Packing Checklist For A Long Trip Abroad

So you want to take a long trip to some exotic location? Here’s a checklist:


I take only one week’s worth of clothing because laundry machines or laundromats are common everywhere in the world.

  • 7 t-shirts
  • 1 thermal — for those chilly nights
  • 1-2 casual button-down shirt(s) — for the club
  • 8 pairs boxers
  • 9 pairs socks — socks always get lost
  • 1 pair nice jeans — I don’t take hiking pants since I don’t hike
  • 1 pair summer shorts
  • Bathing suit — for beach climates
  • Workout shirt for gym visits or jogs in the park — gotta stay fit
  • Beach towel that also doubles as a bath towel
  • Flip flops
  • Sneakers
  • Decent shoes — for going out at night
  • A small rag for cleaning things (like your shoes)

That’s it for clothes. If it turns out you need more, you can always buy things in the country you’re going to, but it will more challenging since they don’t have a Macy’s with your favorite brands. If you’re going to be doing more living than traveling, get proper wheeled luggage and pack nicer clothes (I’m chucking the backpack for wheels on my next trip). Keep in mind that when I board the airplane I’m wearing the jeans, sneakers, and t-shirt, lightening the load.


  • Contact solution, extra contacts, glasses – don’t pack more than one bottle of solution because eye stores in foreign countries have common American brands. Also you should pack your glasses even for short trips. In Spain I got a nasty case of conjunctivitis and couldn’t wear contacts, so with no backup I was blind for several days.
  • Toothbrush, floss, small bottle of mouth rinse
  • Deodorant spray
  • Isopropyl alcohol — an all-purpose cleaner and deodorizer
  • Razors — use lathered soap as shaving cream.
  • Shampoo and conditioner — get the 2-in-1 to save space
  • Chapstick — for drier climates
  • Lotion — if you have dry skin. My grease and sweat keeps me moisturized 24 hours a day.
  • Sunscreen — for beach climates
  • Beard trimmer — for bearded men
  • Soap case — your life will be 10 times better with a soap case. Here’s the one I use.
  • Foot powder — I wish more gringos would travel with this
  • Nail clippers

The main idea here is not to take two of anything. All these things can be replenished abroad.


  • Laptop and AC adapter with USB stick for backups — I back up my entire hard drive before any trip in case of a catastrophic failure
  • Headphones — I use the Sennheiser CX300
  • Headset — for Skype. I used this retractable earbud set for a while until I lost it. It’s not that great but I loved how compact it was.
  • Portable speaker(s) — besides listening to music, these are very handy when a girl is over and you want to set the mood. I started off with the fine Altec Lansing Orbit but upgraded to the Logitech Notebook Speakers because I wanted more power. It’s surprisingly loud with good audio quality for not having a dedicated power source.
  • Digital camera and charger
  • MP3 player — load it with Pimsleur language courses so you can practice during down time on buses or trains. I bought a cheap Coby player but you probably already have an iPod.
  • Travel alarm clock


  • Medium-sized padlock — for hostel/gym lockers
  • Swiss-army knife — get one with a cork to open bottles of wine for dates. I have the Climber II. Don’t put this in your carry-on!
  • LED keychain — trust me on this. Pick up a cheap one at Target.
  • Passport secret pocket — these days I use it more for extra storage than to thwart criminals. Just keep your passport and credit cards on you instead of in your bags and you should be straight, assuming you’re not a newbie.
  • Photocopies of passport — take this out at night instead of the real thing
  • Credit cards
  • GSM cell phone — for calling the ladies
  • Foam ear plugs for loud hostels — Mack’s is a good brand but after a few uses it gets a little grimy with wax. Target sells them as well.
  • Sturdy ear plugs for clubs — I use these reusable Etymotics to give me club endurance. I can hear voices throughout the night and my ears don’t ring afterwards. Comes with a case that fits in your jeans change pocket.


  • Liquid band-aid — another ‘trust me on this.’ You’ll get irritating scraps and cuts that take forever to heal because you don’t have bandages. Get it at any American pharmacy.
  • Headache medicine
  • Advil cold and flu — for when you’re really sick
  • Condoms — local brands made from recycled bicycle tires may not cut it. Pack two to four condoms for every week you plan on being abroad.
  • Astroglide

Throw in a couple books and a journal and you’re set, and it will all fit into large bag relatively easily. If you’re interested in a backpack, the Eagle Creek model I’ve been pleased with has been upgraded to the Thrive 90L. I like reading so for my current trip I packed an additional duffel bag of about 35 books. My load has lightened considerably as I’ve finished the books, allowing me to accumulate more crap.

Finally, to help organize everything I use these eBags packing cubes instead of Ziploc bags like I used to.

What I like about extended travel is that it definitely gives you a reality check about how many things you actually need to be a happy and functioning human being. With the above items I can live abroad almost indefinitely without needing anything from the States.


  1. Carl Sagan April 30, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Just realized I’m in dire need of a soap container.

    Not sure why I didn’t realize they made such devices. Pretty key.

  2. Hammer April 30, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Additional duffel bag with 35 books? Sounds like an international kindle would be a good purchase for you.

    Hammer’s last blog post: I Dare You to Flake.

  3. Mala Lex April 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I think you’ve got some redundancy in here:

    – your gsm phone and PC should both have alarm clock features
    – your PC has good enough speakers for a shadowy 3rd world lovenest
    – mp3 headphones (with mikes – the iphone type ones) will do skype just fine
    – sneaks and going-out shoes can overlap; comfy rubber-soled fancy shoes, or snazzy sneaks
    – beach towels are heavy; i’d recommend a sarong – million uses as sheet, towel, etc. think hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy.
    – 8 boxers? christ, you wear a new pair every day?
    – 7 tees? ditto.
    – workout shirt = use a tee
    – Tynan carries a portable bed. like 5lbs. it’s pretty sweet.

    Mala Lex’s last blog post: The Bureaucracy Borg.

  4. Mala Lex April 30, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Oh, and key on the condoms. Walking away from a good opportunity for lack of gear is tragic.

    Mala Lex’s last blog post: The Bureaucracy Borg.

  5. WCL April 30, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Solid list. I’d add a small clipboard and a book light. A clipboard can be useful for writing out postcards on bus rides, etc. and for filling out customs forms at border crossings.

  6. The G Manifesto April 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Good list for a long term traveler.

    I get that this isn’t for the Custom Suited Down cat, but two pairs of shoes total?

    Hell, I pack more for a two day runner in Las Vegas.

    I think I am the only person on who still doesn’t have an ipod.

    Also, don’t forget minimum two Zippos, extra flints and as many cartons of cigarettes you can legally carry.

    – MPM

    The G Manifesto’s last blog post: How to Win at The Kentucky Derby.

  7. Willy Wonka April 30, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Good list. I need to re-read this next time I’m about to go abroad.

    Man, I forgot the beard trimmer when I went to Europe for two weeks. I went over there clean shaven and came back looking like a lumberjack, smh.

    Willy Wonka’s last blog post: Spaghetti (A Beta Story) pt. 3.

  8. Alex J. April 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Funny how something as new as an mp3 player makes it on to the minimum-functional-human-being list, but it’s true. I was depressed for weeks while mine was broken.

  9. Vincent Ignatius April 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Talk about good timing. I’m packing right now for a 2 month trip out of the country.

    I’m proud to say I have 90% of the items on your list. Good call on the foot powder; I would have forgotten to bring it.

    Vincent Ignatius’s last blog post: Leaving on a jet plane.

  10. The Rookie April 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I used to use a duffel bag but upgraded to one with wheels. Makes all the difference.

    The Rookie’s last blog post: It Keeps Getting Better.

  11. speakeasy April 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I second Roosh on the keychain LED. I have one that is a super bright white and I was surprised how often it came in handy. Walking down an unlit street in San Pedro de Atacama and unable to read the street signs, just whip out the LED. Or when I needed a small light when I walk into a hostel room full of sleeping people late at night and can’t see. I just point the light down at the floor and gives me enough illumination to see, but not enough to wake anyone. I’d also bring a regular size LED flashlight too. That came in major handy when there was a power outage and I needed to take a shower anyway. I just sat the light on something pointed up at the ceiling and it was enough to see in the shower. An LED booklight for the buses is a must too.

    I’m lucky to have feet that don’t stink much and I wear sandals a lot so I only needed no more than 3 pairs of socks.

    Oh, and you forgot Pepto Bismol tablets. Those were probably the most useful thing in my bag, especially in the 3rd world. I always had a few in my pocket since I’m not blessed with an iron stomach. Immodium tablets too. While I think it’s best to just let it all out and not take anti-diarrheals, when you need it, you REALLY need it. Thank goodness I had them on long bus ride in Argentina where I had the touristas.

    I also kept baby wipes in my day bag. Too many Latin American toilets have no toilet paper. And even if they do, wiping your ass with only dry paper isn’t sanitary. And it was good to able to wipe down a bit on my 4 day Bolivia jeep trip.

    Another thing that surprisingly came in handy was this little bag of compressed hefty plastic bags. You just pulled them out like a dispenser and it was really small and compact. Those came in handy for all kinds of stuff. Find some of those. I got it at Target for $1.

    Good tip on the mood speakers, I’ll look into that.

  12. WCL April 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Don’t forget electricity outlet adapters and voltage converters. Most wall sockets in other countries aren’t shaped like those in the U.S. You can get them at Radio Shack, travel stores, or possibly on the street in big cities that get a lot of tourist traffic.

  13. Hamster April 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Guys, you get really good condoms all over South America (some Brazilian brands are top notch) and all the pepto bismol and mouth wash etc. that you ever want. Pharmacies are on every corner and the only kind of stores open anytime. T-shirts are dirt cheap to buy while on the road. Same with boxers and socks. Bring 3 of each and buy when you need more. You get sunscreen at every beach and isopropyl alcohol… seriously it’s 20 cents a bottle so why bother carrying it when you’re in transit? I also recommend leaving your backpack at home unless you’re going hiking. You need a bag with wheels like a kite surf gear type of bag, or a light hardcase suitcase with good wheels for maximum protection (remember the locked strap around the middle). Way easier.

  14. Ian Mc April 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    So with my experience, packing up and flying out at a moment’s notice to different places with the military, there are also a number of things I would add to the list. Fingernail clippers are a must for some reason for me. As well as many other things,

    but Roosh, you wear ear plugs to the club? Is it too dark to notice or are the girls just cool with that? Seems more like I’d think something is wrong with you….

  15. Roosh May 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    14: Nail clippers are on the list

  16. Chuck D May 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    With no negative point attented. Good stuff across the board R, for the beginner and above traveler That joined the international Hub of Continents. No such alliance exist I’m going off the subject. All the recommendations are spot on. But what about wet ones? Rolled the dice and took them to Rio.. Then again to Dr and other exotic places, Wet ones also kown as “wipes” hold semi solution agent sanitizing areas. These packages would be deployed in semi controlled situation or better kown for tourist sanitation. Keep up the good stuff! What about Europe.. Spain?

  17. VoceEumaBoila May 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    So, is the astroglide for you or them?

  18. Stone May 3, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Yeah, what’s with the earplugs – you wear them to clubs? Don’t you look like a dork with them?

  19. Roosh May 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Yes I wear those earplugs in loud clubs where it’s hard to hear people.

    Maybe only once or twice a girl has noticed, since they go way into the ear canal. I’ve had girls nibbling on my ear in the club and not notice them.

    Even if they did notice more often I’d still wear them because the benefits outweigh the costs.

  20. Anonymous May 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Thanks.. excellent advice!

  21. Anon May 13, 2010 at 2:41 am

    You only have one pair of jeans?

  22. Pingback: What to pack? | Freedom Twenty-Five

  23. Anonymous November 30, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Very helpful, except for the beard and ladies part…aha

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