I can happily write this after years of experience packing for long international trips, and boy did I learn what to pack the hard way!
At first I experimented with 70-90 litre packs. As a slender female, walking for hours in the heat with one of these on your back is NOT FUN! It was also difficult to get to things when you have so much packed, and I realised I didn’t even touch half of it!
The level of enjoyment equated perfectly to the weight of my backpack, and after a few trips I have scaled down to a 55 litre and always have plenty of room.
Choose your backpack
I have tried and tested a number of backpacks over the years, but personally find The 55 litre Osprey Farpoint to be the king of all bags. One of the main features is a detachable day bag, which really has been essential. Getting the right backpack is so important and can really make a difference to your travels.
I found this handy review vid on you tube.. big shout out to Ben Worrall lol its pretty thorough!
Stick to the essentials
So you have purchased your manageable 55 litre backpack, and your wondering…… how the hell do you fit enough stuff to last six months or more in there?
Its a pretty comical thought at first, but I will break it down for you and throw in some handy tips along the way.
Now this part is usually easier for guys than it is for us girls.. well, if your anything like me that is! But I have now mastered the art of packing the bare minimum and found that I was perfectly happy with my choices.
Remember… every other backpacker is in the same boat, nobody will mind at all if they see you in the same outfit a few times! I pack some essential staple items and wash and dry overnight, or many places will usually have a laundry service you can use once a week.
What clothes to take?
Now this list below I have written in assumption you are heading for warmer climates, for colder regions .. more suitable outerwear would be required.
5 X t -shirts / strappy vest tops
Take a combination of styles, girls may wish to pack a couple of more dressy tops for evenings and a variety of styles to avoid tan lines. Guys, you may wish to take a combination of t-shirts, vest tops and collared polo shirts to suit all occasions.
(remember.. if you get bored after a while you can always purchase clothes locally and exchange for items you no longer want to wear in your pack)
2 X Long sleeve tops
Even in warmer climates it can sometimes get chilly at night, not forgetting some temples and religious places will require you to cover up out of respect before entering. Guys, make sure one of these is a long sleeved shirt, in case you fancy eating in a restaurant or visiting an attraction that requires this.. always better to be safe than sorry! A long sleeve top is also handy to cover up from the sun if needed.
2 x Bikini, costume or swim shorts
Wear one, wash one is always my motto!
3 x Pairs of shorts / skirts
Try and vary your bottoms, a few shorter pairs for beach life, a longer pair of shorts for nights out or walking around attractions?
Always carry a sarong or wrap around long skirt in your day bag, this is so handy for quickly covering your legs, head or shoulders when visiting attractions if needed, or to cover up sunburn.
2 x Long Lightweight trousers
I prefer lightweight baggy Aladdin style pants in a neutral colour so you can mix and match, alternatively light linen pants are also great for a night out or when you need to cover up. When sleeping on overnight coaches or getting planes between destinations, long pants are a godsend! Also during the evenings they help you avoid being bitten to death by mosquitos. I recommend wearing a pair of these on your outward travel to save space in your pack. Guys… A long pair of smartish trousers is essential for some restaurants and attractions.
A warm hoody or lightweight jacket
Wear this to travel in or tie round your waist, even the hottest countries can get chilly at night! Also remember you may be flying back to a freezing cold country on your return home.
1 x Trainers 1 x Sandals 1 x Flip Flops
Trainers for everyday wear (make sure they are durable!) sandals for evenings if required and flip flops for beach life. For the guys.. make sure you pack 1 pair or dark smart closed toe Trainers or shoes that you can wear with long trousers, as certain bars and restaurants require it.
The best way to save space when packing clothes
Many people use packing cubes to separate the clothes, this is a great space saving idea. You can also separate wet or dirty clothes from your clean clothes.
Again, a girls toiletry bag will look very different from a guys! The main thing to remember, you can replenish the basics almost everywhere you go! Shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste are sold all over the world people, so you do not need to pack a never ending supply! Below I have listed what goes in my toiletry bag.
Handy tip… buy a hanging toiletry bag, for ease in small washrooms!
What to pack in your toiletry bag
- I tend to purchase a multi pack of shampoo sachets as they are lighter, easier to store and wont leak all over your things
- Same here – sachets are a travellers best friend. I have also found the tubes you get with packets of hair dye are small and convenient as a little goes a long way!
Travel sized body wash
- Most accommodations will provide some form of body wash or soap, but always have back up.. it is so easy to replace this item anywhere you go.
Razor and spare blades
Roll on deodorant
A roll on is more compact, lasts longer and you can take it on board all flights in your hand luggage.
Toothbrush and travel sized toothpaste
I always pack these into my hand luggage along with my deodorant to keep fresh on long haul flights, you can easily buy colgate toothpaste almost anywhere.
Do not underestimate the factor you should take! You will still tan very well even through a higher factor, but the last thing you want is to get sunstroke and ruin your trip.
A necessity for girls and boys in hot temperatures, dusty or dirty environments and to remove make up. Handy to pack in your day bag.. you never know when you might need to freshen up.
Tweezers and nail scissors
(Although some flights will not let you check these into your hand luggage)
After-sun or moisturizer
If your a girly girl like me and like to get dressed up a little some evenings.. don’t forget your make-up bag (try and stick to the essentials and don’t pack every shade of lipstick on the planet). I always pack a travel sized hair dryer and some small hair straighteners, but that depends on your hair type etc.
Shhhh – Girls… Some countries and small islands do not sell tampons so come prepared! A menstrual cup is a handy back-up.
TOP TIP – When travelling in a pair or group, you could take one hair dryer and straighteners between you to save on weight.
Do not leave without…
- Passport and travel documents-Store in a zip lock plastic wallet.
- Medications -don’t forget Imodium and painkillers.
- Travel first aid kit – and pack some blister plasters!
- Mosquito repellent – Take the formula with the strongest DEET content!
- Universal travel adaptors
- Phone charger
- Camera or camera phone and any other electronics you may need – Remember, if you need to charge multiple electronics overnight.. it may be wise to find a multi-socket USB charger that will fit into your travel adaptor, as some rooms may only have one socket.
- Microfibre towel – dries quickly, lightweight and compact..
- Head lamp or small torch – Perfect for camping or navigating in the dark.
- Small padlock – for hostel lockers.
- Spare carrier bags / compressions zip lock bags– to separate wet, dirty or sandy clothing / shoes within your backpack.
- A Washing line! – I can’t even tell you how many times I have forgotten one and kicked myself.
For a list of handy travel gadgets I take as extras click this link – My Top 10 Travel Gadgets
Thanks for reading.
Have you found this page useful? Can you think of any other essential items we may have forgotten? Get in touch or leave us a comment, we would love to hear from you!