Seven items you shouldn’t go backpacking without

  • Passport – check.
  • Cash – check.
  • Credit & debit cards – check, check.
  • Visas – check.
  • Travel insurance – check.

Now that the essentials are covered, it’s time to start thinking about what to pack. It’s so easy to over pack for your trip, but trust me, the last thing you want is to end up traipsing around the world with 30kg of crap strapped to your back! Travelling light is your new BFF, so follow our guide and stick to the essentials!

  1. A sturdy backpack & day pack

If you’re going on a long trip, a sturdy backpack is essential. When choosing your backpack, remember to shop around – you don’t want to spend a fortune. The key things to look for in a high-quality backpack are:

  • Water resistant material – the weather will be as unpredictable as your itinerary!
  • Compartments – This will make organising your belongings much easier.
  • Lockable zippers – Unfortunately, hostels are often home to thief’s, so be smart about protecting your possessions.
  • Size – Make sure your backpack is in proportion to your body. Between 40 and 80 litres will work for most travellers.

As well as a large backpack, you’ll want a smaller day pack, to take out on excursions. Some backpacks will come fitted with a detachable daypack, but if not, you can pick one up for cheap on websites like ASOS.

  1. Sun Protection

Sunburn can ruin your vacation, and so a high factor sun cream is essential (30 minimum!). Choose a water-resistant formula, so you don’t have to constantly reapply on beach days. A cap or sunhat is also a great idea to save scorching your scalp. A Vissla Cap is a stylish and practical addition to your packing list. Be safe in the sun, often you won’t realise how severe sunburn is until you’re indoors, so be sure to seek shade when available and keep hydrated with plenty of water throughout the day.

  1. A quick-dry towel

If you’re travelling in hot climates, a quick-dry towel is a life-saver. You’ll be sweating a lot, so you’ll probably be showering, a lot. Unless you want to dry yourself with a moist fluffy towel, micro-fibre is the way to go.  Not only are micro-fibre towels quick drying, light weight and compact for packing, they also have anti-bacterial protection, to prevent odours and mould. Brands like Dock and Bay have stand-out designs and are super practical!

  1. A first aid kit

This is one of those things that I hope you won’t need, but it’s essential to be prepared. A basic first aid kit should contain:

  • antiseptic
  • painkillers
  • sterile dressings
  • bandage tape
  • plasters
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • antihistamines
  • sunburn treatment
  • insect repellent
  • insect bite treatment
  • medication for pre-existing medical conditions

It’s also important to note that when visiting some countries, you might need vaccinations before you depart. Things like Typhoid, Hep A and malaria tablets are readily available via the health service; however, Yellow Fever and Rabies may incur a large fee. You should make an appointment with your nurse a couple of months before your trip to discuss immunisations.

  1. The right clothes

Check the weather before you go and pack accordingly. If you are travelling for more than the usual 2 weeks, remember you can easily do laundry on the road. If you are visiting South East Asia, it’s advisable to under pack. There are tonnes of clothes stalls, selling cute rompers and lightweight dresses for ridiculously low prices, you’ll definitely want to do some shopping when you’re there!

One thing you should get in advance is a comfortable pair of walking shoes or trainers and some slip on/off sliders, for beach destinations. If you have big feet, you’ll struggle to pick up shoes in your sizes in Asia, they typically only cater to little feet.

Regardless of your destination, its sensible to bring a warmer jumper or a hoodie, as well as lightweight rain coat. You never know when the weather is going to take a turn for the worst. Also, pro tip! A thick jumper can double as a pillow when travelling.

  1. A universal plug adaptor

Especially important if you’ll be visiting multiple countries, a universal plug adaptor will ensure you can recharge your electronics anywhere in the world. Even if you are just visiting one country, a universal adaptor is handy for future trips so you can rest assured that you’ll be prepared. Another great tip is to take an extension cable. This will allow you to use multiple electronics with only one adaptor. Oh, and hostel pug sockets are usually far and few between, so you’ll make lots of friends if you’re well equipped!

  1. Electronics

Expensive equipment can make you a target for thief’s, so think strategically about what electronics you choose to pack. Do you really need an IPad and an IPhone? Are you a pro-photographer? If not, do you really need to take a professional camera? Are you going to be working on your travels? No? Then is your laptop necessary? You get the idea…

About Emily

Emily Luxton is an award-winning travel blogger and writer with a special love for South America - her favourite continent and second home. A lover of slow, deep travel and really interacting with new cultures, she travels as often as possible on the hunt for new adventures.


  1. in south america, at altitude, really, you need a good amount of sun cream i think thats almost the most important. Hat!

  2. Backpacking is a great travel experience and these tips are really practical and useful. These items are so crucial! Thanks!

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