There are a million and one packing lists out there for RTW backpacking trips, this is mine, and I hope (fingers crossed) that I’m taking the right things and that I can break it down in an easy fashion so as to help you. Here it goes.
Countries visited: India, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Bali, Borneo
Weather: Mostly hot, some cold nights
Length of trip: 3-5 months
Type of travel: Budget (hostels, sleeper trains and street food)
NOTE: I’ve included some quick-buy links to some products to make them easy to shop. Some, but not all are affiliate links from which I make a tiny commission, this is at no extra charge to you. Please email me with any packing-related questions too.
I chose one based on price to be honest, I didn’t want to spend hundreds of pounds and I don’t think you need to. I bought a Karrimor backpack from Amazon for £53 and it had great reviews. Hopefully it will be in a locker most of the time. I chose a 65l size, the largest size recommended for my height. I also decided to select a bright colour so it’s easy to spot on luggage carousels or on transport.
TIP: Tie a brightly coloured ribbon or scarf around your backpack to identify it easily.
I know there are some backpacking evangelists who live by the ‘rule of three’, wear one, wash one, dry one. Well… just, no. Not for me. I’ll be taking a few more garments. I don’t want to wash pants every three days, how boring. I also hope to still be tres chic on my travels, bikinis and girly tops are TINY so I’m taking a few, I can always dump them; anyway here is the list:
- Knickers x 10
- Socks x 3
- Leggings (black)
- Sporty leggings
- Baggy trousers x 2
- Maxi skirt
- Crop tops x 4
- Vests x 2
- T shirts x 3
- Dresses x 3
- Bikinis x 5
TIP: All your clothing should fit into a regular sized tote bag. Pack a bikini and some spare underwear in your hand luggage in case your bag gets lost.
Here the rule of three comes into play, shoes are bulky. I’ve chosen some comfy trainers, failsafe Birkenstocks and Teva sandals in lieu of flip flops (I hate flip flops), Tevas fasten at the ankle so I won’t lose them. All my shoes are in neutral colours and of good quality – hopefully they’ll last the trip.
TIP: Buy good quality footwear as you’ll be wearing it more often than you would at home. Buy cheap, buy twice.
It’s a new dawn, travellers are well-connected now and most backpackers will have some technological kit. I plan to blog and work from my laptop. My phone will not have a sim but I’ll use the camera and download music to it from Spotify. The Kindle (Kindle, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi (White) – Includes Special Offers) is obviously ESSENTIAL, I read like a beast and with so many flights, trains and buses it will be a godsend. The dry bags are great to protect your tech on boats etc.
- Phone & charger
- Camera & charger
- Laptop & sleeve & charger
- Kindle & charger
- Universal adapter
- Portable charger
- Bluetooth speaker
- Selfie stick
- Memory cards x 3
- Dry bags
TIP: Carry your expensive tech in your hand luggage for peace of mind.
There’s a lot of admin involved in travel; tickets, visas, insurance documents. Before you go, scan them all into your computer and email copies to yourself and a trusted friend (or your mum). Also print off a copy of your passport and other important documents. Take some passport photos with your for visas. US dollars are useful currency wherever you are. Also take various cards so you have a back up when you need cash. Take your time on this part – check, check and check again. You may need a rough itinerary, maps or other info, paper doesn’t take up much space so pack anything useful. Business cards are great to give to fellow travellers or new friends to keep in touch.
- Notebook & diary
- Business cards
- Plane tickets
- Copies of documentation
- Currency (of your first destination)
- Emergency $100 – $200 USD
- Bank card, Credit card, Cash card
TIP: Don’t leave all this to the last minute, especially when printing important documents out. This is usually when a printer will decide to break!
Essential as any other items and small so don’t forget to accessorise! A backpack for day to day use (hands free is the best). Cotton tote bags have a million uses and fold up small. A bumbag and a small crossbody bag will see you right for a number of occasions. Jewellery will help switch up your look and for the love of Cher, take a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Tote bag x 2
- Small crossbody bag
- Shotters bag (this is what I call a bumbag/fannypack)
- Earrings/hoop earrings/rings/bracelets
- Statement necklaces
TIP: Take costume jewellery with you but leave the valuables of irreplaceable items at home. Roll necklaces in a scarf to stop them getting tangled.
Tried to spell that sans autocorrect… failed. Oh well, the misc section is very important. A microfibre towel is small and dries quickly. Headphones for music and blocking out sound. I’m taking one set in my hand luggage and one small set in my pack just in case. A sleep mask and ear plugs will help you catch 40 winks as will a travel pillow, use your scarf as a blanket and you have a bed anywhere! I’m taking 4 sunglasses because I love and lose them in equal measure. A head torch, I’m told is essential to shed light and keep your hands free. I’m taking ONE book to read and then swap and so on, so I should always have one single physical book on my for when the Kindle is out of action.
- Microfibre towel
- Headphones x 2
- 1 x book
- Dry bags
- Sleep mask
- Travel pillow
- Sleep sheet
- Ear plugs
- Head torch
- Sunglasses x 4
- Packing cubes
- Plastic bags
- Ziplock bags
TIP: Check eBay and Amazon for many of these items, you can find things like sleep masks and earbuds for as little as £1.
So that’s it – I’m saving the cosmetics and makeup for another article because as a woman… well, they need a full post devoting to them. It takes a village to groom a girl, seriously!
Anyway, what do you think of my packing list, any revisions or additions you’d make? What’s in your backpack?