My non-negotiable travel essentials + packing list.
To travel is to take a journey into yourself. | Danny Kaye
Travel acts as a truth serum. I recommend travel as a tangible inquisition into the depths of your soul. There is nothing like travel to accentuate your buried strengths, expose your slight deficiencies and shine a bright light on the unique magic that you bring into the world.
As I am sitting here, writing, my love is next to me, planning out the places we might go from Borneo to Myanmar to Vietnam and everywhere in between. In 3 days we will embark on the greatest adventure of our relationship: 6 months in unchartered parts of South East Asia. He’s the planner in our relationship, while I prefer to arrive, and see which way the winds blow me, so I nod and smile, as he points out places we absolutely must visit.
While I’m an expert at solo-wanders, traveling in a couple is a whole new world for me. I confess I am equally exhilarated and intrigued. This journey will be an adventure unlike any other.
Every week I receive many enthusiastic emails from gorgeous readers wondering things like…
“I want to travel the world with my work. How can I do it?”
“I’m about to leave on an indefinite world-wide trip. What do I pack?”
“What are my absolute must-have essentials for travels?”
“Have I missed anything? I’m scared and leaving tomorrow!”
Etc, etc, etc.
These are the best questions to receive in my email, because if you’re as enthusiastic about travel as I am, then we are bound to be friends. After 13 years of on-going indefinite travel plans I’ve got a pretty clear idea of what is required and included.
So I have put together my non-negotiable travel essentials and packing list, for anyone taking their life (and work) on the road for an indefinite period of time. Things like: visas, banking, portable office, emotional and health precautions and what (and what not) to pack. I hope this gives you the confidence to fill your rucksack and take a leap into the atlas, to re-acquaint yourself with the depths of your soul.
Booking flights.
(Almost) every journey begins with a flight. I keep flight searches simple. I start by going to Google Flights to get a first impression of dates and costs. Often (more often than not) I find the flight I want there, but sometimes I like to check in other places like Momondo and Skyscanner, just to compare. When I find a flight I like, I’ll also check with the airline directly, to see if they have any specials or better deals, which is often the case. I tend to book my flights a few weeks out even though that’s not necessarily the most cost-effective route, simply because my life changes so often and so quickly, that in the end it works out better, as I save in flight change fees.
Hot tip: Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the cheapest days to fly.
Emotional preparations.
The emotional rollercoaster that escorts travel, especially the kind that is unplanned and open-ended, the kind that leads to adventure and spirited inner growth, often arrives unannounced and in the most unexpected ways. There are family members to console, who think you are leaving them (no matter how often you tell them you love them forever); friends who are terrified you will change (and you will); and your own fears and anxieties to quell. Remember that these emotions are part of the experience, and choose to find your zen throughout it all by practicing patience, compassion, openness, courage and acceptance.
Hot tip: 3 days before your departure, you will likely encounter “the freak-out”. It includes completely questioning your plans, feeling that you are absolutely not ready, and wanting to cancel everything. This is normal. Breathe through it. The moment you step onto that plane all this tension will dissolve and will be replaced by heartfelt excitement and joy.
Travel insurance, banking and visas.
I always get travel insurance through World Nomads. They are simply the most competitive and best that I have found. I try to have $100 USD in a hidden pocket, just in case of emergencies, and beyond that, pull out local currency in lots of $400 or $500 (depending on what the maximum of the ATM is) when I arrive. It tends to be the cheapest and simplest way that I have found. In first world countries like Europe, the UK, North America, Australia and NZ, I open up accounts so I can transfer money from my PayPal account into them without having currency costs and fees to deal with. I always work and travel on tourist visas. It’s easy, inexpensive and hassle free. Except for in Europe because I was born there, and Australia because I’m a permanent resident there.
Hot tip: If you have a freelance or online business like I do, talk to your accountant about how to make your travels work for you. All my travels are tax-deductible for me, because they are part of my “education business”. I pay taxes every year in Australia, because that’s where my business is registered, but my accountant is awesome, and I’ve not literally had to pay anything, yet.
Places to stay.
The next thing you will want to organise is where to stay. I like to reach out to my global online community first and foremost, to see who is out there, in the places I am going. Sometimes they have a spare room to rent, or recommendations or friends I can stay with, which is awesome. I love connecting and staying with real people, rather than outsourcing places to stay. Second to that, I also like to use AirBnB, and WorkAway, as options and solutions.
Hot tip: WorkAway is different, as it allows you to exchange your time for food and accommodation, and give you really authentic experience, plus covering your basic expenses, as you learn about the new culture you are exploring. This is perfect for slow travels, especially for those still growing their business, and wanting to save some money while giving back to the local community.
Portable office.
I’m a fan of sweet and simple. My entire portable office includes: My Filofax, Mac Air laptop, Olympus Pen 1 camera and an assorted ziplock bag of pens. Everything else is organised digitally, some of which I outline in my Love List. I pack it all into my small canvas duffel bag which goes with me practical everywhere, so I can stop and work whenever and wherever I go.
Hot tip: Create systems and processes that mean you don’t have to print anything. Printing on paper kills trees and is a serious waste.
Packing essentials.
Unless you’re going to Australia or New Zealand everything you could possibly want or need is going to be cheaper at your destination. Which means that I recommend not buying anything extra for your trip, using what you have, and buying what you need upon arrival. This goes for: electronics, beauty and personal products, clothes and so on. Literally everything.
Beauty: I keep it simple. I use Dr. Bronner’s Sandalwood and Jasmine liquid soup; virgin coconut oil for my body (and face as a makeup removes and even moisturizer sometimes); Sukin Restoring Night Cream, Kiehl’s Skin Tone Correcting BB Cream + Sunscreen in Medium; Buxom Lash Mascara in Black; a no-brand black kohl eyeliner and a liquid eyeliner I picked up somewhere along the way for sultry nights; an eyebrow power kit I bought in a supermarket once and a cherry lip and cheek tint by Glory Boon. I usually get all the important places waxed, but always have a razor and tweezers handy for emergencies, and carry around loofah gloves because sometimes you just need a good scrubbing.
Health: I travel with Spirulina powder; Magnesium tablets; and Melatonin to help with relaxation and adjusting to time zones quickly and easily.
Clothes: Since my travels are always open-ended, and I never know what seasons I will encounter, I always, always pack clothes that can carry me from hot, sweltering summers (my personal preference) to mild winter, and will purchase any additional clothes and jackets that I might require upon arrival. In an attempt to give you an idea what that looks like, I am spilling the current contents of my bag.

For cooler weather: 3 pairs of jeans; 2 warm weather dresses; 3 knitted sweaters; 2 long-sleeved tops; 1 hooded sweater; 1 flannel; 1 leather jacket; and a scarf that doubles as a blanket on cold flights and bus rides. These are all optimal layering clothes where almost everything can work together in some way.

For warmer weather: 2 pairs of denim shorts; 2 muscle t’s; 3 t-shirts, 2 playsuits; 6 dresses, 1 kimono, 1 light jacket.

Everything else: 2 pairs of leggings that double as pyjamas / lounge-around-the-house clothes; a pair of yoga leggings; 4 bras; 1 sports bra; 9 pairs of panties; 3 sets of bikinis; 5 pairs of socks and my current favourite 5 rings, 2 necklaces and 1 pair of earrings.

Footwear: 1 pair of ankle boots; 1 pair of runners; and 1 pair of leather sandals.

Hot tip: When at tropical, warm beaches, go find a bit of beach with privacy, grab a handful of wet sand, and scrub your body with it. It feels amazing, and is the best natural exfoliation you could ask for, leaving your skin baby-soft, as soon as you dip into the water to wash it off. Nature is the best beautifier! (Don’t forget to follow it up with coconut oil when you get back to your abode.)
Luggage: I absolutely adore and recommend using duffel roller bags. They’re easy to manage, can fit a surprising amount in them and are hardy. I’ve taken mine across the scariest borders and through glamorous hotels, and they stand the test of time, no matter what. I used to have one from Dakine that looked a bit like this, and now I have a Quicksilver one that’s similar to this.
Hot tip: I like compartmentalising my bag so one area is filled with things that I rarely use (i.e. winter clothes during summer), and the other is one that I access often, so I don’t have to rummage around everything to find what I am looking for.
Carry-on: My carry-on essentially doubles as my portable office. So it includes everything outlined above, plus some nuts to snack on in emergencies, my Brita filtered water bottle, my scarf / blanket in case I get cold, Yes to Cucumbers facial wipes, my Medicine Mama’s Bee Magic Wand for dry face, lips and skin from airport transfers and some essential lavender oil for relaxation and to rescue me from any surrounding stink.
Hot tip: Keep your passport and important documents in your handbag or purse rather than your carry-on bag to keep them easy to access and always carry a pen. It will come handy when you least expect it, and will help you make friends.
Healthy transit.
This section could really have an article all of its own. I’m very sensitive to travel and my environment, and so I try to keep things as easy and stress-free as possible. I arrive at airports early, especially because I love prowling through the duty-free for unusual deals. I usually fast during flights, and just drink teas and lots of water, because flying messes with my stomach, and pack nuts to nibble on in case I can’t get a healthy meal upon landing. How much effect lasts in time, I had it for 12 hours, but for a pleasant evening in a couple of visits, I have enough. In the morning there is no trace of cork. Yes, another small secret: so that the face does not blush much, you can start taking the medicine in small portions. For example, a third, after 20 minutes a third and then another third. Then, as I noticed, the side effects described at (facial flushing and others) are not so pronounced. I take my makeup off, if I’m wearing any, before take-off to let my skin breathe, and spritz it with water and moisturize it during the flight to keep it hydrated because the airplanes suck everything out of you. And I take Melatonin during the flight to relax and sleep as much as possible.
Hot tip: Staying hydrated is the kindest thing you can do for your body. Make sure you bring a big bottle with you, that you can fill up at the water stations in the airport (they all have them). The tiny cups they give you en route are simply not enough. 
Older travel articles you might enjoy on this topic.
I want to help people, and travel, and I don’t know how to start.
Travel-hack your way into free first-class flights.
The modern-day gypsies travel essentials guide.
10 tips on keeping healthy while traveling.
8 gypset travel tips for keeping it simple.
The dark side of travel.

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