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What to Pack

People often ask me how I fit 2+ months worth of gear into my small 40 Liter backpack. And I get it. With all the things you think you need to pack, it may seem like a completely impossible task to condense. However, keep in mind that you’re not going to look instagram-ready every day. There will be days where you’ll repeat outfits and will go unwashed. It’s just part of the fun! Use this guide to help you narrow down your packing list, so you’re not traveling around the world with a boulder on your back.


  • 1 Pair hiking shoes

  • 1 Pair sandals/flip flops

  • 4-5 Pairs T-shirts

  • 6-8 Pairs underwear

  • 4-6 Pairs everyday socks

  • 1-2 Pairs thick/wool socks

  • 1-2 Sweatshirt/sweater (warm & compact)

  • 1-2 Pairs long pants (jeans, hiking, etc.)

  • 2-3 Pairs shorts (gym, hiking, casual)

  • 1 Bathing Suit

  • 1 Going-out shirt (I always just pack a decent button-down

  • *1 Raincoat (very thin)


  • Glasses

  • Contact lenses (enough for your trip +10 days)

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Deoderant

  • Body wash or Bar soap

  • Shampoo

  • Sunscreen

  • Bug Spray

  • Towel (microfiber, if possible)

  • Q-tips

  • Bandaids

  • Pepto Bismol

  • Tampons or pads (O.B. brand recommended due to compactness) - bring a few more than you think you need just in case

  • *Altitude Sickness Pills (for regions with a height of 2,600m+ above sea level -- prescription required)

  • Imodium (major diarrhea deterrent - take these if you don't want to poop for a few days)

  • Advil, Tylenol, or any other headache medication


  • Passport

  • 3-6 Passport-sized photos (depending on how many countries you're visiting)

  • Phone (obviously)

  • Phone charger

  • Headphones/Earbuds

  • Wallet

  • Camera & charger

  • Daypack

  • Combination Lock (essential in hostels)

  • Reusable bag for laundry

  • *Outlet adapter

  • *Paper copies of passport, flight itineraries, credit cards

  • *Flashlight or headlamp (helpful if camping/hiking)

  • *Duct tape (all-around useful item)

  • *Waterproof phone case

*Optional (useful but not necessary)

**Sorry to my female traveler pals- I know this list is lacking for you! Send me messages with what to add!

backpacking travelers packing checklist

I know it looks like a lot...but it fits, I swear!

osprey backpack filled wih travel gear

See? Told ya!

Packing Tips

Packing Tips

1. Only pack for 2 weeks worth of travel

It’s all you’ll be able to fit, and you’ll cycle through enough clothes so that you’re not wearing the same thing every day. Laundry makes this much more doable than you may think.

2. PPW (Passport, Phone, Wallet)

Everything in your pack is replaceable, except for your passport, phone & wallet. If you find you’ve lost some of your gear while you’re away, don’t panic. Short of those three, everything, including phone chargers and clothes, can be easily replaced locally.

3. Laundry will be available

Hostels often have deals with local laundromats. You can usually bring your laundry to the front desk and, for a small fee, have your clothes cleaned & back to you by the next day. If your hostel doesn’t offer that service, local laundromats are super easy to find and very, very cheap.

4. Keep liquids & gels to 3 ounces

American TSA regulations say that you can’t bring any liquids or gels larger than 3oz on planes. If you want to keep your shampoo, bug spray, sunscreen and more, be sure to buy them travel sized. You can always get more when you’re away.

5. Hiking shoes can double as casual footwear

Aside from flip flops, they’re the only other shoes I bring on my trips. Although you may not look like a baller in your sweet, sweet kicks, they're a huge space saver. REI's got some seriously great ones.

6. Invest in a collapsible daypack

I have one that shrinks to the size of an apple when not in use. This is a huge space saver and can be pretty cheap. Mine was a New Outlander and only $20 and can be found on Amazon.

7. Microfiber towels are awesome

Microfiber towels are thinner, more absorbent and faster drying than regular towels. They roll up tightly and take up far less space than a regular towel. Mine is the REI XL towel, and it works great.

8. Outlet adapters are not always necessary

Depending on where you are in the world, you may not need to bring one. And even if you do, hostels will occasionally convert their outlets to western ones, so make sure to check ahead of time to see if you need one.  

9. Phone flashlights work just fine

If you don’t have/want to bring a headlamp, I always just use the flashlight on my phone and it works just fine. I would, however, only recommend this trick for a few days' hike, because that phone battery will otherwise die. 

10. Toilet Paper = White Gold

One thing you may find out (probably too late) is that toilet paper is pretty scarce on long hikes. Make sure to buy a roll (or nab one from a hostel) before setting out on any hike longer than 2 hours. Believe me, this trick will save you immense discomfort if nature suddenly decides to call while you're out and about. Lets keep that bum clean!

11. Tours may provide some gear

For cold hikes, tour companies may provide you with rented coats, gloves and hats. For other hikes, they may provide tents, sleeping bags, and more. Be sure to check ahead of time so that you don’t end up turning into a popsicle on top of a mountain.

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