Top 7 Packing Mistakes To Avoid For Your RTW & Long-Term Trip

Top 7 Packing Mistakes To Avoid For Your RTW & Long-Term Trip

In my most recent post, I told you what to pack. In today’s post I have 7 common mistakes you should avoid when packing for your round-the-world (RTW) or long-term trip.


  1. Bringing a Nalgene water bottle: Even in combination with a Steripen, I don’t recommend packing a Nalgene-type water bottle. It may seem smart initially, but when you’re running short on room in your bag, sometimes you just want to be able to throw the bottle away. I recommend purchasing and then refilling plastic water bottles in combination with a Steripen. The plastic water bottles are inexpensive and by using a Steripen you’ll ensure the water’s potable while saving money and the environment by reusing the plastic water bottles.
  2. Packing a Sleep Sack: It will be against most hostel & hotel rules to use your own sheets. All good hostels will work extra hard on keeping their beds clean and bug-free. So, the most important thing to do is make sure you stay in clean and reputable hostels & hotels. For this, I always recommend ensuring your hostel or hotel has been reviewed well. Between HostelWorld and TripAdvisor, you should be able to easily find a well reviewed hostel/hotel/guesthouse in any city.
  3. Throwing Clothes Into Your Bag All Willy-Nilly Style: There is nothing more frustrating than trying to rummage through your backpack looking for that one pair of clean underwear or one pair of clean socks. Everything in my pack goes into a bag before it goes into the pack. It keeps things organized, clean and it’s so much more efficient to pack and unpack. I recommend putting all of your clothes into Space Saver bags. The big bags basically act like a drawer for your pack. You pull out the bag, find what you need and you’re done.
  4. Always Be Prepared: If you’re headed out to the middle of Alaska, take the Boy Scout motto literally. On the other hand, if you’re headed on a jaunt through different cities and towns in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia — there’s no need to stuff your bag full of extra deodorant, medicine, toothpaste, etc. You’ll be able to purchase all of those items at your destination. You may not be able to find your favorite brand, but try the local stuff, it’s fun.


  1. Worrying too much about overpacking & packing the wrong things: If this is your first long-term/RTW trip, you’re going to pack things you’ll never use and you’re going to not pack things you wish you had. Accept it. You’ll quickly figure out what you don’t need – send them home. And the things you find out you need? Buy them at your destination. In fact, I often recommend purposefully under-packing so you can buy clothes at your destination. These items also end up being great souvenirs.
  2. Packing a Voltage Converter: Don’t get a voltage converter and a power plug adapter confused. A voltage converter converts your 120Volt power cord to whatever voltage is used at your destination. This sounds necessary, but because electronics are now made for use around the world, almost all power cords do this themselves now. Take a look at your laptop cord and you’ll see that it can handle 100-240Volt, making a voltage converter unnecessary. You will definitely need power plug adapters, but those are cheap and easy to pack.
  3. Bringing a Money Belt: There are many who will argue the importance of having a money belt. I, however, am not a fan. They’re uncomfortable, get sticky and sweaty and you look ridiculous when you pull things out of them. If you’re concerned about being pick-pocketed, I recommend pants with zipper pockets.


What did I miss?


Have you made your own packing mistakes that you recommend others to avoid? Do you disagree with one of my recommendations? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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