Mom: ‘Are you really gonna need 3 travel towels, 2 pairs of sunglasses and that thick book?’ Yes, mom, REALLY. Because what if I take a morning shower in the hostel and use one towel, then later that day find some hot springs and use the second towel, and then at the end of the day spill my beer all over and need the third one? Sunglasses are just the most important thing one could possibly bring, so I need at least 1 extra pair for if I lose the first. Obviously. I need that book to relax, it’s from my favorite writer. And yes mom, I can see it doesn’t fit. I have eyes. It-does-NOT-fit. In any way.
As many of you I’ve been there, done that. And after some time I started to get the hang of just bringing the necessary. That’s why I want to share my current packing list with you, so you can maybe downsize a little too.
This packing list is based on an infinite trip around the world. The idea is to be spending a little time in cold weather in the beginning, and after that mostly in the heat. For 99% of our stuff goes: You can always buy it in another country. Is it colder than expected? Buy some warm clothes somewhere. Didn’t bring mosquito spray or sunscreen? No biggie, it’s super easy to get in most places.
What I’ll be wearing while traveling
- Comfy sneakers – For me they are the good ol’ All Stars – I’ve been using them since forever and just love ‘em. Pick any kind of light shoes you’re comfortable walking in. You might consider quick-drying shoes. For me keeping my own style a little is important to me and All Stars have always worked well enough.
- Socks – I’m a fan of hiking socks, even for non-hiking trips. They are light, smell less and dry quickly. Keep your feet happy and blister-free!
- Thailand pants – You guessed it, the famous super light and comfy elephant pants! They make for a very backpackery look, but hey, that’s exactly what we’re doing!
- Tank top – H&M Basics is my hero.
- Vest or sweater – Again: H&M. One piece of advice: make sure you wear layers so you can take something off when ACs are not working and put something on when it’s working too well.
- Down jacket – Keeps you warm and is very easy to pack up small (mine looks like this)
- Money belt – Depending on the destination: Better safe than sorry!
In the backpack (North Face – Terra 35L – big enough to fit everything, small enough to take as cabin luggage) we will find:
- Flip flops (duh.)
- 2 extra panties (or boxer shorts, or whatever keeps your butt warm)
- Extra bra (or not, if you’re a guy)
- Extra pair of hiking socks – I can wear them for 2 days, since I’m luckily not the owner of stinky feet.
- Swimwear (duh.)
- 2 tank tops
- A short sleeved shirt – Running shirts are the best. They don’t mind your sweatiness. I’m wearing H&M Sports shirts a lot.
- Long sleeved shirt – Sports shirt too
- Lightweight rain jacket
- 1 dress, or a nice shirt if you’re a guy? Because yes, sometimes we’ll go out dancing!
- Zip off pants – My absolute favorite piece of clothes. For me the zip-off to short is perfect, for guys the just under the knee-one seems like a good option.
- Extra shorts
- Three quarter pants
- Light pyjamas
- Sarong – Useful as blanket, scarf, dress or whatever you need it to be
- Hiking shoes – If you want to go hiking a lot
Some extra necessities
- My laptop and charger
- 2 small micro fiber (means: light & fast-drying!) towels
- Travel mosquito net
- Thin sleeping bag
- Travel adapter
Keep in mind that you won’t be allowed to take scissors and fluids over 100ml on most planes, if you’re traveling with just cabin luggage like me.
- Deodorant stick
- Shampoo & shower gel combination
- Nail clipper
- Some cotton swabs – after all, clean ears are important too!
- Mini hairbrush
- Mini perfume
Firstly, if it comes to health, I am in no way saying this is all you should bring. If you have personal prescriptions, you should obviously bring those (in your cabin luggage!). Depending on your situation and plans, you might want to bring additional things like pills for motion sickness, altitude sickness, allergies or sleeping. Also, make sure you get informed about necessary vaccinations a few months before your adventure starts. This is normally my standard package:
- Painkillers, for cases of hangover or otherwise painful experiences
- Imodium, for cases of diarrhea
- ORS, for cases of dehydration
- Little tube of sunscreen – depending on the destination
- Mosquito spray – depending on the destination
- The girlie stuff: 3 elastic bands, some tampons, make-up remover pads, some make-up (mascara, eye pencil, foundation)
- Guys stuff: Shaving cream, small hair spray
- For lens wearers like me: Extra contacts, small solution, extra contact case.
In our daypacks
- Camera, charger, extra battery and extra SD card – Since a long time I’ve used a Canon Powershot and I am really really content with it. Some people wouldn’t agree with me, but the 14x zoom makes it less challenging to capture some interesting scenes.
- Phone and charger
- Kindle – I’ve always been a bit reluctant to reading anything that’s not on real paper. BUT, since maaany people swear by the power of Kindle and books are just a pain in the ass to carry, and find, and trade, I’m switching! It will be a blessing from the sky.
- Passport and copy
- Student card if you have it (gives you some discounts worldwide)
- Travel visa if necessary
- Tickets – plane, bus, train, ….
- Debit card – make sure you activate it for outside our country
- Credit card – I use the American Express Gold Card (this is a Dutch card)
- Frequent Flyer card or number
- Travel insurance card and/or copy
- Emergency contact numbers
- Sunglasses – I can tell you one pair is really enough. If there’s something you can buy almost everywhere, it’s these
- Lip balm
- Glasses and lenses case
- Small notebook (and pen)
- Small flashlight
- Sleeping mask & ear plugs
- Bottle of water
There are some things you better not bring, or at least reconsider, like:
Detergent. If possible I use laundries along the way, most hostels have the option. If not, some soap or shower gel works fine.
Big bottles of shampoo, shower gel, or deodorant. Just for practical reasons: Some of this stuff is heavy and the airlines won’t allow you to keep it in your hand luggage.
Please also think about leaving expensive or otherwise valuable jewelry at home. There’s always the risk of losing it or having it stolen.
Anything on your packing list that isn’t on mine? Let me know in a comment!