The packing list for every traveler varies according to the duration, destination, and purpose of travel but I will simply consolidate and clarify them under one single scenario.
This list will work really well for one week of travel and longer journeys. Short business travels and a family trip to a newly registered university is not our subject here. As a professional adventure tour guide who has traveled half of the world, I can guarantee that this packing list will be simple and dedicated to the essentials for a real travel experience.
It doesn’t matter how long your journey is, but you should try to travel as light as possible forever. Packing lightly will allow you get back home with some local handicrafts and authentic goods that will keep your memories alive, as well as with gifts collected along the way.
So let’s start with the bags and luggage, the home of your belongings!
How to carry belongings?
The best luggage combination contains a good travel wallet, backpack
and duffel bag
with the travel wallet or document file being at the heart of your trip. If you don’t have the necessary papers inside, you may not be able to travel to your destination/s.
I would suggest that all travelers have a backpack as a carry-on bag and a duffle bag as their main bag, especially when we have great design options for all of these items and you can easily change your regular choices. 20 years ago it was really hard to find a backpack or duffel bag that suited your style but nowadays so many things have changed and there is a range of options available.
Why is this luggage combination essential?
Let’s start with the travel wallet.
1) Travel wallet/document file
You need to get organized! A durable document file or a good travel wallet that will keep all your documents safe and organized is essential. You can read how to get organized and enhance your experience via travel safety tips here.
There are many times during your trip where you may need to hurry, for example when the attendant behind the counter asks for your documents you should be able to deliver your passport, flight/train/bus tickets, priority card, visa/customs papers or a voucher in a reasonable and timely manner. The pressure of impatient travelers waiting in the queue behind you will only add to your need to hurry, so it is crucial that all your travel documents should be kept safe, together and as accessible as possible.
2) A good backpack as your carry-on
Your backpack should contain a smaller version of your main luggage so that you are able to survive with only that should the need arise. You should always place your least used items in the bottom of the bag. Since most backpacks now have a lower zip pocket for easy access to the bottom compartment this shouldn’t be a problem, especially for those who need space for a sleeping bag. If you aren’t camping you could use this section for your raincoat which you may need for those uncertain weather conditions in your destination, especially during spring and autumn.
Your backpack should preferably hold 45 liters (an additional 15-liter extension shell would be advantageous) which will allow you to take care of yourself even if you lose your main bag. This is something that should be taken into consideration since the average global statistics show that there are 7 bags lost for every 1000 passengers!
A 45-liter backpack is still cabin size and will fit easily in untidy spaces available in the overhead lockers thanks to its flexibility.
Compared to other carry-on bags, a backpack has many pockets both inside and outside facing which will provide you with easy access to your belongings whilst keeping them safe and secure. You can keep your book, sunglasses, magazine or pen in the outer pockets whilst your valuable items can be stored in the inner pockets for extra security. There has also been an increase in theft aboard aircrafts, check out some news here.
3) Duffle bag as your main luggage
A durable, water repellant, nice looking duffle bag should be your number one choice for carrying your main luggage and there are some very clear reasons for this choice:
They are lighter than hardshell suitcases and help you save weight. Frequent travelers hate carrying and paying for excess luggage at the airport and this can sometimes come as a nasty surprise.
Thanks to their vivid colors they are rarely out of sight and cannot be easily missed. This is important for any traveler, especially when you are traveling outdoors and have to keep an eye on your luggage.
They are very flexible and so rarely break. You can not hand over your hard case luggage to a porter or a Yak (during a lifetime experience like Everest Basecamp Trek) because if you do, sometimes the porters will tie them so tight that you won’t get it back unbroken. Most of the porters also won’t be able to carry it due to their traditional technique and so a duffle bag would be a better choice.
A good duffle bag can also be converted into a huge backpack which will keep you mobile during harder times of your trip. I remember carrying my 45-liter backpack on my chest and a 120-liter duffle bag on my back during the street protest in Nepal in 2007 whilst trying to reach the airport after no taxis showed up, I was thankful for my convertible duffle bag!
The complete packing list
What to pack for your upcoming trip
Here I have compiled the ultimate packing list for a safe and rewarding travel experience.
In your Travel Wallet:
All travel documents! Photocopies of the documents should be available in your duffel bag while scanned versions should be uploaded to the cloud or emailed to yourself
- Flight/bus/train/ferry tickets – online check-in should also be done if possible
- Vouchers for hotels and attractions
- Identity card
- Frequent flyer and other priority cards
- Health/insurance/vaccination cards – you cannot enter some European countries without a vaccination card after visiting countries with an infectious disease threat
- Credit card – a maximum of two cards will make it easy to protect your finances
- Business cards – new contacts are always welcome
- Small and thin notebooks – A7 is a suitable size
- A pen and pencil – pencils write everywhere, even in space like the Russians proposed as a cheap alternative during the Cold War
- Cash – learn exchange rates and trading habits of locals in advance so that you can save money where possible
- Small maps – do not carry a map of the whole country, a specific map of your route will be fine
- Small survival items such as a compass, whistle, fire-starter, and multi-tool – if you can’t fit all of these, purchase another small bag that you can carry with you. However, be careful as most mini tools are not allowed on flights
- Zip pocket for coins
See the new design Travel Wallet here.
In your backpack and duffle bag:
Clothing (S: Summer – W: Winter
Sandals/light shoes – S
Trekking boots with ankle support – W
Warm socks – S/W
Warm thermal underwear, top and bottom S/W (substitute for pajamas/sleepwear)
Pants and/or shorts – S/W
Swimwear – S
Warm pile/fleece trousers – W
Rain Goretex trousers -W (any other waterproof membrane is ok)
Tshirts (3-4 pieces) S/W
Jacket and shirt (a pair will be good for casual dress code invitations)
Fleece jacket – S/W
Rain Goretex hooded jacket – W (any other waterproof membrane is ok)
Down jacket – W
Belt/cartridge belt S/W
Warm mitts and gloves – W (polar, Windstopper or equivalent)
Warm hat/balaclava – W
Sun hat with neck flap/cotton headscarf/bandana – S (Iran-Saudi Arabia travel requirement)
Sunglasses (very important – full UV protection)
Head torch, with batteries and lamps
Minimum of 2-liter water bottles/1 bottle and 1 Thermos
Mobile device and charger
Travel power adapter
Camera or extra memory card for your mobile (nowadays mobiles can do really well)
Sanitary & first aid
N.B. Travel sizes will help you save weight
Small towel – S/W
Hairbrush or comb
Toothpaste and toothbrush
Razor & shaving cream
Feminine hygiene products
Personal medical kit to include:
Blister repair kit
Water purification tablets (optional)
Allergy treatment pills & creams
Painkillers (ibuprofen is great)
Medicines and vaccinations specific to the region/activity
Insect repellent (non-chemical version)
*Please note that packing list for every traveler will vary according to the type of travel. Changes in duration, destination, and purpose, as well as unexpected extreme weather conditions, may require some modifications in your travel packing list.
**I strongly advise you to read other articles about “TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS”