Packing Challenge: How to Pack for a RTW Trip

Lonely Planet India

So as you guys may have seen on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) I’m going to INDIA! I’ll be heading there with my friend McCall for six weeks of yoga teacher training and trekking in the Himalayas. And of course, the Taj Majal. But first I will spend six weeks in Europe (I leave tomorrow, by the way!) and then fly to Delhi in April. I’m currently debating if I will add another six weeks in Southeast Asia onto the trip but I’ll decide that further down the line.

Anyway, what does this all mean for packing? Well, it means that packing will be a mother. I have to pack stylish winter clothes for Europe, yoga and trekking clothes for India and warm weather partying clothes for Southeast Asia.

Oh dear. Here’s my game-plan- I’m packing tons of leggings because I can use them in Europe (with boots) and in India (for yoga). McCall is generously bringing a few things to India for me like hiking boots and sunscreen. And if I make it to Thailand, I’ll just go on a Thai shopping spree in Bangkok. (I’ve always wanted to do that anyway).  

Here’s what I’m packing for my RTW trip:


Packing Around the World Trip
  • Jo Totes Camera Bag – My day bag and where I store my valuable electronics: camera, Kindle, chargers.
  • Wristlet – Daytime it’s a wallet and night time it’s a clutch! Genius, right?
  • 65L REI Backpack
  • Packing cubes – All clothes organized into packing cubes.


Packing Around the World Trip
  • 1 peacoat (will ship home after Europe, not shown)
  • 1 pair touch-screen gloves
  • 1 hoodie
  • 2 light sweaters
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 chambray shirt
  • 1 lace dress
  • 1 tight, knee-length skirt
  • 1 cotton dress
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 3 pairs leggings
  • 1 pair of pajama shorts and lots of tank tops
  • 1 pair of athletic shorts (double for pajama shorts)
  • 5 pairs socks, 1 pair thick socks (skiing, hiking)
  • 7 pairs underwear
  • 2 bras (1 nude, 1 black)
  • 1 pair of tights



Packing Around the World Trip
  • Canon EOS Rebel T2i + LCD screen protector + camera case + BlackRapid Metro camera strap + Canon 50mm lens f/1.4 + Canon kit lens
  • Kindle + case
  • iPhone 5S + case + screen protector (not shown)
  • iPod
  • 1 mini speaker
  • Accessories: headphones, earbud splitter, 1 extra battery for Canon EOS Rebel T2i, 3 memory cards (16 GB, 4 GB, 4 GB), 2 converters (one europe, one u.k.), USB
  • Chargers: Camera, Kindle, iPhone, iPod, mini speaker


  • 5L dirty laundry bag
  • 2 eye-masks (lost mine last time and had trouble sleeping for a month. Never again. Bringing two.)
  • 1 Moleskine notebook and pens, 1 mini Moleskine (to carry around during the day)
  • 1 bikini (On my Southeast Asia I brought two which was great, but for this trip, I won’t be on the beach as much.)
  • 1 travel robe (won in Angie Away giveaway!)
  • 1 mini travel towel (for washing face)
  • Combination padlock
  • Tiny flashlight
  • 1 pair of small scissors
  • 1 pair earrings, 1 necklace
  • Sunglasses + case


  • Shower: 2 small bars soap, Venus razor and 4 extra blades, deodorant
  • Skin: Face wash, acne medication, moisturizer with sunscreen, tweezers, Neutrogena face wipes
  • Hair: Lush solid shampoo and case, Lush solid conditioner and case, 1 mini brush, John Freida frizz serum, hair ties
  • Teeth: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, retainers
  • Makeup: foundation, blush, bronzer, powder, mascara, eyeshadow, brow pencil, liquid eyeliner, lip balm, lip stain, brushes, pencil sharpener
  • Miscellaneous: Tampons, nail clippers
  • Medicine: sleeping pills, Midol, cold medicine, Advil, melatonin

Debit and credits cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card (has chip-in pin, great for Europe)
  • Charles Schwab debit card (no international transaction fees, refunds the other bank’s fees)
  • Extra: (In case I lose others): Chase debit card, AMEX Starwood Rewards credit card

What my friend is bringing to India for me (thanks so much McCall!) 1 pair hiking boots, 1 pair black flip flops, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, Imodium

What I’m doing differently from my last backpacking trip:

I upgraded my iPhone from a 4 to a 5S so now I don’t need a point and shoot!

I’m also bringing stronger sunscreen to India, SPF 50, as I got horrifically burnt in Thailand.

I cut about six inches off my mane so now my hair will be so much easier to take care of. I used to spend around 45 minutes a day brushing my long, damaged hair.

I’m going to make sure to have a tiny notebook on my at all times to jot down in-the-moment observations.

I’m also bringing lots of make-up (Europe) as well as acne medication as I broke out so much in Asia. Never again!

And once I get to Asia I will always have toilet paper on me- there are so many bathrooms that don’t come stocked.

And surprise! I’m not bringing my laptop this time. I hated lugging my heavy laptop around Asia and working on the road definitely hampered my trip. As this is my last big trip I’m not working at all. (Plus I lost my main freelancing gig anyway.)

I’m also not bringing my PacSafe- as I’m not bringing my laptop I doubt I will need it.

What are some of your packing tips?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

45 thoughts on “Packing Challenge: How to Pack for a RTW Trip”

  1. So much makeup :P

    I usually bring a bottle of probiotocs which keeps my stomach in good working order. Agree with you 100% on toilet paper but also a small bottle of hand sanitiser in my daypack. I’m not super paranoid about cleanliness but in case you need it if there’s no water around to wash your hands before eating.

    • Haha what can I say, I’m 23 and I like to go out. And that’s actually a fantastic idea, I often have stomach problems when abroad in places like Southeast Asia so I should definitely start carrying probiotics too!

  2. Omg you leave tomorrow!! Great strategies for all the packing. If you make it to Bangkok def do the shopping spree. I always wanted to do that too. Just get all new tanks, dresses and random things :)

    Hopefully when you guys get here the weather will be nice!! Then you won’t need too many winter outfits!

  3. Wow that does sound like an insane packing job!
    I’m officially unable to pack properly (remember when I forgot my tweezers, toothpaste, and deodorant on our trip to Strasbourg?!), but my standard advice always is: Bottoms that go with everything, a lot of black (so it can be turned into something fancy if necessary), and as many layers as possible.

  4. Fun! Congrats on choosing to be a certified instructor. Another adventure and making the most out of it by combining it with a passion. No work, just enjoying the journey. Best of luck!

  5. Your trip to India sounds absolutely amazing! I’m sure you’ll have a great time! :) And sorry to hear about the loss of your freelance job, but new opportunities will surely soon open up! :) One question: Where did you get the packing cubes? I’ve never seen any before, but they look so incredibly practical!

  6. Your packing seems complete. You seem to have remembered everything.
    I will be thinking about you on all your journeying.



  7. I hated lugging my heavy laptop around too…so a few weeks ago I bought an old 11inch mac book air on ebay for $400 dollars!!!! It’s WONDERFUL and weighs nothing, I can’t keep many programs on it, but I have lightroom and photoshop elements so thats really all I need! Like I said its a few years old so its missing the bells and whistles my full size laptop has, but if it gets stolen I can recover….basically its the perfect travel computer!

    I just cant get by on the tablet… I need my full applications ;)

    Sounds like an excellent adventure! So excited to hear all about it!

    • That’s a fantastic idea! I would love to have a Macbook Air for traveling… I totally regret not getting one in the first place. And I totally know what you mean- if I can’t use Lightroom then it’s not worth carrying :)

  8. I’ve been battling with the idea of leaving my lappy behind for my trip to Thailand tomorrow and finally decided to bite the bullet and leave it behind. A vacation from photo editing is probably a good idea anyway since it can suck up HOURS of time accidentally. The toilet paper and iPod speaker tips are a great heads up though, thanks! As someone who gets motion sick but loves being on the water I always bring motion sick tablets and allergy pills (To pop my ears under water).

  9. So exciting! Though I’m i won’t be leaving for my trip until next year, I don’t plan on bringing a laptop either. I can’t wait to see where your journeys take you over the next few months!!

  10. Last post?! Damn, I looked forward to your posts. I understand about carrying around your laptop though, not only does it add weight, the fear of theft is very scary! Especially if its a mac ;)

    Have fun!! India is on my longggg list of countries!

  11. Wow, that sounds like an amazing next few months!!

    Have airlines ever lost your luggage? I’m always so paranoid about that! I’m going to Jamaica in a couple of weeks and have to get on three different planes and I’m so worried it’s going to happen :(

    • Yes actually! Delta permanently lost my bag on the way to Chile and I lost my computer and lots of other valuables. It was seriously awful! Just make sure you don’t check anything super expensive like jewelry, cameras, etc. and you’ll be fine.

  12. It sounds like you are about to have an awesome couple of weeks. Bold move with the laptop! But I think it coud turn out to be a good choice. After a lot of deliberation, I left mine at home for my trip to Thailand. I definitely think I enjoyed the trip more than I would have if I brought it along.

    Good luck! Becoming a yoga instructor in India sounds pretty sweet.

  13. Wise decision to not take your laptop with you and leave your point and shoot! From my experience, the more tech you take – the more risk you have it to be lost, broken, stolen and ruining your trip. A nice camera, a phone and an e-book reader is all I take! :)

  14. I love packing lists! I am on my RTW trip right now and one thing a sorely regret packet is more leggings. They are just so comfy and can be dressed up or down. Bon Voyage!

  15. This is your last big trip? Have I missed a post!? I think I need to go back and read! You did an awesome job packing though, when it’s all listed out like that it seems like A TON but it’s surprisingly how well it can all fit

    • I actually have a post coming soon about how I learned in Asia that I don’t want to be a digital nomad. So after this trip I’m (hopefully) going to move to a city for a year or two, whether in the states or abroad. I need to stop moving around so much!

  16. I’m looking forward to reading about your upcoming trip!
    I have a checkable list on my iPad (it’s actually the shop-shop app intended for grocery shopping..) with listed all the necessary items I need for every trip, so I can check them when they’re packed. It’s very handy!
    Plus, I vacuumsuck all of my clothes in vacuum bags!
    This way they weight the same but they take out SOOOO much less space! And I’ve always found a vacuum cleaner to suck them back even in the lousiest hostel and in the most remote destination. :)

  17. Your packing list is giving me wanderlust! I love those bags that you have everything packed in! I’m going to test out some of those vacuum bags on my next trip, I bought one in the US to take things over to the UK with and it worked a treat! I’m also heavily downsizing my backpack for my next trip! Thanks for the tips I will definitely be using them before I set off in a few months!

  18. What an amazing trip you’ll be going on! Where exactly will you be trekking in the Himalayas in Northern India? In November 2011 I travelled through Northern India, visiting Delhi, Amritsar, Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj, Shimla, Rishikesh and Haridwar, Varanasi and Agra.

    Not lugging around your heavy laptop is a good decision. I bought a 10 inch Netbook almost exclusively for my travels which is a lot easier to carry around than my “normal” laptop.

    Those packing cubes are great. Where did you buy them?

  19. I love love love your camera bag and am browsing their selection now as I’ve really needed one. You won’t miss that damn laptop at all. Although it’s stressful thinking about your neglected blog, it will also be a relief knowing you are free to enjoy, roam, and soak it all in!

  20. Ah! I’m so jealous that you’re going to India—even though the packing thing sounds INSANE right now! I actually had never wanted to go to India before studying abroad this year but now I’m ACHING to go :)

  21. One tip I always tell people who ask me for advice: instead of lugging around underwear (not that it weighs a ton, but still)–just buy 2-3 pairs of (cute!) swimsuit bottoms & use that as underwear! It’s so easy to wash and dries so fast.

  22. Hi there! Just stumbled upon your blog and love it! I’m planning a RTW backpacking trip and packing seems impossible! You seem to have a good list though. Which Lush shampoo and conditioner bars do you use? I’ve been looking into them but was a little skeptical and worried they’d last like 2 washes before being unusable. Do you also use their toothpaste tablets?
    Again, great post!

    • I believe I had the jumping juniper solid shampoo and loved it. It lasted for a really long time which was great. Honestly I didn’t like lush conditioner bars and had never heard of the toothpaste, but that sounds cool!

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