Over the past ten years, I’ve traveled to 45 countries and gone on some pretty epic adventures, from backpacking the Himalayas to scuba-diving with sharks.
During that time, I’ve tried out a lot of gear. Here are the items I never leave home without.
Osprey Meridian Wheeled Luggage 60L – I love my Osprey rolling backpack because it’s durable, easy to maneuver, and attractive. If you need to put it on your back, it does have backpack straps.
Patagonia Refugio Pack 28L – I’ve had this backpack since 2013 and it’s still going strong. I love it because it’s sturdy, spacious, and (mysteriously) never looks dirty. When I’m traveling, it houses all of my electronics and valuables.
Travelon Antitheft Crossbody Bag – I’ve used this bag around the world, from Uganda to India. It’s crazy secure; it has a locking main compartment, a slash-resistant shoulder strap, and RFID blocking card slots.
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes – I use packing cubes because they keep your bag organized and dramatically speed up packing and unpacking. I’ve used a lot of packing cubes and these are my favorite by far.
Muji Makeup Cases – I have two of these for my makeup and hair products. I got them in Japan recently and love them!
eBags Hanging Toiletry Kit – This toiletry kit has a hook, so it’s easy to hang in the shower. It also packs flat, which is nice.
Maxah Universal Adapter – This universal adapter has four plug adapters: the US, Australia/NZ, Europe, and the UK. Plus, this one also has two USB ports so you can charge your phone or Kindle.
Jackery Ultra Compact Portable Charger – This portable charger lasts a long time but is very compact. I’ve used it everywhere from Coachella to Jordan, and it’s saved me in multiple situations.
Joto Power Strip – I love this power strip because it has so many outlets: two regular outlets, three USB outlets, and one USB-c. Bonus – the cord is super long!
Kindle Voyage with Built-in Light and 3G – A Kindle is a must for travelers who like to read. I used to waste a third of my suitcase on books and now I can carry 3,500 books in this device. Plus, this one is backlit so you’re able to read in otherwise dim lighting.
Mirrorless Camera + Lenses
Fujifilm X-Pro2 – After lugging around a super heavy full frame-camera for years (Canon 5DS R) I finally switched to a mirrorless camera — the Fujifilm X-Pro2. I couldn’t be happier with it – it’s super light and takes fantastic pictures; I’m also a huge fan of Fuji lenses!
Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 – My walkaround lens, and also my favorite! Tack-sharp, excellent depth of field, and functions well in low light due to the 1.4 F stop.
Rokinon Wide-angle 12mm f/1.2 – My go-to wide-angle lens, which I like for interiors and the outdoors. I first rented the Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 for my wide-angle lens, but it was too bulky and didn’t do well in low light. I much prefer the Rokinon, which bonus – is $700 cheaper!
Tip – Before buying a new camera or lens, you can rent one first at Borrowlenses.com. It’s very affordable and makes renting camera gear super easy!
SanDisk Extreme 32GB Memory Card – This memory card is lightning fast and so big that you never have to delete pictures on the fly to make room for new ones.
Adobe Lightroom Subscription – Lightroom is a super robust photo editing program. If you want to improve your photo editing, I’d highly recommend buying it.
Laptop and Essentials
Everything I use to keep my laptop, data, and photos safe on the road.
Dropbox – How I back up my photos and computer files. I have the Plus Plan, which provides 2 terabytes of space.
Nord VPN – Before going abroad, I recommend finding an outstanding VPN (a virtual private network). A VPN allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet and can be used to access region-restricted websites. I used NordVPN the whole time I lived in Uganda, and it allowed me to stream all my favorite shows on Netflix and HBO. I chose NordVPN because it has military-grade encryption, 24/7 support, and a risk-free money-back guarantee. I highly recommend it! Click here to see current prices.
Prey Project – Prey is a free security solution that will let you track your laptop, phone, or tablet in case of loss or theft.
My Passport 1 TB External Hard Drive – A fast, compact external hard drive is a necessity when traveling, as internet speeds are often too slow to back up photos to the cloud.
I have super thick, long, wavy hair, so I need a lot of haircare on the road. I don’t use heat on my hair when I’m traveling, so I use these products to tame it.
Here’s what I use:
- Lush shampoo bar
- It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle Daily Conditioner
- It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin Spray
- Wet brush
- These hair ties – (Great for thick hair!)
- Batiste Dry Shampoo in Divine Dark
Tip: For shorter trips, decant shampoo and conditioner into refillable three-ounce GoToob Travel Bottles. That way, you can take your favorite products in your carry-on.
I’m a skincare junky with acne-prone skin, so I also pack a good amount of skincare when I travel. Here are my essentials:
- Elta MD Facial Sunscreen SPF 46
- Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream – a great heavy-duty moisturizer
- Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk
- The Ordinary Retinoid 5% in Squalane*
- Mario Badescu Enzyme Revitalizing Mask
- Mario Badescu Drying Lotion – a must-have for breakouts
- Mini Tweezerman tweezers
- Travel-size eye makeup remover pads
- Lip balm (this one’s my favorite)
*Warning – this may be too strong for your skin if you’re new to retinoids.
Here’s a list of my favorite outdoor gear that I use on all of my backpacking trips, hiking trips, and long-distance walks:
- 3L Camelbak water reservoir – I LOVE having a Camelbak when I’m hiking— it’s so nice to take a drink whenever you need one.
- ExOfficio hiking underwear –Pricey but SO comfortable and they dry crazy fast. A must-have.
- Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Jacket – The best rain jacket I’ve every owned. Lightweight and made of GORE-TEX, it blocks the wind but is still breathable. It also looks cute! Check current prices on Amazon and REI.
- Danish Endurance Merino wool socks – Merino wool is my favorite material for hiking socks because it’s comfortable in any temperature and naturally resists odor. Plus, it doesn’t itch like traditional wool.
- Ultra-lightweight Black Diamond hiking poles – I like having hiking poles for long-distance walks and hikes because take the pressure off your back by better distributing the weight of your backpack, and they’re helpful when you’re injured (you can use them as crutches, basically).
- Merril Siren Edge waterproof hiking shoes – My Siren Edge Q2 Hiking Shoes are lightweight, comfortable, and waterproof — I used them for Havasupai Falls last May and loved them.
- RXBAR Energy Bars – The chocolate sea salt flavor is the best!
I always buy travel insurance before international trips. This is for two reasons; to pay for hospital care in case of injury or illness, and two, to protect my gear. I’ve used World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and highly recommend them. Get a quote here.
Other packing posts you may find useful:
The Ultimate Girls’ Packing List for Spain (guest post)
This post was not sponsored by any of these companies – I just really love their products. Also, this post contains affiliate links. If you click through on affiliate link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for keeping Ashley Abroad afloat!