Pack to Backpack

Backpacking around the world!

Backpacking essentials checklist. What to pack when traveling

One more week until your backpacking trip and you think you forgot something?

Here is a list of the most important things you should pack on your first backpacking trip.


Probably the most important thing to have when sleeping in a hostel. People wake up early, some come back very late, others do all kind of noises in bed or the club next door is just too loud. Keep them in your pyjama’s pocket and don’t lose them when you do laundry. I am very happy with this Laser Lite earplugs.


Insect repellent

If your blood type is 0+ or you are just the kind of person that attracts mosquitoes, always keep with you some insect repellent spray. Mosquito bites are the most annoying thing. They become itchy, you scratch it and then it gets infected. Also, let’s not forget mosquitoes carry all kind of diseases, from dengue, malaria, typhoid fever to yellow fever.

Unlocked phone

If you are backpacking for a few months, you probably don’t want to use your sim card in roaming. Having an unlocked phone allows you to buy cheap local sim cards with data and use your phone everywhere. Don’t forget to install some useful travel apps.

Battery pack

One thing that you probably need even if you are not travelling. Phone batteries nowadays don’t last long and the last thing you want when you arrive in a new place after an 8h bus ride is to run out of battery. Something like this one will do just fine. Keep it in you daypack and don’t forget to charge it!

Inflatable pillow

Overnight bus rides, long flights or those few hours at the beach will be much more comfortable with a small inflatable pillow. It doesn’t take much space, it’s light and highly appreciated on those bumpy bus rides.

Comfortable flip-flops or sandals

If you can not walk 8h, run, play football or dance in your flip-flops, then they are not good enough. They might get stolen at the temple or at the hostel so don’t spend a lot of money on branded ones. In my trip to SE Asia I used my trainers only when I was taking a plane, so what you wear all day is flip-flops or sandals.

Easy to dry towel

If the hostel doesn’t provide free towels and the 1$ they ask for one feels like a rip off, then you need your own towel. The easy to dry ones are the best option since they are light and don’t take much space.

Charger hub

Phone, tablet, camera, battery pack… all have to be charged at night. If you only have one socket by your bed an usb charger hub will give you a way to charge all your devices at the same time.

Big scarf

A big scarf is one thing that can be used in so many ways. Sit on it at the beach, cover your legs in the bus if the AC is too strong, make a turban out of it or use it as a bag to carry your laundry.

A small knife

… and ninja stars. You never know when a monkey attacks you. You can also use it to peel mango fruits bought directly from the market for half price. Mango was my snack in Vietnam. I always carried 2-3 fruits with me and I used a cutter knife to peel the skin off.

Sickness pills

Paracetamol for hangovers, ibuprofen for back pain and imodium for shitty days. My travel doctor also prescribed me some generic antibiotics, but if you feel your condition is serious, just consult a doctor.

Spare battery for your camera

If you spend one day in Ankor Wat taking photos and videos, you might run out of battery. I always keep a spare (charged) battery in my camera case and saved my day so many times. I have the kind of camera that goes from 90% full to 10% full instantly and then it dies.

Medical ID bracelet

If you are bad at remembering phone numbers and you (or someone else) need to call your family in an emergency, then a personal ID band can be useful. You can write on it phone numbers, any known allergies and an URL with extra information. I got mine from OnelifeID.

Passport copy and a list of useful phone numbers

A small piece of paper with the embassy address and phone number for the countries you visit can be very useful. Also add in there the insurance policy number and and the emergency phone number provided.


One thing locals usually don’t use in Asia or South America, which means it’s an expensive product. 50+ factor recommended.

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