“A good preparation, is half the battle”, although that is what they say… And I can confirm, this also applies for backpacking. When your travel packing list complete and up to date, you shouldn’t stress much.
Due many mistakes and the years of experiences of your predecessors, we could come up with this useful list. Below you can I consider myself as as quite an expert, when it comes to packing a backpack. Not because I’m that arrogant, but I’ve made many mistakes by forgetting to pack some gear. Even important are the things you should not pack, for your backpacking trip. When you’ve planned the previous steps, it shouldn’t be that hard anymore to pack your backpack.
Different types of backpacking
There are basically two type of backpacking trips. One is a type of budget traveling, where mainly young travelers (< 30 yrs) are traveling from city to city. They sleep at hostels and try to see as many sight on their destinations. This all, while enjoying the party life in the evening. The other type of backpacking is outdoor hiking, which is a more adventurous type of backpacking. Below a packing list for both are provided.
Budget traveling packing list
This type of backpacking is considered to visit many cities during their trip. Mostly they are able to do this by keeping the costs low. They sleep at cheap places and are very well prepared. When you are a first time backpacker, a packing list can be of great use. Have a look below, to see what we advise to take with you.
Obviously you need clothing for every trip. Of course we don’t added this on the list, to help you remember you need your underwear… ;) We do want to help you a hand and give some tips about what you should keep in mind.
When backpacking it is highly advised to travel comfortable, so don’t overpack. Avoid packing all sorts of shirts, jeans, sweaters etc. and try to minimize the amount of clothing. Consider that many hostels have washing facilities or are close-by.
Backpacking is all about flexible traveling and of course you need to minimize packing heavy items. For your soaps and other skin products, consider packing small refillable bottles. This way you can buy bottles on your destinations and take some left overs with you. When buying your toiletries consider buying smart products, such as: deodorant rollers last longer and are smaller; buy two-in-one soaps instead of shampoo and soap, etc.
3. Travel accessoires
These items of the packing list are probably most forgotten. So what are the travel accessoires you should bring with you? Keep in mind to not overpack, but here are some accessoires you could consider packing. Flip flops can be very useful, when you need to shower in a shared bathroom. Since these are rarely in the rooms, you need to walk to your room after showering. This is when flip flops can be very handy. Something else people forget a lot, are the universal wall socket plugs.
Other accessoires that can be considered packing:
- Micro fiber towel. Although towels are often provided or offered for hire, a micro fiber towel is very handy. Especially when your towel is still wet or when you are on a trip and accidentally get wet.
- Sleeping mask. It happens to often that a roomy forgets that they lights need to be off at night. For these moments sleeping masks are a good solution. Also don’t forget you mostly travel in summer time. This is the season sun goes down very late and rises very early, so a mask is your guarantee for a good night rest.
- Ear plugs. Like many drunk people snore and since it is very likely you will encounter a night with a snoring roommate, this is absolute a must have. Beside this you can also use it for your nights out and protect your ear with it.
- Padlock. Don’t forget to get one of those. With a padlock you can secure your bags. You can also use them for your locker if the accommodation doesn’t provide one.
- Bed Bag. If you are not sure where to sleep and don’t like dirty beds, this is a product that can come in handy. A bed bag is basically a very thin sleeping bag, it helps you to stay clean and free of bugs.
4. Health kit
Without packing to much, it can’t hurt to bring some first aid products. For your own convenience and health it is advised to pack some (waterproof) bandaids, pain killers, diarrhea inhibitors, sun protection and some after sun lotion. Beware of packing too much medicines, since not all medicines are allowed in foreign countries.
Electronics weigh much and are expensive. Therefore you should be very selective with what you bring with your trip. Depending of the purpose of its use, you can bring a compact camera of a more advanced DSLR camera. But of course you can always use your smartphones, they make great quality pictures nowadays. When you are taking your camera with you a extra battery and extra memory card can be very useful. For your daily exploring trips you can of course take guided tours, but isn’t self exploring of the city the most fun?! To avoid any data roaming, consider bringing a walking gps. Perhaps it looks a bit silly, but it really does the job!
The purpose of staying at hostels is of course mingling with other travelers. But if you just want to have a moment for yourself, some entertainment can be nice. For those dull moments you can pack some small entertainment like a Sony PSP Vita or a Nintendo 3DS or so.
6. Things to leave at home
Newbies will probably consider the items, which are mentioned below. We are quit confident that you will not need the following items to take on you trip:
- Jewelry. Don’t take these expensive items with you. Besides, I fairly think nobody cares if you wear any of those!
- Sleeping bag. As long as you will not be sleeping outdoor, leave it at home. All accommodations provide lean sheets. If they don’t they are probably not worth to stay at!
- Pillow. Just as the sleeping bag, leave this at home!
- Laptop or tablet. I think it is not worth the risk of damaging this. You smartphone has a browser and helps you to stay in touch with home front. If you consider blogging, just take a note block and a pen with you.
- Towels. Don’t bring them, they take much space of your backpack. Besides many accommodations provide one or they offer it for hire.
- Liquor. Bottles are heavy and can break. Just wait and buy some local drinks on your destination.
- Food. It is ok to pack something light, with high calories. This helps you to get some energy on your journey, but don’t bring anything else. Some countries don’t allow to bring fresh products.
- Travel books. It is ok to buy some for some inspiration, but don’t bring them with you. Of course you can prepare your trip, but mostly there is internet available.
- Alarm clock. Who needs one if you have a mobile phone…
- Flash light. Before the era of our smartphones, this was something to consider packing. Nowadays smartphones have very powerful led-lights which can function as a flashlight.
- Video camera. A photo camera and your smartphone are doing the same… Quality-wise you can of course always consider taking one with you.
- Bad mood. By far the most important on this list. Only bring your best mood with you!
Packing list for outdoor hiking
When deciding to hike, it is important to think critically about what you are going to carry with you. You want to be a minimalist, and only carry essential tools. The way you pack will impact the amount of weight on your back, and in the case of emergency, could help you save your life. Here’s a list of what to take with you:
- Tools for navigation. When hiking, it is common to lose cell service, so always be prepared with a paper map of your trails, while also carrying a compass for direction, and a watch to keep time.
- Sun protection. If you are hiking in hot weather, it’s important to protect your skin with sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses.
- Insulated clothing. During long hikes, it is possible that you may run into different types of weather. To make this experience better, pack and/or wear insulated clothing that can be layered if necessary, and are quick drying.
- Flashlight. In the case that your hike is over night or passed sun down, be sure to pack a flashlight and extra batteries.
- First-aid kit. You never know what will happen during a hike, so it’s important to ready in the case that you or someone else you’re with gets hurt.
- Matches/lighter for fire.
- Swiss knife. A multi-tool can come in handy in many situations while spending long periods of time in nature. Whether it’s for setting up camp, opening up cans, or fishing.
- Snacks. Keep yourself satisfied by bringing food to snack on as you burn calories throughout the day. Be sure to pack an extra days’ worth of snacks in case you are hiking longer than anticipated.
- Water, water, water. Stay hydrated!
- Shelter. Always pack a light tent, a tarp, or perhaps a blanket in the case that you become lost and are forced to camp out for the night.
- Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, insect repellent.