The Packing List or How to travel around the world with one bag

Globetrotting Family art

Notice how they aren't burdened down by luggage? Exactly.

It posed a problem from the outset. 365 days of travel had the potential of millions of clothing changes and that could’ve meant trunks full of clothing and bags full of shoes.

I didn’t want that for a number of reasons.

1. How many times have you packed a bag for a vacation, lugged it to the airport, lugged it to your hotel room only to realize at the end of the trip that you didn’t wear half of the things you brought? It happens all the time. And the idea of it happening repeatedly for an entire year, drove me crazy.

2. I’m traveling with kids. Little ones- whose arms and legs always seem to tire when there’s a bag to be carried but then have plenty of energy for games of tag and swimming in hotel pools. I knew that whatever we carried would at least at some point end up being carried by either Ish and I and we’ve only got so much sherpa in us.

3. I’m a wee bit anal when it comes to keeping track of things and the likelihood that carrying more stuff meant more stuff for me to keep track of, was crazy-making.

And so I decreed early that we would each have only one bag each with us on this trip. One bag for a year.

When I mentioned my plan to consummate traveler Chuck Breger who also owns in Montreal, he applauded my intentions. And seconded my announcement that we shouldn’t need more than 2 weeks worth of clothes to travel. Then he went one further and recommended (and then sent us!) our luggage ( 2 25″ Eagle Creek Switchbacks that have a backpack/rollalong option and a  zip-off day pack and two 22″ Eagle Creek Rambles for the kids). He also sent us the packing cubes (more on that on a later post!)  we’re using that are without a doubt my favourite item on this trip.


It rolls and then presto...backpack

We’ve been working from the list of items below for the last two weeks and so far there are only a few things we think we’re missing. We still have plenty of room in our bags and we’ll pick those up before heading into South America.

Below are most of our packed items. What do you think? Did we miss anything?


Ethan and Cameron

Underwear  – 14

Socks – 2-3

Jeans -1

Shorts -3

Pants – 1

Running shoes

Sandals/flip flops -1 of each

t-shirts 5

long sleeve shirt  -1

dress shirt -1

thin sweater/hoodie -2

light jacket -1

swim trunks -1



Underwear – 14


Casual pant-2

Collard polo shirt -2

Long sleeve T-shirt -1

Thin sweater/hoodie – 1

Long shorts – 2

Jacket- 2

Swim- 1

Closed shoe -1

Running Shoe- 1



Underwear  – 14

Bras -2

Sturdy sandal – 1

Dressy sandal – 1

Casual dress – 2

Casual pants- 2


Tops (t-shirts, tanks, dinner-worthy) 6

Pashmina -1

hoodie -1



Jacket – 3 (rain, casual, vest)

light sweater – 1


Toiletries and Miscellaneous:

Toothpaste, brushes, floss,

Brush, comb, emergency travel size conditioner,gel, hairclips

Earrings (2 pair)

Deodorant, shavers, body cream, shaving cream

Adult Essentials and Iron Kids vitamins

Passport and Prescription copies

Swiss army knife, mini-flashlight

Tilley hats

Nail clipper

Makeup: mascara, concealer, lipstick, Chapstick

Antibacterial gel



Motorola Xoom Tablet/ power supply

Laptop / power supply

Iphone/power supply/ portable speaker

Usb drive



headphones -4

Extra photos for Visas

First aid: After Bite/Benadryl/polysporin/ sleeping aid/ Children and Adult Advil/ Prescription meds

Vicks vaporub

Bandaid tweezers

Allergy meds

Malaria pills



Notebooks (3), pens



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{ 20 comments… add one }

Mom2twoboys July 14, 2011, 1:53 AM

What are you going to do for washing the clothes?  I’d think of maybe carrying along detergent and a clothesline for the bathroom, in case you have to handwash.  Perhaps you’ll always be able to access machines . . . . but I know when we’ve traveled in China, we take about 4 changes of clothes and I handwash every other night in the hotel sink or tub . . . . granted, that is for a month or less . . . . Everything else sounds really good, though.  .  .  .


Heather July 13, 2011, 11:56 PM

Cam’s got some detergent sensitivities so we picked up a small bottle of a suitable detergent when we did our first load and have simply packed it along since. We’ve been lucky so far with machines but we’ve also hand-washed some of the items just as you describe. Good points re: considering a clothesline as well.


Andrew Caldwell July 14, 2011, 2:15 PM

Hey :)

I’m lucky enough to have just returned from a trip overseas. I’d suggest some string/rope f


Heather July 17, 2011, 9:55 PM

Thanks Andrew. Will look into getting some!


Amy July 16, 2011, 1:42 AM

Why so many undies and so few socks? Also, I see no mention of cowboy hats, or the cool jackets I brought you.


Heather July 17, 2011, 9:53 PM

We shipped stuff home from Calgary. Trying to keep it light. I find your interest in my underwear supply intriguing. ;) Seriously we’re already realizing that we may have been light in some areas, heavy in other. Renegotiating constantly.


Jennifer July 22, 2011, 8:24 PM

I agree,too many undies! We’ve got 4-6 each and some hand washing detergent ( that we try not to use, looking for apartments with washing machines when we can). we end up washing every two to three days.

Reading this list I have to envy y travelling in summer only!

One other thing that we have found very useful is a pencil case and A4 sized folder each for the boys. They keep their school stuff in there (which is a coupple of exercise books) and also souvenir tickets to things before we send them home.


Heather July 23, 2011, 9:09 AM

Well early winter has caught us in Argentina but it feels more like Spring to us. Nights are cooler but still not too bad.
You’ll be happy to know that we’re reviewing our travel bag after South America. We’ll be sending things home and I’ll consider downsizing my underwear numbers then…lol….no promises though. ;)


Dana July 25, 2011, 5:01 PM

I just got back from travelling 4 1/2 months with 2 thirteen year olds . Belize,Australia,New Zealand ,Fiji . We took 1 small suitcase with wheels each & a backpack each. You are going to have the time of your lives !
Nike dryfit clothing is the best ,light weight ,wash & dry quickly !
I would get head lamps ( petzle) instead of flashlights . They are handy too if the kids are asleep & you want to read !
Definitely too much underwear and not enough socks .
Rash guard shirts for everyone if you go to the beach / snorkel
Zip Lock bags ….good for all sorts of things


Heather July 30, 2011, 10:07 PM

Thanks for this Dana. We’ve had about a month to test everything out now and I know that there are things I’ll ship home and things I’ll add when we hit L.A. in a few weeks. Appreciate the input and second you on the Zip Lock bags!


Colleen Friesen August 25, 2011, 2:42 AM

OK. I’m voting with the majority here and saying you can ditch about 10 of those undies. They can be washed in the sink, hung to dry and good to go the next day.  Those twisty clotheslines with the suction cups are a godsend. 
Everything else looks pretty much perfect. Hope you’re having a wonderful time!


Heather August 29, 2011, 8:47 AM

We recently made some edits to the packing list. I’ll be posting a revised list soon but sorry to say – all of the undies made the new list. :)


Drina Murphy October 27, 2011, 7:40 PM

I can’t believe you managed to take all you needed in one bag each:) It puts my 2 week holiday case to shame;)


Heather October 27, 2011, 8:43 PM

Working on an update to this post now. No regrets on taking so little. Wish we had taken less!


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