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One of the responses from our recent travel survey was that they wanted to know what our packing list was like after 14 years of travel. Here are our packing list tips for your backpacking travels.
Now that we travel with our daughter, our packing list has gotten a little larger. I’ll take her side of the packing out and just concentrate on how we would pack as independent backpackers.
We also pack differently depending on the location, how we are travelling, how long for and the weather. If we are road tripping across the US with our own vehicle than things like snorkels, and beach equipment, camping and cooking gear will be make the packing list.
For long-term backpacking we tend to go to warm climate regions, which means we can reduce the amount of heavy and bulky clothes. Cold weather places we would usually experience on short getaways or as an expat living in the region.
One thing we have learned is that less is more, and you never use everything you pack.
My backpack has to be a front-loading backpack. I absolutely detest top-loading backpacks. You do your best to dip down into the cavernous depths of your pack, only to have to empty the whole thing out because your long-sleeved shirt that you need to wear into the temple is shoved right down the bottom. I still do not know one good reason why they are designed like that.
Front-loading backpacks have a zipper that goes all around the front. You can unzip, peel off the front piece and your backpack’s belongings are laid out in front of you like the insides of a suitcase, making it so easy to find things. They also seem to have greater support for your back and sit more comfortably. You can zip a daypack to the front as well, which you are really going to need for those short, yes you guessed it day trips.
You don’t need to pack too many clothes. There are no backpacking fashion shows on the road; nobody cares how you look as we all look the same–comfortable and earthy. Choose practical, comfortable, hard-wearing,compact, light cotton clothes. Here is a list of essentials
- Light raincoat
- Sweater, light jacket (depends on your destination)maybe your rain jacket can cover both. Or if this is too bulky leave it, you can always buy, if needed, at your destination
- Long-sleeved shirt and long pants (will be needed to cover up when you visit some cultural and religious sites and to protect against mozzies)
- Summer clothes: shorts, dresses, skirts, tank tops, shirts -mix and match, you only need about three of each that way. Depends on weather but I usually have more tank tops than t-shirts. I usually have at least one decent outfit in case we go out somewhere nice.
- Swimming costumes- 2
- Instead of a beach towel I use a sarong. Light and compact to carry, soft and cool to lie on, and can be used as a skirt.
- Bath towel-I once used a chamois and hated it. Found it so useless that I decided carrying around a towel would be worth the extra bulk and weight
- Sunscreen, hat, sunnies
- hiking socks
- undies and bras-enough to cover you for a week with no laundry
- Good hiking shoes (boots and/or sandals). Check out Kigo footwear for some light, durable shoes
- two pairs of thongs/flip flops
- Basic toiletries. You will be able to buy these on the road so only pack what you need for the beginning of your journey.
- Basic first aid kit: spare needles, antibiotics and tablets for vomiting and diarrhoea.
Forget the hair dryer and hair products and don’t overdo it on the makeup ladies. It’s just not necessary. The sun is going to give you the healthiest glow you’ll ever need and you’ll find you just too into living life to worry about spending wasted time on prettying up an already beautiful you.
- Water filter – depending on where you are travelling
- Reading book- just one or two, you can trade along the way for new ones
- Journal– please record your experiences. I was pretty good at this but at times got lazy. I’m kicking myself now!
This has definitely changed since we started travelling. We started off carrying a CD walkman and tons of CD’s. Thank God for the
- Camera- SLR, lenses, point and shoot and video camera
- Lap top- we carry two,
- external hard-drive
- smart phones
I recommend leaving the lap tops and related equipment at home unless you need it for work purposes. Disconnect from cyber space for awhile and just enjoy travelling- what you have been saving for and dreaming to do for years. If you need the internet just go to a cafe and pay.
The less you carry the lighter your load, the less hassle, and the less insurance.
What does your packing list look like? Have I left out any essentials or put too much in?
We share our best tips from 15 years of travel in our e-Guide:
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