Girl packing

 


 

I truly believe that what you pack and what you wear on your Round the World trip is far more complex if you are a girl than if you are a bloke. Champion packing guides can be found online by Mark Eveleigh (10 Essential Items for your RTW) here and David Whitley (The Art of RTW Packing) here, but there are a few extra things girls need consider when packing that guys don’t have to worry about.

 

Baggage

I’m not referring to the kilos of emotional stuff here. One of the biggest ways you can muck up before you go is not having the right backpack. Girls need to ensure they get a hold of a backpack that is specifically designed for women and have it fitted by a professional at a travel shop. A correctly fitted backpack will put the weight across your hips and take the strain off your back. When you get caught walking for ten hours with all your gear through roadblocks in the north of Peru with all your gear like I did one time, you’ll understand why.

 

The hair bear

Ladies, the ponytail will be the greatest achievement your luscious locks will manage while you’re travelling. Get a wash and wear, low maintenance haircut. Invest in a quick dry towel for drying your hair- and remember the shorter it is, the quicker it dries. Forget about carrying a hairdryer or hair straightener. Seriously. I’ve only ever met one girl who was glad she brought her hair straightener with her, and that was mainly because her boyfriend carried her bag. Buy a jumbo 20 pack of hair ties or scrunchies and scatter then across the bottom of your backpack (you’ll end up losing 95% of them).

 

Say NO to heels

Shoes are one of the hardest things to work out when you are packing. After travelling to 40 different countries, I’ve still only just got it right. So here is my advice: have one brilliant pair of walking shoes (open toe or closed toe depending on climate). If you’re going to hike or trek it is worth investing in a pair of lightweight hiking boots or sandals. A pair of all-purpose flip flops can be used for hostel showers and the beach, while I’ve taken to throwing in a pair of ultra-light-weight black leather ballet slipper heels (purchased for a tenner at H&M) for my going out shoes. I don’t believe you need to take high heels, because in almost every country in the world, you’ll find a cheap store carrying cheap heels for ten quid or under. Grab a pair if you’re desperate; the ballet flats will do if you’re not.

 

Make up? Jewellery?

If you have to pack make up, go for handy airport compacts that cram everything into one small pouch. Beyond that, grab some eyeliner and mascara if you need it- but chances are you won’t. Jewellery has a terrible habit of either breaking or being stolen on the road. Take it if you want to, but be prepared to lose it along the way. There will be plenty of jewellery for you to purchase during your travels.

 

That shrinking feeling

Be mindful of the fabrics you pack and the clothes you take. Packing tight clingy synthetic clothes is not the best idea for your RTW. Most times your laundry continually shrinks as it’s put into heavy duty industrial dryers in developing countries. Or at least that’s what I told myself when my weight fluctuated from country to country based on what I was eating, and ahem, drinking at the time. Your diet and daily exercise can go up and down when you travel and it can affect your weight, so just be mindful of this when packing. A tiny sewing kit is also very handy thing to throw in, as rips and tears do happen.

 

Icky Stuff on the Road

Unfortunately the painters and decorators come whether you’re back home under the doona with a tub of ice cream or on an overnight bus across the Andes. Luckily getting your period is a universal issue and pads and tampons are in steady supply the world over. However, if you really feel uncomfortable, take a handy supply of your favourite brand. Panty liners are also a great way to maintain that ‘fresh’ feeling on long flights or overland journeys when you may not be able to change your knickers.

 

The Fine Print: Pads, Tampons & The Pill

As for contraceptives, you really need to take this one seriously and plan ahead, as getting knocked up or contracting an STD on the road isn’t an ideal way to spend your time away. ALWAYS carry condoms and discuss with your gynaecologist before you go away your contraception issues, including how you might be able to refill that script or get an IUD on the road, and how other medications you might have to take (like your anti-malarials) might affect them.

 

A luxury item

Take one thing you don’t need but will want while you’re away around the world- some small home comfort to help you relax. For me, my luxury item was a small bottle of metallic orange OPI nail polish. I’ve seen one girl carry her own pillow, the pillowcase hand stitched by her mum. Whatever you feel comfortable with that will make you feel good (and if it’s your hair straightener well.... so be it).

 

Other stuff

I’ve always been a advocate of getting one black sleeveless wrap dress that cuts off just below the knee, specifically purchased from a travel gear shop that you can dress up or down according to the country, weather or situation. Packing a shawl or sarong is invaluable, whether it is used to cover your head and shoulders in religious places, protect you from the sun, as a beach towel or instant dash of colour to a drab travelling wardrobe. Plus, a large oversized shawl has always been handy to keep my camera hidden. A fake wedding ring can be handy when warding off admirers, and you can never have too many wet bags or stuff sacs for keeping clean and dirty stuff apart.

 

Frilly Pants

Your nice lacy knickers & bras will get pinched from the laundry - leave them behind.

 

One last word of advice…. 

Pack your backpack a week before you go and catch a bus to the local supermarket and go grocery shopping for an hour with the backpack attached to your back. I guarantee it will lighten your load before you jet off.