Packing Checklist: A home away from home
By Macca Sherifi
Packing for a holiday can be difficult. Packing for a round-the-world trip can be impossible. You are constantly packing, unpacking, packing again, checking that you’ve got everything; then realise you’ve forgotten your toothbrush. Get used to it. It will happen more than once.
One thing to remember straight away – what you don’t pack, you buy. Many travellers just take the bare essentials, buying everything they need once they are out there. You need to work out a happy balance for yourself.
Your backpack is your home. It is your snail-shell. And much like a snails-shell you will take care of it and its contents, loving each and every item that is housed in your backpack.
A good weight for your backpack is between 10-12kg. Experiment before you go and pack your bag a couple of times to find out what fits where.
After a while packing will become so automatic that you won’t even know when you’re doing it. That’s the theory.
If it’s your first trip then you will want peace of mind, constant reassurance. Hopefully this checklist will give you that…
(We don’t expect you to take everything on the list! It is just a guide to remind you if you’ve forgotten anything or not).
Make sure you have got these well in advanced. Without these, no trip…
– PASSPORT! – never, ever forget your passport. If you don’t trust a hostels then keep your passport on you
– Health and travel insurance – see our insurance section for more ideas…
– Debit/credit card
– Money – take approximately $200 with you as universal currency. It will help you out in tricky situations and pay for visas
– Prescription medicines (if you take any)
– A spare pair of glasses and contact lenses (if you wear them)
It is important to keep multiple copies of all your documents; keep one set in your day bag and one set in your backpack. That way you’re covered if you lose your bag!
– Health and travel insurance documents
– Photocopies of passport (X4)
– International drivers licence – can be obtained from any Post Office
– Student card – you will be surprised how many tourist attractions offer student discount. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t have it…
Some people love taking lots of clothes, some people don’t. Whatever you choose from your wardrobe, choose wisely – you’re going to be seeing a lot of them! A travelling t-shirt probable has a life expectancy of 6-12 months. Saying that, buying a t-shirt in Asia only costs $3 (£2).
– Underwear X 7
– Socks X 3
– Bra X 3
– Bikini X 4 (depending on how obsessed you are with bikinis)
– Short shorts X 2
– Shorts/boardies X 3 (no budgie smugglers)
– Trousers X 2 (linen trousers are light and scrunch up)
– Dresses X 2 (light, flowery, colourful)
– Skirts X 2
– T-shirts/strappy tops/vest tops X 5 (buy a ‘Chang’ top in Thailand – very cool)
– Longsleeve top (for temples, protect against mossies)
– Fleece (it can get cold at night, especially in the desert)
– Trainers/hiking shoes/sandals (Merrell are very popular)
– Sarong X 2
Toiletries can take up a lot of room in your bag.
– Contraception (condoms, pill)
– Sanitary towels/tampons
– Toothbrush (with toothbrush cover), toothpaste, floss
– Shampoo/conditioner (2 in 1 takes up less room)
– Deodorant (remember, you can’t take aerosols in your hand luggage)
– Razor (with razor blades)
– Sun cream (SPF 30)
– Aftersun/moisturiser (for that deep burn)
– Sink plug
– Make up
– Make up remover
– Lip balm (with SPF)
– Cotton buds
– Nail clippers/nail file (we call it a nail fail)
– Insect repellent (DEET 50%)
– Bite cream/bite zapper
– Hair bands
A good medical kit is really important. Try and get a needle – you never know when you might need a sterile needle. It’s a good idea to have a few plasters on you at all times, in your wallet or purse.
– Safety pins
– A needle
– Antiseptic wipes
– Antiseptic handwash
– Antiseptic cream (savlon)
– Imodium (anti-diarrhoeas)
– Antacid (for indigestion)
– Antihistamines (hayfever can be a big problem abroad)
– Inhaler (only if you’re asthmatic – pointless otherwise)
– Oral rehydration sachets
– Baby wipes (these babies come in handy everyday…)
Gizmos and gadgets:
A lot of people say that their camera and ipod are the two most important items when travelling. Notebooks are becoming more and more popular too. Just make sure all items over $160 (£100) are insured.
– ipod/MP3 player
– Camera/video camera (+ batteries, 8GB memory card, films, cables, tripod)
– Mobile phone
– Spare batteries (rechargeable are best for long termers)
– Solar chargers (for batteries, phones, etc)
– External HD
– USB stick (8GB)
– Plug adapter (check which type you need beforehand)
– Torch/head torch
– Rape alarm (for men and women)
– Alarm clock
– Cheap digital watch (casio)
The best of the rest…
– Hat (cap/bandanna/beanie)
– Buff (for all situations)
– Travel towel
– Sleeping bag liner (for the occasional dirty bed)
– Eye mask
– Ear plugs
– Travel pillow/squishtie pillow
– Playing cards
– Safety pin/sewing kit
– Leatherman/Swiss army knife (a man needs a knife, ok?)
– Duct tape (for minor to major repairs)
– Bin liner (for wet clothes or as an emergency rain cover)
– Pen and paper
– Diary/journal (You never know if you’re going to be the next Che Guevara)
– Travel wallet/money belt
– Waterproof cover for bag
– Tea bags (a taste of home…)
– Marmite (only if you love it…)
It looks like a huge list. Well, it is a huge list. You don’t need to pack everything. It is a good idea to over pack at first, and in your first week get rid of unwanted items. As eco-tourists don’t just throw your clothes away or leave them in your hostel room – go out and donate them.
Try to make your home away from home as comfortable as possible. It is called ‘backpacking’ after all…
Fabulous list Macca!
You forgot to mention the all-important mosquito net (plus 4x drawing pins/gaffa tape / string to hold it up) though 😉
I bought a mossy net, never even took it with me. Found it when I returned home, along with my camelpak, spare silk liner and a whole host of other stuff.
I must have picked up my bag and thought, what don’t I need and left it all there haha
Excellent post! Very helpful for first time packing.
Another tip, for documents. As well as taking photocopies and originals, email yourself all important documents so you can ALWAYS access a copy if all of your luggage disappears.
Especially for your passport. My insurance I always get online, so I have a copy of that. In my hotmail account, I have created a folder called “travelling” so everything I might ever need goes there.
I am a light packer. And I am a girl. My bag never weighs more than 12kg when I travel. Just to give anyone an idea of clothes that you can get away with – this is what I take…..
4 x vest tops
2 x t-shirt
1 x shorts
1 x board shorts
1 x linen trousers
1 x lightweight cardigan
1 x hoody
10 x underwear
1 x bra
4 x bikini (usually wear the tops as bras)
1 x flip flops
1 x Asics trainers (for walking)
2 x small trainer socks
I tend to wear 1 vest top for about 2 weeks at a time, unless it gets really dirty.
I also bought a pair of 3/4 fisherman pants in Asia which I lived in – very cool (as in temperature, not looks!) and comfortable and perfect for temple-ing.
I also take no hair dryer, straighteners, minimal make-up (it just runs off anyway), no make up remover (good old soap and water).
It’s a good list, but just remember if you don’t think you’ll need it or use it, don’t bother. If you change your mind, in 90% of destinations you can buy what you need. For example, I didn’t take lip balm, but kept burning my lips when in Australia so I bought a lip balm with SPF30 in it.
Oral re-hydration sachets are fab.
I also agree with antihistamines – they are helpful for stopping the itching from insect bites as well as hay-fever.
Also playing cards are a must (or buy a souvenir pack on arrival!)
I have a question though – what’s a “buff”?! I’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times now and I have no idea!
Sorry for jumping on the post Macca – I just thought I would give a girls’ light-packing list!
Excellent “read me first” post!
Macca your list is about as long as mine!! I am a very light packer,a girl and a first time backpacker for a year long RTW trip! My Jalan 55lt weighs in at 11.9kg!! And believe me I haven’t forgotten a thing!! Even got straighteners and some room left! I think I was blessed with packing skills, my mates always call me mary poppins as I always have the smallest of bags but everything in them 🙂 1 month today!!!
Pretty comprehensive, some cable ties maybe useful:
– Cable ties to secure your zips on your backpack and other versatile uses
– Passport size photos if you need to apply for the occasional Visa
– You have mentioned Deet, but you may also want some sort of Permethrin spray – could be usefull to stop those mozzies landing on your linens. I’ve often got bitten through my clothes and this stuff is odourless and last for ages. Can also be used if you end up sleeping in some dodgy hostel with bedbugs. Maybe worthwhile spraying the hell out of your sleeping bag liner.
I know you have mentioned bin liner to store wet clothes in, but you may want to line your rucksack permanently with one at all times to protect your stuff against rain and you forget to place your rain cover on.
Also I’m a bit paranoid about security so I digg what has been said earlier about emailing your docs (photo’s of passport, and other important documents). Howver I would suggest zipping these documents up and encrypting the archive with a password. It just ensures that if your email is compromised no usefull info can get into the hands of those miscreants!!!
The tea bags are essential, I got sick of drinking that Lipton rubbish that they serve everywhere and regretted leaving them at home. I didnt have a decent cuppa for 6 months !!!!.
Great list Macca, Cheers! 😛
Although i didnt take you for a “light, flowery, colourful, Dresses kind of guy 🙄
Nice list Macca 🙂 Thanx alot! I know where I will be looking when I need to check I have everything 😛
For comparison, here is my list for my upcoming trip… I will probably reduce some numbers once I actually come round to filling the bag, as I much prefer to travel light:
(If it looks scarily large, then its probably because its intended for multi-year travel!)
I need to fill out the medical supplies on mine, your list has helped a bit with that.
Its also a good idea to scan all your copies of documents (passport, birth certificate, photos, insurance, etc.) and e-mail to yourself so they’re always accessible for printing in case you lose absolutely everything (given the various disasters happening these days, its certainly possible). I use Google Docs as my storage.
Edit: Sorry, just noticed that last bit has already been mentioned!
“-men need a knife ok?”
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