When Brandon mentioned the idea of only taking carry-on size backpacks for our trip, I thought he was crazy. It was difficult for me to imagine how to pack for an indefinite amount of time into such a small amount of space! But I did it! While it took quite a while to decide which tops, toiletries and shoes to bring, I was happy I was able to make it work.
If you’re looking for Brandon’s packing list, click here.
Here are my travel essentials for women!
Travel Essentials for Women
Backpack for women travelers: Osprey Farpoint 40
Main motivator: Carry-on size.
One of the best carry on sized backpacks for women. This pack fits perfectly in an overhead compartment even when it’s completely stuffed full. The hip pads and shoulder straps are comfortable and I enjoy the layout on the inside. The inside pockets fit my laptop safely and keep my other valuables hidden. The addition of my packing cube and stuff sacs help save on space in the main compartment. Fellow long-term traveler, Erin from Never Ending Voyage, also agrees that it’s a great backpack for women!
Changes I’d make: Add pockets to the hip pads for easy and quick access to things like cash, chapstick, etc.
Daypack for girl travelers: REI Stuff Sack 22L
I scored this daypack on sale for $13. It must have been an off season color (I got a dark berry colored one, not listed on the site). Pretty comfortable and stuffs into itself for easy packing into my Osprey when I’m not using it. It easily fits my 11″ Macbook Air along with other items. It surprisingly fits more than I think, every time I fill it up. I use a carabiner to attach it to my backpack.
Changes I’d make: More comfortable straps. Not great for long hikes as the straps dig into your shoulders.
Travel purse for women: eBags Piazza Day Bag
Main motivator: Cross-body and not hideous.
It was hard for me to choose a purse without seeing it in person first, but the reviews on Amazon were great so I pulled the trigger. It has TONS of pockets so I always felt as though my things were safe and secure inside. Even more spacious than it appears in the pictures; I was able to fit both my iPad and Kindle inside at the time and still zip it up. It’s no Marc Jacobs, but it is pretty cute!
Changes I’d make: Smaller. The more I used the purse, the less I felt like I needed all the space it provided. And then I’d complain about feeling like a “traveler” because of it’s appearance. Ha!
Travel shoes for women: New Balance Minimus Zero
Main motivator: Comfortable and lightweight/dry fast
These shoes have been amazing. Super lightweight and flexible so they pack up easy. It’s like I’m wearing nothing on my feet. They also dry quickly which was also a motivator. Equally as comfortable with or without socks which is great in a tropical climate, to have the option.
Changes I’d make: NONE! I absolutely love everything about these shoes.
Travel Toiletries for Women:
- Body lotion
- 1 package of Neutrogena makeup remover wipes
- Wet Wipes
- All purpose liquid soap
- 4 travel size contact solution bottles, one contact case, 1 pair of glasses inside case
- 12 pairs of disposable contact lenses
- Makeup (eyeliner, 2 shadows, mascara, BB cream, bronzer, blush and lip gloss)
- Hand Sanitizer
- 3 packs of gum
- 3 small packs of tissue
- Diva Cup – saves the day during long bus rides or when you can’t get to the bathroom
- 9 months worth of birth control pills
- UTI pain meds
- Pepto chewables
- 60 probiotic pills
- 1 hair brush (the “Wet Brush”)
- 1 travel size hair dryer
- 1 travel size package of Q-tips
Electronics for long term travel
- Macbook Air 11″ – perfect for traveling because it’s compact/lightweight but still fully functional
- Klipsch s4 headphones – best under $100 pair of ear bud headphones around
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5 Lifeproof case
- Amazon Kindle with case
- 3 power cords to charge electronics
- 1 outlet converter for Asia (Target; $4)
Travel Clothes for women
- 2 v-neck t-shirts from Target
- 1 running t-shirt
- 1 long-sleeved athletic shirt
- 1 gray cardigan
- 5 tank tops (3 loose fitting, 2 racer-back)
- 1 maxi dress – can dress up, dress down, and wear all around 🙂
- 2 maxi skirts
- 1 pair of leggings
- 2 pairs of shorts (one yellow denim, one black athletic)
- 1 pair of cropped leggings for practicing yoga
- 1 pair of loose fitting Lululemon capris (Step Lively Crop)
- 2 Lululemon sports bras (Flow Y IV Bra)
- 1 regular bra
- 6 pairs of underwear (my fave are the mulabandha Lululemon ones)
- 1 bikini swimsuit bottom with 3 different tops
- 3 pairs of ankle socks
- 3 headbands
- Yoga Mat – Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat or our new favorite the YOGO!
- 2 stud earrings, 2 necklaces
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 Batik large lightweight scarf for multi-purpose uses
- Travel Yoga Towel made by Manduka
- 2 stuff sacs and 1 packing cube to help with packing down my items
Most Valuable Items for female travelers
Travel Insurance (from World Nomads)
I didn’t think I would ever need travel insurance and even though it’s not very expensive I still didn’t want to buy it. I decided to get travel insurance to please my mom and to have a little extra peace of mind. Fast forward a few months and I’m in the hospital in Bali after getting hit by a motorbike! Thank god I had travel insurance – they covered all my hospital bills (total over $1,200 USD). We use and recommend World Nomads – they are the most popular, have the best coverage, and reimburse you in a timely manor. No brainer!
Click here for an overview of World Nomads travel insurance.
These have been amazing. Instantly comfortable with no break in needed. Fit snug to my foot and I can wear with or without socks. I am so happy I did my research and ended up with this pair!
India and most of SE Asia are fairly conservative making this lightweight scarf perfect to use as a cover-up without being too warm. It has also come in handy for use as a bed sheet, blanket and skirt. I highly recommend any woman traveler to get one!
I got one dry sac and one regular one. The dry ones are for my electronics and the other is for clothing. I had no idea how much easier packing can be with these! You can fit a lot into them and save room in whatever backpack or suitcase you use. I will always use these moving forward. (The other one I use is a eBags Packing Cube that has been equally as helpful!)
Updates to the packing list as of February 2015
I got rid of my purse about half way through and gave it to Brandon’s mom. I purchased a cute cross-body one at a market in Bangkok. Although the one I had had a bunch of pockets and was practical, I ended up wanting one that was a bit smaller.
I threw out the hair-dryer in month one. Really, what was I thinking? It was sweltering most days, so there was no need to add heat to our lives. 🙂
Swapped out my iPad2 for a new MacBook Air 11″. The iPad was not easy to work on for extended periods of time. Extremely happy with the Macbook Air.
Packing for long-term travel takes A LOT of thoughtful consideration. For me, I prioritized comfort, utility and versatility over style. That was hard coming from a girl who loves fashion and style in general. I found that wearing the same thing day in and day out left me with one less decision to make. When I got tired of something, there were endless markets selling clothing so we could swap pieces out.
What are your tips for women packing light while traveling?