How Did I Pack For a Trip Like This?

A year's worth of travel gear - all in these 2 packs!

One of the questions friends asked me the most before I left on this trip was about packing – how would I pack for a year’s worth of traveling?

The answer? Very carefully.

I had several factors working against me when I started the massive task of trying to pack:

  • I decided to bring the Eagle Creek Truist Vita 55L backpack with me as my main pack. Considering that I normally travel with a suitcase or an older Eagle Creek 70L pack, this was a huge change for me and meant downsizing from what I would normally take on a 2 week trip.
  • I am running the Tallinn Marathon on September 11. This means packing running gear that I would not normally bring with me.
  • I will be traveling largely during the fall and winter in cold and snowy regions, which necessitates bulkier clothing than, say, a warm weather trip through Southeast Asia.

After many making multiple lists and piles and cutting things out and adding things back in, only to cut them out again, here is what I ended up hauling with me when I departed for Helsinki:

I don't know where I'd be without my Eagle Creek packing cubes!


  • Jeans – 2 pairs (I know many long-term travelers are anti-jeans but these are a must for me – especially in cold weather when something like khakis would not be warm enough)
  • Nice black pants
  • Running/yoga pants
  • Skirts – 2
  • Khaki shorts (mainly because I was wearing them in Chicago before I left and didn’t want to throw them out – they don’t take up much room)
  • Running capris (for the marathon, may get tossed afterwards)
  • Shorts & t-shirt for pajamas
  • Under Armour dri-fit short sleeve shirts – 2 (for running, may get tossed after the marathon)
  • Short sleeve t-shirts – 5
  • Camisoles – 1 black, 1 white
  • Under Armour dri-fit long sleeve shirts – 2
  • Long sleeve t-shirts – 4
  • Black cardigan sweater
  • Fleece pullovers – 2
  • Underwear – 10
  • Bras – 4 (2 regular, 2 sports)
  • Socks – 8 pairs plus 1 pair of tights
  • Swimsuit (an afterthought, good in case I get sucked into trying a Russian banya)
  • Black Marmot rain jacket (folds up into its pocket)


  • Running shoes (will get tossed after the marathon)
  • Patagonia Bly Hemp walking/hiking shoes (absolutely love these shoes)
  • Black ballet flats
  • Nike flip flops (comfortable and supportive!)
  • Isotoner terry ballet slippers (I’ll be living with families in Russia and possibly elsewhere in Eastern Europe and I’ve been told it’s customary to wear slippers inside – I also figure they’ll be better for hostels in the winter than flip flops)
All of my toiletries - and the very necessary travel size hair dryer!


  • Lush shampoo bar (supposedly good for 90(!!) washes
  • Spray conditioner
  • Face soap
  • Body soap
  • Acne cream
  • Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Cotton swabs
  • Pumice stone
  • Nail clippers & file
  • Hair binders and headbands (2)
  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush/paste/floss
  • Tampons (I’ve heard they can be hard to find in some countries)
  • Eye drops (I get really dry eyes)
Keeping my electronics and other miscellaneous stuff organized.


  • Asus netbook
  • Kindle 3G
  • Blackberry (unlocked by T-Mobile so I can use with local SIM cards)
  • iPod
  • Samsung HZ30W camera (an upgrade from my previous point & shoot – I’m not yet ready to invest in a pricey camera)
  • My old Canon point & shoot (small enough to fit in my pocket, great to carry out on the town)
  • Extra memory cards & camera batteries
  • Western Digital portable hard drive
  • 2 USB flash drives
  • Adaptor/converter set (think I may toss the converter, I don’t seem to need it since everything I have runs on dual voltage)
  • Travel size hair dryer (in my mind, a total necessity – don’t bother arguing!)
  • Garmin watch (again, for the marathon)
  • Wireless antenna (to improve wi-fi connections)


  • Prescription medications
  • Aleve
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Band-aids
  • Neosporin
  • Hydrocortisone cream

ย Other:

  • Travel towel
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Plastic folder for various documents
  • Jewelry (3 earrings, 3 necklaces, 3 rings)
  • Makeup (foundation, eyeliner, mascara & eye shadow – I don’t wear much!)
  • Steripen
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Packets of Woolite, a sink stopper and a travel clothesline
  • Russian phrase book
  • Eyewitness Top Ten guides to Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Moscow (I love these and they are super small!)
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Extra Zip Lock bags
  • Extra padlocks for hostel lockers
  • Laminated cards in Finnish, Estonian, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Uzbek explaining my gluten intolerance
  • Extra copies of passport
  • Extra passport photos for obtaining visas along the way
  • List of US embassy information for each country I’m visiting
  • List of bank and credit card company contact information

In addition to my Truist Vita 55L pack, I am carrying a North Face Borealis 27L backpack as a carry-on/daypack and an Eagle Creek shoulder bag for day to day use. I also got an REI pack duffle to protect my pack when checking it on airplanes.

Whew. That was a lot.

What do you think?ย  Too much?ย  Did I miss anything?




20 thoughts on “How Did I Pack For a Trip Like This?”

  1. Pingback: Baseball Summer Blog

  2. Great packing list! I am off to India for a month and trying to decide what pack to purchase. Can you tell me if the Eagle Creek pack is comfortable and also is it just top loading or can you access this from the side (u shaped zip) like a suitcase? Your travels sound amazing!

    1. Hi Johanna,
      It’s fairly comfortable (as comfortable as carrying 30 pounds around on your back can be!). The pack is side-loading and top loading – the top could actually expand but I’ve made myself ignore that so I’ll have more room later along the trip. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. So glad you are pro-jeans, I think everyone should be, I know especially because you’ll be experiencing some cold climates over winter. Plus, I just feel as though you can dress them up a bit more for the evening, so they serve two purposes. And as you know, I am loving that you have your hairdryer ๐Ÿ˜‰ Looks like you did a great job fitting it all in the pack.

  4. Such a great packing list, I’ll definitely be using this as a basis for mine!

    Would you mind letting me know where you got your toiletry bag? All of the ones I’m looking at are either too small or too large.

    Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Maddie – thanks for the comment! I got the toiletry bag at the Container Store. Not sure where all they have locations, but you might be able to order one online.

  5. Love packing list… glad you made everything fit. Looks like you have everything you need. I love that you are taking 2 pairs of jeans… I just have one and wish I could bring two… I am some a jeans boi. Jeans rock!!!

    PS packing cubes are the best thing ever!!!

    1. Yeah, jeans were a necessity. I really don’t wear anything else at home so why do differently on the road? I didn’t want to go and buy a bunch of khakis or other pants that I wouldn’t normally wear (and that would be chilly in the cold weather!!).

      1. Seriously – have you ever been in really cold weather – 10C or lower? You are risking hyperthermia wearing cotton – jeans are just the worst example because they are particularly hard to get dry. Khakhis wouldn’t work either. I’d suggest you have full length thermals (polypro or merino) – plus either pants that will dry fast (travel pants or similar – its the fabric not the style) or ski pants.

        1. Haha, yes – I grew up in Minnesota and have lived in Chicago the last 10 years. We get several weeks of those temps every year – often colder with the wind chill. Jeans work just fine, sometimes with a layer of tights underneath for the worst days. It’s not like I’m going to be out skiing or hiking or camping in the winter months – most of my time outdoors will just be walking around in cities. So no, not worried about hypothermia at all and no need (or room!) for ski pants.

  6. This is just incredible! You’ve got this packing gig down. Being involved in Scouting, I’d almost like to use this post as a recommendation when I’m sharing thoughts on packing, what to bring, what not to bring, etc…you’ve just got a nice list here to work from for those who are on an extended trip. Fantastic!

    I’m going to be up in Idaho for a month in October – and just might use some of your recommendations then too.

    Thanks for letting me stop by. Appreciate it.

  7. Good list! When I packed for my Australia trip I had no idea what I would be doing. It was summer and I didn’t know how long I would stay or what kind of job I would get so I had to basically start new and buy all new clothes. I brought a 65L pack and while it fit everything, it’s probably still too big as I didn’t take it on smaller road trips and used canvas bags and a backpack instead. There’s always something you’ll wish you had, but you can always buy when you get there.

    1. Thanks Caroline!

      You’re right – I definitely can buy pretty much anything I need along the way. The question is, where will I put it? ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Sounds like you did a great job! I don’t know if I could do it… I had trouble narrowing things for my 2-week NZ trip down enough to fit into a 36L backpack. I can only imagine trying to do that for a year-long trip! Yikes. You’ll have to let us know what you don’t use/wish you HAD brought sometime down the line.

    1. Thanks Amanda! I will definitely do a follow up post at some point.

      I can say that after my first few days, my most useful item has been my rain jacket, followed by my Kindle – 3G internet access rocks!

  9. I am committing this list to memory! I’ve started making my packing list, and yours is the most relevant to me that I’ve seen around.

    Also, the GI cards? I need those. Good call.

    1. Kat – you can find the gluten-free cards on They have them in at least 20 different languages (even Uzbek – whoa!). I had to adjust my printer to print them out to wallet size – the default size was full page.

  10. I LOVE my Eagle Creek packing cubes too! Used them on ever trip.

    I also just downgraded from a 75L pack to a 60L so I’m interested to see how much of a challenge it is to actually fit teh stuff i need for my big latin america trip.

    I think your packing list looks good!

    1. Thanks Steph! I think I am addicted to Eagle Creek everything – can’t believe I never used their packing cubes before this trip!

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