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Traveling Light - How to pack for International Travel [Infographic]

For the past several years, I have been traveling abroad working as an outdoor educator. I live (literally) out of a backpack. The places I go vary from luxurious hotels to bamboo huts with no modern amenities. I am in jungles, on mountains and by the sea. My bags get dropped, dragged, strapped to trucks, tractors and even elephants now and then. I've endured carrying too much stuff and missing an important item, having emerged with a method that works. I hope that my tips and tricks will make your packing easier, more efficient and effective. To help us all pack better, I've created this flow chart. 

Does it work for you?

Here is a photo of what I packed for a 6 month trip to Asia. Everything fit in those two bags. The blue backpack was my carry-on and my laptop bag was my "personal item" and fit under the seat. 

Grains of Salt......Things to know before we continue.....
  • I have an unhealthy obsession with tiny things. Seriously I have the worlds tiniest, and cutest, tin of Tiger Balm, among other things like nail clippers and tweezers and pens and......
  • You should never have more than two bags. One on your back and one on your front. Otherwise you'll be miserable trying to carry everything around on subways and in airports. I have broken this rule, mainly when I knew I would have an apartment to live in. Getting from the airport to the apartment and back was not fun....
  • I don't trust the airlines and therefore make every attempt to not check anything. Many of the tips in this series will be aimed at getting everything into a carry-on and "personal bag", and capitalizing on the carry-on allotments. 
  • I am an adventure instructor. My travel focus is more of a cross between a tourist backpacker and a wilderness instructor. None of my bags have wheels and fashion is not a top priority. If you're planning to spend a year in southeast Asia keep reading. If you're planning a shopping spree in Paris, some tips may not fit your trip. 
  • I generally go for overkill. Why use a regular stuff sack when I could use a waterproof one? 

Ready to get started? Check out these two posts for men's and women's travel clothes.