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Jesse and I worked for several months to perfect our packing list for our 30-day, round-the-world trip. (Guys, check out his list here.) I am unpacking (and re-packing) my bag for you in this article, to show you how it IS possible for us ladies to travel the world with one bag. I also have not sacrificed many “normal” comforts I enjoy at home!
I used several packing cubes to organize my wardrobe. My two big cubes are sorted by everyday wear (tops + bottoms) and dinner-wear (dresses, skirts, scarves). I sorted two small cubes by swimsuit/underwear and miscellaneous items. Throw in a 3-1-1 liquid bag and a toiletry bag, and we’re set!
- Ja-Vie Flats – I wear these flats pretty much every day of the year. I have reviewed them here before. They are wonderful travel shoes, and I wouldn’t dare leave on a 30-day trip without them! Amazon
- Astral Rosa Sandals – It took me a few days to break in these sandals, but now I love them! These are beach flip-flops that have a super-strap to convert them into a hiking sandal. I like that the additional strap makes them look a bit dressier than just a regular flop as well. Full review and more pictures to come in a later post.
- Allbirds Runners – These shoes look and feel great. I wouldn’t go run a race in them, but they are great for walking several miles a day. The merino wool allows breathability and is odor resistant, so I can wear them without socks.
When creating a travel wardrobe, always look for quick-dry, moisture-wicking, and odor-resistant fabrics. This will normally land you at merino wool and/or Tencel (also called lyocell). These materials are also very soft!
- Western Rise StrongCore Merino T-Shirt (Slate) – 89% merino wool thread, spun around 11% nylon core for durability and odor resistance. At 170gsm, this is a midweight t-shirt for all climates.
- Woolx Sophie Workout Tee (Sea) – 100% merino, 160 gsm
- Woolx Mia Tee (Black) – 100% merino, 160 gsm
- Threads 4 Thought Strip Malaika Tee – 70% Tencel, 30% Cotton
- Western Rise DryWeight Merino Tank (Moss) – 50% merino wool, 50% Tencel. At 150gsm, this is a lightweight, breathable tank.
- Woolx Ella Racerback Lightweight Tank Top (Black) – 100% merino, 160 gsm
- Icebreaker Sphere Stripe Tank (Sweetpea/Snow) – 50% Merino/50% Tencel
- Lululemon Two With One Shorts – These were one of the only pairs of reversible shorts I could find. Unfortunately, I had to suck it up and pay full price for them. However, I have seen a few used pairs, in varying prints, on Poshmark. Nike also makes a pair of reversible shorts that you may be able to find secondhand.
- Columbia Solar Ridge Skort – Jesse and I love Columbia gear. This skort is no exception. It dries in a few hours and can be worn for a nice dinner or out hiking.
- Columbia Everyday Shorts – These shorts are incredibly comfortable and also quick-dry. As with the skort, they can be dressed up for dinner, or worn out exploring the wilderness by day.
- Western Rise Women’s AT Slim Rivet Pants (Shadow) – Stretchy, all-weather, skinny, ankle pant. These are the only women’s technical travel/outdoor pants that I have found that actually look nice! They have a DWR coating for water resistance as well.
By finding reversible clothing items, I was able to double on color options and total outfits! The problem is that nice quality, reversible pieces are pretty hard to come by. Luckily, I found a few that I really like.
I already discussed the Lululemon Shorts above, and I’ll cover the Kohl’s Swimsuit/Bra Top below. So let’s take a look at the dresses and skirt. All three dresses I bought from eBay as second-hand items. They cost around $20 each, which is a steal compared to the retail prices that can be upwards of $80+.
- Nally & Millie Dresses – These are the printed dresses in the picture, and both will be great dinner dresses in the evenings. The white one has fun prints on both sides. It is a thicker stretch polyester knit, so I likely won’t use it as a swimsuit cover-up. The other one is solid black on the reverse side. It is cotton and dries overnight if I carefully hang the layers separately. I can also use it as a swimsuit cover-up.
- Athleta Bellisima Dress – This dress is black/gray micro-stripes on one side and solid black on the other side. It’s a super soft material and has a racerback. The versatile dress can be worn for dinner, out exploring during the day, and as a swimsuit cover-up. Additionally, I have a couple lotus scarves that I can add over this dress for a completely different look.
- Icebreaker Tsveti Skirt (Black/Monsoon) – 100% merino wool. I would buy this skirt in every color if it weren’t so darn expensive. I happened across this piece during an Amazon special and paid $30. Normally it runs about $90. I can justify paying a little more for a piece like this when I am getting 2-in-1 though. This is a beach, dinner, out-and-about kind of skirt that pairs well with pretty much any color top.
- Bikini bottoms – I went with three black bikini bottoms, so that all of my bikini tops would match.
- Bikini tops – I packed two plain Victoria’s Secret (VS) bikini tops that I have owned for years.
- VS Sports Bra/Swimsuit top – This blue top is actually supposed to be a bra, but it is versatile enough to double as a swimsuit top. I like the fun cutout detail and that it is non-racerback style.
- Reversible Swimsuit Top/Sports Bra – I found this bikini top during my quest for reversible clothing. I can wear this for a couple days as a sports bra, then a couple days as a swimsuit top, before washing. It is a great multi-purpose piece that was relatively inexpensive at Kohl’s.
- Regular bras – Nothing special, just the normal go-to bras in black and nude.
- Light gray sports bra – This is also from VS and will dry overnight. It is SO comfortable. I raided the VS semi-annual sale back in June and picked this up for $5!
- Underwear – I have a mixed bag of travel underwear. On this trip, I packed seven pairs…Uniqlo Airism (2), VS Hiphuggers (2), ExOfficio (1), and THINX (2). The first three types I have tested on previous trips. They are comfy and dry quickly when doing laundry in the room. The THINX arrived the day before we left, but I had heard nothing but good things. I decided to splurge on a couple pairs and pack these anyway. So far I am pleased and they work as advertised! The only downside is they do not dry overnight, but that hasn’t been a problem for me.
- Western Rise AT Slim Pants + a belt – see description above.
- Rohan Merino Union 200 Long-Sleeve Top – 60% merino wool, 40% polyester. I am ALWAYS cold on flights, so I dress warmly. I can change for the warmer weather when I get to my destination. It is nice to have a long sleeve shirt along anyway, just in case there is a cool night during the trip. I wear a white tank underneath this shirt so that I can easily change shirts, if needed.
- Computer, charging cables, phone, and international plug converter– Self-explanatory.
- Sunglasses & regular glasses – My sunglasses of choice are the lightweight, polarized Ray Ban New Wayfarer. Gotta take care of these baby blues!
- Travelon Anti-Theft Purse – This is a great size cross-body bag that was recommended by a friend. It is slash-proof, water resistant, and RFID blocking. It also has 4 separate compartments, 3 of which have locking zippers. No need to carry a wallet, because it is built into the purse! My headphones, Listerine strips, a selfie stick, tissues, and a few other odds and ends live in my purse as well. I carry this along every day!
- Water case for phone and umbrella – Self-explanatory and there are a million options on Amazon. I placed the umbrella on the outside of my backpack in the water bottle holder – it will be good for rain and to block the sun.
- Mosquito-repellent bracelets, clips, wipes, and soap – Because we don’t want Zika. I do not like the sticky feel of regular bug spray on me all day, so hopefully, all this stuff will do the trick.
- Travelon neck pillow – Easy to fold and inflate. Very soft as well.
- Columbia Arcadia Rain Jacket – A must for cold flights and the rainy season in Thailand. Make sure to get a jacket that has a pack-pocket. I added a carabineer and attached this to the outside of my backpack.
- Ziploc baggies – Always take extra, just in case.
- Vero Moda Sofia Tie-Waist Black Dress – When I discovered Tencel fabric, I wanted to buy everything in it. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much out there. This dress was a random find on Amazon. It is extremely soft and versatile.
- Jewelry – I packed several necklaces and other jewelry items to accessorize my various solid shirts and dresses. Jewelry is an easy way to add a little flair to an otherwise simple article of clothing! Plus, jewelry takes up barely any room. Just do not pack anything of value! We leave the valuable jewelry (including wedding rings) at home in a secure spot. I bought some inexpensive, silicone rings to take instead.
- Tanks – I always throw in a couple lightweight, printed tanks, to add a little variation to the wardrobe. These can be dressed up or down and weigh very little.
- Black tank – An extra black tank will serve as a base garment for several of the other shirts, if needed. I can also turn my scarves into various shirt styles by placing them over a plain tank.
- Apana Lotus Scarves – I bought these for two reasons. #1 – there will be several times where I may need to cover my head or shoulders when touring temples, mosques, etc. #2 – these scarves can be maneuvered to make about 10 different shirt/scarf styles! I have a few tiny, clear rubber bands that I will use to make different styles. Basically, this is my budget version of HipKnoTies.
One of the most common questions people ask about when I say I’m taking one bag on a 30-day trip is, “How do you pack all your toiletries for a whole month?!” Here is the answer! You will not see me packing a hair dryer, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, or lotion, because we are staying in AirBnb’s and hotels that will have all those amenities. My 3-1-1 liquid bag contains two bottles of sunscreen, my own face wash, hairspray, and a tea-tree nasal mist to combat dry air on the 18 flight legs we will take. For the sunscreen, we will buy a full-sized bottle in Thailand, (where it will be the cheapest,) and refill the travel-size bottles.
The bag on the left is the medicine bag, which has every medicine we could ever need in 30 days (more on that later). The printed bag on the far right includes feminine products. The actual toiletry bag in the middle is one I found on Amazon for $10. The hanger will save counter space, and there are quite a few organization compartments throughout the bag. Here is a list of what I included in my toiletry bag, pretty much from left to right in the picture:
- Hair clip
- Travel hair brush
- Teasing comb
- Nail file
- Nail polish remover wipes
- Nail clippers
- Blush brush/makeup applicator pad
- Solid sticks of concealer, foundation, and blush – a way to cut down on liquids
- Eyebrow comb & razor
- Eyeshadow primer & eyeshadow brush
- Blending sponge
- Lash curler
- Travel size Native deodorants (the best natural deodorant out there!)
- Sunscreen face stick
Yes, ALL of that fits in this small toiletry kit with room to spare! Additionally, my curling iron is a non-negotiable on trips, despite what Jesse says. I did give up the straightener this time around though!
As promised, back to the medicine collection. I received this tip from my mom! To avoid carrying a bunch of medicine bottles, buy little craft/bead bags for medicine. Make sure you label what is contained in each bag. In most cases, I was able to peel off the original label and place it on the bag with some tape. We have Pepto, Imodium, allergy, headache, sinus, and motion sickness pills, just to name a few. I also have a bottle of Afrin spray just in case I run into sinus problems (I learned this the hard way on our Australia/New Zealand trip last year). To help avoid the sinus problems and germ-catching, I also carry an all-natural saline nasal mist in my purse. I use this every couple hours during long flights to keep my nose from drying out.
I decided to go with my eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior on this trip. I had a couple other options, but this one seemed to fit my needs best this time around.
There it is, folks. Around-the-world with one bag! It is important to note here that some items you don’t see in my bag will appear in Jesse’s bag: camera gear, laundry soap, clothes line, etc. I could have cut back on a few items to make room for those, had I been traveling solo. Hopefully, you have picked up some nifty packing tricks, along with ideas for travel gear.
Carrying only the backpack allows us to whiz through airports, without having to wait for checked bags. To learn more about any of the items I’ve listed, feel free to follow the links provided or ask questions in the comments below. If you’re interested in discovering more packing tips for “onebag” travel, join the discussion on Reddit at /r/onebagging. Best of luck in your packing and travel adventures!
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