Last Updated: 3/19/21 | March 19th, 2021
Over the years, what I carry in my bag has changed a lot. Most of that change has to do with the fact that I now carry a lot of gear related to blogging, but it also reflects that I’ve learned a lot about packing since I first hit the road in 2006.
I’ve traveled with big duffel bags, 60L packs, 30L packs, carry-ons, and everything in between. I’ve learned different packing techniques through the years.
And today I want to share that knowledge with you.
So what should you pack on your trip?
First, the short answer to what you should pack: as little as possible.
Packing light is a cliché, yet one that has a lot of truth to it. The more I travel, the more I realize I don’t need a lot of stuff. Everything I need now fits into one backpack.
I like to write down everything I think I’ll need — and then cut it in half. I always ask myself, “Will I use this enough to justify the weight?”
Most of the time the answer is no.
I take only the essentials, and if I really need something I didn’t bring, I buy it on the road. It’s not that hard to find medicine, clothes, or an umbrella overseas.
I also try to stick to the same climate during my trips to avoid having to carry lots of different kinds of clothes. I don’t want to be lugging sweaters around Thailand! However, plans can change, and if that happens, I’ll buy a light jacket or a sweater. I’ll keep it until it is a burden and then give it away.
Also, you can do laundry overseas so I like to carry enough clothes for 7-10 days, do laundry, then repeat. There’s no need to bring a lot of stuff when you can just wash what you have.
As for the long answer to what you should pack? Well, below is my suggested packing list — but you should tailor this to your needs.
(Note: This focuses on travel to a non-winter climate. If you’re heading somewhere cold, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.)
- 5 t-shirts
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I wear them a lot — a good alternative is khaki)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 1 bathing suit
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 8 pairs of socks (I always lose my socks so I take extra! I have no idea where they go?)
- 1 pair of dress shoes (heavy to carry around, but when I visit friends, we usually go somewhere not sneaker-friendly. This is destination dependent. I do this more in Australia and Europe — where people care — and less so everywhere else.)
- 1 dress shirt (for going to a respectable place in the evening)
- 1 pair of black dress socks
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 razor
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel (always pack a towel!)
SMALL MEDICAL KIT
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Eye drops
- Hand sanitizer
For more on first aid kits, check out this detailed post on how to make one for any destination.
- Universal power adapter/converter
- Kindle (if you’re an avid reader and don’t want to lug around books)
- Camera (if you want more than just smartphone photos)
- A key or combination lock (everyone should have one!)
- Flashlight (trust me, it comes in handy)
- Ziplock bags
- Lifestraw (water filter)
Special tip: Buy a small backpack so you won’t be tempted to overpack. We subconsciously like to fill empty space, so if you have a big bag, you’re more likely to overpack just so you don’t waste space. By getting a smaller backpack, you’ll be forced to take only the essentials — a mind trick that works very well!
I’ve found that this list leaves me wanting for nothing. I’m sure many of you will read this and say, “But what about X?” or “You really don’t need Y.” Well, that works for you, and this list works for me. Tailor your list to suit your travels.
I write this post not because I think there is one perfect way to pack but to answer the recurring question about what I pack and why. This is my list and suits my “chase the summer, live in hostels” lifestyle.
But the real point I want to emphasize is that you really don’t need a lot when you travel. You never need as much as you think.
- Are you female traveler? Click here for a packing list for female travelers!
- Looking for a backpack? Click here to figure out how to pick the best backpack
- Want more gear information? Click here for more tips on what travel gear to bring
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.