World Schooling Travel Essentials

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If you’re setting out on a world schooling adventure what are your travel essentials? Travel essentials are the things we all need to pack every time, for every type of destination or travel style. They can also be items that are essential for a specific activity or place. As world schooling generally involves multiple destinations, multiple climates and frequent moves, the essentials are a little different to those you would pack for a vacation. Luckily, we here at World Travel Family have been there, done that, and we’re more than happy to share our thoughts on what should make up world schooling travel essentials.

Worldschooling travel essentials kid.
World schooling travel essentials in action. Backpacks (behind) a hat, light fleece, long pants and a trusty Kindle. Photo taken while hiking in Nepal. You’ll need more specialist gear for activities like this. It’s all in our post!

In this post, we discuss the general travel essentials and specialised travel essentials for families considering world schooling their kids. These are just guidelines and tips, no two people have the same needs and wants, but read it, then take what you want from our lists of essentials, ignore whatever doesn’t apply to you.

I just want to say that I much prefer the word “worldschooling” but that is being flagged as a typo now. It seems we’re stuck with using world schooling as the correct spelling. I’ve been using that word for 12 years, even that’s been taken away now.

World Schooling Travel Essentials Basic List

We’ve broken the basic worldschooling travel essentials down by type in the list below. Some lines are clickable and jump links will take you to the relevant part of this page. We’ll use this today rather than a table of contents.

Get an insurance quote here at World Nomads. The link opens a new tab so you won’t lose your lace. This company has always been our go-to.

Before you travel check and double-check entry requirements for your destination and any countries you may be passing through. Also, look closely at your airline travel requirements and regulations. Each airline has its own rules and baggage limits, some countries have restrictions on what you can, and can’t bring in. If you start your voyage on a full-service airline, be certain that your carry on bag is compliant to the rules for Air Asia, Wizz, or any budget flight you may use along the way. Size regulations including weight, dimensions, and size, do vary, so plan ahead.

Essentials For You and Your Journey

Your essentials for your worldschooling adventure will depend on where you’re going, how long you will be travelling, your personal preferences, what type of travel you will be embarking on.

For instance, if you plan to travel by cruise ship you may need some formal wear, to hike in the Himalayas you will need specialist gear, and so on. You can buy as you go. We’ve always had to buy clothing and equipment as we travel. There was no way we could have travelled with ski gear, trekking gear, beach wear and heels for cruises for the full 6+ years we were travelling.

Also, clothing wears out fast. You will need to buy clothes as you travel. After a while, you learn where’s best to do this. I’ve bought jeans in Dubai, and underwear in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur where you can find international chains like Gap, M&S, and H&M. It’s best to buy good quality. Those Thai elephant pants might look like a good purchase, but they often only last a few days before they rip.

Sun, sweat, and carrying packs also wear through clothing fast.

But there’s more to essentials than just clothes. On with our basic guide to essentials for worldschooling.

Bare Minimum Worldschooling Travel Essentials

If you were to be completely minimalist, the only absolute travel essentials are the following.

  • passport or other documents
  • access to money
  • travel insurance (or enough money to not care!)

If you have cash or a credit card you can buy what you need as you go. But who does that, right?

Most of us prefer to pack enough so that we don’t have to be rushing to the shops taking up our valuable travel time.

Full List of Travel Essentials for Worldschooling

Now for the full list of travel essentials for world schooling and more details, below.

Electronic Essentials for World Schooling Kids and Families

Battery packs are essential for travel
Power banks or portable battery packs are essential for world schooling families. Maybe not solar like this one, but solar does come in handy sometimes.

The electronic essentials for world schooling as you travel, depend on you. Some people like to travel disconnected, but these days that’s hard. I don’t even think it’s possible to get on a flight in these days of e-tickets, online check-in and electronic QR code boarding passes. You’ll also need a phone for ride-share apps like Uber and Grab. So we’re going to call a phone an essential. You don’t need one for every family member, but you do need at least one working phone per family.


If phones are essential, a charger, the leads and a back-up power bank or battery pack are also essential. A dual SIM phone, unlocked, with guerilla glass and some level of water resistance is ideal. Buy a case and screen protector.

Because in world schooling you may want to create records of any learning experiences or physically created work, you may want to take photos of all this along the way. I always used to take photos of completed workbooks, in case I ever needed to show evidence of education.

Ear Buds/ Headphones

Your phone will also be your music player and device for watching movies or shows. We often watch movies in bed or listed to music when we run. I can’t say enough good things about these Bluetooth headbands with built-in speakers. They’re so much more comfortable than any in-ear earplugs and their battery life is phenomenal.

Download movies from Netflix or Amazon before you leave home.

Noise-cancelling headphones aren’t essential at all, unless maybe you’re extra sensitive to noise. A cheap set of Loop earplugs can be handy though.


power socket
This is a socket in Malaysia where it’s quite common to see sockets that will take multiple types of plug, UK, Asian, and more. But sockets vary, make sure you have the right ones for your destination.

To charge that phone you’ll need an international plug/socket adapter too. Plugs are different in Asia, Europe, the UK, US and Australia, you’ll probably need several, so buy a multi-destination international adapter like this.

You can buy adapters on arrival, but this will waste your precious time. They can also be poor quality, as we found recently in Bali. We took our lives in our hands every time we used that one.

Choose a slim charger, not too heavy, with fast charging like this. We rarely even leave the house without these. Click through on the link above to buy on Amazon. Using our affiliate links costs you no extra.

Power banks are vital for kids’ devices and very useful for long journeys, power cuts, camping, and planes. We carry regular power banks plus a solar-charged model (see here) which is useful for trekking or countries where the power goes off regularly. We have a full post on power banks here.

Be particularly careful with Australian 3 prong plugs, some power adaptors will only take a two-pronged Australian plug.

Double plugs or power boards with extension leads are handy if you’re working and carrying a lot of electrical gear.

Also look for travel power adapters with multiple USB ports. This is a great example.


You’ll also need a SIM card. You can buy these online for delivery to your home address, or you can purchase an e Sim, some are country specific, others are region specific. Or you can simply buy a SIM on arrival at your destination airport.

You may want to look into DrimSim, it’s a new concept, it’s a card that works in approximately 200 countries to save you hassle when arriving in a new place. Check it out here (also opens in a new tab).


These days your phone is your camera and video recording device. Unless you’re a serious photographer, don’t pack a camera.


My family travels with laptops. I even take my laptop when I’m travelling with just carry on. To me it’s essential for work, and it was essential for the kids when they were completing any online courses or study programs as part of their world schooling.

I strongly recommend that you buy a small, lightweight laptop for travel. 15 inches is a good travel-sized laptop. It saves you a lot of weight and space. Get something like this, cheap and lightweight.


My kids never had tablets or iPads. They just had their Kindles and they were essential. Worldschooling kids need to read and books for kids, in English, are hard to come by as you travel. You can easily download a new Kindle book from just about anywhere in the world. Get a case too. Electronic gear that you travel with can gets some rough handling. Buy a Kindle Paperwhite here, it’s just a book, no games. These are easier on kids eyes than regular screens.

Other Electronic Accessories

As a travel blogger, I also carried a gimbal and small plug-in microphone a few years back. These days I don’t take them, I’ve lost all interest in reels and YouTube, it’s too much for one person to manage websites and social media and I just don’t want to be “an influencer.”

A Go-Pro might be fun to have. We use ours for water activities, they’re small and light.

Packing Tips For Electronics

All of the electronic essentials for worldschooling need to go in your carry on really, so this will limit what else you can squeeze in there. If luggage allowances are very tight, carry your chargers and so on in your pockets. I can even fit my drone in a pocket, but I rarely travel with that now. Drones are heavy.

You’ll find that you’ll have a lot of wires plugs and sockets. Keeping them all together in a sturdy travel organiser like one of these is a good idea.

Essential Travel Toiletries, Cosmetics and Medical Kit

essential toiletries for travel
A selection of solid toiletries I’ve tested during travelling, some work, some melt, read more below.

The only toiletries I pack now, are solid shampoo, solid deodorant/antiperspirant, a razor, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Anything else I may need, I buy. But I’m probably not you.

When I was travelling with the whole family, 2 adults, 2 kids, my husband and I had a large wash bag each. The kids didn’t carry their own wash kits. We shared most products.

If I can give you one recommendation for toiletries and skincare products, it would be this solid sunscreen, it was great for us and doesn’t leak.

Solid shampoo is a big essential. No plastic, you buy a metal tin, and buy your solid shampoo to go in it. Not every hotel provides shampoo. Solid shampoo can also double as hand soap or laundry soap if needed. Being solid, it won’t leak and you won’t need to present it as a liquid at airports.

My best tip with solid shampoo for travel is to make sure it’s dry before you pack it. I usually just leave it on the bed to dry before we check out.

LUSH sells solid shampoo bars and sometimes solid moisturisers and conditioners. I’ve tried these and they melted, so I don’t recommend them. They’re OK in cold climates. There are LUSH stores at some large airports.

Solid deodorant and tooth tabs are also available. Test a selection of different solid deodorants and find one that doesn’t melt. Some do. The brand I use now is Australian, you may not be able to find it. We have a full post on plastic free travel, here.

The best wash bag I’ve ever owned was a “Pack It Flat” travel washbag by e-Bags. It’s a genius design, for travel or home. E-bags seem to have vanished from the travel organiser world in recent years, this one is similar. Get one that hangs, you often don’t have a dry surface to put a washbag on.

Men’s having gear is bulky but easy to buy anywhere.

In humid countries I don’t use moisturiser or body lotions, but in cold, dry countries I buy them, plus Elizabeth Arden lip balm (8 hour cream) is a luxury when long flights dry out lips. You can buy this at the airport duty free shop.

Essential Travel Medical Kit

While you can buy most medical supplies locally, kids have a tency to get sick in the middle of the night when the shops are shut, or to cut themselves in the middle of nowhere. We always have a bare minimum of paracetamol, band aids and antiseptic on us, usually iodine.

I’ve posted about what’s in our medical kit here. I’d also highly recommend a small thermometer, this type, so that you don’t need disposable covers. My temperature got to 104F once when I had flu in Sri Lanka. I need to know those numbers!

We don’t generally need a ” travel” medical kit containing syringes and needles. I did buy one once and never needed it. 

We also need electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. My family works out in tropical heat and that strips eloctrolytes from your body. The brand we use is called LMNT and it’s flavourless and free from artificial sweeteners. It’s hard to find, we buy it online. We buy these electrolytes in sachets, for travel you’d need to put them in a small plastic box of some kind, the paper wrapper would break down.

I also pack a small container of good quality salt.

We never use rehydration tablets or anti-diarrhoea medication.

Bug Sprays and Mosquito Nets

Mosquito nets are not travel essentials for most worldschooling families, but we have them, so we used to carry them.

As well as repellents, I sometimes carried the sort of airosol spray for exterminating mosquitoes in rooms and under decks. I don’t mess about with dengue, malaria, Japanese encephalitis and all the other mosquito-born diseases.

I buy it locally as needed and only carry it if we’re moving about within Southeast Asia by bus and train.

Years ago, on treks in Thailand, we used mosquito nets every night, since then we’ve used them on only 2 occasions. Both times were in Sri Lanka when rooms had open vents. You generally don’t need a mosquito net for normal travel.

Obviously, we also use personal mosquito repellent, I prefer natural mosquito repellent for the kids. In high risk areas we use DEET.

Other Travel Essentials, Gear and Clothing

Obviously what you need depends on your style of travel and where you’re going. Not all of these things may be essential for travel in your particular case and I’ve tried to explain when and how you will need them.

What Clothing To Pack?

  • 3 pairs of trousers (pants) is enough. 4 pairs is a bonus. Take a pair that can be worn as pyjamas occasionally in hostels or cold weather. At least one of those pairs of pants, for me, will be running tights. You will probably want to buy some items as you travel, so take less and buy more. I’ve worn my jeans in every climate. I always pack jeans.
  • The most useful tops are black vest tops that go with everything and don’t show stains. Don’t pack white. Wear a long sleeve shirt over the top for cultural politeness or to go out in the sun. I also wear them to bed, so I’ve got a few.
  • Pack a pair of swimming shorts or swimsuits for everyone. If you have swim shorts or board shorts they should double for regular shorts as needed. My kids wear shorts, I don’t.
  • You may not need socks if you’re only visiting hot countries. If you’re packing your walking shoes or running shoes you will need socks. 3 pairs should be plenty. (1 to wear, 1 to wash, 1 for spare) My trekking socks are over 15 years old and still going strong, but I don’t pack them unless I know I ‘ll be ding serious trekking. They’re Bridgedales wool socks and 1 pair is plenty.
  • Flip flops or thongs are fine for every-day wear in hot climates.Rubber flip-flops are better than any leather sandal because your feet often get wet.You can buy rubber thongs in Bali, Thailand and Malaysia, you can buy plastic anywhere. Have a comfortable pair of closed shoes or hiking boots too. I wear hiking shoes or boots on travel days because they are bulky to pack. In cooler European cities, and while hiking Everest, the trekking shoes did me just fine. We haven’t been anywhere that has required covered shoes for entrance (The Grand Palace, Bangkok allegedly requires covered shoes but we had no problems in Birkenstocks), and flip-flops mostly suit me fine for hot weather walking. I was forced to buy heels for one cruise line, I bought cheap and left them on the ship. For water activities, you will need shoes that won’t come off, for instance, any kind of rafting or kayaking. We use a shoe like this for these occasions, they’re designed for water use. If you run, you’ll need to pack running shoes.
  • I don’t pack skirts or dresses. If you enjoy wearing dresses, pack them. There are no rules!
  • Take more underwear rather than less. Underwear has to fit and sizing around the world is very variable. If you have good, comfortable, durable underwear, pack it. You don’t need special “travel underwear.”
  • A long-sleeved sweatshirt-type top or light fleece should be all you need for warmth on a plane or in hot countries. You may need that layer for air-conditioned buses sometimes too. Thick winter clothing and jackets are too bulky to travel with, buy them when you need them. For instance on arrival in Kathmandu you can get great thick fleeces and coats, very cheaply.
  • Hats and scarves are great for sunshine or cold. A big cotton scarf can keep you warmer or cooler depending on how you use it. It’s an extra layer, sun protection, an emergency towel or sarong, plus a blanket.

Is Special Travel Clothing Essential?

In our opinion. these special travel clothes are unnecessary and certainly not essential. They’re supposedly easier to wash and dry, but I’ve never had any issues drying clothes. If you think you need zip off shorts/ trousers I’ll tell you that I did once own a pair and those zips were very uncomfortable.

“travel clothes” also mark you out as an inexperienced tourist and may make you a target for theft or scams. Dress like the locals. They’re usually in jeans.

We own some hi-tech clothing for trekking, but we got halfway up Everest in jeans and leggings plus warm/waterproof jackets. See our honest trekking gear post here.

We all wear jeans almost constantly, in every climate. We live in the tropics, we happily wear jeans year-round. Of course, if you enjoy wearing shorts and they’re appropriate to the culture of your destination, pack shorts. Kids can wear shorts just about anywhere, but older boys in the Middle East, no, don’t wear shorts.

The only other trousers we pack are leggings or running tights, we exercise, they’re useful.

Sarongs and Sheet Sleeping Bags for Travel

Some guest houses in Asia have extremely grotty bottom sheets and pillow cases, they don’t supply a top sheet and the blanket isn’t washed.

We have used the sarong and sheet sleeping bags as clean covers quite often.

Couch Surfers swear by them.

My sheet sleeping bag is cotton and I’ve had it for over twelve years.

You can buy silk ones in Asia, cheaply (be sure they’re silk not synthetic), or make your own from an old sheet to be more eco-friendly.

Sheet sleeping bags or sleeping bag liners are essential for Himalayan or hot climate trekking. Sleeping bags aren’t always, some places provide blankets.

Travel Towels

We find that travel towels are essential items to pack for most types of travel. While some (only a few) hostels do not provide towels, I’ve very rarely encountered a hotel that doesn’t provide towels to guests. But for any water activity you will probably want your own travel towel.

Over the years the fabrics used in travel towels have changed. We used to pack micro-toweling and micro-fibre travel towels. Both can be good and these materials seem to last forever. Today we buy thin cotton “Turkish” travel towels. They’re still thin and lightweight, but more aesthetically pleasing. Get one here, in organic cotton, on Amazon.

A travel towel is much easier to wash and dry than a regular towel. Be sure to buy a big one that will wrap right around you. In the old days we’d often use sarongs in place of towels, but they cling and a good travel towel is much more durable.

We use travel towels at home now too.

We have a full post on travel towels here, we bought a selection weighed them and tested them, but the one we picked is no longer available. You can buy a similar microfibre travel towel here, if you’re not a fan of cotton.

Hats and a Scarf

Hat and scarf essential for travel
A hat and scarf are travel essentials for me. The scarf is multi purpose, sun protection, warmth, an emergency shade sheet (great for buses), child wiper and towel. But a kufiya like this (loads of colours) below.

Hats are one of our travel essentials and we wear them just about every day, in hot or cold weather.

We have multiple hats but dual-purpose is best. Your hat should ideally provide shade and be able to keep you warm in winter.

I wear one to keep the sun off and cover my inelegant hair.

Mostly I wear caps because I prefer them, but a wide-brimmed hat that shades your ears is a more sensible choice for sun. The same hat should also help insulate your head in cold travel destinations.

I have a couple of scarves for keeping the sun off my neck and shoulders, sometimes even my face in desert scenarios with high sun risk.

They keep me warm in London and dress up outfits for cruise ships. They see a lot of use.

My cotton “Simon Reeve” Arab scarf (a Shemagh or Kufiya) also doubles as a handy towel and child wiper in emergencies. I buy mine direct from Palestine but the same scarves are on Amazon here.

It can be slung across bus windows to create shade or used as a clean surface to rest on.  I also think it makes me look cool.


Sunglasses are absolutely essential for sun, snow, and water, but for me, I wear them every day, everywhere. This is the brand we use and have taken to Everest Base Camp. Chef also uses them for Ironman events. They mave many designs and colours. We all have at least one pair of sunglasses.

Eye Masks

If you use an eye mask at home and find them useful or that they help you sleep, take your eye mask. If you never use one at home, don’t buy them to go travelling. To us, they are not essentials and just an extra item to carry or lose.

Ear Plugs

In some countries beeping traffic or loud music may keep you awake at night. You also need earplugs for planes in Nepal. They’re a tiny, lightweight item that’s easy to carrry. Grab some modern ones here.

Plastic Coat Hangers

I always pack at least one plastic coat hanger for travel, even in carry-on. If you’re hand washing clothes, plastic coat hangers are easy to hang from a single point to dry your clothes overnight in your room.

Essential Travel Sharp Items-Pen Knife, Tweezers and Scissors

I carry a pen knife for long-term travel, it has to be in hold luggage not carry on. You may need scissors to but hair, a corkscrew, or emergency tweezers

Recently I was able to take my nail scissors in my carry-on, scissor blades under 6cm long were allowed. I dnon’t know if this regulation has changed, but I was surprised.

Essentials For Packing and Organisation

What will your main luggage be? A suitcase or a backpack? I prefer a backpack, it keeps my hands free and there’s no bending to pick it up. My day bag doubles as my airline carry-on bag and is also a backpack. This is often my daily “purse” but these days I also carry a small cross-body anti theft bag.

My husband also prefers a backpack and we bought backpacks for the kids.

When we first set off worldschooling we bought kid-sized packs, they were a waste of money, the harnesses were terrible and they were too small to be useful. I’d get a small adult backpack instead.

This will be the kids’ carry on, so only mum and dad’s main backpacks go in the hold.

You could set off on your world schooling adventure with just a carry-on each, but it’s not very practical with small kids who need toys, books and games. With younger kids we also used to carry a lot more mosquito repellents, sunscreens etc.

I do travel carry-on only now, all the time, but my kids are older teens and can carry a full adult backpack themselves now. Small children.

Packing Cubes

I bought a set of three eBags Packing Cubes, small, medium and large, we used them for a decade and still have them. E bags seem to have gone out of business but there are a lot of alternative brands on Amazon. Try these.

The small sizes are great for underwear or the kids’ toys.

When you’re trying to pack a backpack you don’t want everything in packing cubes, you need a few loose clothes to shove into corners and pack around hard items.

If you’re travelling carry-on-only, don’t use packing cubes, they’re extra weight and bulk. The packing cubes are only for large backpacks and suitcases.

Shoe Bags

I made a few shoe bags out of T-shirts the kids had outgrown. No need to buy shoe bags at all, but they are super helpful to have. You don’t want your dirty thongs loose in your suitcase or backpack.

Laundry Bags

If you’re going to drop off your laundry at a laundry place in Asia, your smelly stuff will need to be in a bag. Have a good sized, lightweight bag with you. You can either make one, improvise, or buy one. They sell them on Amazon here. In most countries you won’t be given carrier bags any more, so that option is now out. It’s a much better idea than a travel clothes line. We originally took a travel clothes line with us, we threw it away.

Family Passport Organisers

It’s usual for passports to all be carried by one parent when worldschooling families travel. Keep all of your passports in one travel wallet. Bonus points if that passport wallet also holds a pen. Written boarding cards are getting rare now, more and more are electronic, but having a pen on a plane is still very handy. Get one like ours here, it’s been great.

Essential Anti-Theft Gear for Your Belongings

Anti-theft devices aren’t 100% essential, but they give you peace of mind. An anti-theft daypack, crossbody bag or purse are a very good idea. We have posts on both if you click through. We also recommend door wedges to keep intruders out of your room while you’re sleeping. Get one, with an alarm, here.

Travel Essentials Items for World Schooling Kids

Kids travel essentials for world schooling
Wide brimmed hats for the sun are essential for world schooling kids. We bought these in Laos, photo taken at the Dali museum in Spain.

If you’re on a worldschooling journey, your children will be too old to need strollers, sings or any baby gear. So we don’t have to cover that here.

Kindles are essential for kids learning as they travel, and access to a laptop may be essential if you use online learning programs or if the kids want to research topics.

Our kids used thin lightweight workbooks as we travelled. We’d stock up in the UK. Once a workbook was finished I’d photograph it and throw it away. We like this brand for every subject.

Kids may like small toys, sketch pads, coloured pencils and notebooks. The most essential thing for worldschooling kids will be any special bear or blanket that they love.

Don’t over-think clothing for worldschooling kids. Choose breathable cottons that aren’t going to run in the wash or bleach in the sun. Pack a light fleece, flip flops, thongs, Crocs, or some other waterproof shoe. You may want to pack a light rain jacket. The red Berghause in the photo above has been a very good purchase. It’s a kids’ size but it fits mum too. It also has zip-up pockets perfect for carrying a drone or chargers at airports.

We strongly recommend long-sleeved rash vests to keep the sun off at the beach or in the water and if you’re in tropical areas, maybe a full stinger suit. You will be required to wear these in our part of the world in summer. Obviously they will need a sun hat too.

Non-Essential Travel Items

We found through trial and error that none of the following items were essential on our worldschooling journey.

  • Makeup.
  • Hairspray and a hairdryer.
  • Washing line and pegs.
  • Bringing pencils in a plastic lunch box was a mistake, a soft pencil case is easier to pack.
  • Travel-sized shampoo bottles are of no use on a long trip.

Those were our only major packing mistakes.

Final Thoughts on Essentials for Worldschooling

As I suffer from packing anxiety I used to over-think what to take really badly. The reality is that if you forget something of find you need something, you can usually buy it. Packing is not as critical as people think.

Some items are essential no matter what kind of travel you’re planning. You then just have to add some extras for particular destinations or activities.

We hope our experiences learning what’s essential, what’s not, for a world schooling adventure, are helpful to you.

My backpack, the one I love today, is here. These days we travel in much more comfort but

If you need to know anything else about travel essentials for world schooling families, just ask.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

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