Backpacking Essentials: Your Adventure Must Haves


“On a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy” – Spanish Proverb

When I originally started of thinking about what it was I needed to take away with me for 6 months, I was entirely overwhelmed. The clothes, the shoes, the toiletries….there was no way I was going to squeeze everything I needed into one backpack. I began laying out various outfits (way too many), a number of swim suits (more than enough), shoes (mostly impractical ones) and enough toiletries to form my own pharmacy.

I tried all kinds of ways to make everything fit. Rolling clothing, squeezing items into Ziploc bags, utilizing every bloody compartment in my backpack for something- there was no chance everything was fitting. I decided to leave the packing for a couple of days as my excitement was wearing thin, and the frustration was kicking in. I phoned a girlfriend of mine who has virtually backpacked all over the world and told her about my dilemma. Her reaction: laughter.

She began to put things into perspective for me by reminding me that travelling is about the opportunity to simplify your life. With her help I narrowed down the basics I needed and added a few extras for my own nostalgic needs. Clothing: This was the toughest category for me as I love options! However, now that I have actually travelled, there is no truer saying than less is more. Pick those essential pieces that are durable and adaptive for any outfit.

  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 day dresses (for the women)
  • 2 night dresses (for the women)
  • 1 skirt (for the women)
  • 2 long sleeved tops (maybe more depending on the climate)
  • 1 warm hoodie
  • 1 waterproof jacket

Shoes: Chances are you will be doing A LOT of walking so the most important shoe you bring must be a comfortable one. After that, you only really need a couple extras for casual wear and a night on the town.

Toiletries: This is another area that you can easily get very carried away with. It is incredibly important to remember you are backpacking; you don’t need to look your best. Just pack the basics and couple special products for those days when you actually want to try.

  • Face Wipes (great for overnight busses/trains)
  • Minature Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Dry Shampoo (a life saver)
  • Imodium (for adjusting to new foods)
  • Gravol (also to help with an upset tummy)
  • MOISTURIZER (another life saver)
  • Toothbush/Toothpaste
  • Linen wash- there will be times where you hand wash
  • A couple of your favorite pieces of makeup (not too many though ;))
  • Eye drops- for those long flights. Game changer.
  • Vitamin C- for when you feel that cold hitting
  • Insect Repellent

Other Key Items: So I couldn’t really think of a better way to organize these items then just throw them all together and group them as other essentials. These are the things you don’t necessarily think about, but wish you had as soon as you are on the road.

  • A Lock – this is key for locking up your belongings in the hostels when you are not there.
  • A Yoga Towel– these are compact and small enough to fit in your bag without being a burden
  • A flashlight– there were many a night coming home late and you don’t want to disrupt the whole room by turning on the lights. A flashlight is key!
  • A Tablet: I brought a couple books to keep me entertained for the trip,  I guess it’s been a while since high school because I forgot about how heavy a backpack full of books is! Bring a tablet and have all the books or movies you want at your fingertips
  • Eyemask- for nights where your dorm mates don’t use a flashlight! UGH.
  • Travel Pillow- perfect for the overnight buses/trains
  • Plug Converter– This is a no brainer
  • Camera– another no brainer!
  • Headphones/earplugs- for tuning out loud dormmates/the crying baby on the bus!

Well there you have it, a reference list to help with the stress of packing. Now you will able to race through the Airport to catch your connecting flight, bolt to the tuk tuk that will get you to your bus terminal in time, and be able to walk for any number of hours on a given day comfortably. This list covers all the must haves and basics to make your travels effortless and more importantly, not weigh you down!

Enjoy the ride!

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