How to Pack for a Big Trip: Packing for this Big Trip

Today I packed. How do you edit your closet and all these travel goodies for such a long journey? Thoughts like – what if it’s cold, what if it’s too hot? To show arms, but not to show arms? I used my parent’s flex room as a staging area and laid out all that I wanted to pack. Several editing sessions later and I was able to fit everything in my ladies small Gregory back pack and my Pacsafe day pack. The former weighed in at 27 lbs, which is very manage-able. On my first trip to India, I had waaaaay overpacked at 45 lbs. And now that there are lovely baggage check in charges and tighter restrictions, I did my best to pack only what I needed.
Here’s the list of what you see spread out and then compacted:
  • two pairs cotton pants
  • two pairs capris
  • three short sleeve shirts
  • three long sleeve shirts (all cotton). I don’t like to show arms in more conservative countries.
* Note: I hear all the time – don’t pack so many clothes, you can buy them abroad. This would be true if I had a small chest and butt. I seem to be of bigger build than most women around the world and can never find clothes that fit, well ones that I would wear anyway.
  • one rain jacket
  • one fleece
  • cotton dress (serves as coverup, night gown and dress)
  • sarong (sooooo many uses)
  • travel towel
  • sleep sheet
  • eight pairs underwear and two bras
  • two pairs socks
  • hat
  • bandanas and scarf
  • swimsuit
  • chaco’s flip flops (the best ever)
  • haviana’s flip flops (for showers and bathrooms)
  • merril hiking shoes (I wear these on the plane, they are bulky)
  • Passport and visa – and copies of each
  • E-ticket for plane trip
  • travel insurance
  • copies of debit and credit cards
  • cash (about $100 per month, but I’m thinking of converting all to Euros when I get there)
  • money belt (I know they are a little “rick steves” dorky, but they keep all I have safe and secure)
  • headlamp and tiny flashlight
  • iPod
  • filtered water bottle (I am soooo done with plastic bottles. Admittedly, the first sip will be the hardest)
  • bungees balls (sounds wierd, but these little guys fasten and hang anything)
  • two digital cameras – one big (DSLR) and one pocket-sized and all their cords and a telephoto lens
  • adapters
  • LAN/ethernet cable (I really don’t trust the safety of WiFi networks in India)
  • Netbook laptop (I wiiiiiish I could bring my Apple Powerbook, but it’s too heavy and a new one is not in the budget)
  • Notebook and moleskine journal (one big and one small)
  • Pens


  • shampoo and conditioner
  • toothbrush and paste
  • lotions
  • sunscreen (face and body)
  • mosquito repellent (natural and deet filled)
  • comb
  • body wash
  • multi-vitamins
  • probiotic for stomach and digestion
  • cranberry extract pills for urinary tract health (anyone who has had a urinary tract infection while traveling can understand the need to pack)
  • Imodium and dulcolax (keep it in and get it out)
  • malaria vaccine
  • aspirin, ibuprofen, tylenol pm
  • benadryl (sleeping aid and allergy medicine)
  • Dayquil
  • baby wipes and TP
  • feminine needs (tampons, liners, and pads – the former is not easy to find at all)
  • bandaids
  • chapstick
Books (toooo many so this list may be paired down):
  • Nikon D5000 for dummies
  • South India
  • Souteast Asia on a Shoestring
  • Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
And, I am bringing pictures of them, my parent’s house, Wisconsin, and beloved friends.
An update after having traveled on my last Big Trip:
  • I should have left all the books home, too heavy for how much I used them.
  • The filtered water bottle was nice in a pinch, but really clunky to carry
  • Two pairs of flip flops were unnecessary
  • Should have packed a small umbrella
  • The netbook was really light and a good blog updating tool, wouldn’t use for much else though.

packed backpack

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11 Responses to “How to Pack for a Big Trip: Packing for this Big Trip”

  1. Toria
    January 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    sounds brilliant to me my friend! You’re gonna have a blast!

  2. Mary
    April 14, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    Thank You for all your tips on packing. These tips are gonna be of great help to me since I am planning my first visit to India soon.

    Thanks again.

  3. jasmine
    August 11, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    awesome! helped a lot, thanks 🙂

    • Kristin
      August 11, 2011 at 9:05 am #

      Thanks Jasmine!

  4. Erol
    October 23, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Perfect order congratulations.

    Just one hint. You can use an e-book reader. I have sony prs-950 and with 16 gb SD card I can carry like 1500 books (including travel books, maps, dictionaries) and lots of music.

    It also have wifi connection and can access to internet (very hard to use but in case).

    And the charge goes on for more than 15 days without Wifi or excessive amount of listening to music. And you can charge it from USB (no need for a charger)

    And its only 400 grams with its leather case (weighted it for you).

    Peace and love be with you


    • Kristin
      October 23, 2011 at 10:51 am #

      Thank you Erol, I just got a Kindle and am looking forward to using it on my next big trip.

  5. Agata
    July 17, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    Thank you Erol – perfect tips on packing! Going in December and it helped me put the list together at no time! Just brilliant. Best wishes, Agata

  6. Erin
    July 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Thanks for the advice!! I was wondering how you have taken your backpack on planes? Do you put it in a duffel bag or such?

    • Kristin
      July 2, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      Hi Erin,

      I have taken a backpack on a plane as both a carry on and as a checked bag. If you check, it helps to have the rain cover on it so the straps are not everywhere. However, I haven’t had any problems.

      Hope this helps,


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