bags for world trip

How to pack for a world trip – Man vs Woman

You’re going to travel the world. What do you take with you?

  • Your passport. Without that little book you wouldn’t get far.
  • Some countries require a vaccination certificate.

That’s already a good start. What else?

  • socks
  • underwear
  • clothes, depending on the weather and season of your destination
  • a rain jacket, always comes in handy
  • shoes
  • your toothbrush
  • a tent and a sleeping bag if you’re planning to camp
  • a camera to document all your adventures

That’s it. You don’t really need anything else, no? You can leave the rest of your things at home. It’s better not to take too much with you. You’ll have to carry it the whole time. And it’s always good to leave a bit of space to bring souvenirs back with you. Packing up your bag or suitcase shouldn’t give you a big headache. What you don’t bring with you, stays at home and you’ll see it back after your trip.


But what if your backpack is your home? What you can’t bring, you have to leave somewhere behind and you’ll never see it again.
In the past few years I learned to detach myself from my possessions. I know that everything is replaceable and if I really need something, it comes on my path, one way or another.
It doesn’t mean that it’s easy to choose between what stays and what goes. Both Niko and I were breaking our heads about it. Although there was an obvious difference here between male and female.


During the past year in Ireland we gathered quite a lot of things. Books, clothing, film material,… Our little pile of possessions started to grow. But we stayed in one place, didn’t have to carry a thing so it wasn’t a problem. Until the moment of our departure. We gathered so much stuff it didn’t fit in our backpacks anymore. Time to make some choices!
The passports, vaccination certificates, film material, laptop, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, rain jacket, world map and pocket knives already fill up half the space in our bags. And we didn’t even pack our clothes yet.


Niko knows straight away what he’ll take with him: a few boxer shorts, four pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, three T-shirts, three shirts and a warm sweater. One pair of shoes which will never see the inside of the backpack. And a toothbrush.
The choice is harder when it comes to his study books. Niko is a passionate polyglot and uses every hour of his free time to study languages. Will he take his precious books with him or not? After days of doubting and packing the books to unpack them again after a few hours, he finally decides to take them along. Niko is ready to go.


My packing time didn’t go so smoothly. I spent a whole day between my collected items. Will I take my drawing material? What do I do with my books? And most important of all, which shoes and clothes go with me? You must know, I’m not someone who follows the latest trends and I find it more important to feel comfortable in what I wear. But I’ve gathered so many sweaters, pants, skirts,… that I just can’t choose. Every five minutes I’m asking Niko’s attention if I should or shouldn’t take this skirt, that T-shirt,… with me. Poor guy, after half an hour he’s already ignoring me and just absently nods when I ask him something. Hmm, I’m getting the message. Then he asks me if I really need all of those clothes. Good point, I don’t. I just need to have enough to keep me warm during winter time in Europe.
After a whole day of packing and unpacking I made my choice. My backpack is full. So full that an extra pair of panties wouldn’t fit in there anymore. With the other load of clothes I make some local friends happy. I’m ready to go!


our bags

The day of our departure. Niko and I take our bags and say goodbye to our tree house. After an intense walk down the mountain and through the woods, we arrive at the little road. We’re already exhausted. I mention to Niko that I’m not used to carry a big bag like this anymore. We’re just on our way and it’s already weighing a lot. He looks at me and we begin to laugh. We open up our bags and start unpacking every item we were having doubts about. Niko’s books and my extra shoes, pants, skirt, T-shirts,… We leave it all behind in the shed of our neighbours. Let’s hope they’re into learning languages and have my clothing size…
Less is more is a very known expression. And very true. The less we have, the less we have to carry and the less worries we have. It’s a feeling of freedom. We don’t need much to live. We just need to make sure we’re warm enough during cold nights, have enough food to give our bodies some energy, a toothbrush to clean our teeth every night (I want my dentist to like me) and a good backpack because our home is where our backpack is!
P.S. If you happen to be in the North of France and you find a trail of clothes size 36 – 38, the odds are they belonged to me…


Packing for a world trip - Man vs Woman
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Follow Cynthia - Journal of Nomads:

Writer, travel photographer, Panasonic Lumix Ambassador and co-founder of Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 8 years.I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable.I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me.Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable.Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

3 Responses

  1. Mustafa Djellouli
    | Reply

    Do you think its okey to bring walking sandals (décathlon) instead of shoes ? Especially when travelling to a warm area, during my last trip in malaysia i reall got tired of washing socks everyday and having my feet smelled like a dead rat.

  2. BackpackerJ
    | Reply

    haha It’s all about error and trial (-:

    How much weight did you end up carrying?

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      When we left France about 20 kg, now 15 kg 🙂 The further we go, the less we carry with us 🙂

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