Like any seasoned journalist, I did research. Perhaps too much research. There are countless articles on what to pack for a Round The World (RTW) odyssey that focus on important details like climate and planned activities but leave out sensibilities and style. There’s excellent advice online but it ultimately comes down to your own preferences and must have/can live without list. I’ve made many nuts and bolts travel decisions about technical fabrics vs. lugging around a heavy pair of favorite jeans as I’ve already racked up over 40 countries, but our longest trip so far has been three months. Seven and a half months on the road is exhilarating but much more complicated. My mind was swimming with way too much information. I rolled out my yoga mat and decided to figure out what I wanted most out of my RTW trip.
We’ve been planning our trip for a year. We started with the idea of getting our flights with the one of those RTW alliances. As long as you circle the globe in one direction, you can get on an off flights 16 times. We planned that once at a destination, we could use small local airlines, trains, ferry, or buses to get to remote locations. The complexities and restrictions far outweighed the benefit so we ultimately used an amazing company, AirTreks, to book all our major hub flights:
Los Angeles Sydney New Zealand Tazmania Japan Shanghi Xiangyang Bejing Lhasa Tibet Yunnan Proviance Henan Proviance Mongolia Ulan Bator Zhengzhou Kunming Kathmandu Nepal India Hong Kong Thailand Singapore Bangkok BodhgayaBihar Maharastra Dharmasala Tashkent Uzbekistan Moscow St. Petersburg Paris Cairo Johannesburg Botswana Tanzania Kilimanjaro Morocco Spain London LA
A thrill list, for sure. Part spiritual, part adventure. Yoga, always. Museums, food, World Heritage sites, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I’m counting the days untill we go.
I also decided I’d give up on the idea of an Instagram fashionista trip. My IG vibe has always focused on inspiration and I pride myself on substance over style, but of course I have my “thing” and for me that’s a slight obsession with great hair. Even that will be a challenge, but it’s also part of the fun: finding a color expert along the way.
Instead, I opted into the idea of diving into this amazing opportunity to be present and soak up the culture and experience from the inside out instead of focused on the world peeking in. Long before social media I had a passion for photography, so that comes naturally. My website and social sites have connected me with incredible people and experiences the world over, so it’s a passion, never driven by commerce.
My wanderlust spirit, writing, and discoveries on my yoga mat would be front and center, not my clothes.
Fashion was off the list. This decision was liberating. Function became the focus.
First Step, Start somewhere: I mapped the 15+ countries we’ll be going to and analyzed and split them into city or outdoor activities. Next, I researched the usual weather for the time of year we would be there. Overwhelmed, I took a step back and figured out this trip (and probably your trip too) would boil down to:
1. City – Cold, possible rain + hot and humid.
2. Outdoors – Cold, windy, swings in temperature.
Weight is critical, you simply can’t get around it. As I laid out each big chunk of time with the right clothes, I then took out 1/3 of what I had planned on. This way I’d mentally leave room for:
1. Buying what I need on the road. I’ve yet to encounter a place where a local outfitter hasn’t had the best technical gear for the region I'm in. My Kathmandu jacket I bought in New Zealand is the best find so far. I also leave out heavy basics like shampoo. Even if you’re on the way to the Amazon jungle there’s a way to get toothpaste if you really need it. Embracing this was a big stress reliever.
2. Plan on leaving clothes along the way. You’ll tire of wearing the same things, so all the easier to donate to a local shelter. You know what your favorites are, so include them but get into the idea that you may part with them (or wear them out) at some point along the way.
What I Know From Past Trips: Dresses can go from nature to city, all with my Converse kicks. That same dress looks fine day or night. When craving a fine dining experience, we opt for lunch instead of dinner because heels are not worn enough to warrant inclusion in my space starved luggage. Besides, most restaurants offer some of the same menu and experience as dinner at usually a discounted price for lunch.
I’ve gone to the Opera in dark leggings, my Clergerie walking shoes and a leather jacket and pulled off an elegant evening. If I can do it, anyone can. My advice: become skilled at knowing which pieces you can look stunning in and the next day revert them back to casual. My pair of black leather leggings work in any situation. Still wanting to see my toes now and again a pair of sandals packs easy, hiking boots not so much. I wear my hiking boots on airplanes to save on luggage space.
My favorite city walking shoe is made in Paris (Clergerie), a city that truly understands the need for a shoe you can walk forever in. So, all told, four pair of shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, Sandals, Hiking Boots, and my City Shoes will be it on this trip.
Clothes For Adventure: Once we get to South Africa, we’ll leave all our city gear in a locker at the airport and walk onto the tiny four-seater plane with an overnight bag weighing no more than 11 kilos, about 25 pounds. But whether hiking Kilimanjaro, New Zealand or in and around Japan my technical, lightweight Kuhl long sleeves and long pants work everywhere. They roll up into tiny spaces and hang to dry easily. I love Exofficio panties and rely on them but I also pack fabulous Agent Provocateur just because.
Techinical Gear:My water purification pen, the SteriPen, is priceless. I never have to worry about my water. Don’t leave home without it. Adapters, Computer, SmartPhone, Backup Hard Drive and our favorite new toy: Our DJI Osmo pocket 4K Action Camera. It’s a game changer if you like 4K video. You’ll thank me for telling you about the Osmo, trust me.
Miscellaneous: Contacts, prescriptions, sunscreen, toiletries, makeup and medical kit. I scour the internet and make friends with makeup counter people for tiny sizes and samples all year long. Even my makeup brushes have the handles cut off for conserving space and weight. It’s an art to pare down your routine to the bare minimums while still taking great care of yourself. I’m a huge fan of investing in IPL laser treatments and good cosmeceutical skincare, but even the most experienced travelers know that sleep and lots of clean water go a long way in the self-care department.
Must Have: Yoga clothes and my yoga mat. My award-winning book, “Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On And Off Your Mat,” was inspired by my 4,000-mile Yoga Road Trip, where I rediscovered and redefined my life while interviewing over 100 yoga teachers. I continue to scour the globe for the best yoga retreats, yoga festivals, workshops, studios and teachers to share with my followers.
I’m not partial to any one yoga brand of clothing. This may sound crazy in our brand-focused world, but as long as my yoga clothes function well, wash and wear well and are easy to move in I can live with a couple of basic pieces. I'm excited about trying brands I've yet to hear about here in the US as I travel. Stay tuned for my updates about what I find!
My Yogo mat has been in countless countries and works inside or outside. I love placing it on top of a borrowed studio mat so that my knees get extra padding and I’m protected from the person who used it before. Washing and hanging it in a shower is the easiest and best design element I’ve seen on any mat anywhere, hands down. It folds up easily and with the built-in handle I now prefer it to a big, bulky mat even when I’m riding my bike to my local yoga studio. I simply can’t say enough about it and if you’re thinking that this article is in any way a part of a big marketing plan, think again. No paid for advertising here my friend.
Ok, I’m ready to go. Or so I think…
Stay tuned as I check in from time to time and share photos here and on my IG page @Stephanieyogini.