Packing and luggage
Here are our best tips for getting around, including car hire, trains and buses.
In general, for long-term travel, Steve and I both use and recommend backpacks, but for shorter journeys we use wheeled suitcases. This partly depends on the destination and mode of travel. For example, we mostly tend to do road trips, so a wheeled bag is perfect for these, lessening the load on your back. You just have to wheel them through the airport and transfer them to the boot of the car. However, if you’re going to be doing a lot of journeys on public transport, a backpack is likely more practical. For me, I prefer to avoid carrying a heavy backpack whenever possible. The golden secret to efficient packing is to use packing cubes, which I also recommend below.
As for what to pack, this varies for us depending on the trip we;re taking. I wrote an all-seasons packing list when we left on our round-the-world travels, and most of the recommendations still stand. However, we don’t travel for such long periods of time anymore, so my packing style has changed. For example, here’s a detailed packing list for Iceland, with everything I took there for a five-day trip.
Below are some key tips, including the bags we use, the secrets to packing light, and some key products we recommend for travels around the world.
This case is the largest cabin-size bag I’ve found. It can be expanded, which takes it beyond cabin-size requirements, which is useful if you want to add some extras and don’t mind putting it in the hold. There are lots of useful pockets and compartments, including a removable toiletry pouch. And it has an integrated TSA cable local that secures all the external pockets in one go.
Osprey Kestrel 38
I used my Osprey Kestrel 38 for the entire duration of our three-year trip around the world and I loved it. It’s lightweight and has a built-in rain cover for added protection when necessary, as well as a built-in ventilation panel to avoid a sweaty back! The only downside is that you can’t lock it, but I kept all my valuables in a separate lockable backpack, so this wasn’t an issue for me.
Osprey Kestrel 48
Steve used the men’s version of the Osprey Kestrel, which is slightly bigger at 48 litres and has all the benefits of the women’s version.
As a filmmaker, Steve carries a lot of camera equipment with him when travelling. For this he uses, the ThinkTank Shapeshifter. It’s strong, has loads of separate pockets for memory cards, batteries, lenses etc, and it has separate pouch for a laptop. Steve loves it.
Secrets to efficient packing
Eagle Creek packing cubes
As I said in the intro, packing cubes are the secret of efficient packing, especially if you want to keep everything cabin-size. They allow you to keep everything organised and avoid the chaos of a messy suitcase/backpack. Steve and I use Eagle Creek compression cubes. One of mine is double sided, so I can keep ups on one side and bottoms on the other.
The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light
If you’re keen on packing light and not having to check-in your luggage, I recommend reading Erin’s book, The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light. I’m no expert at this, but Erin truly is. She’s been doing it full-time for seven years! The book is available for Kindle or paperback on Amazon US, Amazon UK, or your local Amazon store.
Riemann Once a Day Suncream
Riemann once-a-day suncream is expensive, but it only needs to applied once and is water resistant, so you use much less.
The Riemann suncream can be a bit oily, so if you have sensitive skin, I recommend Altruist, a suncream created by a dermatologist, which is the lest sticky and also the most effective suncream I’ve ever used. I didn’t burn once.
La Roche Posay Anthelios
I’m prone to getting acne and sun tan lotion tends to exacerbate it, until I found this one, which is super lightweight and doesn’t make my skin oily at all. I love it!
A Mooncup (or DivaCup) is one of the best inventions ever. The reusable silicone menstrual cup os much better for the environment than tampons or sanitary pads. Pus it saves you money and takes up much less space in your bag.
You can’t buy this over the counter in the UK, but I recommend trying to get a prescription for it before you travel. If you cut yourself, the topical antibacterial cream is excellent for preventing infection.
Macbook Pro 15-inch Laptop
While a Macbook Air is the obvious choice for travellers, if you need more power, the Macbook Pro is ideal. I’ve had mine for the past few years and I love it.
Western Digital My Passport 1TB Hard Drive
Don’t forget to back up your computer when travelling! The Western Digital My Passport 1TB Hard Drive is nice and small but robust enough for travelling.
Although I’m a huge fan of paperbacks and read them in favour of ebooks at home, the Kindle Paperwhite is most definitely one of the most brilliant traveller gifts. Gone are the days when you had to rely on the hostel’s book swap, and now you can have every book at your whim. Any traveller will thank you for it.
I have an iPhone X and Steve has an 8 Plus, which we use for taking photos, staying in touch, using the internet, directions and using the personal hotspot for our laptops when we don’t have the internet. We’re both on Three Mobile, so we use Feel at Home wherever we can, but otherwise we buy a local SIM card.
This is the ultimate hipster travel luxury – the ability to make a perfect cup of coffee while on the move. It’s not too heavy and is really easy to use, rivalling anything you could buy in a shop. Add a hand-held grinder, and your favourite traveller will be able to grind their own beans wherever they are in the world.
Steve and I love playing games while travelling. They’re a great way to meet new people or pass time while waiting for buses and whatnot. Some of our favourites are Jungle Speed, Bananagrams and Backpacker.