Dolora’s Must-Bring List

Top Gear for Traveling Around the World in a  Carry-On Backpack: Dolora’s List


The task: what to bring on a year round-the-world trek when you are limited to one carry-on backpack and 10 kilos of weight? Here is a list of essentials and product endorsement (in bold):


1)   Start with a good pack. Do not scrimp on this. Consider it your home on your back. It needs to be comfortable, practical, durable, roomy, well made. Buy an Osprey. I used the Farpoint 40. It is carry-on approved, great padding, sternum and hip straps, simple fitting. I wish we would have bought another for Liam instead of the “kid-friendly” pack we ended up with. We saw a lot of Osprey gear on the road. It has been thrown around, zipped and unzipped a million times, and still looks great.

2)   Bring 2 pairs of shoes, one sport sandal or lightweight all-terrain shoe (like Merrill’s Airfoot) and a pair of flip-flops. I wore my Newport Keens trekking in the Himalayas, hiking volcanoes in Indonesia and glaciers in New Zealand. Buy a good pair of flip-flops. I had Tevas and a back-up pair of Havaianas.

3)   Packing cubes are an organizational must. I bought medium and small sized from eBags. My pack is completely organized with this system: shirts in one, skirts, dress, shorts in another, underwear and bathing suit in another, and a miscellaneous item bag. The best, like having a dresser drawer in your pack.

4)   Toiletry bag. I bought one from eBags that has been fantastic. Lots of long zippered pouches and roomy enough to hold all our bathroom stuff while still laying flat.

5)   First aid kit. I brought a tiny one meant for cycling. Amazing what I stuffed in that wallet-sized pouch.

6)   A day pack. We didn’t start out with one, but our friend Shannon insisted we take hers when we left Sweden. We used it almost every day. They make really efficient ones in Australia made from recycled plastic bottles that fold into a palm-sized pouch. That would be good for room and weight. We had a small Jansport with one big zippered pouch, very simple.

7)   Extra bag. Buy an eco-shopping bag that folds into a small pouch. We used it for groceries, laundry, day outings. Ziplocs!

8)   Copies of all your important documents. We carried triplicates of our passport, driver’s license, immunization records, credit card info. Also have multiple copies of your passport photo for visas. We had 6.

9)   Suncloud polarized sunglasses!










Here’s what I packed in my cubes, etc. (What you bring will depend on the weather. We knew we were traveling mostly in summer weather conditions. Could have used a few more layers in Nepal and winter in Australia and New Zealand, but none of those countries were a planned stop.)


Medium-sized packing cube for bottoms:

1 pair lightweight shorts

1 REI sport skirt with zippered pockets and built-in shorts

1 Athleta sport skirt w/built-in shorts

1 lightweight cotton skirt below the knee for temples/churches/mosques

1 Athleta sleeveless dress below knee for dressier occasions

1 Athleta sleeveless travel dress with hidden zip pockets

2 cotton scarves; one to cover up at holy sites and one that could be used as a sarong.

Footless tights

(I didn’t bring pants, but a lightweight pair would have been nice. Yoga pants or capri-length would have been good too)


Medium-sized packing cube for tops:

Solstice brand lightweight half-zip warmth layer

1 GAP long-sleeved T

1 GAP ¾ sleeved T

4 lightweight cotton Ts

4 cotton stretch tanks

1 long-sleeved cotton, loose fitting button-up shirt

1 lightweight windbreaker (could have used a good raincoat)

UVSkinz bathing top

Small-sized packing cube for underwear:

3 Coobie bras

7 pair undies

2 bathing suits (Athleta tank w/swim shorts; bikini)

1 small washcloth



Small-sized packing cube for misc.:

Swim goggles/cap/ear plugs

Ziploc bags


Face wash


Reading glasses

1 REI camping towel in Velcro case

1 mosquito repelling, lightweight sheet sack in stuff case (essential!)


Toiletry Bag (for me, Jim, Liam):


Small shaving cream

3 REI travel-sized squeeze bottles (with shampoo, conditioner, lotion)

6 toothbrushes (you can buy them anywhere, but we like a particular brand/model so I brought extra)

2 floss (hard to find in some countries)

2 gum brushes

travel-sized toothpaste

plastic soap container/soap

nail scrub brush

toenail clipppers

small swiss army knife (taken at security point in India)


Sewing kit/pins

Hair ties/bobby pins/clips



First Aid pouch:




Iodine pills

Burt’s Bees sauve

Arnica pills

Ocillococcinum (sp?)

First aid emergency handout

Non-refrigerated probiotic pills



1 just-in-case, misc. plastic zippered pouch:

broad spectrum anti-biotics





Small magnified mirror


Headlamp/extra batteries

Tiny maglight/extra batts

3 sporks

toenail polish (wore the same color all year)

Badger mosquito roll-on stick

Buzz-Away organic mosquito repellant wipes

Badger sunscreen face stick

Lens/computer screen cleaner and cloth


I brought my iPhone 4s in the Defender Otter Box case. The case is finally disintegrating after much abuse.

We ended up buying things along the way that became essential, like gloves, beanies, warm socks.

The only thing I brought that was never used was a suction cup clothesline that would not stick to anything. You don’t need it.


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