How to Pack Like an Adventure Travel Expert

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How to Pack Like an Adventure Travel Expert

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Wondering what in the world you’ll need for your adventure travel and field science trip? While our program-specific packing lists name the must-have items you’ll need for travel and field science, our staff of seasoned travel experts and outdoor enthusiasts give you their insights into the most important things to bring on any adventure.


As a Costa Rican, Carla is all-knowing when it comes to humidity. She's also an experienced backpacker, taking on trails in the rainforest, southern Appalachia, and the northern Rockies. Definitely follow her tips to stay dry and comfortable.


  • Baby powder is a great way to feel dry, especially in places you wouldn’t think of, such as around your neck. It also works to get rid of that sticky beach sand on your feet.
  • Humidity can cause extra friction between your legs when walking, creating a not-so-super-comfortable thigh rash. Applying (and reapplying) a stick of deodorant or anti-chafe such a Body Glide will make sure your body move with ease throughout your damp days.
  • Instead of packing a huge, thick towel, bring a sweet sarong! It’s great for drying off after a shower or at the beach.


If you’re intrigued by the natural wonders of the place you’re visiting, Erin is the person to talk to. She’s head of our Yellowstone Program for a reason. Erin says to pack all the following items to aid you in your naturalist observations, especially if you’re a beginning field scientist. Then plan to find yourself a local naturalist to tag along with when you get to your destination.

  • Binoculars
  • A hand lens (A what? A hand lens. The better to see you with…)
  • A journal and pencil
  • Digital camera
  • Relevant field guide or dichotomous key


Kyle isn’t one to brag about her adventures, but she’s so often in the air, traveling to fabulous places, that we can’t quite keep track of her. In fact, we’re lucky to even to get a glimpse into the bag of things Kyle wouldn’t leave home without.


  • Coconut oil for hair, lips, and skin during salty, dry, no-shower weeks, like you’re definitely going to experience in Baja, Mexico. Capsule form is the easiest to travel with, and you can puncture one or two a day. Bonus: smells awesome!
  • “Flight Home Clothes.” Be sure to keep these separate from the rest of your horrendously smelly clothes that you’ve been wearing for a week straight in the high humidity of the tropics. Resist wearing them! They are the cleanest thing you’ll have, and your very presence won’t be an offense to the 10 nearest people on the plane.  
  • It sounds cliché, and it will be a chore at the time, but keeping a small journal for your daily thoughts will be a treasure after your trip for years to come.
  • DON’T bring a rolling suitcase. If your travel is truly adventurous or focused on field science, you’ll find almost no environment where a rolling suitcase will be helpful. Don’t look like that guy.


Having spent the last 4 years doing fieldwork across 5 states, Daniel knows a few things about staying comfortable through all weather conditions. (Also, it’s Daniel’s first time to ever be featured on a blog! What a big day for you, Daniel.)


  • Rain gear that actually works. Getting wet in the field is the worst!
  • On trips where you’ll be camping, one pair of warm socks that never leaves your sleeping bag, so you always have one nice, warm pair of socks waiting for you.
  • A day pack that efficiently holds all of your stuff.
  • I thoroughly enjoy those Burt Bee's face wipes (cucumber or grapefruit are excellent) while in the field or traveling. You can go non-name brand to save money, but it’s your funeral, Dude.
  • A plant press! (Unless you are in a national park. Don’t want the rangers coming after you.)
  • Headlamp, a good book, and cards. If you don’t already know how to play, you should really learn cribbage.


Since Fred has conquered the feat of learning Japanese and has climbed Mt. Myogi in Japan even after being warned that he’d probably fall off and die while trying, we’re convinced you can trust his advice. (He didn’t fall off and die!)


  • Super Important: Always have one incredibly delicious thing in your pocket that you can count on to perk you up should your spirits be down.
  • Wear boots that actually work and are waterproof. And don’t forget to break them in before you go!
  • Try to wear a piece of clothing as many days in a row as is feasible; this cuts down on weight and makes travel much more enjoyable. (More enjoyable for you maybe, Fred, but what about the rest of us?)
  • Extra batteries for your electronic devices, especially your headlamp.


Lisa is a master of the outdoors. She can show you how to do anything in the field, and she’ll do it with a smile on her face. You know why she’s smiling? Because she knows how to pack properly and stay oh-so-comfy in all conditions.


  • Lens pen cleaner or lens wipes - use these to keep your glasses, sunglasses, camera, or binoculars clean without scratching them.
  • Collapsible or lightweight water bottles. If you can't handle the plastic taste that comes with Camelpacks try Platypus! (Disclosure: We do not receive funding from Platypus. Yet. *hint hint Platypus)
  • OMG snacks, snacks, and more snacks! It is hard to enjoy a trip or fully engage in field work if you are peckish. Good thing EPI provides these for our courses!


Our young traveler extraordinaire! Our gregarious intern! Our study abroad expert and so much more! We <3 Claire, and you should totally take her advice.


  • Eco-Friendly shampoo, soap, and toothpaste! For camping trips, like in Baja, you’ll want to wash up every now and then, but make sure you use products that won't harm the environment. (After all, the incredible environment is why you're there in the first place).
  • Coral-safe sunscreen. Just like with the eco-friendly shampoos, this is a necessity for keeping our reefs and the diversity that lives there protected!
  • BIG water bottles. Especially when it comes to hiking, or days out on a boat, the bigger the better. I am always that person that has to ask for sips of other people’s water, because I always run out when I bring my cute small bottles! I know we all want to show off our cool stickers, but seriously, you don't want to get caught halfway through a hike with an empty water bottle. 
  • Waterproof band-aids! When you're out in nature, accidents happen. From cutting your knee on rocks or getting snagged on vines, you'll want some band-aids to keep your wounds from getting infected, and if your field activity involves water, you'll definitely need some waterproof ones, so they don't fall off and pollute the water.
  • Solar-powered charger for things like your GoPro, camera, or other electronics.


If transforming EPI from a crazy idea into a field science nonprofit that employs over 100 people and has taken more than 30,000 students into the field isn’t enough to make you trust her recommendations, then we just don’t know what will. Julie is EPI’s Co-founder and Advancement Director, and she’s got a few ideas that haven’t been listed yet.

  • Two super handy and small things to carry are clothespins and a line for those extended trips where you start to turn a little ripe. And don’t forget the biodegradable laundry soap! You haven’t lived until you’ve washed your clothes by hand in a bucket.
  • A change purse that keeps your foreign currency separate from your own currency will help tremendously with organization.
  • Comfy, light-weight sandals for your downtime and walking around town in (if it’s not winter in Montana, that is).


Photo Credit:
Andrew Hitchcock
Lindsay Caro

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