by Mac Candee

Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2020

If you’re thinking of traveling the world - chances are, you don’t even know where to start for packing. This was for sure one of the most challenging things when I decided to begin my full time travel journey. I hadn’t been in this situation before, so I had no idea what I was going to do with all my stuff. Creating a full packing list of what you should bring is hard. First off - it’s very dependent on you. For me personally, as a content creator - I pack more than the average person, because I have a lot of equipment I need to carry with me.

That said, every time I come back from a long period of traveling, I still examine everything I brought with me. I do this to try and determine what I actually made use of and what was just with me because I felt I might need it. What were these things I only used once or twice that I could easily buy at the destination? Bringing a couple of suitcases on your one-week vacation isn’t really that bad to drag around, but I can tell you for sure that if you do it long enough, it can become very tiresome. As someone who started my full-time travel journey 16 months ago - at first I brought a backpack, a carry-on and a checked bag. I had to drag all these things through the streets of Lisbon, Portugal with huge hills with bricks and stones. I was sweating extremely hard in 90 degree weather. It made me really think about whether I needed everything in the bags. It was awfully inconvenient to drag all these things, some of which never came out of my suitcase.

It made me take a closer look at my packing habits and rethink them entirely. I figured out that staying safe while deciding what to bring with me was a burden, which ultimately made my travel experience worse. Truth is, we take so much stuff we think we might need with us, which are not necessities. This can increase the amount of baggage we carry around almost tenfold and ends up ultimately not serving us.

The truth is, in most countries you can get almost everything you need, besides specific essentials like medication. A lot of the time it’s cheaper, easier and more convenient to buy what you need instead of bringing it with you. I want to make you really think about the necessities you truly need and how to determine that. To do that, I’ve broken the whole process down into easy steps.

1st Step: Backpack or Suitcase?

You need to decide whether you want to travel with a suitcase or with a backpack.

I would say there’s definitely pros and cons to both, and it largely depends on how you plan to travel. I’ve traveled both ways, but the suitcase is my preferred method because of the huge amount of equipment I bring with me as a content creator.

The backpack, however, offers many bonuses as well. It’s great to have if you’re going to be moving from place to place frequently and you have to pack often. This ensures that you don’t have too many things. I personally think you can almost always fit all your things in a backpack and it’s very convenient for people who are not content creators. One thing is that no matter where you go, you’ll always have to carry only a backpack, instead of a large suitcase, which makes you a lot more flexible. You don’t have to drag anything around, which is something you really appreciate once you’re in that situation. If you decide to pick that route - just make sure you choose a good model with great back support, because otherwise it can cause issues to your body. The one I would personally recommend is this one.

I still use a mid-size backpack mainly for my camera gear and other things that I want to keep close to me while traveling. I love this one in particular, because it fits all my camera gear and my computer, and it’s also anti-theft. It has a myriad of zippers that lock in a way that it’s really hard for anyone to open it when I’m not looking. I’ve tried around five backpacks in this size range, and this (through lots of trial and error) has become my favorite one.

Another great backpack to check out is this expandable backpack. It gives you the flexibility to carry around a small or larger sized backpack depending on what your need is.

As for whether to go with a carry-on or a checked bag, I would definitely recommend getting a carry-on. This is going to save you a lot of money in baggage fees, especially on budget airlines.

The downside to backpacks is, of course, that you can’t bring as many things. It can also be a bit more difficult to reach what you need and a lot more inconvenient. But all of these negative sides greatly outweigh the baggage fees you would have to pay otherwise, as well as the drawback of dragging around a large heavy suitcase.

The other option is to choose the suitcase, which is my preferred luggage.

The pro’s here are obvious - more space, easier to organize. But the cons are also very important - you usually have to pay pretty large baggage fees and drag the luggage. Ultimately, it depends on your needs, budget and preferences, but it’s definitely not the only option and if it’s possible to go for the cheaper backpack instead, I would recommend it.

My personal suitcase choice is the brand Away, since I find them to be the most convenient for my travel style. They can be a bit pricier, but have a lifetime guarantee and are extremely comfortable. I’ve actually made use of the warranty, since one of the zippers got ripped out in a luggage conveyor belt. I reached out to Away, and they sent me a brand-new suitcase. For me personally, having the piece of mind that I’m covered and I can replace it anytime I have a problem, really changes the way I feel about my experience. It was an investment, but now I have a reliable product that has travelled with me for more than 16 months and is in mint condition. Another great benefit for these suitcases is that they have a built-in portable charger that is removable. Click here to learn more about the brand and save yourself some money ($20 OFF using this link), while getting an amazing product.

Step 2: Think about the clothes

Something that’s very important to consider in this step is where exactly you’re going. If your destination calls for flip-flops, it doesn’t make much sense to bring many socks and warm clothes. Plus, you can always buy extra when you need them instead of over packing. If the destination asks for it, you might want to bring some swimsuits, but try to bring between 2 and 3, you don’t need more than that because most people only wear their 2 or 3 favorite swimsuits. When you don’t over pack your bag, you’re leaving yourself space to be able to purchase something local, which can also serve as a souvenir afterwards. I love buying some of the local apparel so I can blend in better and get a feeling for the way their style and dress is.

Before starting my full time travel journey, I wanted to bring button ups, pullovers and basically all other types of clothes. But what ultimately made the most sense is a few reliable T-Shirts, which are easy to fold and carry, versatile and don’t take up that much space. I switched from bringing all these different clothing types, to only bringing two pairs of pants at most, just one going out button up shirt, and many lightweight T-Shirts for everyday use.

If you’re switching directly between a warmer and a colder climate, this will make it harder for you. You might need to pack a lot more, or make a stop home to pick up the luggage for the other type of climate. If that’s the case, make sure you thoroughly consider what you do, because it can be a drag to carry two bags, not to mention the fees. Sometimes it might even be cheaper to fly back home to make the change (of your climate wardrobe) instead of carrying all this extra baggage with you.

One thing that has been really helpful for me has been having packing cubes. What that is, is basically little compartments, which save you from the nightmare of having all your clothes messed up together and having to dig to the bottom to find a specific item. We all know how annoying that can get, and how hard it is to avoid. The cubes are the way I’ve solved this issue. They are very easy to use and allow you to organize your luggage just like Tetris. You can then pull out exactly what you need and keep everything else nice and organized. I’ve found these to be super helpful for repacking and overall making your items more accessible. These are the ones I use.

Step 3: What about safety?

If you’re going to places where there is a higher chance of pickpocketing or other safety hazards, you should definitely take precautions against this. I’ve done my best to mitigate any risk, and most of that has been through specific products, who are specifically designed to maximize security. For pickpocketing, one of my favorite wallets is this one. For standard wallets, one of my favorites include the RFID Blocking Wallet, which blocks people from coming near you and stealing your credit/debit card numbers.

If you decide to opt for a hostel, a padlock is a must. That’s not something that they will automatically provide, and even if they do - I’ve found it to be really overpriced. That’s why I recommend you bring one along. Most of the people in a hostel are friendly, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have very expensive things with you. My personal favorites are these ones.

Step 4: Useful gadgets to make your experience more comfortable.

Here, I will tell you all about some travel-related items that have definitely made my trips that much more enjoyable.

A product that can be extremely useful depending on your type of travel, is the Life Straw water bottle. This water bottle filters out water so you can drink from almost any water source, because this gadget purifies it for you. Whether you want to save the environment, or just save yourself some money, this is a great way to do that.

An issue that comes up constantly when I travel is that there are not enough outlets to charge all the electronics I’ve brought with me. That’s why I invested in this little gadget, that has immensely helped me in not wasting time and getting everything charged at once, no matter where I am, as long as I have at least one plug.

In addition to that last item, something you probably don't think about much until you are sitting in a foreign country is what type of plug you need in order to get your US plug to be able to charge your electronics. Stay two steps ahead with this travel adapter.

I personally always travel with a first aid kit, because it’s a good piece of mind to have that you have everything you need for emergencies. I customize mine, to add everything I personally need like prescriptions that my travel doctors have recommended.

Another very useful thing to have is a luggage scale. This helps you stay one step ahead of the baggage fees and will save you a lot of money if you constantly go home and repack after each trip.

A portable charger is the one item I never leave home without. When I travel, I make sure to bring many because as a content creator, I always need to charge things. Even if you’re not a content creator - it’s very important to have one handy. You never know what might come up and if you need your phone very urgently and have no battery - that could be a huge problem. The portable options don’t take too much space and sometimes can charge your phone up to three times, maybe even more.

AirPods or their alternative for Android devices are a great way to save space. Previously, I used to travel with my huge noise-cancelling headphones, but I figured out that they took up too much space and I didn’t really use them that much aside from plane rides. But after I made the switch to AirPods - I realized how much more sense to have my headphones as a “small” gadget.

If you’re a music lover like me, a nice little speaker is a must-have. This one is my favorite, it’s small and yet really powerful, so you know you can jam to your favorite tunes anytime. Also, if one of your friends has the same one, you can connect them.

A waterproof phone case is also something you should consider if you’re going to a destination where you’re going to be around water a lot. I don’t have mine on at all times, but it has proved really useful when I’m on the beach or on a boat cruise or I just want to capture some underwater photos. The only problem is that it muffles the sound so I use a standard phone case when I am not near water.

Content Creator staples

If you’re considering becoming a content creator, I have a very useful list of things I use for taking incredible pictures and videos. You can check everything out here.

Final Comments on Full Time Travel Packing

I made a YouTube video on this subject roughly one year ago that you can check out to supplement this blog post.

One thing that has definitely stuck with me is that I’ve usually had a better experience when I’ve purchased the higher quality (usually higher price) item if it means it will last me longer. An example of this was the pair of flip-flops I brought with me to travel. They were a relatively inexpensive pair and seemed to be decent quality. After traveling with these and having these flip flops break on me twice, I decided it was time to figure out what higher quality flip flops were on the market. I decided to get a pair of Birkenstocks which have been super dependable. Spending a few extra dollars to grab that high quality product can be worth it. If you think about it, you may save a few bucks buying a cheaper product, but if it breaks on you twice in the year you spent twice the amount which may be cheaper than buying the higher quality pair initially. It also saves you the inconvenience (in my case) of having to walk around with just one flip-flop, because the other one is broken as I made my way back to my accommodation. That’s never fun, and having the piece of mind that I can depend on the flip flops on my feet is important to me now.

The ideal position is to find high quality items at the lowest price possible. Definitely take the time to figure out if the product is worth your money, don’t just look at the low price and make a decision based on that. Get products you can depend on, because that will save you a lot of hiccups on the road.

I hope this blog post has been useful to you, and I wish you the best travel experience! I would be very happy to hear any feedback or questions you might have regarding this topic or any other down in the comments.

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