Hey there! I’m really glad you’re here for the first part of my ultimate guide to individual travel!
In this blog series I will get into all the different aspects of traveling individually. How best to plan your budget, what to pack, which accomodations are available and suit you, which means of transportation have which advantages and so on. In other articles apart from this series I will then get into the topics in more detail.
So, have fun with the first part of my blog series!
My packing list: The Must- and Must-Not-Haves
Especially when it comes to a backpacking trip it’s not about stuffing as much stuff as possible into your backpack. It’s more about thoughtfully choosing what you actually need.
Because: Everything that you carry you will be carrying on your back all on your own!
There are a few people that travel with a suitcase and if that is what you prefer, that is absolutely fine, of course! I personally find it really annoying having to drag my stuff around behind me. I like to carry my things with me. Also, I love the feeling of knowing that everything I need can be carried on my back with me. In our otherwise very materialistic society I find this feeling very liberating.
Believe me, at least on your first backpacking trip you will take too much with you either way. I did the same (Admittedly, the second time wasn’t much better) and carried around my jam-packed 70-liter backpack around with me for weeks. I must have looked tiny against my huge backpack, because people would sometimes look at me and you’d see how sorry they felt for me.
The first thing I can tell you, when packing, is:
The most things you need can be bought pretty much anywhere in the world!
Usually, when I pack, this is they way I think: First of all, think of the things you really need that you cannot buy anywhere in the world. These are important documents like your passport, driver’s license and so on. (OK, maybe you can buy those in some corners of the world 😉 ) Then your credit cards, maybe some cash in your national currency and any medicine, that you need and that cannot be bought over the counter.
What comes then, are the second most important things to you. For me, that would be my camera, for example. I put up with that extra weight, because I just love taking photos and filming (and later on editing the material).
Depending on where I go and if I want to work while I’m there (which I’m tending to do more and more) I also take my laptop with me. (Mine is pretty heavy though, which sucks, so I’ll be getting a new and lighter one soon 😉 )
Then come all the other things. Your clothes, shoes, cosmetics and other medicine. This of course does not mean that you may only take your most important things with you and then buy the rest at your destination. It just means that as long as you have your most important things with you, you don’t need to drive yourself crazy if you forget one of the other things!
By the way, here you can get my packing list as a free and interactive PDF for you to use when packing!
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What I pack
The first question when packing is often: What clothes should I take? You can use the following list when traveling to a fairly warm country (please do not travel to the Antarctic with this equipment!), where at night it might be a bit colder and it’s not rainy season. I pretty much always take the same amount of clothes with me, no matter if I’m going somewhere for 2 weeks or 2 months. It’s better to wash every now and then, than carrying too much shit around!
Also, try to get some higher quality clothes made of eudermic and light materials (such as cotton) and fast-drying materials. Pack clothes that you can combine with each other well and avoid taking just white t-shirts.
So, first I always take one pair of long pants with. They should be nice and sturdy, light and comfortable. (I always love to take my cargopants with me, as they have many pockets and therefore are super practical.)
Then, a pair of shorts, that should fulfill the same criteria as the long pants.
Personally, I can’t travel without my favourite Yogapants anymore. In cool nights I use them as pyjama pants, I use them for sports (and literally for yoga) and on long busrides to add some comfyness.
A neoprene/fleece jacket with a hood, like this one from Decathlon (my favourite store in the whole wide world, by the way!). For me it’s the perfect Allround-jacket. The inside keeps you nice and warm, it’s wonderfully light, wind-resistent and even keeps you dry during light rain.
3 tops or t-shirts
a warm hoodie
a summer dress or short overall
a flanell shirt (or similar light, longsleeve shirt)
2 bikinis (bikini tops double prefectly as a bra!)
3 pairs of socks
1 t-shirt for sleeping
a pair of sport shorts/ shorts for sleeping
a pair of sneakers
sandals or flip-flops (I love flip-flops, but they usually break on me 😉 )
And last but not least I always take a large sarong or light scarf. It’s perfect for all kinds of purposes: For long bus rides or flights when the A/C is on full blast (it gets f****** cold!), as protection for your head on sunny days, especially on longer hikes. As a pareo at the beach (great combo with that bikini top 😉 ), to spread out on the ground and sit on… The possibilities are endless!
Even though my DSLR-camera takes up a little more space than I’d like it to, I always take it with me, because I just love to film and take pictures. So in addition to my backpack I always take my very practical and small camera bag with as a second carry-on. Depending on the trip I also take my laptop to work on my blog or edit video material.
Also on top of the list: My Kindle eReader. I personally still love the feel of a real book, but when traveling it’s almost impossible to carry around that kind of weight. I think it’s actually super practical, because you can download new books any time anywhere, that most of the time are even cheaper than the paperbacks.
What else I take: My graphic tablet, my cellphone, I-Pod, external drive to secure all my data and the corresponding chargers. (Depending on the country you travel to, you’ll need an adapter for the outlets!)
Driver’s license (if needed: international license)
ADAC-card (German insurance card for car troubles and travel insurance)
Health Insurance Card
Visa/ Entry documents if needed
I would definitely recommend you find out beforehand which type of credit cards are accepted in which country. When traveling in Europe I always have my DKB-Student Card with me, which is free and lets me withdraw and pay at no charge in any country of the world. Also, I take an EC-card with me.
When traveling to countries I cannot use my EC-card in, I’ll take a second credit card or any other card that I can use outside Europe.
In addition to your credit cards I would also always take some cash in you national currency, in case there are any problems with the credit cards or, worst case, they get stolen.
Pack smart, so try to stow your credit cards and cash in different bags and/ or pockets. Keep those things close to your body! Also, best thing to do is to make a copy of all your cards and documents before the trip and upload them into your Dropbox!
Most of the over-the-counter medicine you can usually get anywhere in the world (and in some cases way cheaper!), so don’t try to take a shitload of medicine with. Especially Ibuprofen or other pain killers I usually buy in the country I’m traveling to. This is what I normally take (more or less):
Cortisone creme for mosquito bites (I always get eaten up by those little bastards)
Additional medication for any existing illnesses/ chronic diseases (Because of my chronic illness, Cystic Fibrosis, I have to take a lot of other medicine. In later posts I will write about traveling with an illness and how best to deal with it.)
Contact lenses and cleaning solution
Tooth brush, tooth paste
Sunscreen and After-sun (either in small bottles or buy on-site)
Contraceptives if needed
Razor, hair brush, nail scissors, tweezers
Mascara, eye liner, concealer (or whatever make-up you prefer)
What else I take?
Small notebook and pen
Daypack (e.g. foldable backpack or jute bag)
Small shoulder bag/ purse
2 very light travel towels (If you intend to just stay in hotels, you can leave these at home!)
Small tube of laundry detergent
Padlock (if you stay in hostels)
Inflatable travel pillow
Other than that, I always take my very light sleeping bag inlay made of cotton. Often I find the covers in hostels either too warm or uncomfortable, so my inlay always saves me.
And last but not least: My mini-flashlight. If you really need a flashlight is debatable, but on my trips it has always come in handy. Mine is super bright and hardly takes up any space in my backpack.
And that’s it. With all that I come out to about 8kg (without my laptop and seperate camera bag). More on traveling light, my favourite travel gadgets and what backpack to use coming soon!
Does your packing list look similar? Are there any other things you find practical and you take with? Anything you would leave out?