Packing for travel is fun. Packing for adventure is extra fun. Close to all of the entries of your packing list need to be validated and checked. For example, a gas powered lighter will not work when outside temperatures drop below a certain point. So you need to pack petrol based ones. How many batteries do you need. What weather will you encounter and what clothing do you need to be able to wait in the polar night for the Aurora to appear. Just the actual process of packing our boxes, bags and cases takes more than 2-3 days, not counting preparation of the camera equipment.

We prepare using the Packing Pro App, a very nice tool keeping an inventory of all equipment and letting you select what you need for a specific trip. Below, I listed the main categories with some details, although do not treat this list as complete.

  • To Do (Before trip)
    • Maps
      Buy paper ones, allow for sufficient time when loading electronic ones on your device. The tile based topographical maps can take a very long time to download. Plan your route, but consider that driving might take much more time than on roads with tarmac.
    • Check your documents
      Passport, Visa, etc.
    • Do all necessary reservations and also try to check in
      In some places, there are not a lot of hotels. In Scandinavia during winter, many shut down.
    • Get a local SIM with a data plan
      This is getting much easier today, but Internet connectivity is important to check weather forecasts, book hotels, check maps and road conditions and see what areas you need to look out for and what to avoid. We usually buy a local one, this is no problem in Iceland and a huge challenge in Norway. In Norway, they rudely shut down our SIM card unexpectedly while we were far from civilization. We use the Apple SIM in such cases now.
    • Vaccinations
      Check what you need.
    • Prepare your equipment
      Upgrade all software, empty your memory cards, clean your lenses, charge batteries, load all necessary data, e.g. all manuals (I maintain a PDF archive containing all manuals for everything I own – great reading on ferries).
    • Prepare your home
      Empty your garbage, pause mail and newspaper, make sure your plants survive (we use a Gardena automatic watering system). Arm your defense systems.
  • To Do (During trip)
    • Do not update your blog
      Give no indication that you are gone for some time.
    • Send paper postcards
      At least I like it a lot to receive them.
    • Buy a souvenir
      Also consider that everything you buy locally will help people who are depending on tourists, that might be important revenue for them.
  • To Do (After trip)
    • Plan time for post-processing of your data
      Tag your photos. Make backups.
    • Update your blog
      Tell your friends, traveling is interesting to most. Make sure that people understand different cultures, the world might get a better place if we treat each other with more respect.
  • Vehicle
    • Modifications
      Check whether your car is road legal in target countries.
    • Tools
      The tools that your car comes with are usually low quality and by far not sufficient. There are pretty good sets available on the market which pack adequate selections. An OBD2 Reader is good to have as well. Voltage transformer for the car power sockets, battery rechargers compatible to your car power sockets, multi-outlet power strip, tension belts, all necessary fittings, e.g. for the airlines, flashlights, an external battery charger like the CTEK Polar.
    • Spare Parts
      Fuses, spare light bulbs (front lights fail a lot in cold temperatures), cables, heat shrink tubing, cable straps (lots), adhesive tape (the real strong kind), WD40.
    • Recovery Tools
      Recovery rope both kinetic and normal along with all necessary accessories, strong gloves. Watch some YouTube movies on how to use. Ground anchor with a hammer, folding shovel, an axe (be careful with some ferries, they might consider it a weapon). A compressor for pumping up your tires after you need to deflate.
    • Luggage
      Safe cases for all equipment, cooler box.
    • Cleaning Equipment
      Screen wipe cloth and cleaning tissue, hand wash paste, additional microfiber cloth, lock lubricants.
    • Winter equipment
      Screw In Spikes (check whether your tires are compatible), battery powered drill, winter tire chains.
  • Outdoor: Clothing
    • Accessories
      Cap, gloves, a buff which could cover your complete face, heating pads, sewing kit.
    • Underwear
      Shirts and briefs, socks.
    • Outer Layers
      Softshells, hardshells, touring pants, etc.
    • Shoes
      Warm shoes, battery powered shoe heating system, spikes, impregnation spray, several spare shoelaces.
  • Outdoor: Equipment
    • Bags
      Duffles, cases, dry bags
    • Tent
      Tent plus necessary accessories, heavy duty tent pegs, a tarp with straps and poles, repair kit, temperature adequate sleeping bag, ar mattress, cushion, mosquito net, towel (actually the towel should be listed on top of the list in remembrance to Douglas Adams).
    • Furniture
      Chairs, table.
    • Cooking
      Camping cooker with two flames and fuel, knifes, forks, spoons, plates, cups, frying pan, one or two pots, sieve, bottles, folding bowl for cleaning, dishwashing brush, all necessary detergents, dish towels, food boxes, soup drinks, spices, vitamins, disinfectants and water purity tablets, zip lock bags, garbage bags.
    • Navigation
      GPS tracker, compass.
    • Tools
      Knives, both single blade and multi-tool, multiple lighters with spare parts and fuel, matches, rope, accessory cord, velcro straps, flashlights, headlight, batteries.
  • Camera
    • Power
      Batteries and chargers
    • Accessories
      Remote control, caps, gps, cables, protection against rain/snow, microphone, plastic bags, flashlights, memory cards, backup drives, cleaning utilities, tools.
    • Lenses
      Ultra-wide, zoom, telezoom, fisheye, whatever you think you need. Filters.
    • Bodies
      Two or more gives you a spare in case one fails.
    • Tripods
      Tripods and heads, rails, dolly, etc. If you go for Aurora Borealis, this is where you need to invest.
  • Electronics
    • Computer
      Laptop plus accessories, tablet, all relevant software, manuals, card reader, cables, power cord.
    • Entertainment
      Headphone, alarm clock, mp3 player, speaker.
    • Accessories
      Power adapter.
  • Medication
    • Sunscreen (trust me on it), insect repellent, disinfection spray, …
  • Clothing
    • You can do this on your own, but do not forget your toothbrush.
  • Various
    • Laundry bag, travel guidebooks, pad of paper, pens, credit card, foreign currency.