When you pack your backpack for the next journey it is all about one thing: saving as much weight as possible. To travel light, you have to pack smart.
Updated May 2019
I designed a packing (check) list that will help you to remember what you should not miss and also tell you what stuff to skip. When you go backpacking, your luggage should not exceed a maximum of 15 kg (actually, 7 to 13 kg are ideal and I already traveled with 5 kg without missing anything). Always remember that it does not really make a difference whether you travel for two weeks or six months – the things you need are basically the same (if you go to destinations with diverse climates, you will naturally have to pack more).
Items marked with a *star are in my opinion optional and depend on personal taste and travel destination. Throughout my health and mindfulness journey I naturally skipped many things that I felt were either harmful to my health (almost all cosmetics contain toxic chemicals!) or simply unnecessary. This lead to a very handy reduction of – physical and mental – weight.
Warm travel destinations
Clothes: rolling with the times
- 3 shirts
- one pair of short pants
- one leggings (one long pant if needed)
- two long sleeves
- * one hoodie (merino is lightweight and keeps you warm)
- one hat for sunny as for cold weather
- 2 pairs of socks: light and warm (you might want to wear them on the plane, as the temperature is often ridiculously low)
- panties for one week
- one bra (I prefer a comfy, sporty version)
- depending on the destination: a lightweight down jacket, especially for air con flights and bus rides. I love my Norrona jacket that can be squeezed inside one of the pockets and hence becomes a compact bag. It only weighs 330 grams!
- * one pair of sports shoes (I use barefoot shoes that are super light and extremely comfortable)
- * one nice dress for the evening
- one to two skirts, matching the colors of the shirts
- 1 bikini/ pair of trunks
- scarf (I always carry a Kenyan kikoy that doubles as a towel or a sarong or a blanket – the possibilities are endless)
As I am mostly traveling in winter, I wear all the warm clothes when I get on the plane and save weight in the backpack. Also make sure what you wear is comfortable. I prefer wearing one of those seamless top-like sports bras, leggings, warm socks, a hoodie and I always carry my down jacket. Sometimes you might have to find a similar solution even in a hot climate, as some of the cheaply airlines in Asia only allow a maximum luggage weight of 10 kg (prices for overweight on the planes vary a lot, depending on the airline). You can outwit the airline by carrying heavy items such as books in your cabin baggage.
Roll your clothes in order to save space. I recommend to use different packing cells to maintain order and save additional space. For example all underwear in one bag, hats and socks in another bag etc. Using sacs in different colors and sizes helps to distinguish and keep your sanity when you have to pack and unpack your belongings every day.
You can save a lot of weight by reducing your toiletries to basically two products: organic soap and coconut oil. For anything liquid you can go for small, refillable silicone bottles. That way you avoid buying little throw away plastic tubes which is obviously better for the environment. I like to use a natural soap bar for skin and hair. No chemicals, good for body + mother nature plus it saves weight and space!
- (travel) tooth-brush and paste. I recommend to make your own toothpaste for health reasons. I brush my teeth with a mixture of coconut oil, turmeric and baking soda.
- mini hair brush (I use a natural hair brush that can also be used for dry skin brushing)
- coconut oil (this allrounder serves as body lotion, sun lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, insect repellent and for oil pulling)
- * contact lenses and fluid (travel size); a pair of glasses as back up (in some countries, especially in rural areas it is very hard, if not impossible, to get lenses).
- razor, extra blades
- One soap bar for skin and hair (kept in a light soap box or a plastic )
- earplugs (indispensable for long bus/ train rides and dorms)
- nail file (scissors)
- deodorant (you can also fill your deodorant into a travel size tube). I recommend baking soda with water or coconut oil or magnesium oil.
- * perfume: take some organic essential oil like cinnamon or vanilla. It is light and not detrimental for your health.
- * condoms if needed
Lenses: If you go traveling for a long period, I recommend putting your contact lenses in a small Tupperware container. Those are stable, light and keep the extra lenses safe.
Bag: a transparent, multi-functional bag with different pockets helps you find your essentials quickly. Make sure it has a hook that allows easy hanging.
FOR THE LADIES:
- * make up. Only as much as really needed; go for travel sizes or samples
- hair ties
- sanitary tampons or a menstrual cup (the menstrual cup is probably easier to deal with while traveling as it is cleaner and keeps you “safe” for a longer period)
- * When traveling alone, I always wear a fake wedding ring. Some guys are intrusive enough to ignore it, but usually it helps.
- * prescribed medications
- pain killer
- patches and gauze bandage
- tiger balm
- coconut oil for rashes or bruises
I am pro natural remedies so this is a pretty short list 😉 Also, I am convinced that a happy & healthy life with good, fresh, raw food and fresh air is your best insurance!!
!! Scan and save the important documents in Dropbox or send them to your own Email account so you can access them any time in case they get lost!!
- extra head shots for visas
- * online visa application/ visa
- credit cards (two of them!) / cash
- drivers license
- * diving license if needed
- travel insurance
- vaccination pass
- * online banking TAN list if needed
- copies of all those documents (printed and digital)
- army knife (keep it in your main luggage! It might have a nail file and scissors so you can already put a check mark on those)
- head torch (+ fresh batteries)
- * sun glasses
- pad locks for your luggage
- quick drying towel (ONE big towel is enough)
- light silk sleeping bag
- * travel diary. I know it sounds horribly boring to sit down every day and note down your experiences. But, trust me, it is definitely worth it and some time later when you read it you will find out why.
- * dry bag (depending on destination; I would actually advise to always carry one. Even if you don’t go snorkeling or diving it might be beneficial when you’re in the jungle or even if it’s raining – your most important items will be safe)
- cell phone (I carry a bullet- and water proof case as I love to drop my phone every some meters)
- * tablet
- A book app on your tablet or cell phone replaces actual books (still didn’t get used to that, oldschool me 🙂
- * camera
- * laptop if needed
- * headphones
- * adapter (check out the required adapter beforehand)
- * memory cards (for camera, cell phone etc.)
What to carry in your hand luggage:
The most important items you will want to keep with you at all times!
- credit card → always carry at least two credit cards in case one gets stolen. Keep them in different places, that is one in your backpack and the other in your handbag/ day pack.
- tickets and travel information
- cell phone
- ear plugs
- * prescription medications
- coconut oil (the air con makes your skin dry)
- Sweater, scarf, warm socks
- * headphones
- tooth brush and mini tooth paste (you might want to use it on a long flight with some stop overs and you definitely need it at the destination in case your luggage is stuck somewhere!)
Also in your handbag/ day pack, small bags will help you organize your belongings.
You can find the (older, longer) check list for download here.