“Grab my blue backpack, My walkman, grip my bicycle…” – A packing list for a hand-luggage only trip around the world.

what's in the bag  

When you decide to escape, you don’t want to think about anything weighing you down.  Early on in our conversations about long term travel we decided we would aim to pack light.  I spent quite a lot of time making and reading packing lists, deciding what was essential and what we could live without, which I concluded was actually most things.  I’m reminded of this quote from Sterling Hayden’s ‘Wanderer’….

“What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.”

OK so we have packed some ‘preposterous gadgetry’ but not much.  We’ve kept it down to a 40 litre backpack each, both weighing no more that 7kgs.  We’ve brought very few clothes, most of the weight in my backpack is books and pharmaceuticals, most of which I probably won’t use but I like to be prepared.  Most of the weight in Giz’s backpack is insulin.  Giz’s diabetes has been a slight worry; there isn’t much information to be found online about long term travel with type A diabetes.  His doctor didn’t have much advice to give either but he was willing to prescribe 3 months worth of insulin, so we have a cool bag for times when it can’t go in the fridge, and we’re going to try and keep buying it when we get the opportunity before he runs too low.


I did a lot of research about the backpack itself, I knew I wanted to go as small as possible, having seen so many people struggling under the weight of some gigantic hiking pack.  I probably would have bought an even smaller one than the one we have but after packing I’m glad we got the maximum cabin bag size as it was more of a challenge than I expected.

We knew all along we wanted hand luggage only, it prevents us from going crazy packing too much and means we never have to risk losing our stuff, also it saves us money on cheap flights as they charge extra for hold luggage.  Of course this means we have to keep all our liquids under 100ml and can’t take certain things, but we don’t see this as a major problem.

We decided to go for the Osprey farpoint 40 litre convertible packs, we both got the same one, it’s really well made, has a lifetime guarantee, and converts to a shoulder bag when necessary.  We think it’s just the right size for us, and as mentioned it complies with the size rules for cabin bags, we had no problems with it on our Ryan Air flight out of Liverpool.  It wasn’t cheap but I think it’s worth spending money on something good quality if you’re going to lug it around the world.  Hopefully it’ll prove a good investment.

We also bought some small packing cubes to keep everything organised, I wondered if it was a bit frivolous when I ordered them but I’m really glad I did, it’s so easy for me to find what I need in my case and they sort of work like compression bags making it easier to tessellate everything inside the bag.  At the last minute we both decided to buy small daybags as a second piece of hand luggage, for me it was mainly to house a load more books!

If you’re interested, here is my packing list…


Microfiber travel towel
Sleeping bag liner
Pillow case
Teva sandals
Neck pillow
Eye mask
Notepad and pens
As many books as poss (Kindle schmindle!)
EHIC card
Travel docs
Travel insurance docs
Water bottle
Money belt
Mini padlocks
Foldaway shoulder bag
Sun hat
Passport photos
Safety pins, buttons and sewing kit

Camo short shorts
1 pair tights
3 pairs loose trousers
Long-sleeve cropped layer top
2 long loose dresses
Thin l/s tunic top
Thin t shirt
Heavier t shirt
2 bras
7 pairs of knickers
3 pairs of socks
Swimming costume
Sports bra
4 vests (2 grey, black, green)
1 bandana
thin jumper
Shemagh scarf

Mini laptop and charger
Iphone and charger
Canon mini camera and charger
Underwater ipod and charger
Tablet and charger
Head torch
Universal plug adapter
USB storage device
Ipod and headphones + charger

toiletries/medicine/make up
3 soaps
Shaving cream
2 Lush solid shampoos
travel wash
Sun lotion
Insect repellent
Lipstick x1
Nail polish x3
Nail polish remover pads
Eye shadow compact
Nail clippers
Eyebrow kit
Razor and blades
Prescription meds
Allergy relief
Dioralyte + Immodium
Sting and bite cream
Malaria tablets
Water purifying tablets
Toothbrush + Toothpaste
Moisturiser with spf

wearing on the plane
Nice dress
leggings and socks
wrap cardigan
waterproof jacket
converse pumps

I can’t vouch that this is the perfect list yet, but having been in France for a few days I haven’t noticed anything I’m particularly lacking so far.  Giz doesn’t make lists so his is unlikely to appear any time soon, it’s basically some clothes, an ipod, a tablet and lots of insulin.  I’ll keep you updated as to how this works out for us, we’re still learning!

yellow submarine

Currently reading : The ground beneath her feet – Salman Rushdie 

Title lyric from “Minus Blindfold” by Deftones

7 thoughts on ““Grab my blue backpack, My walkman, grip my bicycle…” – A packing list for a hand-luggage only trip around the world.

  1. Wow Kelii you did good . I knew there would be lippy and mascara in there a girls got standards eh . Looking forward to following you around the world . Big hugs jacks xxx


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