Backpacking Checklist: Things to Pack for Traveling

backpacking list for taking a trip

Travel Packing Checklist: What to Bring Backpacking

Traveling, it is a transcendent experience that allows us to see the world outwardly and seek understanding internally. Many of us, regardless of age, have a yearning to break free from our familiar lives and seek adventure in a distant land that is full of unique sights, sounds, and smells. The allure of new cultures, new places, and new places beckons us abroad, and it all starts with a backpacking list!

Backpacking is by far the best way to experience world travel or while you’re taking a gap year. A backpack allows you to remain light and nimble and makes traveling from one destination to another quicker and more convenient. Many parts of the world are more rural and rolling a suitcase behind you isn’t going to work, especially if the roads are dirt or cobblestone.

When it comes to picking a destination for your backpacking adventure there are a few things you should consider:

  1. What is your budget?
  2. What kind of weather do you want?
  3. What is the primary and secondary goal of your trip?

Setting a travel budget is one of the most important aspects of planning a backpacking trip. Generally, a budget needs to account for your backpacking gear, airfare to and from the destination, and a daily amount of what you want to spend. If you can only afford to spend $45 a day on lodging, food, sightseeing, and partying, then Europe may not be a good choice for you, but South East Asia might! Weather and climate also play a big part. Do you want tropical weather, cold weather, or a bit of both? Lastly it’s important to focus on what the primary goal of your trip is to enjoy it more.

Establishing Goals for your Backpacking Trip

It’s important to establish one primary goal or thing you would like to focus on when traveling and plan some secondary interests around it. Some people travel to learn more about themselves and come into who they are. If that’s the case, then you should focus on sampling as many new experiences as you can and meeting as many people as you can. If you are into history and monuments, ensure to pack plenty of museums and tours into your itinerary. If you’re a foodie primarily focus on eating and sampling the different cuisines of the local culture. If there is a famous restaurant you want to visit plan on calling a few months before to get a reservation.

Secondary goals are specific things you want to accomplish like swimming with elephants or hiking Maccu Piccu.

Create a Travel List: Develop an Itinerary

We are big fans of going with the flow and not trying to plan or over cram too many things in while we’re traveling. However, if you only have a few weeks of travel a tight itinerary will allow you to see and experience as much as possible, but it can also make you feel rushed, frantic, and stressed.

If you have some time we suggest a loose itinerary that consists of the destination you are going to and nothing more. Once you arrive ask around the hostel or locals what the best things to do and see are. You’ll be shocked to learn the popular tourist spots are generally overrated and the best places are off the beaten path or only known to locals. The best memories you’ll have are the ones when you decide to skip a popular tourist spot, like Stonehenge, to go to a local tavern and talk to a famous author who ends up taking you on a tour of the town that inspires him to write.

Packing List: Essential Things You Need When Traveling

Before going off on an adventure it’s important to create travel lists to effectively organize what you need to take on you trip. The below list is generally what you will need for most countries.

Backpacking Gear and Hiking Equipment

When it comes to selecting a backpack, there are many things to consider: comfort, durability, ease of access, and size. A good backpack should allow you to fit all of your clothes, toiletries, and travel accessories in an easy to access bag.

  • Comfort: A good backpack should have comfortable padded straps that can support the load of the bag and have a waist belt.
  • Durability: Your pack will take a lot of hits while traveling abroad so it’s important to get something strong that can take a beating.
  • Ease of Access: A good backpack will have many pockets that will allow you to easily grab things like phones, passports, and swimsuits.
  • Size: The size of the bag will determine if it can be used as a carry on or if it as to be checked on flights. Anything under 50L will allow you to take it on the plane, anything more goes under the plane.

 Travel Essentials: Toiletry Kit

Packing a comprehensive toiletry kit is important when it comes to backpacking. Toiletries will keep you clean and refreshed so you don’t repel other travelers and will prevent you from catching skin rashes. A basic kit should include the following:

  • A travel towel and wash cloth
  • Soap, shampoo, conditioner
  • Shaving supplies
  • Personal and feminine products
  • Deodorant

For more information on how to pack a toiletry kit check out our guide here.

How to Pack Backpacking Outfits and Clothes

When it comes to packing your bag, planning for a two week trip should be your goal. Two weeks of clothes will allow you to travel for months as long as you can wash them periodically. It’s best to pack layers instead of outfits that can be dressed up or down depending on climate. When packing clothes into your bag it is best to roll them together instead of fold them. Always roll similar clothes together, for example t-shirts with other t-shirts and pants with pants. When it comes to selecting the amount of underwear to take that’s generally up to the person but 3-5 easily washable pairs is the general guideline. For more information on packing clothes check out our guide here.

Cool Backpacking Gear and Travel Accessories

The Best Travel Accessories You Don't Think You Need - Travel Packing Checklist

Traveling can be enhanced by small little accessories that can easily fit into your pack. A 20-hour flight can be made much more enjoyable with a neck pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs, finding things in your bag at night can be made easier by having a headlamp to see, and a money belt will protect your travel documents and money. Below are some must haves (but not necessarily):

  • Money Belt
  • Headlamp
  • Filtered Water Bottle
  • Neck Pillow
  • International Outlet Adapters
  • Headphones
  • Travel First Aid Kit
  • Camera

For a list of cool accessories check our reviews here.

Travel Packing Checklist: Documents, Visas, and Vaccinations

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A lot of countries have additional documents that need to be shown when entering their country.  Ensure you have the below items and research every country you are going to avoid any snags.

  • Passport
  • Any Visa’s or Travel Documents
  • Vaccination cards
  • Return flight documentation
  • Travel Insurance

Some countries require vaccinations and some countries you should be vaccinated for.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Checklist for Traveling: Electronics

Best Tablet for International Travel

In the modern age seeing travelers carrying smartphones, tablets, and laptops while backpacking is not uncommon. This is a personal choice that depends on the traveler. These extra accessories can enhance your experience but they can also cut you off from enjoying the trip fully. It is easy to find solace and safety in the warm light of a laptop, especially when you are outside of your comfort zone. They also make you a target for theft.

Backpacking List Summary: What to Bring for on a Trip

Traveling is an amazing experience that can open your mind to new cultures and new possibilities. It is best done with a backpack on your back and notebook by your side. You’ll make great new friends, experience new loves, taste new foods, and learn to appreciate cultures you never knew existed.