The Essential Backpacking Packing List

packing list

When you’re making your final decisions on your travel packing list, the key question to answer for yourself is:

“When it is 35 degrees and we’re running for a train/plane/taxi/tuk tuk/elephant, what do we want on our backs?”

Sharpens the mind towards the essentials, doesn’t it?  Funnily enough, most people find it a lot harder packing for two weeks in Spain than an extended round the world trip.  We’d also probably take more to Spain as well, apparently you can never have enough bikinis…

Anyway, we’re always desperate to take as little as possible with us on our adventures, why take stuff that you can buy en route for a fraction of the cost?  With that in mind, here is our tried and tested travel packing list, and we’re delighted.

So what are we taking?  We’ve got two lists, one for Barry (male backpacking packing list) and Laura (female backpacking packing list).  First up, Barry!  A quick note to say that somehow Barry has been persuaded to carry the small carry on bag for planes which will be where we store our electronic items, thus the electronic items in this list are for two people!  Read on for his comprehensive backpacking packing list!

My Travel Packing List

travel packing list

  • 60 litre backpack
  • 18 litre back pack (day use & carry on)

Feet

  • Flip flops
  • Light trainers
  • Walking trainers

Clothes

  • Underwear x 10 (decided against the pants you can wear for six weeks!)
  • Trainer socks x 5 (hoping to keep my feet free and easy for most of the trip!)
  • Wool socks x 2 (for Antarctica and other cold places)
  • 1 x trousers (with zip to turn into shorts – multitasking at its finest)
  • 1 x jeans (for those rare times when I actually need to get dressed)
  • 1 x Shorts
  • 1 x swimming shorts
  • 2 x long sleeve top (save on sunscreen for arms with these bad boys!)
  • 5 x t shirts
  • 1 x shirt (with collar for when we’re invited to a posh event – happens all the time right?)
  • 1 x polo shirt
  • 1 x fleece top / zipper (hoping won’t have to use this, otherwise I’d have stayed in the UK)
  • Waterproof jacket (ditto)
  • Sunglasses (think Tom Cruise from Top Gun)
  • Hat (if I can find one that fits my massive skull)

Admin

  • Travel insurance (THIS IS IMPORTANT – don’t leave without it! We strongly believe if you’re going on an adventure of a lifetime, you should take out insurance to cover you. Use the form here to get a free quote from the insurer we use for our adventures! If you need persuading to take out insurance, click here)
  • Passports (and photocopies)
  • Passport photographs (for visas)
  • Credit Card (with free cash withdrawals abroad – main source of cash with direct debit set up to pay off balance each month)
  • Credit Card (for purchases and backup)
  • Current account (for cash withdrawals with small amount of cash in as a further back up)
  • Flight confirmations
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Drivers license (for our New Zealand, Australian and North America road trips!)
  • 2 x head torch (very necessary for men when you need to go in the dark – think about it)

Technology Packing List

Packing list round the world trip

  • 15 inch MacBook Pro Laptop (for work, blogging and keeping in touch)
  • 2 x Kindle(erm, for reading books)
  • Canon 7D DSLR Camera with 18-135mm lens(erm, for taking photos)
  • Camera carry case
  • Apple iPhone(for quick internet access, photos, skype and messaging home)
  • Spare camera battery
  • Rocket Blower (to clean lens of dust, sand and other exotic materials)
  • Camera tripod & bag (this we debated for ages but decided to go with a small, lightweight, cheap tripod)
  • Gorilla Pod (for those kodak moments of the two of us)
  • Headphone splitter (to watch DVD’s together on laptop / listen to same music (unlikely))
  • 2 x Adapter (to charge all this equipment)
  • 2 x Memory card (SanDisk Extreme 20MB/s 8 GB)
  • 1 TB External Hard Drive
  • Camera, phone, kindle and video battery chargers

Toiletries

  • Crystal Deodorant rock (lasts forever apparently)
  • Razor (I want to grow a beard but Laura is having none of it)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hair wax (it doesn’t naturally stick up you know)
  • Shower Gel

Useful things

  • Silk travel sheet (for dodgy looking mattresses and sheets)
  • Duct tape (will fix everything)
  • Sunscreen (very important for my pasty skin)
  • Clothesline
  • Combination lock (rather than a key padlock which we could lose)
  • Compression pack (to reduce the size of our clothes in our bags)
  • Sleeping mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Travel pillow
  • Small waterproof bag (for electronics)
  • Travel towel

Online Clever Things

  • Spotify premium account (£15 a month for a constant stream of new music which we can download onto our laptop/iPhones.  Friends can also share playlists with us to keep us up to date)
  • Photobucket pro account (£20 a year to store photos and videos)
  • Prey for mac (to catch any nasty person who decides to steal our laptop)
  • Skype on laptop and iPhones
  • Twitter account – Worldly Nomads
  • Facebook pageWorldly Nomads
  • WhatsApp messenger for iPhone (great app that you can group message friends for free over wifi)

Medicine

  • Malarone malaria tablets
  • First aid kit

So thats it, all of my worldly possessions for a year!  What do you think?  Anything we’ve missed or recommendations let us know in the comments below!

Come and learn more about Laura and Barry here!

* Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning if you click through to Amazon from our site and purchase something, we get a small commission! Don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything more, but the small commissions help keep this site going!

Barry

Traveller at Worldly Nomads
As an avid photographer and videographer, Barry spends his travels searching out new beers and soups to tickle his taste buds with. His ultimate goal is to find a soup made of beer. Usually found telling rubbish jokes at unsuspecting passers by.

Latest posts by Barry (see all)

28 Comments

  • Hiking Dude says:

    Since you’re not going to be out in the wilds and can purchase stuff along the way, I’d consider these things:
    – 3 pair underwear
    – 3 pair socks
    – drop the shorts and swim suit since your zip-offs work for that
    – drop polo shirts and take 2 t-shirts (buy new ones as needed)
    – drop 3rd pair of shoes
    – a down vest is much lighter and packable than fleece, but more $$$
    – since you don’t expect cold rain, a light rain poncho goes over pack and body and weighs much less than raincoat
    But, I guess all that doesn’t really matter much when you weigh your electronics. :-)
    Adding a bandana could be very useful for many things.
    Knives and liquids on planes can still be a pain.

    • Barry says:

      Thanks for the reply mate, much appreciated! I think I will drop a pair of shorts, and a couple of t shirts as well after your comments, I think I will need the three different types of shoes after all but you’re right – compared to the weight of the electronics it doesn’t make too much difference! Still can’t bring myself to drop any of the electronics though!

  • Alexandra says:

    Been on the road for 14 months while I’m not an expert on Men’s packing here are my tips.

    Geez you are bringing a ton of electronics! Careful those things are heavy!

    Less socks! You will be living in flip flops for most of southeast asia! Ditch a pair of trousers and a pair of shorts as well as polo shirts and 2 T-shirts you will want singlets for asia as well! It’s hot there you will be dressing like you are at the beach everyday even when in major cities. Ditch one of the headlamp and bring a leatherman instead! I also never leave home without a sarong! Useful in so many ways but I tend to buy one as a souvenir on my first stop. If you are too many for this than bring a bandana!

    • Barry says:

      Thanks for the feedback Alexandra, going to ditch a couple of t shirts and some shorts, and will definitely buy a leatherman as well (heard great things about them). I think a sarong will be pushing it for me, a bandana may be acceptable! Thanks again!

  • Mike says:

    You 1000% need to get yourself a STERIpen. We rock the traveler model, used it EVERYwhere in South America. On our 120 day journey through South America, we guesstimate that we saved approx 240 one liter plastic bottles from entering landfills. Not to mention the $360 (at $1.5 USD for a one liter bottle avg). BOOM!

    • Barry says:

      Great feedback Mike, I hadn’t heard of this before but it looks like an amazing piece of kit! We’re going to be spending a lot of time in South America so this will come in really handy – will try and get one this week before we go!

  • Rachel says:

    Everyone else has commented on the contents of your packs, but I just wanted to address the paid Spotify & Photobucket accounts. I made similar purchases before we left thinking I could just listen to music when I got online down under…um, not so much. Broadband speeds and data allowances are a *lot* lower in Australia and New Zealand, so if you were planning to rely on internet cafes or hostel internet access, photo sharing and music streaming will eat them up in no time (if your connection is good enough to support Spotify streaming, which often it won’t be) and get expensive quickly. Even something as simple as having a video ad playing unnoticed in one of your tabs will gobble the megabytes–install an ad blocker on your browser if you haven’t already. I strongly suggest getting a dongle for mobile broadband in each country (NZ Telecom and Telstra are the main providers–check out Indie Travel Podcast and Gran Tourismo for NZ and Aus specific info). I haven’t had to explore mobile broadband options in the US before, but all the major cellular carriers will probably offer them.

    Best of luck!

    • Barry says:

      Really great comment Rachel, good to hear of someone who has tried to use these services before! We were wondering about internet speeds, so I guess we’ll just need to see how we get on – we’re hoping we don’t have to stream very often as the paid account allows us to download, so hopefully if we can find decent internent once a month to download new music we should be ok! But you’re right, we’ve heard it can be very patchy internet! I guess we can always cancel if its not working out!

      We’ll definitely check out the mobile broadband options, particularly for NZ as a couple of friends did this too. We’ll have a listen to the podcasts you recommend, thanks so much for the advice!

  • Christina says:

    Just wanted to say hello – I stumbled upon your blog from Twitter, and noticed that we are also getting married and taking a backpacking honeymoon in 2012, as are you two!! Looking forward to reading about your adventures!

  • Ron says:

    Thanks for keeping this/posting this up mate, I’m planning a solo backpacking trip and this came in handy when starting my packing list!

  • Ben says:

    A separate daypack is always awkward and overall a burden. So many backpacks now come with a detachable bag you can use as a daypack and make it so much easier with only one piece of luggage.

    • Barry says:

      I guess it comes down to personal preference. We prefer to have our daypacks on our front so that we can store and see our valuables in front of us as we walk through crowded areas. If its strapped to the backpack on our packs its more exposed. We also always take our daypacks onto the bus, so that we can keep them close to us and have access to our laptop etc on long journeys. Some people prefer one bag, we like two!

  • Marc says:

    Nice list Barry, very similar to ours in fact..!
    I was really happy with everything we decided to pack for our travels… one thing I did find, was the Macbook Pro was pretty damn heavy mate, it’s amazing once you drop it in your pack it feels like it doubles the weight of your pack!
    In a perfect world I’d have an Air for travel and a Pro for work.
    The earphone splitter is pure Gold!
    We found so many times when we were killing hours on long-haul bus rides on the watching movies on the iPad… we’d turn around and half the bus was watching the movie over our seat backs lol.
    Enjoy your travel Guys
    Marc & Anna

    • Barry says:

      Totally agree on the MacBook Pro, if we didn’t already have it we would have got something lighter! Still, pretty sturdy though!

      So funny to hear your bus story with the movies, we had similar experiences as well, particularly when the only other option was the karaoke booming out of the TV at the front of the bus!

  • First off, sounds fun! Thoughts:
    Too much underwear. Get x3 of synthetic or exoficio so you can wash in sink and dry out. Same with trainer socks- merino wool dries fast and performs well. Why kindle x2? silk sheets, and tech gear looks great! Seemed like you might need more warm clothes if you really are going to Antarctica. Do they have overseas health insurance? Might be a good idea. Also make copies of passport and credit cards and store in inside pocket incase of theft you at least have # of who to call, etc. and as far as shoes: what will you be doing while abroad? Unless you are trekking, I’d bring only flip flops and a multi-sport shoes like trail runners or comfortable trainers.

    • Barry says:

      Thanks for the tips Alyssa, we do go trekking whilst travelling so the hiking trainers have been really useful! We were ok for warm clothes in Antarctica, we went with Quark Expeditions and part of the deal is you get a big fleece and big jacket as well to keep!

  • Josh Jin says:

    Great list! Can I ask how do you pack your DSLR away when you move between hostels or cities or on treks and how do you carry it with you during the day (in your day pack or in your hand/around shoulder)?

    • Barry says:

      Hi Josh, good question! When we move between hostels and cities, I put the camera in its camera bag and then place this back in my backpack. I pack this at the top of the bag in case I need to get it out. During the day it depends what I’m doing, at tourist sites I’ll have it out all day. In cities, I tend to keep it in the backpack and take it out when needed. Normally when we arrive in a new city, I’ll spend the first day taking photos of the area so that I don’t need to take my camera every day after that when I’m out and about in a city.

  • Chris says:

    I’d probably drop the 2 long sleeve tops and take an extra 1 or 2 light cotton long sleeve shirts. Do the same job with arm coverage, with the added neck protection with the collar (plus can help you look smarter for those nights on the town).

    1 pair of shoes (rarely worn) and flip flops (or thongs here in Australia) usually do us for a trip as well.
    Chris recently posted…Noodle Night DelightMy Profile

    • Barry says:

      I do like a cotton shirt, but I find the long sleeve tops I had much more comfortable when sweating in the heat, but the cotton shirt worked out well in the evenings!

  • Carrie says:

    Began packing for my own travels and this is useful thanks :)

    You did well to fit all the electronics in an 18L bag, I’ve gone for a 25L just for a tad more space but will need to take some sort of foldable day bag.

    • Barry says:

      Thanks Carrie, glad it was useful! Yep the electronics fit nicely into the 18l, we keep all the wires and chargers in our main backpack though so the 18l is just the kit we need on journeys.

  • Craig says:

    All about the electronics for the guys!

    • Barry says:

      Haha I know it does look like that doesn’t it Craig? I’m just too kind and offered to carry it all, maybe I should get Laura to carry some!

  • Stacey says:

    The answer to the question that is the first question on this website, is nothing, this is a honest answer,I would like to add a comment,I can’t help think it,but I have never read so much pr drivel in all my life,and it’s all the same useless mind numbing codswollerp on every website,from what I’ve learnt in all my years of traveling,is don’t trust anyone ,travel with the bear essential,and try to learn how to survive with no human help or no money to buy your way out of hunger or what ever problem your in,I’ll share a few more rules I’ve got,no watches or jewellery,no phones or I pads that included any electronic devices at all,if you do fill the need to have something Incase of exstream emergencies then take a g.p.s locater so you can get help if you think it’s needed..to be honest I’m tired and I’ve got to muc to tell,and I don’t usually type or mess,so sorry for my poor spelling and incorrect grammar ,so good evening nobody,and good buy everyone

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