Packing for a travel trip is a learning process. You will learn to adjust your travel packing list based on what you need and don’t need based on your travel style. It is not uncommon for travelers to overpack as we often think we want to be prepared for all sorts of scenarios.
There is a saying that when you are packing “Gather the items you think you need, and eliminate half of them”.
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What to consider when packing for a trip?
When deciding what to pack for a trip, there are a few important questions to consider first.
- What climate are you going to be in mostly? Will it be warm summer or cold winter?
- What activities are you going to be doing? (e.g. Are you mainly trekking and in nature or going to cities and parties?)
- How long are you staying in a place? (e.g. Are you going to move regularly or stay for weeks to months in a location?)
- What are items that you need are not easily found elsewhere? (e.g. medications, self care products)
- What are items that you need and are very expensive at your destination (e.g. Electronics are expensive in most parts of Latin America, Apple products are crazy expensive)
These are helpful questions to ask yourself when choosing what to take and what to omit. Some things can be bought at the destination when needed, and sometimes it might be better to rent than bring. If you are only anticipating one multiday hike, you might not want to carry your camping gear throughout a whole month of travel. Renting might be a better option.
Packing for long term travel
I pack for long term travel which can cover multiple destinations, climates and activities. As such, I like to prioritise versatility and layering. I like things that are functional for multiple occasions and climates. You will also notice that I prefer things that dry fast.
Here are some essential things to pack for travelling that I have found useful or are going to add to my travel pack. I’m not big on brands for most things (unless specifically mentioned) as I get most items wherever on my travels whenever I need them.
Travel Essentials Packing List
Regardless where you go and what you do, these are items that should be relevant to any trip.
Packing Cubes: This is a game changer for packing. It makes organisation so much easier and you can easily grab the right stuff when digging around in the dark during camping or when arriving in a dorm room past bedtime. This is something I swear by.
QuickDry Microfibre Towel: Microfibre towels are great for traveling because they dry quicker and can often be compressed into a compact roll.
Stainless Steel Thermal Bottle: A bottle is always necessary to fill it before flights or hikes. I used to carry one of those reusable plastic bottle. It worked fine but once I swapped to a thermal bottle that maintains temperature for both hot and cold liquid, I don’t think I can ever go back.
Power bank: My mobile phone is arguably my most important travel tool, serving as a camera, map, information source and more. I like to make sure I always have a power bank for extra juice in the long day out.
Toiletries Bag: Great for organising your toiletries, find a size that suits your needs. Get one that has high water resistance and with hook. It is useful when that hostel bathroom has no great shelves.
Travel Power Adaptor: This is necessary whenever you are traveling international. I recommend getting ones with multiple USB slots. There are simply not enough power sockets these days with everyone owning multiple devices. Having extra USB slots means you can share a power socket with others, which also makes for a great conversation starter.
Backpack Transport Cover: If you are traveling with a backpack, a transport cover protects the backpack. I use one from Decathalon, it can be compressed when not in use and you can also lock up the zips. It can also be used as a separate bag if necessary. I use it as a bag for storing some luggage in hostel when I use my main backpack for multi-day hikes.
Travel Clothes Packing List
I am not a big travel fashionista but I try to make sure I don’t look too shabby. Otherwise, my priority is always on function and versatility of the clothes. I carry more than these, but here are some very useful items.
Compact Hooded Parka: I am a fan of compact jackets that can be compressed into a small pack for easy packing. They are also comfy to wear. A hooded one is always more useful in case you don’t have earmuffs or beanies to cover the ears. This is usually my most outer layer (apart from a waterproof cover if needed) in cold weather.
Quick dry Undergarments: Undergarments is something I try to wash everyday during travel. Quick dry ones are really convenient because then I can always do a quick wash during shower and they dry much quicker. The Uniqlo ones with their Airism tech are great. Alternative would be to get some dri-fit ones.
Dri-fit T-shirts: Dri-fit tees are the most convenient and versatile wear you can bring along. Hiking and working out are some of the most common activities I do when traveling so they are super functional. I generally go with decent sports brand (The puma ones I have are great) or if I see a design that I like and the material is good.
Hiking Pants: I like to go with adjustable pants like these ones whenever I am out on hikes and in nature. I can easily switch between long and short leg covers, depending on the situation. They are also my usual travel pants when I am changing destination with all my luggage, because of the amount of pockets they have. You can easily use these are your default shorts as well.
Sports Jacket: My default go-to for extra cover on colder weather or the need for more decent wear. Great for city and outdoors alike. Sports jacket are good because the material is comfy and dries quicker than pure cotton. It is also not too warm and can be used whenever you need something slightly more formal than a t-shirt. In winter, this is my layer below the parka.
Socks: I like to bring socks with a couple of different thickness level to cater for different occasions. Generally, sports socks is the most versatile for all activities.
Hiking Shoes: If you plan to do outdoors stuff, hiking shoes are really functional. I like the Salomon and low-cut ones because the designs are better looking in my opinion. You can wear it in the city and it still doesn’t look too weird.
Slippers/Sandals: A pair of comfy and airy wear is always needed for the beach or just simply walking around. Havaianas always have multiple design options and pretty durable.
Sneakers/Sports Shoes: To reduce the amount of shoes to carry, I like sports shoes that are simple in design so they can usually make the cut for slightly more formal locations. I tend to go for established sports brand like Nike, Adidas, Puma for quality.
Remote Work Tools
It doesn’t matter if you are a regular traveler, content creator or digital nomad, electronic gears are now a significant part of travel.
Macbook: I use the Macbook Pro because it suits my needs and its great. However, do note that Apple products might be harder or more expensive to repair or replace in some parts of the world.
OMNI Charge Power Bank: For nomads working on the road and want a portable battery for the laptop. Do note that some airlines have specific limitations on the charge of power banks for carry-on, so the super high power option is not flight friendly.
Portable Screen: The ASUS MB169+ is light and big enough to serve as an additional separate screen. You need a USB to USB-C adaptor if you are using the newer Macbook models. There is also a Zenscreen Model which connects with USB-C directly.
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse: These are used in pairing with the laptop stands. In essence, your laptop now functions mainly as a screen and you will be navigating with the wireless keyboard and mouse. This takes some getting used to if you are used to the Macbook Trackpad, but you can also get wireless trackpad or keyboard with trackpad as well.
Earphones: I always carry along wired earphones because you don’t have to deal with any battery issues. Love these JBL ones that are cheap with good noise blockout and sound quality. And I also have wireless earbuds for working out and podcasting.
Mobile Internet/Hotspot Device: If you are going to be relying on hotspot regularly from mobile internet, it is advisable to use a hotspot device rather than your phone. Huawei has a lot of affordable and good options. Skyroam is another company that provides both the device and internet plans you can purchase online. (There is a 10% discount with code ‘NOMADS’)
Travel Electronics and Camera Gear
Waterproof Action Camera: A versatile wide angle action camera is always helpful. I usually use my GoPro as a clip on video cam.
DJI Drone: Drones provides a different perspective of the landscape and can bring some really awesome shots. I used to carry a Spark but will really be looking at the DJI Mini 2 next. If you have more baggage space and like to fly in more harsh environments, the Mavic series would be a better option.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to safety when traveling.
Portable Travel Lock: Locks are useful for many scenarios when traveling. I use it for my checked baggage, when I am in hostels and sometimes at gyms where you have to bring your own lock. I carry 2-3 locks around in different places.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is the kind of thing that you need to get but hope not to have to use. My room got broken into in Peru and I lost a bulk of my valuables. Travel insurance helped to offset some of the losses. WorldNomads and SafetyWing are two common companies that are used by nomads. WorldNomads are more for travel insurance, while SafetyWing has a health insurance angle as well. Both are convenient to purchase online at any point in your travels.
Cloud Storage: This is important for backing up all your data (i.e. your travel photos, videos and documents). If I did not back up all my data, all my photos and videos from my travels would have been lost, as my physical hard disk was also stolen. I use Dropbox for this.
Virtual Private Network (VPN): Digital security is getting more and more important. For nomads looking to work and access important data online, having a VPN is a good choice to protect yourself. It is also good for accessing websites (e.g. Netflix, Hulu etc) where they might be blocked in other countries.
Money Belt: Money belt is another good storage spot to keep some of your valuables off the line of sight. Some travelers have it on all the time, I usually use it when going to crowded spots where pickpocketing is common.
Personal Medications: If you have any specific medications that you need to take regularly, make sure you check if they can be found at your travel destinations. Always ensure you have a supply of it.
Travel packing list can be a very personal subject depending on your travel style and what activities you intend to do. You are bound to know yourself better the more you travel. Try not to overpack and always remember that most items can usually be bought at the destination.