Backpacking Packing List

I have travelled on and off for 10 years now, since the ripe age of 19. I’ve done several stints across different continents, carrying my world on my back. Not having fixed base while travelling means I need more variety of stuff than I would on a conventional holiday, but I also need to keep my backpack as lightweight as possible.

So, you ask – what should I pack to go backpacking?

Below you will find my backpacking packing list of everything I take with me on the road.


  • Passport
  • Flight & Booking Confirmations
  • ID
  • Passport photos for Visa applications (usually need 2 per visa)
  • Travel Insurance!  I got mine through STA which I did also use and I highly recommend it, easy every step of the way and cost effective too!
  • Local Currency
  • American Dollars – to be used in emergencies to cash in for currency needed.
  • Pre-paid cash card
  • Travel security belt
  • Any travel guides – if these can be downloaded to a phone it saves a lot on weight!


  • Mobile phone & charger
  • Camera & spare memory cards
  • USB stick to back up photos
  • Go Pro – we didn’t purchase one of these until half way through our travels and really wish we had!
  • Microfibre towel – even worth taking 2 if you want one for wet adventures and one for a clean shower when you get back to the hostel!
  • Combination padlock
  • Head torch
  • Travel Pillow for the inevitable long journeys.
  • Sleeping bag – Be aware that in some countries you will not be allowed to use your own sleeping bag in hostels and will still need to rent linen.
  • Silk liner

First Aid Kit

  • Small first aid kit containing the essentials:
    • Plasters
    • Paracetamol / Ibuprofen
    • Bandage & Gauze
    • New, sealed sterilised hypodermic needle – if you need an injection and are somewhere remote, having your own needle ensures you know it is fully sterilised.
    • Blister plasters for any trekking.


  • Packing Bricks – the best organisation items I have ever purchased. Segment your rucksack in to parts so you know where things are without having to unpack the whole thing every time you need something. Particularly useful to pack away warm / cold clothes when you are in the wrong climate for them.
  • Rucksack – 50-70L depending on how much you want to carry.
  • Small bag (10-20L) to take on day trips – a waterproof pouch could also be useful!
  • I also take a more miniature bag with a long strap to go over my body. It is sized to hold literally just my phone and a small amount of money. I use this in the evenings & for day trips where it is not necessary to carry a whole day pack.
  • World plug adaptor.

Packing List Planning

Take only memories,

leave only footprints.

Clothing & Toiletries

Warm Climate

  • Swimwear
  • Shorts
  • Lightweight long Trousers
  • Vest
  • Long sleeved lightweight top or shirt
  • Material wrap, to be used as cover up from sunburn, to show respect in Holy buildings or to keep warm in the cold A/C on a bus.
  • Lightweight rain jacket

Cold Climate

  • Thermal Top
  • Waterproof coat with hood
  • Waterproof Trousers
  • Layers of clothes that fit over eachother
  • Umbrella


  • Suncream & Aftersun
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Toothbrush cover – I like to make sure the head of my toothbrush is protected before it goes anywhere near my mucky backpack or a hostel.
  • Deodorant
  • Razor & Spare Blades
  • Nail clippers & file – Tweezerman do a set which is tiny and perfect for travelling around > Link
  • Baby wipes – these are the solution to everything! Cleaning yourself, your kit and anything else in your path.
  • Anti-histamine
  • Throat lozenges
  • Condoms
  • Malaria tablets (if necessary)
  • Female Hygiene products (sorry boys!) – In South America in particular some countries do not make or sell tampons, if these are your preference ladies then take some with you.

Handy Apps!

  • Maps me : Download maps of your area while you are on wifi and then you can use them to find our way around offline when out and about. Beware it drains phone battery fast!
  • Hostelworld : easy access to your next hostels even if the computers in your current hostel are in use.
  • Skyscanner : Even if you are booking flights locally it is good to have a quick reference of what they cost online to check you are not being ripped off!
  • Uber : You wouldn’t believe how many places uber works in, always worth a check for a secure ride if hailing down a local taxi can be risky in the area you are in.


  • Sunglasses
  • Walking Boots – I take ‘Approach shoes’ that can act as trainers or walking shoes. They are less bulky so lighter and take up less space.
  • Flip flops (‘thongs’)
  • Underwear – Make sure you take plenty, needing to organise washing every few days is a pain!


  1. Do not over pack! You will regret it when you have to carry your pack on and off transport and between hostels!
  2. You will be able to buy most things at points on your travels, don’t fret about forgetting something.
  3. Keep valuable belongings on your person and hidden away at all times, particularly on overnight transport.

Check out my tips on planning the rest of your trip here!


Is there something else you wouldn’t go without? Get in touch and let me know.