A Backpacker’s Checklist

 After many backpacking adventures, I have learnt what is a necessity and what is just extra weight in your bag.  On my first few international travels, I would pack a suitcase weighing well over 50 lbs! I had outfits for outdoors, fancy dinners, casual dinners, day time, for Paris, for Italy, you name it; however, after lugging that suitcase through airports, train stations, and up small staircases, I learnt my lesson.

A backpack is the way to go. You can throw it over your shoulder, work your way through crowds, keep it close when on trains, and stuff it in a locker. For myself, I carry a 55+ litre backpack.  It holds 55 litres, but in case I go too crazy on the shopping, it can hold an additional 10 litres.  It has the hip straps, the shoulder and chest straps, adjustable belts, and secret storage.

My friends found it hard to believe I only brought a few items with me on a 3 month journey; however if you pack the right items, multiple outfits for various uses/occasions can be made. After all, there are more important things to bring then just clothes. Pick out everything you want to bring, then get rid of half of it.

The essentials (I found) needed for backpacking are:
Hygiene Necessities
  • Travelling toothbrush (has toothpaste compartment inside the toothbrush)
  • Soap
  • Deodorant (please bring this! You don’t realize how many stinky backpackers there are until you are sitting next to one on a 24 hour bus ride)
  • Hair brush and hair ties
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Nail clippers
  • Razor
  • TOWEL ( plenty of hostels do NOT provide towels)
Money and Documents
  • Passport
  • Any travel visas
  • Credit Card/Debit Card
  • Cash (local currency or I found $US works almost everywhere)
  • Personal Identification (drivers license or copy of drivers license…depends if I plan on driving in that country)
  • Health Insurance/travel insurance (keep a copy in your e-mail)
  • Copies of your passport, visas, credit cards, birth certificate, and insurance in your email or in your backpack or with your travel partner
I have seen many travellers who have lost their passport and are out of luck trying to prove their identification. Keeping a copy in your email ensures that you always have a back-up to prove your identity at the embassy.
First Aid Kit
  • Band-aids
  • Polysporin
  • Tylenol/Ibuprofen
  • Pepto Bismal or an Antacid (you never know what the local food will do to you)
  • Antibiotics (something that will be for multiple uses, ask your doctor)
  • Allergy medication
  • Insect repellant
  • Small alarm clock (there have been times when a bus leaves at 4:30 am and you need to be there by 4:00am…hostels will not always give you wake up calls)
  • Electronic watt converter
  • Ipod (if you want some music for those long bus journeys) and charger
  • Camera and charger/batteries
  • Some people bring their laptops, IPADs, phones, etc. They can come in handy in places that do not have internet cafes, but be wary of pick pockets, thieves, and not-so-nice backpackers.
Look up where you are going first to determine if it will be hot, humid, rainy, snowy, etc.
  • Shorts
  • Under garments
  • T-shirt
  • Sweater/light jacket
  • Runners
  • Sandals
  • Socks
  • Pants or leggings for those chilly nights
  • Swim suit
  • Long sleeve shirt
These are the basics. I usually bring one or two shorts, a few t-shirts, one long sleeve, one sweater/jacket, a couple of pairs of socks, and leggings. Make it so you can put multiple tops with the same shorts/pants. Remember, dirty laundry is heavier than clean laundry. If you are going on a quick two-week trip or a few months journey, you need the essentials. Once you are travelling, if you NEED more, you can buy it along the way.  Who knows, after a few months, you might be willing to throw out your clothes and come home with a lot more space.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Trip Planning Part Two: A Step-By-Step Guide | A Traveller's Life
  2. Learn From Your Mistakes (or at least mine) – A Traveller's Life

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