I’ve been holding back on this post as I wasn’t sure if the world really needed another packing list. However, as someone based in Germany, I was SO tired getting excited by an item on someone’s packing list…just to realize it’s only available in the United States. Yes, I could ship it to Germany. But then I’d need to pay 17% in tax, at least 25€ in shipping, and….a dreaded trip to the Zollamt (Customs Post Office), which is my least favorite place in Berlin besides the Ausländerbehörde (Immigration Office). Then if it doesn’t fit…well I am shit out of luck. Yeah no.
I am by no means a packing expert, but I do okay. At the moment I travel with a backpack only, and have done a bunch of long trips, so I sort of have a system…though it’s continually improving.
Here’s what I took on my six month trip around Southeast Asia and some stuff I have with me now for my USA & Colombia trip. Everything is vegan and (except my backpack) bought in Europe!
Note on links: There are affiliate links in this post. However, I’ve bought pretty much all of these items myself and can recommend them. The links go to Amazon.de but should reforward to your local Amazon shop, at least if you are in the US, another European country, or Canana.
First, let’s break it down.
Here’s the list. I go into more detail abut each item further down. Below is my ideal packing list once I worked the kinks out.
- 1 Tortuga Backpack
- 1 packing cube set
- 1 Matt & Nat Backpack (this is my “personal item” on the plane)
- 1 cork wallet
- 1 small lock (for locking my shit up at random gyms)
- 5 Bella tank tops (if hot weather)
- 10 Skny underwear (I hate doing laundry and they’re small…I don’t regret bringing 10)
- 2 yoga bras (one has to be good for keeping my boobs in during actual exercise)
- 1 pair cutoff shorts(I just go to the thrift store, find jeans that fit my ass and cut them with a scissor)
- 1 pair Mavi Nicole style jeans (they really are my name!)
- 1 pair shorts leggings (for sleeping and working out when hot)
- 1 sweater (sometimes it gets cold at night!)
- 1 bathing suit
- 1 button down shirt (mine are literally all custom tailored at the moment <3 the tailor)
- 1 pair Adidas leggings (for working out and just wearing)
- 1 pair other leggings
- 1 rain poncho (if going to SE Asia)
- 1 Spibelt (if I’m going to any sort of festival or any party situation)
- 1 Xero shoes sandals (USA link)
- 1 pair Toms
- 1 Vivobarefoot Gobi II Vegan Eco-Suede shoes (if I’m traveling in autumn/spring weather)
- 1 sneakers (for the gym)
- 1 adjustable laptop stand
- 1 Magic keyboard
- 1 Magic mouse
- 1 luggage scale
- 1 travel adaptor
- 1 HDMI cable (if I’ll be staying in places with TVs, i.e. yes for Asia no for the US when I’m in my friends’ living rooms)
- 1 shampoo bar (less complicated on planes that liquid and lasts forever!)
- 1 deodorant
- 1 wheat germ oil (to use as moisturizer)
- 1 linen towel (can also use to sit on at picnics or on the beach, in saunas, etc.)
- 1 small travel towel
- 1 mini hair straightener
- 1 bamboo toothbrush
- 1 box charcoal tablets (when the shits are imminent)
- 1 water bottle
- 1 reusable collapsible coffee mug
- 1 food container for bringing plain food and carrying leftovers
- 1 spork kinda thing
- 1-3 energy bars for hangry moments
- spices (if going to SE Asia as the kitchens are always empty)
I have been traveling for the last 4+ years with my Tortuga Backpack and I LOVE it. This is not sponsored, I paid for it myself. The bad news, this is the one not Europe-friendly item on this list, as they no longer ship to Europe at the moment (though they plan to relaunch soon). They do ship ton the US, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. So, technically this should not be included in this guide, but since it’s one of my major travel items I will include it. It is possible to get it shipped to Europe using a freight forwarding service, or do what I did, and just have a friend bring it over with extra space lol. I will include some similar options below based in Europe.
It fits all my stuff, has a hip belt which takes the weight off my shoulders, and fits the maximum carry-on size for planes. The one I have is older now and they don’t make it, but the new ones are actually better. I highly recommend them. I can also vouch for their customer service. When the straps on my backpack melted in the car in the hot Texas sun during a road trip, they sent me a new backpack, no questions asked, and even had another American expat who lived in Germany contact me! You can read my old review of the Tortuga here. These are the latest models at the time of writing:
Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack ($299)
Tortuga Setout Backpack ($199)
My trusty Tortuga and I walking around Chiang Mai after surviving our first festival. I shoved all my bedding, yoga mat to sleep on, etc. in thurrr.
CabinZero Classic 44L Carry-on Sized Backpack (69,99€) – This is a cheaper, slightly lighter but similar idea to the Tortuga available in Europe. The only thing I don’t like is it doesn’t seem to have a hip belt, so all the weight is on your shoulders, but lots of people don’t like hip belts because they’re ugly, so there you go. I like bags like this that open up like a suitcase. Here’s the one in black if you prefer. And in red.
Packing cubes (set of 3 for 46,56€) – I finally jumped on the packing cube bandwagon. I can’t say I regret it. Just makes everything so much more organized in my backpack. I can go and open one to get something instead of exploding my whole backpack and having to re-roll everything in there.
This is the packing configuration I settled on for my trip with my packing cubes. I put my main clothing in the big one, stuff like bathing suits and exercise clothing in the medium one, and my underwear in the small one. I think next time I will try and pack even less stuff and use one for dirty laundry. How organized does this look though?! Much better than it exploding with clothing.
Ergonomic Adjustable Laptop Stand (39,85€) – I use this thing all the time, and it squishes down really small and lite. I even use it at home constantly, and it prevents having a weird under-the-chin angle when you have to do video calls from your bed, coffee table, floor, etc.
Apple Magic Keyboard (German keyboard, 118,90€) – To make a healthy setup with your laptop you’ll want a laptop stand, keyboard and mouse. Yes, this is pricey, but think how much you’ll use it. I got this one over the older Apple one as it charges rather than using batteries, and the keys press down super easy, it’s very thin, etc. I just packed it in the laptop sleeve of my backpack along with my laptop.
Apple Magic Mouse (85,90€) – I went through a mouse crises while trying to sort out what I wanted. I got a cheap 9,99€ corded mouse, but I just hated using it. Since I like the native touchpad on my Macbook I first tried one of the older apple touchpads. It just wasn’t as sensitive as my laptop touchpad so I sold it in the end. I ended up getting the above keyboard and mouse together for a bit cheaper and have been using it since. I’m still in search of the ideal touchpad for me, but this does fine for now!
Need both a keyboard and a mouse? If you don’t mind the US English keyboard, you can buy them both together for much cheaper refurbished here.
Luggage scale – 50kg capacity (9,99€)– This might seem silly to carry around for a long trip, but it’s really not heavy at all and saved my ass before so many flights when I wasn’t sure if my carryon was overweight or not. Gives you time to ditch any unnecessary items before getting to the airport and having to do it awkardly in front of the whole line when you realize you’re 2kg over.
All-in-One Quick Charging Travel Adaptor for over 150+ countries (18,99€) – The travel adaptor I brought on my SE Asian trip broke at month two so I won’t recommend that. It’s surprisingly harder to find a quality travel adaptor than one might think! I’ve just ordered this one now that I’m back for my next trip. I like that it has a quick charging feature cuz sometimes those outlets are in awkward locations and you just want to check Instagram from your hammock.
HDMI Cable (6,58€) – So lots of hotel rooms, condos and AirBnBs I rented had a TV screen, but a) I’m not really into TV and b) I can’t understand the language for most of the channels. A few of my friends mentioned that they carry an HDMI cable with them so they can hook their laptop up to the bigger TV screens and I thought this was GENIUS.
I only brought two pairs of shoes on this trip to Southeast Asia. They worked for the journey, but I really wished I had had a pair of Toms. Turns out Toms are hard to find in Asia. The shoes I wore 90% of the time were:
Xero Shoes Umara Z-Trail (£56.95) – These shoes stood by me thick and thin. The bottoms were good for hiking, and I must have walked 1000s of kilometers in them around various cities. Plus they squish down small. They have a UK-based shop that ships witnin Europe for a very reasonable rate. They come in different colors too. If you’re reading this from the United States, they have a shop there too.
Toms Shoes Slip-Ons (price depends on color) – Good ol’ Toms Shoes. I wasn’t able to find the ones of these I wanted in the shops before I left for Asia since it was winter, and didn’t have enough time for shipping. I CONSTANTLY wished I had some and searched in shops all over SE Asia and Australia with no luck. So now I have learned my lesson and will always have a pair of Toms for warm climates. They’re perfect for those times you don’t want to wear sandals, but also don’t want to wear your sneakers.
Now I gotta give a shout to Vivobarefoot. They are barefoot shoes but not the ugly toe ones. They pack down small and I really like their styles and lots of vegan options. I’m pretty sure the company is based in Europe, they have a shop in Berlin anyway and a place that resoles them in London. They are not cheap but they last for awhile. I just got these for fall weather and I love them, they flatten down small in my backpack and are vegan and I love the style:
Vivobarefoot Gobi II Ladies Vegan Eco Suede (130€) – I’ve been traveling around the US with these and can vouch that they are very comfy and flatten down a ton in my backpack. I also find them super stylish so there you go.
Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Firm Ground Ladies (117€) – I quite like Vivobarefoot in terms of comfort and packability. They’re barefoot shoes, but not the ugly 5-toe kind. So if you’re used to shoes with high bottoms, it’ll take some getting used to. Anyway, due to the lack of big bottoms you can roll them up and pack them quite small. They have shops in a lot of European cities so if you’re not sure about them you can see if there’s one near you, go try them on and then buy them cheaper online. Not all their shoes are vegan, but they have a bunch of labeled vegan ones like these.
Vivobarefoot Kanna Ladies (107€) – Another Vivobarefoot, slightly higher sneaker. I really like the look of these. They have winter boots too if you are going somewhere colder.
Clothing & Fashion
Bella Women’s Tri-Blend Racerback Tank (4,99€ + 11€ shipping) – I LOVE these tank tops. I bought a few randomly off Amazon years ago and had one on my recent Southeast Asia trip. I ended up being my favorite shirt for hot weather, so much I made 3 copies of it in Vietnam. But…they used thicker fabric so it wasn’t the same. Luckily, they are still on Amazon, so I just bought a few new ones in different colors. They pack down super small, simple basic fit, nice cut and just leave me room to BREATHE. I find I can be a L or XL depending on the color, so maybe buy them enough in the future to do a round of returns so you get the right size. Or just buy two sizes and return the one that doesn’t fit. They sell them on the US Amazon.com too for even cheaper, Americans!
That ended up being my fav tank tops for the hot weather!
Me and my Bella Racerback Tanktop in Grey Triblend color, size large, hanging out at our bungalow in Pai. I wore this so much on my trip it basically disintegrated. I was so happy they still existed on Amazon even though I bought them years ago. I’ve since bought the tank top in four colors.
Mavi Jeans Nicole Style (79€) – These have been my jeans of choice for awhile, after having to totally relearn which jeans actually fit me in Europe years ago. I usually just buy them in the shop in Berlin, but now that I know which size and style fits me I buy them online. It’s clearly meant to be since this style has my name. I always bring one pair of jeans no matter what weather I’m traveling in. I often wore them in the evening in Asia too.
Adidas Leggings (37,99€) – I like these because I feel like I can wear them as pants more than regular exercise leggings.
Lapasa L009 Ladies Sport Shorts (18,99€) – So I can still have my love of leggings even in hot weather. These a nice and multipurpose as you can wear them as pajamas and to the gym or yoga. If it’s really chill where you’re traveling (Thai islands anyone?) then I guess you could wear them out too lol.
Skiny Womens’ Cotton Underwear – 2pack (15,29€) – I quite like this basic underwear in black for traveling and everyday, though they have other colors too. I have these and some in shorts style.
Skiny Womens’ Underwear – Low Cut Pant (12,74€) – I also have this same brand in this style, because life’s about variety yeah? LoL. Anyway they are all comfy, try fast enough and obviously pack up small because underwear.
SPIbelt XL – The Original in black (33,30€) – This ended up surprisingly being one of the total lifesaver things that I brought with me. I usually use a small backpack a a purse, but for anything that involves dancing, or being squished in with a lot of people, festivals, fitness stuff, etc. you don’t really want all your stuff on your back. It’s made for runners but I use it pretty frequently as my “going out bag”. It ESPECIALLY saved me when I went to festival in Thailand. Since I didn’t wanna leave my phone and money in the tent, since you can’t lock that, I was able to put my phone, money, keys, debit card, lip balm, etc. in there and just strap it to my waist. It adjusts to the size of what you put in it. If you have a top that’s at all baggy you can’t even see it. It holds tight and left me feeling 100x freer. Even better, at the festival I could string the loop of my metal camping mug through it and have a cup on me at any time for drinks. Awesome when the camping is far from the activities rest of the day. If you are a runner though, obviously it’s good for that too!
Yoga Bras – I semi-recently stopped wearing bras with underwires and started wearing sports yoga style bras instead. I don’t regret it. They don’t get stinky or weird and misshapen and are easy to wash anywhere, plus pack up small. I got mine from Fabletics.de, but as I can’t recommend their weird auto-renewing membership system, here’s some cute ones I found on Amazon:
Matt & Nat Fabi Vintage Backpack (180,00€) – So I tried to me cheap and bought a semi-similar vegan bag from Amazon right before my trip with a secret pocket in the back…and it broke during my first month of travel. Took me another month to find another vegan bag in Chiang Mai I liked. As soon as my current bag dies, I’m getting this one. I’ve perused their stuff in person at various Vegfests and it has a secret pocket in the back, which I really like for traveling. I can put my phone or wallet in the pocket touching my back and not worry about anyone unhooking my bag and taking stuff when I can’t see. Matt & Nat do lots of other vegan wallets, wristlets, backpacks and purses and are available on European Amazon so check them out here.
Cork Wallet with Two Cash Slots (24,99€) – The one I have doesn’t exist anymore, but I have one very similar to this and it’s been going strong for two years! Important for travel to me is the two different slots so I can carry multiple currencies. Ignore that it says leather in the title It’s cork, I think they just put that there so people searching “leather wallet” will find it. If you don’t care about the two currency slots and prefer a coins pouch then this one is pretty cool too with colorful confetti mixed in. And both are obviously vegan!
Rain Poncho (27,99€) – If you’re going to Asia or anywhere known to spontaneous torrential downpours it’s worth getting a good one of these before you go. Yes, they have the shitty ones on sale for cheap that are like plastic wrap. Those rip easily and feel gross though. I made a list of “Things I Wish I Brought” as I traveled so I could be more prepared for next time and this was on it. If you’ll need to hop on your motorbike or bicycle or walk into town to get to dinner this is essential, and it’s good to have a sightly nicer one. That way you’re immune to the weather and won’t get hangry. The time I wished I had it the most is when I was driving myself up a mountain on my scooter for practice and it started pouring insanely when I was halfway up. I hid under a tree thinking it would stop…it didn’t stop.
Beauty & Toiletries
Jolu Shampoo Bar (8,90€) – I discovered this brand of shampoo bar at the Veggie World trade show in Berlin and bought one fior my six month SE Asian trip. It lasted pretty much the whole time. I got the lavender rosemary one, but they also have lemon orange smell and some others. I know Lush is the famous shampoo bar, but I like that this one is a tiny bit smaller and comes with a metal container. I’m quite happy with mine.
Schmidt’s Deodorant – Cedarwood & Juniper (8,36€) – No more massive roll-on deodorants taking up space in my toiletries bag yo. I got this in a goody bag at Vida Vegan Con several years ago and I’ve been obsessed ever since! I LOVE the cedarwood and juniper smell, cuz who doesn’t want their pits to smell like a forest?! All the smells are amazing though, my second fav is Bergamot and Lime. It also works AMAZINGLY. Like better than any eco-friendly deodorant I ever used. I apply it once and it lasts like 1.5 days, haha, even in super hot climates, working out, etc. Just be sure you only use a little bit, or it will dry out your armpits. A little goes a long way, you only want a pea-sized or maybe even slightly smaller amount! So happy this made it over to Europe.
Wheat Germ Oil (14,99€) – Inspired by a friend, I started using wheat germ oil instead of moisterizer. I don’t need moisturizer so often, but I find this works. I also like avocado oil. I bring a little bottle of this with me. I like that it’s just the one ingredient unlike the bazillion ingredients in the ones at the shop. My face sort of smells like a brewery with this one, but I kinda like it.
Remington Mini Hair Straightener (18,31€) – This is my one vanity item, haha. My hair is already straight, but I always get the ear curl or the bottoms of my hair sticking out in a weird direction. I couldn’t justify wasting space on a regular-sized hair straightener so I bought a mini one. I actually now use it instead of a big one even when I’m home. Who knew this was even a thing! It comes with a little pouch too so really easy to just shove in the side pocket of your backpack.
LinenMe 70 x 130 cm Linen Linum Striped Huckaback Bath Towel (17,99€) – While prowling US websites jealously looking over all their cool tech travel gear, I saw one mention a linen towel that was good for traveling. A light went off and I searched German Amazon.de for linen towels and low and behold, I found a bunch! It’s a bit heavier than those microfiber towels, but so much nicer and I used it not only as a towel, but also to sit on at the beach, wrap around me in the sauna (it covers my body until just above the knees) and even a couple times as a scarf. The fabric feels nicer and linen dries quickly and is lighter and smaller than a regular towel.
Sustainable Bamboo Prime Art Wood Travel Towel – Medium (18,79€) – I brought the towel above AND this one. It wasn’t too much. Especially if you’re swimming a lot and one needs a bit of time to dry, or you want a smaller one for the gym, or you’re wearing one and still need one to dry stuff. They don’t take up much space so it’s worth it.
Ecomonkey ♻ Sustainable Bamboo Toothbrush 4 Piece Set + 100% Vegan (12,99€) – I switched away from plastic toothbrushes in the middle of my trip, but they are actually quite hard to find in person…and some of them have animal hair as bristles! Here’s some vegan bamboo toorthbrushes for you. That #zerowaste life yo. 😉
Lock with Key (6,99€) – I always carry a little lock and key with me. It’s come in super useful when using random lockers at the gym, hostels, or just locking random stuff to other stuff (lol).
Clip-On Bicycle Lights (6,99€) – I know this seems like a weird thing to bring with you, but literally every bicycle I rented had broken lights so at night it felt dangerous to ride (or I couldn’t see). Usually I had no idea where to buy bike lights either, so I was just stuck without them. In Hoi An, Vietnam my bike was my main form of transport. I also traveled mostly by bike in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Stainless Steel Ecolunchbox (33,90€) – As a vegan, some sort of Tupperware to carry with me is essential. On my big trip I just brought a plain Tupperware, but I will get this one so I have different compartments for sauces and different types of foods as I ended up still having to use some throwaway plastic with my last setup. I mostly used this for leftovers at restaurants, and to pack food for planes and trains, plus the occasional picknic or hike. Super useful and worth carrying around, especially if you will be on a lot of planes, trains or buses as a vegan and not sure when you’ll find good vegan food.
Light My Fire Spork Cutlery (1,89€) – I make sure to always have this in my bag while traveling and it’s come in useful many times. Not only when I pack a lunch, but when I need to cut something or if I wanna turn down plastic cutlery at a restaurant. For less than 2€ it can’t really hurt!
Multi-function stainless steal spork with can opener (3,99€) – I just broke my Light my Fire Spork above after it serving me my whole trip so I’ve recently purchased two of these. I like that it has a can opener too, because y’all KNOW the kitchens in AirBnBs are often pretty meagerly stocked! I’ll have to see how it goes on the plane, but the knife part isn’t so knife-y so I’m optimistic. In any case it’s 3,99€ so whatever. It’ll be good for camping and festivals too.
Insulated Kleen Kanteen (44,59€) – I use this all the time at home, but left it home on my tripn and regretted it. It’s slightly heavier and I thought it would take up unnecessary space traveling, but I always had a water bottle with me in my bag anyway and at least with this one I could have had cold water! Worth it. If this one is too expensive for you, try out this insulated one from another brand that’s a bit cheaper.
Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle (15,95€)– This is another water bottle I considered, but in the end I really like to have my water cold with a big drinking spout. If you don’t care about those things and want something super packable for long city walks or hikes, this is a great option.
Silicone Travel Mug 350ml 100% Food Grade Silicone BPA-Free (8,99€) – This was another thing on my “Wish I Brought With Me” list. It had been sitting in my Amazon wishlist before I left, but I decided against it. Given that sometimes I really like to walk around with my coffee, but also am in the middle of a zero waste plastic guilt crisis, it would have been nice. And it’s collapsible!
Spice Shaker 6-in-1 (4,62€) – You have no idea how much money this would have saved me. As someone who travels a bit longer, often a month in each place…I DO cook when I travel. Having to re-buy basic spices or carry around 6 individual containers is a pain. This one has salt, pepper, paprika, coriander, chili powder and garlic. It’s also refillable if you want to switch up what you’re carrying. Next time I’m bringing kala namak for my tofu scrambles!
Brawnie – Classic Walnut (1,99€) – We’ve all been there. You go out of your way to find a great vegan restaurant on your travels…get there…aaaaand it’s closed. Cue hangriness. I try to keep a couple protein or granola bars in my bag at all times for this reason. Also in case the plane messes up my food or I’m trying to avoid spending money on expensive airport food. I quite like this line of raw brownies. This walnut one and the cherry chocolate are my favorite. There’s nuts in there so you get a chocolate fix and some protein!