What To Pack When Backpacking (and how to fit it all in )

You’ve saved up some money, booked your flight, quit your job, and are ready to go. All you have to do is pack your bag and you’ll be on your way to your next adventure! But then you look at your backpack and wonder what exactly you need to take away with you on a multi-month trip abroad and just how you’re going to fit it all in.

How can you possibly pack to deal with every possible situation that may arise whilst you’re away?

Before you throw in half your wardrobe, remember that you will have to carry it all on your back, possibly for extended periods of time. Ask yourself whether that pair of heels are really essential in the jungles of Borneo. Here is a suggested list of what you may need; add to it anything that is specific to your travel plans but remember that some will things will be able to be bought locally.


Try to pack the bare minimum and get used to washing clothes in the sink at your hostel or discount hotel each night.

What To Pack When Backpacking

  • 2-3 short-sleeved shirts – these will ideally be fast-drying
  • 1-2 long-sleeved shirts to cover your arms for warmth, as protection from mosquitoes and for modesty.
  • 1 pair of jeans – hard-wearing jeans can be useful for a number of occasions.
  • 2 pairs of shorts or skirts – preferably knee-length for both men and women if travelling in countries where showing too much flesh is considered taboo.

Swimwear – men’s swimming shorts can also double up as everyday shorts.

Lightweight Fleece – essential for keeping warm in cold countries, on chilly evenings and on over-air-conditioned planes.

Underwear – 3 or 4 pairs of each should suffice as long as you hand wash them whenever you get the chance – they can be stuffed in shoes to save on space.

Hiking Boots – essential if you’re going to do any form of heavy-duty hiking. Try to wear them when travelling as they are heavy and will take up a fair amount of space in your backpack.

Flip-Flops – light and easy to squeeze into a small space, these will not only take you from beach to bar, they will be very handy in communal showers.



Sleeping Bag – essential for any traveller, plus it can be rolled up and attached to the front of your backpack. Obviously necessary for camping but also when the sheets on your bed in that cheap hostel look a bit dodgy.

Hat – keeps your hair off your face and the sun from burning you.

Toiletries – keep these to a bare minimum – shower gel, shampoo, face wash, moisturiser, toothbrush, toothpaste.

Travel Wash – save money on laundry bills and ensure you can do a quick bit of washing wherever you are. You’ll be glad you did when you turn up at your discount hotel wearing clean clothes and looking presentable!

Travel Towel – there are some brilliant travel towels on the market which are lightweight, fold up to fit into a small space and dry quickly.

Mosquito Repellent – not only are mosquito bites unsightly and annoyingly itchy, they can also be incredibly dangerous – there are many serious mosquito-borne diseases in foreign countries so keep safe and spray repellent wherever mosquitoes are present.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but it will give you a good starting point. Don’t forget your passport, visas and tickets!


  1. Pinoy Boy Journals says:

    this is the most basic information a travel needs to know, yet i haven't read much about this. Good job flip!!!

  2. journeyingjames says:

    Underwear – 3 or 4 pairs of each should suffice as long as you hand wash them whenever you get the chance – they can be stuffed in shoes to save on space. –i do this do!

  3. Convertible pants offer great versatility: (1) they take less space than separate long trousers and shorts, (2) they provide convenient climate control in varying temperatures, and (3) they come in handy for covering up your legs when entering sites demanding more modest wear.

  4. I need to work on my backpacking skills! Unfortunately I’m too lame for this. I end up packing more than I need. I guess I just need more practice. Thanks for sharing Flip! This is a great way to get to know how people pack. We should all have our own blog entry about this! hehe.

  5. There is a lot of good basic information here. Figuring out what to pack for me can be difficult. I don’t want to pack too much or too little. I usually pack what I want first and take away things I don’t need until I reach a good balance. I try to focus more on clothing than toiletries when I travel since I can always buy that stuff when I get there.

  6. Thanks for the information. Will try this on the next trips. =)

  7. Great tips you have shared here my friend…These all are the essentials points one have to remember before starting the trip…Keep going …

  8. “travel light” is one of my weaknesses .. I should learn this fast specially when travelling without check-in baggage.


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