“Packing for travelling as a backpacker will always entail compromises because you will be limited in the amount of clothing and equipment you can take with you. When you’re buying a backpack/rucksack in a shop, try to place a significant weight in it so you can feel how comfortable it might be to carry on your back” (Griffith 2011, 81). Now this may refer specifically to backpackers but the sentiment can be valued when packing for any kind of travel, keep it brief.
The following is a list I have compiled with the broad range of the travel spectrum in mind. When travelling of course I break many of my own rules and some of these items may not apply to you but as a general guide the list is as such.
- Internet banking details.
- Passport (containing any necessary visas).
- Contact details.
- Any reservation details.
- Comfortable pair of shoes.
- Sarong (many of you may question this one but hear me out, they are light, colourful, can be used as sun protection, for modesty in a temple or mosque, can be handy for the run pre/post shower, perfect on laundry day, as a light blanket if sleeping in an airport/station/air-conditioned bus, they’re flattering to most people and just plain cool).
- Travel diary (some already include numbers of embassies, consulates, time and currency information etc).
- Pair of scissors.
- Small selection of photos from home.
- One warm jacket.
- One nice outfit for going out (and a couple of mix and match items that go with this and everything else you pack).
- Basic toiletries (try and keep this to a bare minimum but one special item to make you feel good if you go somewhere fancy. For girls I recommend one hair accessory or something light that can transform you quickly and efficiently).
- Small travel sewing kit (if you’re short and clumsy like me then this will be a lifesaver).
- Another internationally approved form of ID if you have one (some places you won’t want to get your passport out).
- Diary (or stored somewhere online) with all important dates not to be missed.
- Deck of cards (i’ve learned a bunch of games from around the world both drinking and non alcohol-related just because we had access to cards).
- Copies of any important documents (one copy for you, which should be put as far away as possible from your originals and one copy to be left with someone you trust at home).
- Ziplock bags.
- Maps and guidebooks (bearing in mind some of these can be sourced en-route and may be the easiest thing to shed in the midst of a luggage weight crisis).
- Nit comb.
- Dental floss.
- One set of waterproof clothing.
- Travel towel.
- Antibacterial handwash/ solution.
- Any medication you require (with sufficient clearance for customs e.g. a letter, check beforehand). Repeat prescriptions are also a good idea.
- ‘Must have electronics’; laptops, i pods, external hard drives etc.
So there you have it, if not one hundred percent complete, a fairly solid idea of where to start with your packing. A departure checklist part two will feature later covering loose ends that need tying before you go. This article was written with reference to Susan Griffith’s ‘gap years for grown ups’ published in 2011 vacation work in Surrey UK. I also recommend a look at this if you would like some further reading on the subject.
What else would you take with you?
I’d recommend chargers too 🙂
Bag of Life! When I travelled I would always keep on me a small bag that had had the few things that would really stuff me around if I lost them e.g. passport, travel cheques or bank card. I would wear it when I went clubbing, working, jogging etc. I’d put it under my pillow when I slept…. only put essentials in it as weight and size builds up with silly items. (leave the perfumes out!) Travelling in hostels you meet so many nice people but with the ‘bag of life’ no-one can be trusted. Backpackers are poor and often even ‘nice’ ones rip you off. You don’t have to have one of those ugly under you clothes bags. Just something small that can be warn comfortably at all times!