Posted by: Tom Lancaster | January 5, 2010

Gap year packing

When we decided to go travelling for 11 months, one of the key decisions was what to bring with us and what to leave at home.

We’ve met many people on our travels who’ve had the same dilemma and we’re often asked “How do you pack for 11 months”. So here’s how we did it:

This may look like a lot of stuff, but it fits into 1 x 60 + 15 litre pack and 1 x 40 + 10 litre pack with some spare capacity. The total combined weight of our packs is approximately 28 kilos.

As we’re travelling as a couple, obviously we get to share a lot of stuff thus keeping the weight down!

Travelling light is good

We also have shoulder bags, which we keep our valuables in when on the move and for use when sightseeing. They are probably only a couple of kilos each when packed.

You can also find out about our itinerary and our budget on other pages on my blog.

Clothes (Tom)

Typical Tom outfit!

2 jumpers
3 sports T-shirts
1 shorts
2 trousers
1 lightweight rain jacket
1 extenders (shorts/zipped legs)
7 boxers
2 regular socks
2 hiking socks (if taking hiking boots)
Hiking boots/sports sandals (depending on what you’re doing)
Flip flops
Canvas pumps/closed-toe shoe
2 swimming shorts
3 short-sleeved shirts
1 long-sleeved shirts
Sarong/beach towel/ultra-absorbent towel
Thermal pants & T-shirt
Warm hat & gloves
2 long-sleeved T-shirts

Clothes (Jane)

Typical Jane outfit!

4 vests
2 T-shirts
2 jumpers
2 long-sleeved T-shirts
1 lightweight rain jacket
3 dresses
1 smart trousers
1 skirt
2 short shorts
1 knee-length shorts
1 ¾ length shorts
7 knickers
3 non-underwired bras
2 hiking socks (if taking hiking boots)
Hiking boots/sports sandals (depending on what you’re doing and where you’re going)
Flip flops
Canvas pumps/closed-toe shoe
Nice shoe for evening
Sarong/beach towel/ultra-absorbent towel
Thermal pants & T-shirt
Warm hat & gloves
1 Long sleeved shirt
2 bikinis (with different strap arrangements)

Note: The second jumper, thermals, multiple long-sleeved T-shirts, warm hat & gloves were only used in Patagonia & New Zealand. We took hiking boots because we had some, but sports sandals would have been more than adequate for what we did.

Electrical equipment

Mobile phone
World travel adapter
Call pod/Power monkey/similar
Mosquito plug-in
Wind-up torch
Flash drive

Note: There’s obviously lots of other things you could bring in this category (and we also have a netbook, PSP, iPod speakers and Sony readers, but these are certainly not essentials).


Playing cards
Waterproof bag/box for camera
Zip lock bags
Guide book for first country
Passport photocopy (and copies of other important docs)
Passport photos (for visas)
Travel sewing kit
Inflatable neck pillow
Eye mask
Ear plugs
Swiss army knife
Telescopic tripod for camera/Gorillapod
Two combination padlocks of varying sizes (for lockers and sometimes your bedroom door!)
Decent length cable lock (for locking your pack to something)
Rechargeable batteries and charger
A handful of rubber bands


Obvious stuff (toothbrush, soap, deodorant etc)
First aid kit (Pain killers, Immodium, malaria tablets, anti-histamines, plasters & antiseptic)
Mosquito repellent
Small clothes washing liquid (but use laundries when you can)
Shaving oil
Spare razor blades (cheaper in UK than many other countries)
Hand steriliser
Wet wipes
High factor sun cream stick

Top Tips

  • Everywhere we’ve been we’ve had inexpensive laundry facilities, so hand washing is an unecessary chore.
  • Most of our tops only lasted 5/6 months, so be prepared to replace items along the way.
  • Particularly in South America, the laundries will use tumble dryers, so don’t take anything that can’t deal with this.
  • Cotton T-shirts are heavy, especially when wet. T-shirts designed for running etc. are very light, don’t show sweat, pack small and  dry extremely quickly.
  • Try and take patterned clothes rather than plain, for optimum stain camouflage.
  • You can buy pretty much all the basics along the way, so don’t stress if you need more stuff.

Hopefully this information will help you to pack for your trip.

If you have any feedback, please comment below. Please take a look at my other posts to find out more about where we’ve been and what we’ve done.

Any comments or questions are very welcome. However, bear in mind that we’re travelling around the world for 11 months, with varying standards of internet access, so won’t always be able to respond quickly!



  1. Fantastic Blog! Really giving us inspiration! Can I ask what make etc your jacket is that you are wearing in the picture above your packing list?

    • Hi Rich, thanks for the comment and glad you’re enjoying the blog. The jacket is Gelert and was cheap, is very portable and defintely does the job for where we’ve been. I think it’s similar to this one, but mine zips through and I think it was more like 20 quid.

      Where and when are you heading?

  2. Cheers, We are heading to India on the 29th of this month. Then onto Nepal to do some treking and Everest Base Camp. Then Fly to Beijing around 7th Dec. Then working our way south through SE Asia onto Aussie. We have no time limits which will be nice. Wow £20 it looks more substantial! Thanks

    • Sounds fantastic – hope you have a great time.

      BTW, while the jacket has been great for me, I’m not sure it’s up to Everest! 😉

  3. Well you blog is certainly giving us some great ideas! Can I ask how much you paid for your anti-malarials in bangkok? Which type did you buy?

    • We bought Doxycycline from Boots (own brand), which have been fine for us (they’re one a day). For a packet of 10, they cost 90 baht, which is approximately £1.90. The Doxycycline at other Bangkok pharmacies we found was more like 250 baht for 10 tablets.

      Hope this helps!

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