The Ultimate Packing List (And How Not To Over-pack)
One of the beauties of travelling is that it strips us back to the bare essentials, we can only take what we can carry on our backs, and really why would we want more than that in life? There are some things however that we definitely need to ensure we're safe, clean and healthy while travelling, so don't leave home without:
- Basic first-aid kit: An absolute essential. This doesn't need to be much but it can be a life-saver; some band-aids, Panadol, small scissors, tweezers, bandages, antiseptic cream, hand sanitizer, insect repellent. There are plenty of first-aid kits you can buy ready made up if you don't want to custom build your own.
- Socks & underwear: Never underestimate the luxury of clean socks when you're roughing it for an extended period of time (or even a few days). Make sure you have enough pairs to keep you going in between washing, as depending on where you're travelling this may be far and few between.
- Hat: A straw or felt hat is great as it can be folded down quite small for ease of packing.
- Natural sunscreen: Sunscreen is a must no matter where you're travelling, the best I've found is a U.S. brand called Avasol who make a beautiful zinc out of all natural ingredients, plus their packaging is completely biodegradable and recyclable!
- Travel line (rope and some pegs): Depending on where you're travelling and the facilities available, this could be a savior.
- Microfiber towel: Most accommodation will offer towels and linen (although hostels can be different so make sure you confirm before you arrive), however a small microfiber towel is great if towels aren't provided as they're small and dry quickly. They're great for post-waterfall dips when hiking or even to wipe the sweat away when exercising (or just sitting in the shade in places like Timor-Leste!)
- Re-usable water bottle: Swell bottles are absolutely fantastic, these insulated water bottles keep liquids cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. There are many other cheaper versions starting to appear on the market now also, you will be able to find one at most health food shops and supermarkets. If you're travelling somewhere without safe drinking water, invest in a water purifier to make sure you're not using excess single use plastic. LifeStraw make fantastic products to guarantee safe drinking water wherever you are.
- Sleeping bag liner: Liners are great if you're staying in hostels and the sheets can sometimes be a little unsavory. If you're using your own sleeping bag, it also keeps it fresh and clean if you're a little dirty or sandy when going to bed.
- Paperwork: Make sure you triple check you have all the necessary documents before you leave home; passport, flight confirmations, health insurance, accommodation details. It's smart to email a copy of your itinerary, accommodation details and a photocopy of your passport to both yourself and a member of your family before you leave.
- Sarong: A multi-purpose dream when you're travelling to warmer climates - sarongs can be used to tie around your waist after a swim, protect your shoulders from the sun, wrap around your shoulders and across your chest to cover up in more conservative cultures and they also make a great picnic rug or beach towel.
- Ziploc or dry bags: Something that always come in handy, these are great to store dirty or wet socks/underwear/shoes in between destinations. They can also be handy to store your liquids in so they don't leak through your luggage. Dry bags are also really useful if you're spending any time kayaking or boating as they'll keep your phone and camera safe and dry.
- Torch or headlamp: Although most phones now have a flashlight function, it's good to carry a small back-up - this is one thing you'll always use.
- Lock: you can lock up your belongings when staying in communal accommodation or lock your room at night.
- Comfortable walking shoes: There is nothing fun about blisters. When you're travelling you want to be able to explore all day and not be held back by discomfort so it pays to invest in some quality walking shoes. For light, everyday exploring you can't go past Birkenstocks, your feet will be very happy.
- Sard soap: A lifesaver when it comes to dirt-stained pants or a quick freshen up of your favourite shirt. Some accommodation will have washing facilities but if not, a bucket and and a bar of soap is all you need.
Depending where you're travelling and at which time of year, there are many other necessities you may need to take with you, but these basics will keep you safe and ensure you have the best trip possible.
Packing as light as possible is easy with a little time to prepare. However much clothing you plan to take, halve it, then you can likely halve it again. Investing in quality and well-made clothes will mean you need to pack less as the pieces you do have will be versatile and the fabrics appropriate for the climate you're visiting. Be sure to consider the cultural constraints of your destination; can you wear that strappy top? Are you able to show considerable amounts of leg? Also consider sun-protection, in hot climates you will be thankful for a long sleeve shirt and light, long pants. If space is an issue, remember you can buy your toiletries when you get to your location.
And finally, and the part that will either make packing a dream or a nightmare, is the bag itself. We use an Osprey pack and it has been a dream. Happy travelling!