A huge part of traveling - and a crucially important one - is packing. This is the stage where you gather everything you'll be needing while abroad, since you won't have access to your closet every day or your bathroom cabinets! Having the right gear with you is crucial to ensuring you have the best possible experience while on the go.
Feel free to use this list for your backpacking trip, whether it be for a week, a month or a year. Plus, keep reading to the very end where I have included a free printable packing list!
*UPDATE: while backpacking, I also purchased the following items: a straw sun hat, a plastic tupperware, cutlery and a reusable grocery bag to carry my food around in between hostels and for grocery shopping.
- Packing cubes
To keep everything organized in my backpack, I picked up a set of packing cubes. Bagail makes a set of 6 packing cubes in various sizes that are great for keeping my clothes sorted from my toiletries and my shoes from my electronics.
Even though my gear will naturally be at its most organized before I leave, the packing cubes will at least keep items separate.
- Day pack
I also bring a regular-sized backpack with me for my laptop and more personal items. I have an American Apparel backpack on to which I've sewn the flags of all the countries I have visited, as well as all the USA National Parks I've explored.
It's a good idea to have a small bag with you to carry on day trips and for when you're exploring new places. I carry a small black cross-body purse (exact one pictured no longer available; similar one linked) which fits my money, passport, identification, phone and camera for a day out.
- A money belt
A money belt (not pictured) is a great idea, especially when you're solo travelling, to keep your most valuable possessions safe; I picked one up at the airport before my trip to France, but Peak makes a great theft-proof one.
- Plastic bags
On top of all these useful bags, I also tuck a stash of plastic bags and Ziploc bags which are great for storing my toothbrush, razor, pills and other small (easily lost) bits and pieces in my big backpack!
- Laundry bag
My mum gifted me a cute laundry bag (not pictured) that has a world map printed on it. You need a bag to keep dirty clothes in until you get a chance to do laundry!
- Reusable cloth bag
It's handy to have a reusable cloth bag (not pictured) you can throw things in to go to the beach and to get groceries and supplies with.
Clothes & Shoes
When packing your clothes, you want to consider the environment you are putting yourself in. Will it be mostly warm or mostly cold, or a mix of both? Are you planning on hiking or doing other outdoor activities? Are you going to be walking a lot? Pick items that you can wear frequently and that you can wear to a variety of events and activities, whether it be exploring a new town or climbing a mountain for sunrise.
- Tank tops
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Waterproof jacket
- Athletic shorts
- Sports bras
- Sun hat
- 1 pair running shoes (like Nikes)
- 1 pair comfortable walking shoes (like Vans)
- 1 pair flip flops (for beaches + hostel showers!)
- 2 pairs sandals (a pair for walking like Birkenstocks and a pair for dressing up)
Remember to bring only liquids 100ml or less, or buy a pack of plastic containers for the products that don't come in travel sizes. Make sure you're prepared for whatever comes your way and pack enough of the items you may need!
- Toothbrush, floss, toothpaste
- Hair ties, bobby pins
- Bug spray
- After Bite
- Contact lenses
- Glasses + case
- Sunglasses + case
- Face toner and/or micellar water (check out my travel skincare routine here)
- Cotton pads
- Medical supplies (Neosporin, Band-aids, lozenges, Advil, Claritin, Pepto Bismol)
- Any pills and medications you take (birth control, etc.)
- Makeup (check out my travel makeup routine here)
- Nail file
- Small mirror
- Shampoo + conditioner
- Body wash
- Safety pins
When you're on the go and exploring new places, you're likely going to want camera gear and a laptop to share your experiences.
- Camera charger & not pictured point & shoot camera
- USB extender
- External hard drive
- Battery pack, charger, case
- Plug adapter
- Plug extender
- SD card reader for iPhone & USB
- Extra SD cards & camera batteries
- Phone charger cable
- Laptop with a protective case and charger
- Lonely Planet
- Moleskin notebook with pens
- Passport + travel visa (if needed)
- Credit card
- Foreign cash
- Vaccination booklet
- Jewelry + watch
- Reusable water bottle
- Laundry detergent
- Deck of cards
- Sleeping sack + pillow case
- Tupperware + cutlery (added later, not pictured)
Free Printable Packing List!
Your flights are booked, your plans are made and you're ready to start putting your gear together. Click here for a free printable packing list that includes everything I've discussed on this list in a convenient and easy check-list so that you don't forget anything while you're on the go!