Packing List for Indefinite Leave

I will be gone a long time, probably a minimum of two years, and a maximum of forever. What does one bring on a trip which potentially lasts a lifetime?

He's got everything he needsI like monks. I have heard and read stories about traveling monks who go around with little more than what they are wearing and a small kit of personal care items: things like a razor and toothbrush. Anything else they may need can be bought, bartered for, or is provided by monasteries or friends they will visit. This is admirable! How simple your travels would be! It is true that the majority of things people pack can be seen as luxuries, conveniences, or time-savers. Travel shops are full of travel-sized crap to make travel a lot like living at home. Fun-size hair dryer? A monk just shaves his head and is done with it. Someday I hope to reach monk-like packing thrift, but that day is not today. My goal is for my full pack to weigh less than 25 pounds.

Depending on your destinations, guidebooks are helpful in deciding what you will need. Many guidebooks offer a suggested packing list and often provide some explanation as to why to bring the clothes, first aid supplies, or other stuff they suggest.

Below is a list of what I will bring on my multinational adventure which I am writing as I pack:


  • athletic shoes
  • sandals
  • 2 x pairs of socks
  • 2 x underwear
  • 1 x t-shirt
  • 1 x tank top
  • 1 x stylin’ short sleeve button up (for dinners and dates!)
  • 1 x decent looking, practical travel button-up
  • 1 x long sleeve (tech fabric base layer shirt thing!)
  • 1 x pants (blue jeans for comfort and durability!)
  • 1 x shorts (tech fabric, doubling as swim trunks!)
  • 1 x belt
  • 1 x lucky hat

Gear:don't forget to bring a towel!

  • 1 x pack towel
  • 1 x backpacking hammock
  • 1 x poncho (doubles as a tent!)
  • 4 x tent stakes (for poncho tent!)
  • 1 x sleeping bag liner
  • ¬†diving fins and mask
  • 1 x 2L water bladder
  • 1 x 0.5L water bladder
  • 1 x first aid kit
  • 1 x toiletry kit
  • 1 x length of nylon rope (for hammock and action scenes!)
  • 1 x mosquito head net
  • 3 x handkerchiefs
  • 1 x little day pack


  • 1 x tiny laptop (yeah, I went back on my decision to bring no computer)
  • power cord for computer
  • 1 x digital camera with 3 SD cards
  • 1 x 2GB flash drive
  • 1 x Australia/Fiji/New Zealand power adapter


  • 1 x space blanket
  • 1 x magnesium fire starter
  • 1 x compass
  • various bits of string
  • bicycle multi-tool
  • snacks (Pemmican bars!)
  • 1 x headlamp
  • 1 x garbage bag and a few misc plastic bags


  • airport itinerary
  • travel insurance policies
  • passport and copy
  • driver’s license
  • diving certification
  • tiny address book
  • tiny diary
  • misc notebooks
  • vaccination document
  • paper music


  • 1 x paperback (William Faulkner)
  • 1 x small combo cable lock
  • 1 x waterproof plastic container on a string
  • convenient passport/tickets/money organizer on a string
  • 4 x harmonicas
  • extra batteries for camera and headlamp

That should about do it. Packing all this up, the whole lot weighs in at just under 25lbs and takes up the space of a normal sized day pack! The pack will easily fit into overhead bins or on my lap during bus rides, and remains compact on my back.

Traveling carry-on only has some drawbacks. I certainly would include a knife, the most useful tool, if it were not for the carry-on restrictions in place by the TSA. I figure I can just buy cheap’n’good knives wherever I end up. Worried as to whether or not I will be allowed to carry-on the small scissors in my first aid kit, good for snipping bandages and trimming nails, I checked out the TSA Prohibited Items list and found that small scissors are safe in carry-on luggage. Also, carrying my little laptop on with me will delay me a little bit at airport security, since the rules will have it that one must send computers through the x-ray machines separately from other belongings because computers house bombs more readily than swimsuits or water bottles (source needed).

Packing and unpacking and repacking my gear dozens of times by now, I am almost satisfied. One is not truly done packing, however, until one leaves because there are always other things to consider adding or subtracting. Ultimately, a traveler must just get outta dodge with what is ready and call it good.

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