Oh, I’ve been DREAMING of going travelling around the world for what seems like forever!

But as we’re moving into a new year it’s slowly starting to feel real, like it will actually happen. This dream is what kept me going through most of my PhD and it has become so important to me over the last years, but still, sometimes you catch yourself doubting. Will it ever happen? Am I going to chicken out at the last minute? Will I have enough money? Is my boyfriend really going to come with me or will he change his mind? And on and on….

A few months ago I couldn’t wait anymore, I started sending out inquiries to travel agents about quotes for RTW tickets after having done A LOT of research online  (procrastination alert! many a work day can be lost due to route calculators and the sort!). Booking early would certainly be a great idea I thought to myself. Turns out it can be TOO early. Airlines only release their seats 11 months in advance so I had to be patient and wait a few more month to book my flights.

If you know me, you will also know that patience is really not one of my strongest qualities. So something else had to be found which will make the dream feel a bit more real and that distracts me from everyday boring life.

Now I have to admit that I’ve been slightly obsessed with reading other travellers’ packing lists, which you can find hundreds (if not thousands) of online. I think I can say without exaggeration that I must’ve read EVERY single one of them, especially the ones aimed at girls! They absolutely fascinate me, I imagine cramming all the clothes, toiletries and shoes for a whole year into a tiny backpack, not to mention all that essential, must-have travelling gear which is out there! So I thought why not get started on shopping around for all those must-haves well before departure date, that way I make sure not to forget anything and I also don’t have to spend a huge chunk of my travel funds in one go. It sounded like a good idea.

About two months later I can say that I have ticked (almost) all the items off my pre-departure-to-buy-list. This has left me around £500 poorer but I now sport a whole collection of colour-coordinated outdoor gear (some of which I didn’t even know existed, never mind that I absolutely need it).

I thought I would break it down for you a little in case you are also planning a RTW trip and need some advice on pre-departure budgeting. Most of the things on this list were bought online and I shopped around for the best deals which meant huge savings on many items:

  • My centrepiece: the Vaude Cimmone 45+10 litre Women’s backpack, colour sangria. (£130 but my lovely mummy and daddy got it for me for my birthday!). I absolutely love it. It has everything I wanted from my backpack and more. It’s a panel-loading pack (this means there are zips on the front which give you access to the main department so you don’t have to unpack everything from the top if you’re looking for something at the bottom), it has the perfect size which will fit everything I need without being so big that I totally over pack. It has a separate compartment at the bottom which is great for your hiking boots, dirty laundry etc or if you’re taking a sleeping bag. And it is pink! It is also designed for women which makes it much more comfortable to carry, you can adjust the frame size to your height, for me it’s between S and XS.
  • My beloved hiking boots, not only are they of excellent quality by a trustworthy brand but they are also cute, you can’t say that about most hiking boots! Merrell Arc II Rival Waterproof Hiking Boots in cocoa with purple details (£80), they only weigh around 150 g per boot.
  • Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket in Magenta (£65). Lovely colour, 100% waterproof and packs down into its own pocket, ideal for taking travelling.
  • Deuter Speed Lite 10 daypack in Magenta/Blackberry. Really lightweight but still quite sturdy. It even has a chest and hip strap (the hip strap is removable) and you can fold it really small which is great for packing it inside the main bag when on the move (I don’t want to be one of those stereotypical backpacker girls who way over pack and end up as a backpack sandwhich, oneon the back one on the front) (£30)
  • The North Face Masonic Hoodie in Retro Pink (£36). This micro fleece is great, it has a hood to keep your ears warm (will come in handy on the Inca Trail) two ruched front pockets and thumbholes (I love thumbholes, they immediately make you feel sporty)
  • Sea to Summit Silk Sleeping bag liner, regular shape. It’s big enough to fit over my pillow so I opted for the cheaper rectangular version instead of the mummy or pillow insert version. It will hopefully keep me warm and protected from bedbugs and other creepy crawlies. (£35)
  • Lifeventure Softfibre Trek Towel Large Pink. This is one of those clever travel towels which dries really quickly and packs down to next to nothing (£18)
  • Merrell Lotta Ankle strap sandle with flower pattern, green (£40). I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a pair of those high-tech performance sandals which are probably more comfortable but arguably the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen. These are comfortable and pretty. I know travelling isn’t about looking good, but I know I wouldn’t want to wear them so that would just be a waste of money and backpack space. One of the packing rules I’ve read over and over again says you should only pack stuff you actually like. Don’t pack anything you wouldn’t wear normally, chances are you won’t wear it when travelling.
  • As a base layer I opted for a Bamboo long sleeve top by the London based yoga brand Asquith. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable fibres and it is also super soft, antibacterial and moisture wicking and much cheaper than merino wool, what’s not to love? Oh and it also has a super cure tie-dye pattern on the end of the sleeves and at the bottom hem (£25)
  • I’ve also decided to give the BUFF a try. The BUFF is an ingenious piece of headwear which doubles up as a neckwarmer, headband, beanie, scrunchy and many more, it also comes in many different colours and if you’re a skinny shrimp like me you can even wear it as a tube top (£12). I got the purple National Geographic special edition.
  • Smartwool Medium Hiking Socks, in grape (£15). I tried to find these on offer anywhere but had to pay full price in the end, I guess merino wool will be worth it. They are super soft and apparently won’t smell even if you wear them 3 days in a row. I will give you an update after the Inca Trail
  • I chose to go with Brazilian brand Ipanema for flip flops, they had great reviews and are also by far the cutest on the market. I picked a simple black pair with a flower on the toe strap (£12). These will save me from grimy hostel showers, be comfy at the beach and even look good at a restaurant.
  • We will mainly be travelling to really warm countries so sunscreen is very important in our packing list. In order to avoid heat stroke I picked a super lightweight bucket sunhat from Columbia in Berry colour, looks nice and is moisture wicking and even has ventilation mesh on the sides to keep my head cool (£13).
  • I’ve decided to use a combination of both packing cubes and compression sacks to keep my clothes and other belongings organised inside my backpack. The Sea to Summit compression sacks are waterproof and came highly recommended by many travellers, they can squish all your clothes down to the size of a football (at least that’s how big I think a football is J) (£16, size M). The packing cubes came as a set of 3 and I chose the smallest size which is really big enough even for trousers and dresses (£15, pink).
  • A headlamp is at the top of most packing lists and I went with a popular backpacker brand, Petzl. It is pink (surprise) and really lightweight so it won’t give me a headache when wearing it for a long time (£20), will come in handy for reading in dorm rooms, finding the loo at night and many more things I will find out once we’re on the road.

That’s it for gear for now but I will post a full packing list once I know exactly which clothes I am taking. Hope you find this helpful, do you have any travel must-haves that I missed out?

You can also see my packing lists (clothes and gear) on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jenniferlachs/

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