Travel Advice

The Ultimate Packing List

By on February 22, 2017

It can be a bit tricky figuring out what to pack for a backpacking trip, especially one around the world with multiple climates and situations. Using my knowledge and experiences from 3 big trips, I went ahead and did the legwork for you – creating a thorough and comprehensive list of everything you need, recommending brands I trust and gear that is reliable.

Each item is tagged so you can see exactly what I am talking about and buy it for your own adventure!


On Your Person:

  • Pac-Safe Wallet (preferably with a lanyard to link on a belt loop)
  • Cell Phone (preferably with a 12-megapixel camera: iPhone 7, Nexus 6, Galaxy S7, Google Pixel)
    • Make sure to get your phone UNLOCKED¬†before you leave in order to use international sims.
  • Phone Case
    • For your phone case, I would recommend going with a style good for rugged hikes, being around water and the beach, as well as have a few perks like a lanyard for your belt loop, or a battery pack. My favorite cases for traveling are: Lifeproof Fre Power, Mophie Juice Pack, and Otterbox Defender Series
  • Passport
    • Make sure you have enough blank pages for visas
    • check to make sure its not expired and you have at least 6months validity
  • Passport Case or Holder
    • Some people like to use a hip belt (fanny pack), some like a leg strap, some like to keep it around your neck, and some like to leash it to your pocket. I am a pocket guy and I use this case from Pacasafe.

In Your Wallet:

  • 2 Credit Cards (1 primary, 1 backup – both with no foreign transaction fees, both visa, preferably travel or airline points related)
  • 2 Debit Cards (1 primary, 1 backup – having a backup is 100% essential, they need to be from different banks connected to different accounts)
  • ISIC Student Discount Card (for discounts in museums, public transport, and flights)
  • Hostelling International ID Card (for discounts on H.I. Hostels)
  • Student ID Card (for student rates, any old one will do)
  • Drivers License (for an official ID besides your passport, good for clubs, police, etc.)
  • Motorcycle License (comes in handy when trying to rent scooters & bikes abroad)
  • Lamented Emergency Card (including blood type and emergency contact info)
  • Photo Copy of Passport and any visas for the country you are in (all needs to be in COLOR)
  • Business Cards or Social Media Contact cards (for people you meet along the way)
  • 1 color copy of your passport

In Your Folder:

  • Copy of your vaccinations
  • Copy of your travel insurance plan and coverage
  • Copy of important contact numbers like your banks, insurance, emergency contacts
  • 5 Identity Prints – lay out your student ID, Passport, Drivers License, and Emergency card and have them all color copied on the same page. This is great to have in your wallet and/or passport case, and can be used for everything from checking into hotels, to identity checks at hostels or bars

My Backpack ūüôā

In Your Daypack:

I would recommend getting a daypack from Camelback, Deuter, or Pacsafe. I like having a water bladder for when I go hiking, as well as hip-straps for extra support when it gets heavy. Pick a backpack good for both city exploration and short hiking trips. Also, make sure it’s big enough to hold all your valuables, that’s about 20-25 liters.

For day packs I recommend: Camelback Rim Runner 22L, Pacsafe Venturessafe 25, Deuter Airlite 22, and the Camelback Fourteener 24

  • Lonely Planet Guidebook (choose one that covers multiple countries your going to)
  • Journal (I am a big fan of the¬†Moleskin Classic)
  • Water Bottle (I recommend the Camelback Chute 1L)
  • Day pack rain cover by¬†Deuter (for 20-30L)
  • Any important electronics…



Choosing the right backpack will be one of the most important decisions on your trip. I believe that your backpack should be bought in person, not online. Go to the nearest REI or outdoors camping store in your area and have a professional get you fitted for the right pack for your specific back. I personally am a huge fan of Gregory and Deuter.

As a rule of thumb, the smaller your pack, the less you pack. That way you only bring what you need. As far as size, it all depends on what kind of traveler you are and your own weight. Personally, I don’t mind carrying 18-20kilos (50lbs), so I like the larger 70-75L packs. Some travelers are more minimalist and go for 45-60L packs which carry more like 35-40lbs.

Things to look for in a backpack:

  • Being able to open the backpack from multiple sides, not just the top
  • Comes with a rain cover that fits the bag when full
  • Water Resistant material
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Padded hip belt
  • lockable zippers
  • multiple compartments
  • contoured/padded back
  • internal frame

Everything in My Bag


A general rule for clothes is new city, old clothes…old city, new clothes. When backpacking, you will be wearing the same underwear more than once and the same outfit multiple days, its just the way it is. Also keep in mind that you will want to save room for souvenirs and clothes from the countries you will be visiting, and those clothes will most likely be cheaper than back home. Less is more.

The type or amount of clothes will all depend on the size of your backpack, the seasons you will experience, and the types of environment you are traveling in. Here is a general guide for a round the world trip with multiple seasons:

For Men

  • 5 pairs of underwear (BEST underwear for traveling is Exofficio Men’s Sport Boxer Briefs)
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 3 Tank Tops, 3 Shirts, 2-3 Button ups (1 for nice occasions)
  • 1 pair of jeans or pants for going out
  • 1-2 pairs of high quality shorts
  • 1 versatile belt
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 compact¬†lightweight jacket or rain-jacket (if needed)
  • 1 pair of gym shorts (optional)
  • 1 pair of hiking pants (preferably with the zipper-shorts option) (if needed)
  • 1 pair of hiking socks (if needed)
  • 1 pair of lightweight hiking boots (if needed) (wear in transit to save space)
  • 1 pair of Havana¬†flip-flops (for beach trips) or Chocos (great for lots of walking or hiking)
  • 1 pair of runners (I like Nike Free Runs)
  • 1 pair of lightweight shoes for going out (I like Toms, both light and flexible)

For Women (written by Be My Muse)

  • 5 thin and simple tank tops or sleeveless tops that can easily mix and match with different bottoms
  • 2‚Äď3 pairs of shorts of varying lengths. Avoid denim in humid countries, as it takes a long time to line dry.
  • 2 long skirts or dresses for conservative environments that require modesty
  • 2‚Äď3 pairs of light cotton pants and/or leggings
  • 9 pairs of whatever underwear you find the most comfortable
  • 1 pair of hiking or running shoes
  • 1 pair of flip-flops (jandals, thongs) or sandals A hat to cover your face
  • 3 ¬†tank tops¬†(for layering)
  • 2 long-sleeved shirts (for layering)
  • 2‚Äď3 t-shirts
  • 2 tunic shirts or dresses
  • 1 pair of jeans or thick pants
  • 4 pairs of socks: some for sport shoes and some for boots
  • 1 pair of boots or closed-toed shoes (wear in transit to save space)
  • 1 pair of hiking or running shoes
  • 1 pair of flip-flops (jandals, thongs) or sandals
  • 1 jacket, preferably something waterproof, for all occasions
  • 1 thermal shirt


Keep in mind that toiletries can be bought EVERYWHERE around the world, and many brands such as Pantene or Colgate are universal. Obviously, these all need to be the travel size versions; only bring what you need.

  • Leather bag for toiletries
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner (if needed)
  • Body Wash
  • Cologne or perfume
  • Toothbrush + Toothpaste
  • Beard Trimmer or razors
  • Contraception
  • Comb, nail clippers + tweezers
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Eye Drops
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Q-Tips
  • Floss



It’s a good idea to have a small First-Aid kit in your bag, preferably in a flexible zipper pouch, here is what you should put inside:

  • Anti Diarea meds: Ciproflaxin (ask your doctor for this)
  • Anti Infection meds: Cephroflaxin (ask your doctor)
  • Anti-Malarial pills (if needed)
  • Motion sickness pills (for long boat trips or bumpy bus rides)
  • Vaseline (for chafing from lots of hiking or walking, buy the mini version)
  • Antiseptic wipes (for a makeshift shower when needed)
  • Small Tum’s or Pepto tablets (optional)
  • Assortment of band-aids
  • Neosporin (for infections)
  • Tiger Balm (for muscular aches & pains, buy the mini version)
  • Advil (or any bottle of ibuprofen)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (for rashes)
  • Sports tape and elastic bandage wrap
  • Multivitamins
  • Lip Balm
  • Any personal medication required
  • Contacts & solution (if needed)
  • Birth Control (if needed)

Mini First Aid


  • 10 Passport photos (come in handy for visas on border crossings)
  • Deck of playing cards (this is ESSENTIAL)
  • 3 x flexible zipper pouches (1 for cables, 1 for meds, 1 for randoms)
  • 1 x pair of quality (but not expensive) sunglasses
  • 1 x Microfiber Travel Towel by Nabaiji (the absolute best travel towels!!)
  • 5 x ¬†Master Cable Luggage Locks – the absolute BEST locks for both hostel lockers, and locking your luggage zippers. You NEED a cable type lock because every locker size is different. These get lost easily, buy a few at least.
  • 1 x hefty padlock¬†by Master for locking large lockers and doors (comes in handy for hostels/guesthouses in 3rd world countries + they are harder to break)
  • 1 x¬†Lewis & Clark Lock + Cable (great thing to use when locking your stuff together to the seats or luggage racks on buses, trains and planes)
  • 1 x¬†3-4ft bike-lock¬†(for locking your bags to your hostel bed, or train/bus luggage racks)
  • 3 x leather Bag Tags w/ contact information (one for day pack, one for backpack)
  • 2 x high quality carabiners
  • 1 x bandana (necessary for desert tours, pollution, hot days)
  • 4 x favorite ballpoint pens
  • 2 x Bic lighters
  • Sleeping Gear:
    • Melatonin (for when you are having trouble sleeping)
    • 1 x Reusable Ear plugs (for hostels late at night)
    • 1 x Eye mask (for overnight buses and planes)

Optional Items:

  • ENO DoubleNest Hammock w/ Pro straps (for beaches, parks, hiking, camping, and festivals)
  • If you plan on camping, going to a lot of festivals and hitchhiking:
  • Thin sarong¬†or tapestry for the beach or park (comes in handy quite often)
  • Small sewing kit (your clothes WILL rip and tear)
  • Inflatable neck pillow¬†(great for hostels, camping, bus/plane/train journeys)
  • Cabeau Fold N’ Go Travel Blanket (also acts as a pillow)
  • 10L Dry Bag by Sea Lion or Earth Pak (a must have for beaches, pools, and sports)
  • Plastic¬†Waterproof phone case ¬†w/ lanyard (great for southeast asia and central america)
  • Swiss Army Pocket Knife¬†(comes in handy quite often)
  • Bringing a collapsable, foldable day pack like the one by Oricsson or Bago
  • Clothes line, clothes pins, packets of detergent, and rubber drain plug
  • Frisbee or hackysack
  • DJI Phantom 3 Drone w/ accessories
  • Compression bags for clothes (great for making extra space and keeping things organized)
  • Ziplock bags
  • Large Duty Free bag from the airport (great to use for your clothes when your bag is overweight)
  • 1 x lightweight rainjacket
  • 1 x LED Headlamp
  • 2 x Sharpies
  • 1 x Highlighter
  • 1 x Poncho
  • 1 x Duct tape

Things to Consider:

  • Each trip is going to have its own specific needs: a beach trip will require more tank tops or an extra bathing suit; a hiking trip may require a rain jacket and hiking boots. Plan accordingly
  • Keep in mind that you can buy bathing suits, rent hiking boots or rain jackets, and other items of clothing along the way. If you are traveling in cheap countries like India or Malaysia, you will be able to buy gear when you need it, and leave it behind when you don’t.
  • Most medical supplies can be bought at any pharmacy around the world, and vaccinations can be much more affordable. Things like malarial pills could be a quarter of the price¬†in 3rd world countries, if you are willing to be unprotected for a couple weeks. Do your research.
  • Most hostels offer a washing & drying service, which usually cost between $3-8 depending on how many kilos and the country you are in. If you want to save money, bring a clothes line/pins/detergent.

Things You DON’T Need:

  • Make-up – try to get by with just a small amount
  • Pro Camera set up. Leave the SLR, lenses and tripod at home.
  • Appliances (hairdryer etc)
  • GPS (download the MapsMe app on your phone)
  • Mosquito Net
  • Compass
  • Nice Shoes (I once brought leather shoes for going out with me, bad idea)
  • Heavy or nice pants

Now Put It All together!

  1. Reply


    February 23, 2017

    I like how contraception comes after beard trimmer ūüėā
    Comprehensive list! Totally agree with smaller the better.. I made the mistake of getting a big bag with wheels (which actually has been useful as I can put it on my back as well) plus another smaller backpack!! So I just have too much with me..

  2. Reply

    Joie Gahum

    September 20, 2017

    Try roadeavour travel gears. Worth checking out.

    • Reply

      JR Harrison

      December 9, 2017

      thank you! :0