Packing for Backpacking in 7 Simple Steps

A topic that you can find on pretty much every travel site, whether it’s a blog or magazine, i.e. how to pack? This time it’s my take on packing light for your backpacking trip. I prepared for you a list of items with short explanations, I don’t want to bore you.

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While writing this article I have assumed few things:

  • you will be staying in hostels and/or at your hosts’ houses
  • you are not top model whose job is to look picture perfect at all times
  • you are not the queen or princess and adventure is more important for you than comfort
  • you are human and have ability to adjust some of the tips to suit your needs

1. Essentials (must-haves)

  • Smile
  • Positive attitude
  • Open mind
  • Passport
  • Money – a good mix of credit cards and cash

2. Important items

  • Good backpack – take time choosing one and make sure it will make your life easier not harder.
  • Money belt – to keep your cash and passport secure
  • Swiss knife – can be used in 1000’s of situations. Mostly used for eating :)
  • First aid – tablets for cleaning and purifying waterbandage, painkillers, needles (just in case you’re worried about the hospital’s practices or supplies), thermometer
  • Camera – if you are big on recording your memories
  • Phone (unlocked SIM) –  can be useful even without local SIM card. For example to call for help. The lighter the better.
  • Pen and paper – mostly used for communication and directions, but also for writing blogs :-)
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3. Clothes and toiletries

When packing clothes remember that you are not princess, unless you are, and should not take to many with you. You need to get in habit of washing your clothes more often and buying them in colors which you can mix and match to look different from time to time (or not care about the looks, like me). I prepared a list of things you should take with you. Think about the quality when buying them, they should last you for a while even when washed every day, and good quality products are lighter. Make sure you adjust it to your needs (ex. girls should take bra):

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Items I take with me when traveling


  • Shower gel,  shampoo or soap –  not all of them. Honestly, you can clean yourself with only one of them, and it will be most likely available wherever you stay. It’s also possible to shower without soap or shampoo at all.
  • Disposable razor
  • Toothbrush

4. Useful, but not essential

  • Laptop, tablet, notebook or smartphone – thanks to this you’ll be able to save money on internet cafes at the expense of having to carry it around
  • Universal power plug adapter – if you have some electronics with you, you’ll need it.
  • Torch – useful when lost in the dark, for reading at night and to avoid detecting furniture with your small toe in the hostel (painful)
  • Pepper gas – for protection. Possibly all of you will cry in the end, but it’s better to cry because of pepper gas than …
  • Spare batteries and memory cards
  • Compass – that’s only if you know how to make use of it
  • Drone under 250 grams – so that there’s no need for a license/permission to fly in most countries.
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5. Leave the rest behind

Yes, you don’t need it. There’s only few things which you really need and smile and your positive attitude  are the most important one. It’s good, it doesn’t weight a lot and you can carry it with you at all times. Apart from this you will need passport, money (preferably a good mix of cash and credit cards) and camera if you are big on recording your memories.

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My daypack

These are the must, everything on top of that is a bonus, which you can live without, and may be forced to do so, if for example your belongings get lost, destroyed or stolen.

The most common things that travelers take with them and really can live without abroad:

  • Towel – you will be provided with one in most places you visit and if not, believe me or not, you will dry without it
  • Too much clothing – self-explanatory
  • Shower gel, shampoo, face cream, face wash and who knows what else – all of them, rather than just one or two
  • Sleeping bag – assuming that most of the times you’ll stay in hostels or with a host you will not need it. Even if it happens that you’ll have to sleep on the floor, somehow you’ll find a way to arrange it comfortably, and it could lead to a great story. Bear in mind that sleeping bags are usually relatively heavy.
  • Things you think you will need because you’re going to a different part of the world – this will be a shocker – they have shops there! If you don’t use it in your country then don’t buy it. If you really need it wherever you go, it will be sold there and probably will be even cheaper.
See also  Backpacker – The Travel Trivia Game

6. Daypack

Apart from your big backpack, which you use to transport all the clothes, chargers and all the other things, from one hostel to another you will find it useful to have something to carry your stuff around the city after you check in. Some backpacks come with attachable daypack. I would not recommend it, because of it’s weight. You should get something really small (for reference – it should fit in your hand) or something that you take with you anyway, like a camera bag or a drone backpack (that’s what I do). You’ll save few grams by choosing right daypack for travel and they all count in the end.

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Carlos and his daypack

7. Money

Rather than spending your wages on all sorts of equipment and stuff, which then you’ll have to carry, save them and use them if you really have to when you get to your destination.

My experience

Few months ago I bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam. After packing I had 21 kg of stuff and after two weeks less than half of it. I found that I simply didn’t need it. Now I travel with even less stuff. The heaviest things when I pack are my camera, notebook (laptop kind of thing rather than paper version) and backpack itself. My travels are much lighter now and way more enjoyable. I don’t need to get to the hostel as soon as possible any more.


If you have something to add to this article or an interesting experience, please share it with us in comments.


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Picture of Cez Krol
Cez Krol
I’m always positive and never bored – there’s just so much more to see and experience! I began my journey around the world in 2011 with just $400 and one-way ticket to Asia. Still going and blogging today. You can typically spot me working on a laptop or rock climbing.
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