse out using water straight from the tap. Guess who had a stomach ache the next day? After that, we made sure to only use water treated with the Steri-Pen in countries were the tap water was not drinkable to avoid any upset tummies! If you don’t have a Steri-Pen, you can use bottled water, or boil up some water and wait for it to cool to avoid any stomach issues, but having the Steri-Pen makes things much easier and convenient!
Another great gift from Tiff’s sister and brother-in-law, is the Scrubba bag (they really got us all the essentials we didn’t even know we needed – Thanks again guys!)! A huge contributor of how we were able to travel carry-on only was due to this nifty bag. It was our little portable washing bag that we would use every few days to wash our clothes when we didn’t have access to a washing machine. It’s essentially a dry bag with little grooves that act as a washboard for your clothes. Throw in a few articles of clothing plus detergent and water, let it soak, then shake it up, and out come clean clothes! This helped us save on money and time looking for and waiting at laundromats, especially for smaller items like socks and undergarments!
The complement to the Scrubba bag. Many people opt for an elastic braided rope, as you can pinch your clothes between the braided line, but we weren’t fond of the potential of our fresh clothes smelling like latex/rubber and that our clothes would dry wrinkled. We went with the Sea to Summit Clothesline with separators that act as clothespins (so your clothes don’t all fall onto each other and droop down to the center). Those little separators were just little beads, so we weren’t sure how effective it was going to be at creating space between our clothes, so we swapped the dinky beads out with more sturdy push-spring toggles. (you can find them here). After wringing out our freshly washed clothes from the Scrubba bag, we’d put up this line to hang our clothes dry. One of the first things we’d do after checking into a hotel is figure out a way to hang the line up somewhere for our clothes. Ah, the not-so-glamorous side of travel life!
Having a compact umbrella saved us in a lot of different situations and really came in handy during our travels in Southeast Asia. We would use the umbrella to shield us from the many torrential downpours that would come out of nowhere, but more importantly, (as the locals would use them), to provide some shade and relief from the relentless sun.
Can you tell we encountered a lot of rainy days? Another small item that we were happy to have with us. Anyone who has used an umbrella while wearing a backpack knows that unless you have a giant golf umbrella or wear your backpack in the front, the water will shed off your umbrella straight onto your backpack. Basically a shower cap for your backpack, a rain cover is great to keep your valuables in your backpack safe from getting damaged and soaked!
Eye Mask / Pillow
More transit-day essentials, as we had plenty of those days, having an eye mask and pillow allowed us to get some rest when we could. We dubbed these eye masks, our eye bras, lol. These eye masks are curved so they don’t squish your eyelids and you’re able to blink, making them more comfortable to wear. To complement the eye mask was this pack-able pillow from Nemo. Marketed as a camping pillow, it’s inflatable with a small foam layer on top for added comfort. When not in use, it folds into the built in stuff sack. (A cool video of how it works and how tiny it can be packed down here). These items definitely made our travels a little more comfortable.
Sea Sick Bands
It may be a placebo effect, but we used these wristbands way more than we expected. It might be the combination of getting older, and long transit days through rough terrain, but whenever we were feeling a little queasy from windy hairpin turns riding in a van, a choppy boat ride, or experiencing turbulence on an airplane, these bands provided us much needed relief. Great for anyone prone to motion-sickness or nausea!
Collapsible Water Bottles
These collapsible water bottles were great, especially when traveling throughout South East Asia when we would drink liters and liters of water per day trying to stay hydrated in the intense heat and humidity. It served us well as we were able to fill the bottles up, attach them to our bags with the carabiner clip, then fold it down once it was empty or fill it up again. In addition, it made us feel a little more environmentally friendly (and a little more budget friendly) as we weren’t buying small bottles of water all the time.
While we did have full-sized backpacks with us, we preferred not to wear them as our everyday bag. Walking through crowded spaces like public transport, restaurants, and even going up or down stairs always felt cumbersome with a full sized backpack. Having a smaller day pack like this allowed us to carry around just our essentials for the day like our camera, GoPro, compact umbrella, and water bottles.
Foldable Grocery Bag
For items that didn’t fit in our small day pack, we ended up using a foldable and washable bag in a variety of situations – from holding our groceries and many snacks we would buy from street vendors, to keeping our shoes with us (to not have to worry that they would be stolen!) when we had to take them off before entering the many temples throughout South East Asia.
Duct Tape & Ziploc Bags
Lastly, having duct tape and plastic sealable bags (Ziploc bags) were great to have on hand as we encountered multiple random uses for them. From taping up a loose seam in a bag to patching up a hole in a mosquito net, Duct Tape was a great quick fix. Ziploc bags kept papers or important documents we had to carry around with us dry, held the various snacks we accumulated on transit days, and helped keep tiny items from getting lost or left behind.
A common theme of the things we selected were that it would be useful for multiple occasions, but wouldn’t take up a lot of space. Hope this list has provided some useful information for anyone planning a RTW trip, or just for anyone who is looking for great travel essentials for their next trip!
What are some of your travel essentials? Any suggestions for things we should add to this list for future trips?
If this list has helped you out at all and are buying any of the items through Amazon, please click through using our links above. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it helps add to our travel funds! A win-win! 🙂