You know my ongoing obsession with minimalism and travel? Well, I’m about to blow that entire concept to smithereens in this packing list post. Maybe some of you can master the art of packing lightly for multiple destinations much better than I can, but this is as close as I can get.
This packing list covers (1) three weeks in Hawaii, (2) a wedding in California, (3) a ten-day road trip along the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, (4) a week in Lake Powell, (5) a few days in California, (6) three weeks in Tennessee, and (7) a few days in Wisconsin. I might even add a few days in New Zealand or China to the list before heading back to Western Australia.
This is one of the most challenging trips I’ve ever packed for because there was such a variety of activities and climates that I needed to cover. At one point, I had a pair of high-heels and a bridesmaid’s dressed packed alongside my surf booties and neoprene wetsuit.
It can be really tempting to over-pack when you’ll be visiting multiple destinations — especially with sports activities thrown into the mix. Try to rent or borrow any gear you’ll only be using once or twice. If you’re not sure if you’ll need it but know that you can buy it (cheaply) there, just leave it at home.
Bring clothing that you can layer. It’s much better to bring a T-shirt, a sweater, and a raincoat than one massive puffy jacket unless you’re in cold weather the entire time.
Packing cubes will be your lifesaver. If I’m only using certain items for part of a trip (like my freediving gear), I’ll lump them together and stash them until I get to that destination. This saves me from packing and unpacking the things I don’t need.
Invest in things that are durable. I prefer to buy an item once rather than keep buying the same thing multiple times. The saying, you get what you pay for definitely applies to travel items.
Pack just a few colors so that everything can be mixed and matched. I usually bring black, blue, or grey base layers, and accessorize with color.
My Backpack and Packing System
I roll my clothes into three packing cubes, then I stuff those into the bottom of my Deuter 60 + 10 L backpack. I’ve had this backpack for nearly six years, and aside from a few scuffs, it’s still in perfect condition. My backpack has gone with me everywhere from the top of Mt. Rinjani to the Eiffel Tower to Las Vegas.
I pack all camera and tech gear into a 32 L Patagonia backpack (similar) as my carry-on. For this trip, I also brought my freediving fins inside of their own Leaderfins freediving bag — though it is possible to unscrew the fin blades from the pockets and pack the fins into my large backpack.
So that leaves me with one normal-sized backpack, one huge one, and a fin bag.
- Sunglasses (2): I never leave for a trip — let alone the house — without a pair of sunglasses. I usually have one cheap pair that I can wear in between sports activities as well as a nicer pair for general sightseeing. Favorite pair: Burberry Garbadine from Vision Direct — you can virtually try on sunglasses on their website before choosing, or find the pair you liked in a shop online for a discount.
- Hats (3): I have one hat for surfing, one for other adventure activities, and my favorite, a wide-brimmed hat for everyday wear. The wide-brimmed hat is a pain to travel with on multiple flights, though. If I’m really limited on space and not planning to surf, I’ll only bring my trucker hat.
- Necklaces (5) + bracelets (3) + ring (1)
- Scarf (1)
- Zip hoodie (1)
- Tops (7)
- Jeans (1)
- Shorts (3) (athletic + jean)
- Short dress (2)
- Long skirt (1)
- And (1) fancy dress (for a wedding – ditched shortly after wearing)
- (1) pair of running shoes
- (1) pair of every day shoes
- (1) pair of flip flops
- (2) bras + (1) sports bra + (7) pairs of underwear + (4) pairs of socks
- Bikinis (3)
- Sarong — this acts as my towel and quick cover up
- Cross-shoulder small purse (1)
- Compact tote bags (2) (so handy for grocery shopping or storing extra dirty laundry)
- Patagonia nano-puff jacket (1): Rarely worn, but brought on every trip and so thankful to have it whenever I need it. So warm yet so compact.
- Long-sleeved cover up (1)
- Yoga leggings (1)
- Running leggings (1)
- Sunscreen: This is the most important toiletry I take on a trip. I wear sunscreen nearly every single day. I never pack or use sunscreen with oxybenzone in it. Oxybenzone is known to be bad for skin and harms coral reefs. I use Surf Butter Co. (Australian brand) for my face and Australian Gold Botanical 50 SPF sunscreen for my body. Or Garden Goddess 30 SPF. These are mineral sunscreens which are harder to rub in and can leave a white residue, but they’re better for the environment and your skin. Many people love Sun Bum but I personally think it doesn’t work very well — after being burned so many times after using their face stick, I threw it away. And! Oxybenzone is a main ingredient.
- Shampoo bar (doubles as soap) + conditioner
- Contact lenses + prescription glasses
- Coconut oil
- Deodorant (still can’t find a great basic one)
- Diva Cup
- Makeup: Urban Decay Naked Palette + Benefit mascara + Too Faced bronzer + Urban Decay eyeliner + foundation
Tech and Camera Gear
- Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14″ laptop + Toshiba 1 TB hard drive + laptop case
- Outlet power adapter
- Canon Powershot S90 (I prefer the 120 but it broke) + waterproof housing + 32 GB memory card
- Canon Rebel SL1 (also called the EOS 100D) + 50 mm lens + 10-18 mm wide angle lens + 50-200 mm zoom lens + spare battery: The Rebel Sl1/EOS 100D is the smallest DSLR on the market, and so convenient as a travel camera. I really recommend this camera to anyone wanting a DLSR that won’t be a pain to carry.
- GoPro Hero 3+ (R.I.P.) + selfie stick + Ho Stevie! mouth mount
- Kindle fire
- Combination padlock
- A bag filled with chargers and cables
Adventure and Sports Gear
I opted not to bring a surfboard on this trip, but this is generally what I put into my board bag (plus a surfboard), anyways.
- (1) O’neill Bahia 2/1 mm spring suit
- (1) West 3/2 mm steamer — only needed this in Baja, Mexico (not pictured)
- (1) Crop top wetsuit top
- 1 pair of Leaderfins Sterofins freediving fins
- Snorkel + Mares Star Liquid Skin freediving mask
- 2 mm neoprene socks
- FCS surf booties
- Rubber freediving belt + lead weights