Just a note before I get into details: Everyone is different so the list and preferences may vary depending on your attitude/personality. What I noticed is that the “must have items” are the same for every traveler.
CLOTHES Tips on clothes: Taste is obviously personal but I strongly suggest you to buy resistant, transpiring and durable items. Especially when it comes to Jackets and shirts. Also, when packing them, I’m a fan of the “rolling method”, the clothes don’t get wrinkly and take less space and less time to fold them. Tank Tops T-Shirts Long Sleeve Shirt Short Sleeve Shirt Sarong Long Gym Pants Knee Lenght Leggins Shorts Straight Jeans Waterproof Jacket Sporty Bra/Underwear Summer Dress Microfiber Towel Bikinis Trainers / Flip Flops
Waterproof Jacket: If there is ONE life saver, this is IT. Invaluable when they try to kill you with the A/C on buses and trains. I always keep it in the external pocket of my day backpack. And I didn’t even want to buy it, now I love it. Sarong: The most versatile item I have in my backpack. I use it for everything. As a head cover, scarf, beach towel, beach dress, bed sheet, stole, long skirt (the list could go on forever). I even used to create a “tent” on a bus ride to separate my seat from the others for more privacy. Jeans: People either love them or hate them. They are heavy and take space in your backpack. My Opinion? I love them and I used them to feel less of a tourist, to walk around the city, to get a better protection for the motorbike and much more. Sundress: I would die if I didn’t have this!! I can use it for the day and for the evenings with a nice belt and a necklace to look pretty. I now have 3 of them in different colors, so that I always have one clean!
TOILETRIES/BEAUTY Note: I envy guys that can just pack a small beauty case with just soap and shampoo. Not me. I’m a beauty freak, and even on the road, I need to bring some unusual beauty items with me. My skin and hair are far from being perfect, and I don’t really want to look like a witch all the time. If you have beautiful features, skin, and hair, or you simply don’t give a damn, well you can probably skip this section.You Lucky girl! If you are a woman, you know what I mean. Even as a hardcore travelers, we still need to feel good about ourselves and there is nothing wrong with that! If you want to know more, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter here! Below is a list of my Beauty Essentials! Hair Straightener Contact Lenses/Glasses Shampoo/Soap/Toothpaste Tinted Sunscreen Total Block Basic Make Up Anti Humidity Hair Spray Mask For Impure Skin Anti Acne Cream Scissors/Tweezers
PRACTICAL ITEMS Travel Toiletries Bag: I have 2, a small one for the emergencies to put toilet paper, tissues, painkillers, soap, hand sanitizer, and a few makeup items.
Small Microfiber Towel: Necessary for train trips, or when the hotel don’t provide them. They dry quickly and are super light taking zero space in your backpack.
Pocket notepad with pencil: Don’t forget the pen! It’s annoying to always ask for one when filling the visa papers on the plane, or to collect addresses, sketch something to communicate with the locals..
Pocket Size Umbrella: Small, light and it fit everywhere. Not only for the rain. I also use it for the burning sun during the hottest hours of the day.
Waterproof Bag: It was a last minute purchase, but so glad I bought it! I just remember my relief on the boat to Phi Phi Island. Everything was wet and I had my DSLR with me (inside the bag obviously) It saved my day and so much money! Always take it with you during boat trips and kayaking.
Sunglasses : Make sure you buy good quality ones, to protect your eyes from the sun damage. They are a good investment in the long run. Make sure to take good care of them!
Deet: It kills EVERYTHING and probably saved me in Cambodia where mosquitos were eating me alive day and night. There are different strengths, 50 and 100%. They also sell mosquito repellents in loco but they are not as strong as Deet.
Medicine Travel Bag : You might want to carry less than me, but at least a first aid kit and a few painkillers are necessary, even for the bravest of you. Don’t forget to bring with you any special prescription as in some countries they might not sell the medicine without it.
Travel Sewing Kit :Very useful to last-minute repairs, fixing clothes and holes in your socks and worn out underwear you don’t want to throw away, I used it to stick the flags patches on my backpack!
Padlock :This is a life saver. I strongly suggest you buy more than one and different sizes. Good to close the backpacks during night buses/train rides, to close doors and safety boxes in the hostels
Waterproof documents Bag: The waterproof bag is necessary to protect your documents and the electronic. There are different sizes so you can choose the best one for your items. Advice: test them on your sink before leaving, to be 100% sure they are reliable!
Sleeping Bag Liner :I used it in hostels where not clean, to avoid insects and bed bugs but also during long night trips on buses and trains to feel more comfortable. I prefer the silk version, but the cotton one is cheaper. They are both very light and take no space on the backpack.
Buff Scarf: Multi-purpose headband/scarf/snood. I love it so much that I bought 2 in different colors. It comes with the instructions to use it as a bandana, head hat, to cover your mouth and so much more!
Head torch : Very useful in so many occasions! Sometimes you will find yourself in hostels with the bathroom outside, or maybe deserted islands (we used it in Carabao, where the lights were switched off at 11 pm in the island). Or if you are in very dark roads, inside the forest or along the beach. There are many versions, smaller, only torches with no head application. Whatever you use, it’s always handy to have one with you.
Mosquito Net : Depending on your travel style it might be very useful, especially in Asia in Malaria red areas to have extra protection against the bites. Some people also spray a chemical agent on the net, and some of the mosquito nets are already impregnated with it. They are usually fully equipped to be hanged on the roof or the wall.
Waterproof Backpack Cover : Totally necessary during the monsoon season in Asia, or just to cover your backpack before the check-in at the airport. Make sure you choose the right size for your backpack, as it needs to fit perfectly. My model has elastic straps to adjust and seal the cover very well.
Documents: This might be obvious but I put it in the list anyway. Passport, debit-credit cards, driving license, scuba diving license, international driving license, vaccination list, small wallet for coins, 30 passport size pictures for the visas application forms. I always put them in folders to avoid losing them.