What to carry on your next backpacking trip is one of the foremost popular questions I get amongst travelers especially if they’re looking for some sort of backpacking checklist. There’s a fine line between carrying too much and too little which can be the big difference between a successful trip or a miserable experience.
However, something you must take into consideration before even choosing what to bring is where you’re going; you must pack for the occasion. But once you do decide to book that flight to Hawaii, or somewhere in Asia, what should you carry on your next backpacking trip?
“In short, pack as little as possible!”
In my recommended packing list below you’ll notice I only carry with me what I can hold on my back; that is, the bare essentials. If I need anything else while on the road, I simply purchase it there because chances are it’s cheaper at your next destination than back home anyways.
So without further ado, here’s my suggested backpacking checklist as well as what’s in my personal backpack while I travel.
Backpacking checklist – What’s in my backpack?
- 1 dress shirt (button up for when I like to look a little nicer when going out)
- 1 pair of jeans (are heavy but great for going out & when my legs need a little more protection)
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 6 T-shirts
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1 pair of sandals (aka flip-flops)
- 9 pairs of socks
- 8 pairs of boxer shorts (if things really get raw, simply turn them inside out and you’ve got 16 pairs!)
- 1 poncho
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 comb
- 1 travel size bottle of shampoo
- 1 bar of soap
- 1 discovery trekking towel
- 1 deodorant stick
Backpacking medical supplies:
- Hand sanitizer (a temporary substitute but NOT a replacement for soap!)
- Sanitary wipes
- Antibacterial cream
- Eye drops
- Mosquito repellant
- Sun tan lotion
Backpacking travel gear:
- Osprey Kestrel 48 Backpack w/ Rain Fly
- Daypack (for your day excursions)
- Macbook Pro Laptop
- Headphones (small, for when I Skype back home)
- Cannon SX 160 IS point & shoot camera
- Small Tripod
- iPhone 4
- Universal Charger/adaptor (for anyone who needs to charge their appliances)
- Rechargeable batteries w/ charger
- External Hard-drive
- Destination Guide Books (only for a reference, not an itinerary!)
- Lightweight Hammock (not essential but I’d never leave home w/out mine!)
Miscellaneous backpacking stuff:
- Pen & Journal
- 2 combination locks
- Large heavy duty trash bags (you never know when you’ll get caught in the rain or need to cross a river!)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things dry and/or leaking)
- Mesh bags (great for organization, separating clean/dirty laundry)
As you can see, I don’t travel much but only the essentials of what I need. Everything on this list fits into my backpack. Granted there are a few things on here I could live without (like the hammock) but you just never know when you’re going to find yourself stranded on an island with nowhere to sleep but the ground like I had been down in Bocas del Toro in Panama.
Also keep in mind that this list is tailored specifically for me. Your needs vary from person to person and, as a result, there may be things you want to add and/or delete from mine. This is merely a guide to help get you started on the right foot to a successful backpacking trip!
What do you carry in your backpack while traveling abroad?
Heavy duty trash bags are a great idea, but what about the old staple of a sarong?! So versatile! I also reckon an alarm clock is pretty crucial if you’re travelling without a phone … you know what those early morning Latin american bus timetables are like!
Great tips Steph! I suppose a sarong would come in very useful with some travelers and even an alarm clock. I always have a phone handy so the alarm clock comes in an “all-in-one” package there lol
Wow, it’s amazing you can fit all of that in your backpack. I find after my macbook air and my dslr, I have to work pretty hard to make room for much else!
Hahaha…there is a method to my madness! 😉 lol
Jealous of how light you pack! So interesting to see how others do it.
Thanks Beth! 🙂
I love packing lists from well traveled people, it gives me something to aspire to. I’m well traveled but still terrible at reducing my life into the bare essentials!!
It all comes with practice Charli…you’ll get there! 😉
I always love seeing what others pack! Great list–you definitely pack light! I always try to pack light, but not quite that light, lol. Thanks for the tips!
You’re welcome Jenna. Believe it or not, I’m actually trying to pack lighter than this! Ha ha ha
Great list! I always travel with ziploc bags. They hold my toiletries and keep them from leaking into the rest of my clothes. They can also be used to protect camera gear in the rain or as a temporary ice pack. I think I’ve used the same ziploc bag for over two years!
Zip-loc bags have a plethora of uses. Definitely one of my favorite pieces of travel gear over the years!
Wow, you are good with packing!
Thanks, I try! lol
– journal and pen!
– Travel laundry detergent packets to do laundry in sinks and let air dry overnight
Great add ons. I’ve recently been taking a journal & pen with me everywhere I go to take down notes. Most of the time I purchase laundry detergent & Pepto-Bismol while overseas…it’s amazing the relationship you can build with Pepto-Bismol while in Southeast Asia! O.o