What to Pack: The Ultimate Packing List for Backpackers (2022) - Road Affair (2023)

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Let’s be honest, there is a lot of crap written on what to pack for travel. Mostly by travel bloggers trying to make a quick buck by including super fancy and expensive gear you will never use.

No matter how much they say you will need it, trust us you don’t. All you need is a good backpack, a passport and some money.

Ok, and maybe an extra spare of clothes. Don’t want to be smelling like an old bum, do we?

To give you an idea of what else you might need, we included our packing list below. We spent two years figuring out what we consider to be the perfect balance of packing light and having all of the things we need.

However keep in mind that our packing list is not a one-size-fits-all, as every traveler is different and has different needs.


• Main Bag:I am going to write a post on choosing the best travel backpack and why you should travel light soon. Just know that a 35-45 liter pack is all you need. It’s the perfect size and holds everything below. Plus, it can be taken as a carry-on on budget airlines, and it fits neatly under a bus seat or in overhead bins.

We both have anOsprey Farpoint 40 and highly recommend it if you are still looking for a good backpack. Not only is the bag ultra light and comfortable, it also has a lifetime warranty on it, which means Osprey will fix any defects for free, no questions asked.

• Daypack:A good daypack should have some back support, but still be malleable enough that it can be rolled up and put into your main backpack whenever you don’t need it. We use a regular JanSport backpack as our daypack.

Essential Items

The items below are the essentials and without them you won’t get very far in your trip. Do not forget to pack them.

• Passport:Kind of obvious, but you will be surprised how many people forget to bring their passport with them. Don’t forget to make a color copy of your passport and carry it with you at all times. It comes in handy for random police stops, or in case you lose your passport abroad.

• Visa (if needed):Depending on where you are going and what kind ofpassport you have, you might need to apply for a tourist visa before your departure. VisaHQ has a pretty cool interactive map that shows you for which country you need a tourist visa according to the passport you have.

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• Ticket:It is always a good idea to print out your ticket before heading to the airport. Also, make sure to check-in and print your boarding pass before arriving at the airportif you are flying with a budget airline, so you don’t get charged a hefty fee at the airport.

• Travel Insurance:No matter how long or short your trip, make sure to purchase travel insurance. Most times you don’t need it but what happens if you do? You really don’t want to get stuck with a huge bill and spend the rest of your life paying it off. We recommend World Nomads.

• Debit/Credit Card:Don’t forget to notify your bank that you are traveling abroad so they don’t randomly put a hold on your card and you end up beingstuck with no money.

• Cash:It is good practice to have $100-200 in cash somewhere hidden in your backpack. You never know when you will need it.

• International Driver’s License (if needed):If you plan on driving a car or motorcycle abroad, don’t forget to get an international drivers license before your departure. Most countries require one, and if you are caught without one expect to pay a hefty fine.


Everybody wears different clothes but the list below should give you a good idea of how much clothing to pack. Feel free to change it up to fit your personal style.

• 1 Long Pants:We always carry one pair of long pants with us, even in the tropics. They are nice to have on cold overnight buses and in places where it gets a bit chilly at night. We like jeans but take whatever you feel the most comfortable in.

• 1-2 Shorts / Skirts:If you are going to colder climates maybe take an extra pair of long pants with you instead of shorts.

• 5 T-shirts / Tank Tops:We’ve found that five is a good number of t-shirts and tank tops to have in our backpack.

• 1 Hoodie / Sweater:A hoodie or warm sweater, just like the long pants, comes in handy for those cold overnight buses or chilly nights.

• 1 Long-Sleeve Top:Nice to wear on chillier days and after sunset when the mosquitoes come out looking for blood.

• 1 Comfortable Walking Shoes:Chances are that you will be walking a lot, so make sure to invest in some comfortable and lightweight walking shoes. We prefer running shoes like the ASICS Venture 5.They are very light and breathable, but alsohave a semi-good grip, which makes them greatfor the occasional hike.

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• 1 Rain Jacket:Please do not pack an umbrella as one gust of wind will send it flying or will break it. Rather invest in a rain jacket. They are easy to roll-up and barely take up any space in your bag. We both have the North Face Venture Rain Jacket and we love it. It’s a great quality jacket that actually keeps you dry, unlike many other rain jackets.

• 1 Flip-Flops:Everyone needs flip-flops!

• 1 Swimwear:Our travels revolve around the warm climate and beaches so of course we pack swimwear. If that’s not the case for you, don’t pack it.

• 5 Underwear & Socks:You do not need 50 pairs of underwear and socks like you have back home. A week’s worth is more than enough.


Below is a list of the most basic toiletries used by most on a regular basis. Your own list might be a little bit different. If you are traveling with a carry-on only, keep the 3-1-1 liquids rule in mind when packing your backpack. You can always buy more toiletries abroad.

• Shampoo

• Soap / Shower Gel

• Razor & Shaving Cream

• Toothbrush & Toothpaste

• Contraception (condoms, pill)

• Sanitary Towels / Tampons

Medical Kit

We used to carry a medical kit with us but realized it was unnecessary weight. Plus, we figured if anything serious were to happen to us our little kit wouldn’t save us. So we reduced it to the bare essentials.

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• Band-aids

• Bandages

• Antiseptic Wipes


We are digital nomads so our electronics list is probably longer than it would be if we were just regular backpackers. Our electronics alone are 1/3 of our total packing weight. So think twice before bringing all your gadgets from home.

• Laptop:In our opinion, the 13” Macbook Air is the best travel laptop out there. It is not only very lightweight, but also very powerful, unlike many Windows laptops. If you don’t need that much screen space, check out the 11” Macbook Air instead. Also, don’t forget to buy a good hardshell case for your laptop. If you have a Macbook, I recommend Incase. Though they’re a bit more expensive than the cheap cases from China, they actually protect your laptop’s fall or bang and will not break upon impact.

• Portable Hard Drive:A portable hard drive is a great way to backup all your images and files while traveling. Alternatively, if you trust Google with your data, you can also back thingsup on the cloud.

• USB Stick:A simple USB stick comes in handy when you need to print something (ex. boarding pass) at a copy shop and you don’t want them to have access to your portable hard drive.

• Unlocked Smartphone:If you want to use local sim cards abroad make sure to bring along an unlocked smartphone. Most carriers will unlock your phone for free if you tell them that you are going abroad.

• Camera:We travel with a Sony RX100.It’s lightweight and has the quality of a low range DSLR, which is perfect for what we need it for. If you are looking for a new camera or thinking about upgrading, check out our post on how to choose the best travel camera.

• Ebook Reader:Carry around a whole library of books without all the extra weightwith aKindle.


The items below are all the things that didn’t fit into any of the categories above but are still essential to pack.

• Travel Towel:A good travel towel is essential if you plan on staying in hostels or budget hotels, as most times they don’t provide towels. Unlike regular towels, travel towels are lightweight, take up almost no space and are quick drying. A must in everybody’s backpack.

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• Earplugs:If you are a light sleeper don’t forget to pack some earplugs for a good night’s sleep.

• Headlamp:Headlamps are one of those things you probably won’t use often but it is nice to have, especially when you are leaving early in the morning and don’t want to wake up your dorm mates or for random, yet very common, power outages. Energizerhas some good headlamps fora very low price.

• Universal Plug Adapter:If you are not sure whether you need aplug adapteror not,check out this page for a detailed list of all the plug and socket types used around the world.

• Padlock:Many hostels have lockers but no padlocks, so make sure to bring your own.

• Toilet Paper or Tissues:Don’t ask, just pack it. If you want to know why, check out our post on why backpackers are the unluckiest people on earth.

• Insect Repellent: Insect repellent can be found all over the world, but some places only sell the weak stuff with 15% DEET. If you want an insect repellent with 50% DEET orstronger consider buying it in advance.

• Sunscreen

What NOT to Pack

• Travel Pants: Would you wear travel pants when you are at home? No? So why would you wear them when you are abroad?

• Packing Cubes:Packing cubes are an interesting idea but take up too much space and add unnecessary weight.

• Money Belt:Money belts are totally uncomfortable and chances are that the person robbing you knows about them. If you are worried about getting robbed, bring a dummy wallet with you instead.

• Hiking Boots:Unless you are a hiker and plan on hiking a lot, leave those hiking boots at home. Not only are they heavy, they also take up way too much space. Regular walking shoes are more than enough for the occasional hike.

For moretips on what not to pack, check out our anti-packing list.

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And that’s it. That is everything we own in this world and let me tell you, we have never felt better. The more we travel around the world, the more we realize how little we actually need.

Now that you know what to pack, plan your trip with our detailed budget travel guides to popular destinations like Jamaica, Venice, Guatemala, Vienna and more.


What are the essential checklist for backpackers? ›

These items should be part of your backpacking checklist:
  • Hiking boots or shoes.
  • Backpack.
  • Tent.
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad.
  • Stove and fuel.
  • Kitchen supplies.
  • Plenty of food.
  • Water bottles and water-treatment supplies.

How do I pack for a 2022 flight? ›

Keep all of your liquids. Together. And put them in an accessible pocket where you can just pull

What should you not forget when packing for a trip? ›

Most Commonly Forgotten Things to Pack
  1. Don't Forget Travel Documents. ...
  2. One of the Most Commonly Forgotten Things to Pack Are Snacks. ...
  3. Keep a Hand Sanitizer Close By. ...
  4. Remember to Bring Your Medicine and First Aid Kit. ...
  5. Fill a Small Bag With Toiletries. ...
  6. Don't Forget Glasses and Sunglasses. ...
  7. Pack Chargers and Headphones.
8 May 2020

How much should you pack for backpacking? ›

A loaded backpacking pack should not weigh more than about 20 percent of your body weight. (If you weigh 150 pounds, your pack should not exceed 30 pounds for backpacking.) A loaded day hiking pack should not weigh more than about 10 percent of your body weight.

How do you pack clothes for backpacking? ›

In general, bring one to two T-shirts, one long-sleeve shirt and one pair of lightweight yet durable synthetic pants. A pair of ultralight running shorts with a built-in brief can be a boon for hot weather: You can also swim in them and wear them while you wash and dry your pants.

What can I not bring on a plane 2022? ›

Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible. TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine.

What toiletries can you take on a plane 2022? ›

Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, gels and aerosols. Common travel items that must comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash and lotion.

What is the most forgotten items when traveling? ›

So here's a list of the most commonly forgotten vacation items.
  • Underwear. ...
  • Warm Clothing. ...
  • Toiletries. ...
  • Glasses, Contacts and Solution. ...
  • Your Phone Chargers and Power Cords. ...
  • Your Prescription Medications. ...
  • Your Swimsuit. ...
  • An Umbrella & Ziplock Bags.

What do most people forget when packing? ›

10 Essential Things People Always Forget to Pack
  • Phone charger… This is first on the list for a reason — because it's SO easy to forget! ...
  • 2. … and laptop charger. ...
  • Laptop. ...
  • Luggage tags and locks. ...
  • First-aid kit. ...
  • Prescription medication. ...
  • Glasses and contact lenses. ...
  • Umbrella and raincoat.
29 Jun 2022

What should I do the night before vacation? ›

Read on to see how you can prepare the night before vacation.
  • Do a final run through your checklist. ...
  • Check wallet for credit cards + cash. ...
  • Check for IDs/Passports (updated and valid). ...
  • Lay out anything you'll be using the next day. ...
  • Charge your electronics. ...
  • Double-check your itinerary. ...
  • Do a home check.
20 Aug 2019

What size backpack do I need for 3 months? ›

I would suggest you bring a bag between 50-65L, which I found is the best size for me. I loved my 60L backpack because it was big enough to fit all my stuff in it, and there was always extra space. It wasn't too big to be uncomfortable or impractical to carry.

What size backpack do I need for 2 months? ›

As a rule of thumb, 25-30 liter backpacks are best for shorter weekend trips, while 30-45 liter backpacks are best for longer trips or long-term travel.

What should I pack for 10 days in Europe? ›

A general rule of thumb for deciding how much to pack for 10 days is: undergarments and socks for each day, no more than three pairs of shoes (including the ones worn onto the plane), one bottom for every two or three days of the trip, six tops, one jacket or sweater, one dressy outfit, and then some well-chosen extras ...

How do you pack shoes in a backpack? ›

Unlike a suitcase, shoes should not be the bottom layer in your backpack. Put lighter clothing items at the bottom, and then make your shoes the middle layer. Aim to keep the shoes as close to the back of the bag as possible. This will help evenly distribute the weight and make carrying the backpack less of a burden.

How do you roll clothes for luggage? ›

How to Roll Clothing for Packing : Smart Packing & Travel Tips

How do you fold clothes for carry on? ›

Bundle Packing For Wrinkle Free Clothes | Carry-On | NBC News

What are 2 clothing materials you want to have while camping? ›

During the day, you'll want to stick to natural fabrics like cotton and linen. These fabrics are lightweight and also absorb sweat and don't heat up when the temperatures do. Polyester is also a good choice, particularly cotton-polyester blends.

Where do you put heavy items in a backpack? ›

Backpacking Tip:

For maximum stability, load your backpack so the heaviest equipment is next to your back and centered in the pack. Medium-weight gear should be carried toward the top and outside portion of the pack and lightweight gear, like your sleeping bag, should be packed in the bottom.

What should you not do when traveling? ›

24 Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  1. Having an over-ambitious itinerary. ...
  2. Overpacking. ...
  3. Blindly trusting the first directions you get from a local. ...
  4. Relying totally on Guide Books. ...
  5. Forgetting the budget and running out of money. ...
  6. Not backing up pictures and losing them due to a stolen camera or virus.
18 Oct 2022

How do I get better at packing? ›

How to Pack: Tips from the Experts on Maximizing Space
  1. Use the right suitcase for the occasion. ...
  2. Take the weight off of you. ...
  3. Make a list and check it twice. ...
  4. Find your own formula. ...
  5. Consider clothing material and colors. ...
  6. Less is more. ...
  7. Organize your clothes vertically and tightly. ...
  8. Categorize your contents.
18 Aug 2021

How can I make the most of Travelling? ›

10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Travel
  2. DRESS THE PART. ...
  4. CATCH A LIVE PERFORMANCE or festival, outside of the tourist zones. ...
  6. And while you're there? ...
14 May 2015

Do medications need to be in original container when flying 2022? ›

Traveling with Medication. Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply.

Why do you have to remove your laptop at airport security? ›

The rule allows screeners to get an unimpeded look at each computer, which might help them discern whether it contains hidden explosives. And removing a laptop also makes it easier for screeners to see whatever else is in the bag. Computers can be large and dense enough to conceal parts of a suitcase in an X-ray image.

Do you have to take out your laptop charger at the airport? ›

Chargers and cables for electronic devices don't need to be removed from your carry-on when going through airport security. That said, they do clutter the x-ray images a lot, so unless you've packed just a few chargers in there, the TSA agents might ask you to remove them from the bag and place them in a separate bin.

What's not allowed on a plane? ›

Chlorine, bleach, fertilizers, spray paint cannot be transported. Fireworks, Christmas crackers and flares are not permitted. Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof, such as grain alcohol, are not allowed on board or in the cargo hold.

Do you take socks off at airport? ›

Are you required to remove your socks at the airport? No you are not. The regular security lanes require most types of shoes to be removed and put through the scanner. Some types of security have things like “TSA Precheck” and for that you don't usually have to even remove your footwear…

What do you need for backpacking through Europe? ›

18 Must-Have Backpacking Europe Essentials
  1. Packing Cubes.
  2. Universal Plug Adapter.
  3. Power Bank.
  4. Travel Insurance.
  5. Kindle E-Reader.
  6. Smartphone.
  7. International SIM Card.
  8. Noise Cancelling Headphones.
17 Jan 2022

How do you pack a 40l backpack for camping? ›

How to pack for an overnight in a 40L pack - YouTube

What size backpack do I need for 3 months? ›

I would suggest you bring a bag between 50-65L, which I found is the best size for me. I loved my 60L backpack because it was big enough to fit all my stuff in it, and there was always extra space. It wasn't too big to be uncomfortable or impractical to carry.

What is the best hiking food? ›

3. For a Hike or Day Trip...
  • Trail mix.
  • Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs.
  • Fresh, whole fruit that doesn't require refrigeration such as apples, bananas and oranges.
  • Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies.
  • Energy bars, chews or gels.
  • Granola or granola bars.
  • Ready-made tuna salad pouches.
  • Whole-grain tortillas.
5 Jul 2022

Do you bring a change of clothes backpacking? ›

Most hikers replace their sweaty shirt, pants, or shorts with cleaner, warmer clothes when they arrive at each night's campsite. You can also change into new socks and underwear at this time—although some people wait until taking a trail shower or heading to bed.

What should I pack for 10 days in Europe? ›

A general rule of thumb for deciding how much to pack for 10 days is: undergarments and socks for each day, no more than three pairs of shoes (including the ones worn onto the plane), one bottom for every two or three days of the trip, six tops, one jacket or sweater, one dressy outfit, and then some well-chosen extras ...

How do I pack for 5 weeks in Europe? ›


What should I pack for 30 days in Europe? ›

  • Small backpack to use as day bag.
  • Camera.
  • Phone (pro tip: bring an old one just in case)
  • Laptop or iPad (optional)
  • Book or e-reader (optional)
  • Chargers – phone, laptop, camera, razor (if it plugs in, it needs a charger)
  • Adapters – a universal one will come in handy if you travel a lot.
5 Jun 2017

How do you roll clothes for luggage? ›

How to Roll Clothing for Packing : Smart Packing & Travel Tips

How do you pack very light? ›

The Art Of Packing Light: 21 Useful Tips To Travel Light
  1. Use a carry-on size bag.
  2. Weight your bag!
  3. Stick to a packing list.
  4. Bring items you can mix and match.
  5. Don't pack all your shoes.
  6. Wear bulky and heavy items.
  7. Don't pack clothes “just in case”
  8. Use tech gear.
19 Apr 2021

Which bag is best for Travelling? ›

  • Aristocrat Baleno Blue Softsided Trolleys. ...
  • POLO CLUB - USA 600 D Nylon Fabric Soft Luggage Suitcase. ...
  • 3G Atlantis Smart Series ABS 4 Wheel Hard Sided Luggage. ...
  • Skybags Mint Turquoise Polycarbonate Hardsided Luggage Set. ...
  • Urban Forest Check-in Trolley Luggage Set. ...
  • AmazonBasics Set of 3 (55 cm + 68 cm + 78 cm) Hardsided Trolley.
30 Sept 2022

What is the biggest backpack you can carry-on an airplane? ›

Most airlines allow bags up to 45 linear inches (length + width + depth) or 22" long, 14" wide, and 9" deep. To prevent problems at the airport, your bag should be no larger than these dimensions.

Is a 50L backpack too big for carry-on? ›

Bags larger than 45L cannot be carried on. If you see a 50L backpack marketed as a carry on, double-check the dimensions. It's probably too big to technically qualify as a carry on. Most airlines won't measure your bag or look too closely at it if it's close to the limits.


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