In preparation of packing away all your worldy goods and setting aside items to pack for your trip, panic sets in. You start to frantically glance around your home. “How on earth did I ever accumulate so much crap and which bits should I take with me?!”
What you take or should I say how much you take is the most crucial decision you will have to make. Think of it this way, your backpack will be your new home so it’s important you have all the necessities to keep you clean, healthy, entertained and clothed. Once you have covered all these bases just ask yourself “is there really any need for much else?” Do you really want to be carrying your ten ton home around the world stacked on your back? Me thinks not!
I made the same mistake as a young naive first time traveller. At 18 years old I was ready to fly the nest and see a bit of the world. I spent a number of months wandering Europe having the time of my life…only this experience was hindered by the 90L monster that had latched itself to my back! When I arrived home, rather than looking worldly and wise, it looked more like the hunchback of Notre Dame and I had switched places during my time in Paris.
With this in mind, having totted up a bit more experience and knowledge over the years, I have opted for just 40L. This is the perfect size! It prevents you from over packing those things that you have been umming and ahing about so you just stick to the essential items.
Here is my personal packing list for my round the world trip. Yours will surely be different but I hope this guide can aid you in your decisions.
I was pretty decisive when it came to my purchase. I had a list of requirements already set in mind. It had to be front loading, between 40 to 50L, a reputable brand and no more then £100. Pretty simple! I did a little research online but I like to see, feel and have a play with the real thing before making any commitments so I veered away from buying on the net.
The first place we visited was our local Go Outdoors store. There we found quite a selection but one stood out for me straight away…Osprey! I love the brand, already owning an Osprey Flare 22L for day to day use. I knew they were fab quality and made to last.
The backpack of my dreams stood before me in all its gleaming glory! It met all my requirements down to a tee. It was 40L (just enough space and light to carry), front loading (as you don’t want to be dragging everything out of your pack to find that one thing you need hiding at the bottom), a reputable brand and only £72. Perfect!
So I snapped up the Osprey Farpoint 40L backpack straight away and have never looked back since. Full review of the backpack to follow soon.
In hindsight I would have probably packed a very limited amount or next to nothing bar the essentials (pants, bras, the clothes on your back etc). You will probably end up buying the fabulous attire that is widely available at extremely cheap prices when you arrive anyway. If India is one your first stops like us, I mean dirt cheap!
Unfortunately Captain hindsight always arrives a little too late. Never mind. Here is a list I carry with me now and then a list of what I have liberated my self of since the start.
- 4 pairs of pants – Nylon, rayon and polyester. Absorbent, durable and fast drying. Don’t use cotton!
- 2 sports bras – Moisture wicking. Great for hot and humid climates.
- 2 bikinis
- 2 spanx – You may wonder why in the hell anyone would want to wear spanx in crazy hot climates. I’ll tell you…chub rub! My inner thighs rub and sweat leaving them very sore! This is the best solution I have found to combat this problem. Talc doesn’t work for me and the fabrics I have chosen are great at wicking away moisture so it’s no problem in the heat. Please let me know if you have any alternatives. I would love to know!
- 2 pairs of socks – Get decent walking socks that aren’t too thick.
- 3 tunic vests – Staples that I wear nearly every day.
- 2 camisoles – Still good for day to day use but a little dressier if the occasion is called upon.
- 2 t-shirts
- 1 crag hoppers high moisture wicking, mosquito repellent shirt
- 1 long sleeve base layer
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 craghoppers zip off at the knee trousers
- 1 pair of leggings – Great for dressing up or down and cool in hot climates. Can also use as a base layer for cooler climates.
- 2 alibaba pants – Bought them along the way through India in replace of a pair of heavy trousers and skirt I left behind in the first week.
- 1 scarf – Bought in Dehli.
- 1 Buff – Worn in a multitude of ways.
- 1 pair of Keen flip flops – These have already lasted me 5 years so I saw no need to buy new. The style I have are no longer available but Keen make very durable flippers!
- 1 pair of walking sandals – Karrimor Barbuda sandals. Great as an in-between for flip flops and walking shoes.
- 1 pair of walking shoes – Merrell Continuum Vibram. Bulky but light. Definitely worth having a pair of walking shoes as you will end up trekking through a jungle or walking up a mountain even if you hadn’t planned on doing so.
I bet you are wondering how I managed to fit all my clothing in? I bought 2 medium sized Kelty compression stuff sacks from Amazon. They manage to compact all my clothes nice and tight leaving plenty of space in my rucksack. The prices seem to vary on Amazon so keep your eyes peeled. I would definitely advise getting some sort of compression sack. Even if its just to keep your dirty clothes separate.
Things I sent home or gave away
In order to lighten the load and to fit everything in my bag with ease, I sent home or gave away the following:
1 pair of heavy wide legged trousers, 1 long skirt, 1 short skirt, 1 pair of socks, 1 raincoat – won’t help keep my dry…when it rains it RAINS! (we will purchase smaller disposable rain ponchos when we come across them). A bulky moisture wicking, mosquito repellent dress, a plain t-shirt, a micro fleece and a cheap pair of back up flip flops. Getting rid of these items makes all the difference when you have a small backpack.
Bring little and buy what you need. Nine times out of ten you wear the same thing every day and just wash your stuff in the sink. When you travel to a different climate just ditch what you won’t use and swap for more practical items. Sorted!
- 1 set of tweezers
- 1 compact mirror
- 3 lush natural shampoo bars – doubles up as soap and lasts a long time. I have been using one for nearly 2 months now and I’m only half way through. A lot smaller and cheaper in the long run opposed to bottled shampoo.
- 1 bottle of hair oil – instead of conditioner. Lasts forever!
- 3 disposable razors
- moisturiser – after a long sesh in the sun.
- roll on deodorant
- ear plugs – hostels can get pretty noisy sometimes.
- Minimal makeup for certain situations. We have already been invited to 2 Indian weddings. I don’t want to look haggard and tired for someones big day!
- Hair brush
- 2 Mooncups. I can’t tell you how much I love these. Full blog review to follow shortly
- sleeping bag liner – use to keep those bed bugs off you in the not so hygienic places you may have to stay and as an extra layer in colder climates without the bulk of a sleeping bag
- backpack rain cover – essential if you’re carrying tech
- sketch book and pencil set
- trinkets from home – to look at when I’m home sick
- yoga mat and bag – we have decided to learn yoga. It’s nice to have one routine in the day and a moment of space for your thoughts.
- compact foldable day sack
- life venture quick dry towel
- I phone 4s
- Kindle fire HD – great for reading my books on and browsing the web
- Marley headphones
- Coleman head torch
- I pod touch 5th generation – for all my musical needs
- Nintendo DS (with a bag of cartridges) – the best of all! We are both addicted to Mario Kart!
Most of the stuff that we brought along was shared stuff. We distributed things between ourselves in a way that would be even in terms of weight and space available.
- Macbook pro 13″ and charger cable. We really weren’t going to bring this until the week before because we were concerned about the weight and it’s security on the road. We are now so glad that we did and we use it every day. We beefed up it’s protection with a Thule protective case. This gives us piece of mind and is by far the most sturdy cover we found.
- Medical bag. Just a small bag rammed with important tablets (taken out of the boxes to save space). **Quick tip** We already used way more Paracetamol, Diarrhoea relief and Dioralite than we thought. Pack plenty. I have prescription tablets too – DO NOT take these out of the box. In order to get though most luggage checks, you need to be able to show the prescription, which is often stuck on to the box. We watched a guy argue for ages with Birmingham security staff only to see his medicine go in the bin.
- A small selection of tinned soaps from Lush. Other soaps are available, but they won’t be as lovely. I promise you. The tins are handy for not making a bubbly mess of my backpack.
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste.
- Insect repellant.
- Tiger balm. Is the only way you will stop that itchy bite.
- Nail clippers and little scissors.
- Bottle opener made from Sheffield Steel. It’s the best steel in the world, you know. A gift from a customer before I left and a great little reminder from my home city. Opens a bottle of Kingfisher in style.
- Samsung WB350F digital camera.
- The Mkettle. A kettle that you can use anywhere provided you can make a fire. It burns liquid fuels, solid fuels like hex tablets or twigs and you can use it with a Trangia burner to boil water in minutes thanks to it’s ingenious design. Oh…it’s British made as well, so it get’s an extra thumbs up from us. We will be writing a full review on this at a later date.
- The GSI collapsable Java Drip. A neat little silicone coffee dripper. Not the most ultralight of all drip coffee makers, but light and compact enough for our use. Again, we will be doing a full review on this later.
- Paper Filters. No.4 size for the Java Drip.
- “Light My Fire” tinder. To get an ember for starting the Mkettle.
- “Light My Fire” striking steel. To create a spark to light the tinder (you see how this all pieces together now).
- Kerala ground coffee. Not the best coffee and ground way too fine, but beggars can’t be choosers. Maybe when we reach a country with a more prominent coffee culture, we can find something fresher.
- First Aid Kit. (Home-made) Comprising of alcohol wipes, wound closures, different sized wound dressings, plasters and a triangular bandage.
- Both passports. He carries these with him all the time in a hidden bag that fits under a t-shirt.
- Document wallet. A special one that prevents the scanning of passport chips. You’ll never know if this is useful or not, but the wallet is very handy for holding currencies for different countries and train tickets. This is locked at all times in the bag.
- A decent map of India. It was hard to find one and not entirely necessary, but it’s handy to look at especially if you have no idea where you might go next.
- Fold up chess set. Bought on route. We were taught how to play chess by our friend Hameed, the Kashmiri shopkeeper. Carl never wins, but we enjoy playing.
- Deck of cards.
- Boggle Slam.
- Plug adaptors, chargers and usb wires.
- Paper notebook and pen. (Mainly for hangman).
- Bulky padlock. Most hostel room doors are locked with a padlock. Using our own gives us the security that the cleaners aren’t going to be able to go in and nick stuff.
- Two really cheap sim free phones. So that we can get a sim in each country. Our parents have one too, but with a Lycamobile sim, which means that it doesn’t matter which country we are in, they can call us for 2p a minute. In India, we have an Airtel sim.
- A para chord bracelet. Is it a funky bracelet, or is it a washing line? Clever, eh?
- Spare ziplock bags (1 gallon). See Carl’s packing list to read about his obsession with ziplock bags.
- 2 folding backpacks. Really light, small ones that fold away into a packet smaller than your fist. If you’re travelling on a sleeper train, you can have a book and some munchies in there while your main bag is locked away. They are both used every day when we are out and about.
- 3 little bumbags. (Or call it a fanny pack if you like). These are the best thing ever. They just about fit 2 passports in. When Carl wears it, you can’t tell he’s got it on (even he forgets sometimes and gets into a panic about where the passports are). I am in charge of the bigger money that we don’t want to keep in our pockets. Very comfortable to wear.
So That’s it. My packing list done. For me, it couldn’t be better – I have all of the essential things that I need and use everything that I have. I’m not carrying dead weight.
Please leave us a comment if you found this useful, or if you have any suggestions that might help us or any fellow travellers, please share.
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~The Vagabond Beans~