One Full-Time Traveler’s Packing List

by gigigriffis

Packing posts are pretty popular around here. Which makes sense, because packing is hard. And personal. And often left to the very last second, when, in a blind panic, we end up leaving our passports behind and accidentally packing the cat.

So, yeah. Hard stuff.

And it doesn’t really get easier. Even when you travel full-time for a year. There are still tough decisions to be made along the way. Things to part with. New things to add. And things you know no one else would lug around the world with them, but gosh-darn-it you’re going to.

Or, at least that’s how packing is for me.

Which means my list probably looks very different than other digital nomads. I’m not one of the pack-two-outfits-and-go travelers who loves doing laundry in the sink every night. And I’m also not a pack-for-every-emergency girl who whips out one of those knives that basically hides an entire toolkit inside.

Instead, I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. A minimalist where I can be, but willing to carry more weight in exchange for a little comfort and vanity (curling iron, anyone?).

So, my best advice when packing for travel is know yourself. If you hate doing laundry, pack more clothes. If you need a digital detox, skip the computer. If you’re going to be lugging your backpack up a mountain, choose the lightest items you can. And if you just can’t sleep without earplugs, don’t forget them.

And just in case it’s helpful or gives you ideas, here’s what’ll be in my bag later this month when I wave farewell (temporarily) to the Swiss Alps and set up shop in Paris.

Clothes: 7 tank tops, 4 long-sleeved shirts, 4 long-sleeved zip-ups, 1 short-sleeved shirt, 2 open cardigans, 3 skirts (2 black, 1 red), 1 tennis skirt (which I sleep in and bum around in), 1 pair colored pants (teal, like this), 1 winter coat, 1 nice dress, 1 bathing suit.

Somewhere along the way, I’d also like to pick up a pair of jeans (both my pairs have become too big and are getting left behind in Switzerland) and another bottom (skirt/pants).

As I alluded to above, I carry a bit more clothes than your average nomad. For me, this works. I only carry my backpack about once a month (so a little extra weight isn’t a big deal) and since I work while on the road, doing laundry every couple days feels like a massive waste of my precious exploration time. So I carry enough to get me through a little over a week and to layer as it gets colder.


Accessories: 1 scarf, 1 belt, 1 beanie, 1 clutch bag, 1 small faux leather backpack, 1 pair cute heels, 1 pair trail running sneakers (for hiking/running), assorted jewelry (3 necklaces, 3 pairs earrings, 1 ring, 1 bracelet), assorted socks and undergarments (4 bras, 10+ pairs underwear, 8+ pairs socks), 1 pair boots.

(The pretty red shoes and the little black cap pictured were trashed and donated to charity respectively. I go through shoes like nobody’s business, constantly exploring new cities and mountains on foot.)

Business stuff

For Business: Computer with various adaptor plugs, 2 small notebooks, 5 pens, business cards, headset for Skype calls, portable hard drive, iPod, envelopes, earphones.

(The earphones pictured died here in Switzerland and were replaced by a much smaller, bright pink pair of earbuds. Better for traveling.)

Toiletries & Bath: Shampoo, soap, small jar of lotion, deodorant, baby sunscreen (for me and the dog), hairbrush, bobby pins, and hair ties, razor and a handful of blades, hair concrete by Alterna, curling iron (not pictured).

(The hair concrete is on probation. I used to use it all the time, but haven’t used it at all since I got my most recent haircut, which brings out my natural curl. If I don’t use it or if I use it and don’t love it in Paris, it’s headed for the trash.)

Since it’s more environmentally friendly and cheaper, I usually buy full-size toiletries instead of travel-sized. If you’re going on a short trip, small, refillable bottles make tons of sense. But for me, small refillables would be impractical and generate a lot of waste.

Makeup: Bare minerals face powders and brushes, 1 gold eye shadow and brush, mascara, nail clippers, tweezers, chapstick.

Luna's stuff

Dog Supplies: Sleepypod carrier, Yummy travel bowls, leash, harness, and collar, shears (for cutting Luna’s hair), heartworm meds and Benadryl, toothbrush and doggie toothpaste, one tennis ball, dog food and bones, poop bags.


Entertainment & Other: Book, Chai, headlamp, and lumix camera and case.

Paperwork and Other Essentials: Dog paperwork and passport, printouts of tickets, reservations, etc., passport.

That’s all she wrote, darlings.

Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What’s in your bag?

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Rake October 14, 2013 - 4:29 am

You have the basics covered. I like the end roll of the toothpaste. Classic.

gigigriffis October 14, 2013 - 11:32 am


Roommate #1 October 14, 2013 - 7:16 am

I always have ear plugs, an eye mask, and a Rx for sleeping pills – so I can be unconscious for all of a trans-Atlantic flight or the entire night in a hut in Africa where the only noise-proofing is a mosquito net and the local monkeys and goats will not stop making noise. Those three things will let you sleep anywhere through anything. It’s awesome.

gigigriffis October 14, 2013 - 11:33 am

Excellent. I actually carried an eye mask for a couple weeks, myself. It came in handy when I was sleeping in a tent (as it still felt bright inside since my tent pitch was near a lightpost).

Rob October 14, 2013 - 7:49 am

An interesting list. You carry more clothing with you than I own. But I’m a guy, and pretty much have no interest in clothing.

I also always have earplugs after a night not sleeping thanks to motor scooters in Athens, and for most trips I’ll have an electric toothbrush rather than manual. They do a fantastically better job and are pretty light.

iPad/kindle rather than paper books, so I have a huge library of reading to suit whatever I feel like reading.

gigigriffis October 14, 2013 - 11:34 am

Ha. Really? You must do laundry all the time.

rob October 14, 2013 - 12:08 pm

Every week or two. To be fair, I work at home in sweats in the winter and track shorts in the summer. I actually do laundry more often when I travel, as I’m “using” my clothing more every day. :)

Rebecca October 14, 2013 - 11:09 am

Mainly what was in my bag were clothes for both my daughter and myself, MP3 player (I never used it), Kindle (just cause I can read a trashy novel and no one is the wiser or whatever), camera, chargers for the devices, my daughters Nintendo DS, games, and charger, 1 refillable bottle with shampoo and body wash, mascara, and tennis shoes for us both along with socks, and undies that was all we took for our last trip and it was all packed in my backpack a pacsafe and my daughters backpack. It may seem like a lot for a week trip but, when you have a four year old and have to keep her busy and entertained in airports and planes.

gigigriffis October 14, 2013 - 11:35 am

Yeah. I’m sure packing with a kid would be quite a different task. Even packing with Luna definitely makes it feel like I carry way more than other backpackers.

Melissa @ Suitcase and Heels October 18, 2013 - 7:13 am

My flight essentials always include a blow-up pillow, pashmina scarf and eye mask these days. I usually bring my UrbanEars pink headphones as well, even though they’re a bit bulky. Earbuds just give me earaches.

I’m one of those people who need to pack more clothes, but not because I hate laundry but because I get bored with the same few outfits. I spent 5 weeks in South Korea this spring and by the end of it I didn’t want to see that handful of shirts again for at least 2 months.

gigigriffis October 19, 2013 - 7:14 am

I hear that. It’s so nice to have some variety too.

Interested Follower October 19, 2013 - 12:05 pm

Just out of curiosity has your EDC (Every Day Carry) item list changed from when you lived in the States to now as a Globe Trotter?

gigigriffis October 19, 2013 - 12:10 pm

Interesting question.

I carry my computer with me more often now and I almost always have my camera on me. And when I was in the states, I was more likely to have a bunch of random stuff in my purse (simply because it was easier not to constantly clean it out) – extra pens, tissues, mints from a restaurant, etc.

Caron November 23, 2013 - 12:03 pm

I go with my bag ‘ black. Lots of textured basics and good accessories. I once went to Scotland for what I thought would be a week. I packed in a single rolling duffel. In the end, stranded by winter weather and a production crisis, the trip lasted 6 weeks! I completely missed Christmas (Heathrow closed because of 2″ of snow)but I managed with my bag o’ black although I wanted to burn everything when I got home.
Really though, my biggest fashion crisis during the 6 weeks was not the clothing but where to get my grey roots touched up!

gigigriffis November 23, 2013 - 3:54 pm


MelD November 25, 2013 - 4:26 pm

I’m curious why you give your dog heartworm meds in Europe? Perhaps I’m misinformed, but this isn’t something I’ve heard of here. Certainly my dogs have never had more than regular worming tablets and parasite treatment (fleas, ticks) quarterly, and of course the annual vaccination (plus for us, anti-rabies because we go to France, where that is mandatory; in Switzerland you no longer need anti-rabies shots becasue there is no more rabies here).

gigigriffis November 25, 2013 - 5:01 pm

Hmm. Thanks for the info. My vet never told me I could stop in Europe, so I’ve just been sticking with her meds everywhere we go.

I just did a quick Google search and it sounds like there have been cases found in Southern Europe, so perhaps I should keep her on it since we travel a lot all over Europe.

MelD November 25, 2013 - 4:27 pm

Otherwise I loved this post – I’m quite fascinated with minimalist packing as different individuals see it!

Connie Qualey December 20, 2014 - 4:12 am

Had to laugh at myself! Last rip to Hawaii I did pack half what I took the first time. Nevertheless, I still ended up wearing the same pair of pants for most of the trip. They were lightweight ExOfficio cords and worked everywhere! Mostly burnout ( cool) tops and brought a long sleeved Smartwool with me which I also wore.

Connie Qualey December 20, 2014 - 4:33 am

Being ex-mil, I learned how to save tiny bottles and jars and use them, and plan for and pack very small. No expensive jewelry either. Usually just colorful beads, a scarf, etc. Wear one pair of shoes, pack a lightweight pair. 3 panties, 2 bras in the ex officio line of ultra lightweight, quick dry stuff. 2 long pants ( wear one), one skort, one bathing suit, and sometimes a lightweight skirt. The heavier stuff ( worn in layers) was for leaving and returning to Denver in January. I always leave room for things I buy. Little makeup and mostly all-purpose. Years ago I found a tiny hanging kit for toiletries. Amazing organization… eagle Creek .but they don’t make it anymore ( sad). Lucky me…I have short, semi curly hair, so nothing much needed there. Wash, scrunch and go! And my fave purse, travel bag is the NS from Derek Alexander. That you can still get! Incredible organization too. Somehow, that always packs up nicely with extra room too. I still can’t figure that one out….


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