Deciding what to pack for a backpacking trip can be overwhelming. If you’re in the merciless midst of writing your packing list, or are simply staring at your empty pack in despair, we’re here to help. Our packing list for long-term travel is curated by Paddy’s staff who have a range of experience exploring all different regions, landscapes, and climates. Free from the usual gimmicks, we’re listing only the things you need to bring and leaving out the stuff that is likely to linger at the bottom of your pack for the duration of your trip. It’s not a minimalist or ultralight packing list by any means, but we’re only including the useful stuff that has rightfully earned its spot in that packing cube. Whether you’re travelling for one year or one month, this comprehensive packing list will take the pain out of packing for your next backpacking trip.

 

Table of Contents

  1. Quick Packing Tips
  2. Documents for Long-Term Travel
  3. Best Clothes for Long-Term Travel
  4. Best Footwear for Long-Term Travel
  5. Toiletries for Long-Term Travel
  6. Electronics for Long-Term Travel
  7. Other Essentials for Long-Term Travel
  8. Optional Extras for Long-Term Travel
  9. Complete Long-Term Travel Packing List

 

Quick Packing Tips

 

How many packs? A common conundrum (especially for new backpackers) is how many packs to bring. This ultimately comes down to personal preference and you can only find out through experience. Taking a large pack (around 60-70L) and a small personal items bag that you can keep close to your person at all times is the most common method. Some travellers (especially those with lots of gear or tech equipment) will take an additional daypack – but this can become a hindrance. That classic traveller getup of large pack on the back and small pack on the front is super impractical, especially when trying to navigate a busy city that you’ve just arrived in. We’d recommend a packable tote bag (like this Patagonia one)  that you can stuff in your main pack and use as your day-to-day bag instead.

 

What size pack should I buy? Again this is completely preference, and it also depends on what you are bringing with you. If you need to pack lots of hiking and camping gear then a large pack upwards of 70L is your best bet. Most travellers will take something around the 55-70L mark, and this is what the items included in this guide will likely fit into. If you really want to go hardcore minimalist, why not try the carry-on only one-bagging method.

 

Packing cubes: It’s not revolutionary, but there’s a reason everyone raves about them. Packing cubes are not just for clothes – organise absolutely everything and ensure they have a dedicated space and it will make your life so much easier when packing up in a cramped hostel dorm floor.

 

Practice makes perfect: Practice packing a couple of times before you set off. You’ll want to have your packing routine down to a fine art for pain-free packing wherever you are and however short on time you may be.

 

 

Documents to Bring for Long-Term Travel

Let’s get the boring bit out of the way first. It’s handy to keep all of your important documents together and easily accessible using a document wallet or travel organiser

 

You’ll obviously need your passport, and visa for each country you are visiting. Take another form of ID including your drivers licence and International Driving Permits for the countries you are visiting (if you plan to drive there).

 

Spare passport photos are very useful to have on hand, especially if you are applying for visa extensions, and having printed out documentation of your travel insurance can be useful in case something goes awry. In many developing countries, cash is the preferred or only payment method. 

 

To save on higher airport card transaction fees, make sure to take a small amount of local currency for each destination (around $100 of each currency), in addition to an international bank card.

 

Make sure that you read up on your country’s vaccination requirements well in advance so that you have time to get the necessary vaccines, and bring proof of vaccination with you.

 

Girl packing hand luggage bag

 

Best Clothes for Long-Term Travel

We’d recommend taking the same amount of clothes as you would for a two week vacation. You can wash your clothes at a laundrette pretty much anywhere in the world, often for a very cheap price, and it’s likely that you will end up rotating the same staple items on repeat anyway. Make sure you love wearing everything that you pack, and you’ll be all set. We’ve detailed some top tips and the clothing items that our team of travellers have found most useful on their own travels.

 

Clothing packing tips

Take less than you need: You are almost guaranteed to pick up an item here or there at the local market, wherever you are headed.

 

Everything must match: The number one tip for clothing: every item has to go with everything else. That way, if you take 7 tops and 4 bottoms, then you’ll end up with 28 different outfits – that’s enough for a different outfit every day for a month.

 

Layer for cool climates: Clothing is the one packing element that is most likely to vary significantly depending on climate. It’s much easier to pack light for warmer climates, but if you know you’ll be experiencing a range of temps then layering pieces are key. Think garments that are lightweight but provide significant warmth when combined together. This means that you will be able to wear your items in a range of conditions, from humid seaside cities to high altitudes in the mountains. If this sounds like the kind of trip you are planning, make sure to pack at least one long sleeve breathable baselayer (merino is best for odour resistance and warmth-to-weight) and a pair of long bottoms (such as leggings or lightweight hiking pants). If you’re heading to very cold countries or high altitude zones, a packable insulated jacket that can compress down easily is definitely worth packing. Check out the Nano Puff Hoodie from Patagonia for men and women for a super lightweight option that packs down into its own pocket.

 

Limit “nice” clothes: This depends on your destination and what you have planned, however, for most backpacking trips, 1 or 2 “nicer” tops or shirts that you can wear with your everyday shorts (and maybe a dress for ladies) should suffice.

 

Our top travel clothing items

UPF rated clothing: When you’re travelling, you are going to be outside a lot more than usual. It’s likely that at least some of your destinations will be hot and sunny, and it’s important that you keep your skin as protected as possible. If you’re on the hunt for some sun protective gear, check out Australian-owned Solbari. They’re on a mission to protect our skin from harmful UV rays with a range of sun hats, clothing and accessories.

Lightweight button-down shirt: This  is the kind of piece that will rarely stay in your pack. Super versatile and useful, you can throw on a button down to cover your shoulders at religious sites or as a cover-up at the beach. Check out the Mont Lifestyle Vented LS Shirt for men and women.

Travel pants: Think long and floaty “traveller” style pants. There’s a reason everyone wears them, and it’s not just to look the part. They’re perfect for more conservative cultures, for wearing in the evenings, and for travelling in.

Hoodie or a fleece – Even if you’re only going to hot countries, a comfy layer will always come in handy. You’ll be thankful for a cosy fleece or hoodie at the top of an airy sunrise hike, or when the AC is coming through full-blast on an overnight train.

Lightweight packable waterproof jacket – Wherever you’re going, be it monsoon-season in India, tropical Latin America, or even London in the summer, a rain jacket will never go amiss. There are plenty of lightweight packable jackets on the market that will take up next to no space in your pack and will come in handy more than you can anticipate. Shop our range for men and women.

Lightweight insulated jacket: For colder climates, instead of bringing a heavy parka opt for lightweight and packable insulated jacket. A down jacket is a great option in colder climates as it is warm and won’t take up much room in your pack.

Sun protection: A good protective sunhat or cap and sunglasses are absolute travelling essentials to keep your face, head and eyes protected..

Long skirt: This one is ladies specific, but nothing beats a lightweight long skirt. It’s useful for so many occasions, it’s conservative, and it can be worn from day to night.

Sarong: Another take-it-everywhere item. Sarongs can be used to cover your knees or shoulders at religious sites, as a cover-up or towel on the beach, as a blanket and even a towel – the possibilities are endless. This one can wait until you get there, you’re guaranteed to pick up a beautifully designed sarong for a bargain at the local market. 

Swimwear: Take less swimwear than you think you’ll need as you will probably resort to wearing your favourite every time anyway. 2-3 pieces of swimwear is more than enough for any length of travel.

Sleepwear: Don’t waste valuable space with sleepwear – take one oversized shirt ro sleep in (you can make it work, we promise).

 

Skip to our full clothing packing list.

 

Sunhat for travel

 

Best Footwear for Long-Term Travel

Let’s face it, footwear takes up space! We’d recommend taking three pairs of shoes as an absolute maximum, but try to stick to two if you can (you will end up wearing the same ones all the time anyway). Check out our top tips for footwear below.

 

Essential footwear: 1 pair of sandals and 1 pair of sneakers/trail runners will cover pretty much all bases when travelling in most climates and destinations. If you’re going super minimalist, you can definitely get by with one pair (depending on your destination). Thongs can be a good optional addition for wearing in communal showers and take up minimal space.

 

Water shoes: One pair of shoes should be suitable for wearing in water. If you can’t live without your birkenstocks, make sure that your runners are breathable enough to wear in water and dry out quickly. You might prefer to prioritise a sandal that can be worn in the water like Tevas – they’ll certainly dry out much quicker than runners.

 

“Nicer” shoes: You may be tempted to pack a “nicer” pair of shoes such as sandals or sneakers, but for the few times you will wear them it’s probably not worth the space trade-off.

 

Socks: If you’re exploring warm climates, you’ll probably use socks way less than you expect since you will likely live in sandals. Opt for merino socks if you can because you can wear them more than once without washing, and can therefore take less pairs. I’d recommend 2-3 pairs of merino socks.

 

Shower caps: This is more of a hygiene tip – no matter where you’re exploring, your shoes will get very dirty. Wrap shower caps around them so that you can shove them in your pack without soiling the rest of your belongings.

 

Skip to our full footwear packing list.

 

Footwear for travel

 

What toiletries should I pack for long-term travel?

Toiletries are a tricky one when travelling long-term, and you may have to come to terms with the fact that you are not going to find the exact brand of shampoo that you always use when you’re halfway across the world.  The idea is to strip it back to basics and only take items that are strictly necessary for health and hygiene purposes – do you really need that can of hairspray or fancy cologne?

 

Refillable bottles: A good space-saving and money-saving tactic is to bring mini refillable bottles for shampoo and shower gel and then top them up as you go. Most accommodation options (even hostels) will offer basic shower gel and shampoo. This hack saves you carrying around full size bottles and also means you don’t need to buy shower gel or shampoo during your travels. 

 

Bars over liquid: You could also try using bars of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel – they will take up less space, last a lot longer, and won’t count towards your liquid allowance if you are planning to travel hand-luggage only. 

 

Ziplock bags: We’d recommend that when packing your liquid toiletries, replace the fancy washbag with ziplock bags – if they leak then you don’t have to worry about it ruining any of your other belongings.

 

Basic medical kit: In terms of medical supplies, you can buy pretty much anything you need over the counter in most developing countries. However, we’d recommend always packing a small medical kit in case of emergencies.

 

Skip to our full toiletries packing list.

 

Packing cube with toiletries for long term travel

 

 

Electronics for Long-Term Travel

We’d advise being as minimal as you can with electronics as they take up so much room. Everyone will have their own preferences and needs. If you’re a photographer, your camera equipment will be a priority that you will need to account for, or if you work remotely then you simply can’t travel without your laptop. Our basic electronics for long-term travel are:

 

Adapters: If you’re travelling to lots of different countries, universal chargers or chargers that have different plug options are also a great choice to save you bringing lots of separate adapters, like this Korjo one. Make sure that you check the voltage outlets at your destination and the voltage input on your devices, and purchase a voltage converter if necessary.

 

Chargers: Multi-USB chargers will help to save space by allowing you to plug everything into one.

 

Powerbank: You’ll probably need to recharge more often than you think, especially when you’ve spent all day snapping photos and using google maps to navigate. It’s especially useful if you’re heading on a remote hike with limited access to electricity (or on transit days when you’ve fallen down a Netflix rabbit hole). Opt for a compact one like this Biolite option.

 

Earphones/Headphones: Earphones are a more compact option if you want to save space, but headphones can be great for cancelling out noise if you’re trying to catch some sleep on a bus or in a loud hostel.

 

Kindle/E-books: If you are a reader this is a must. Kindles are lightweight and compact and will save you lugging around physical books. You can opt for trading books in hostels, but the selection is often slim (there’s only so many times you can read Eat, Pray, Love).

 

Small lightweight speaker: An essential simply for the *vibes* – a speaker comes in handy at the most unexpected of times.

 

Skip to our full electronics packing list.

 

Packing cube with travel electronics

 

Other Essentials for Long-Term Travel

Not everything fits into a neat category, so here are the other backpacking essentials that we think are necessary for any long-term trip.

 

Bits bag:

For all of the small bits that don’t fit into any of the above categories, behold the ‘bits bag’ (basically a packing cube filled with the travel equivalent of that kitchen drawer). You decide what goes in there, but we’d suggest:

  • Padlocks – Both for your bags and for hostel lockers. Go for the ones with the long thin and flexible loop.
  • Bungee cords – Great for securing your luggage on shaky tuk tuk rides or strapping things to the back of a scooter.
  • Carabiners – The possibilities are endless with carabiners: attach dirty shoes to the outside of your pack, hang a headtorch from the roof when the power goes out, or secure your bag to your chair whilst eating in busy places.
  • Headtorch – great for sunrise hikes, late night arrivals, and camping trips.
  • Eye mask and ear plugs – Get a better sleep on night busses and in hostels.
  • Sim card pin – If you are heading to multiple destinations you’ll change your sim card often.
  • Masks – Always useful in case you don’t know country’s restrictions.
  • Playing cards – You never know when you might fancy a game of rummy.

 

Travel towel: many hostels will not provide towels and it’s good to have one handy for the beach. Try this antibacterial one to help it stay fresher for longer between washes.

 

Tote bag: A packable tote bag is great for everything from food shopping to laundry trips. Try this one from Patagonia for a super practical option that can be carried as a tote or a backpack.

 

Waist pack or small items bag: Rule number 1 of travel is to keep your important belongings (passport, money, keys) on your person at all times, and a waist pack is the perfect solution for this (just make sure to pick one that you won’t mind wearing every single day).

 

Water bottle: Many packing guides will tell you to bring a filter water bottle, but for urban travel this often isn’t necessary because drinking water is readily available in tourist accommodations around the world. A regular water bottle would definitely suffice in most urban environments –  we love Nalgene. If you’re heading off-grid to more remote locations, then we would definitely recommend a filter bottle. For global travel, a sturdy bottle like the Grayl Ultrapress Purifier is ideal. You can fill it up from any water source including natural sources like streams, and taps where drinking water is unsafe.

 

Decent sized dry bag: Essential if you’re heading on boat trips because your stuff will almost definitely get wet. I’d recommend a 15L drybag to fit your day’s essentials.

 

Packing sunscreen in packing cube

 

Optional Extras for Long-Term Travel

Everybody’s style of travel is different – from the person who packs one pair of shoes for six months, to those of us who like to be prepared for every eventuality. If you sway towards the latter category, then the below list is for you. It includes nice-to-haves that will make your travel experience a bit more comfortable and memorable.

 

Neck pillow: It’s cumbersome to lug around but is so useful for making those journeys more comfortable and giving you the chance to catch some 40 winks. This one from Cabeau is pretty handy because it folds down to half its size. Another great option is the Sea to Summit inflatable pillow.

 

Flat packed mirror: A compact mirror can be very useful especially in crowded hostels or those with minimal facilities.

 

Mask & snorkel:  A luxury item, but if you’re travelling to tropical destinations then bringing your own snorkel is priceless. Having the freedom to dive into the ocean and see what’s lurking beneath the surface whenever you feel like it is the ultimate travel win.

 

Multi-tool: Multi-tools can come in handy for anything from opening a cold beer to fixing a zipper.

 

Spork: If you grab something for dinner to find there’s no cutlery, or you’re planning to do a lot of hiking where you might have to cook your own food – a spork will always come in handy and takes up very little space.

 

Laundry wash and clothes line: Given the availability of laundromats anywhere in the world, this is far from essential, but clothes wash can come in handy if you have a small load of washing to do or you’re heading off grid. Try this handy Sea to Summit Pocket Laundry Wash and Clothes Line.

 

Travel Journal: If you can fit a small one in your hand luggage, journalling is a productive way to kill half an hour on transit days and is such a sentimental souvenir to remember your trip by.

 

Film camera: Another great way to record memories of a trip is to take a reusable film camera – the feeling when looking at pictures and moments you’d forgotten all about is second-to-none.

 

 

Two girls walking with luggage

 

 

Complete Long-Term Travel Packing List: Backpacking Checklist

Documents

  • Passport
  • Visa(s)
  • Cash ($100 local currency)
  • International bank card
  • Drivers License and International Driving Permit
  • Spare passport photos
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccination certificates
  • Prescriptions

Clothing

  • 2x short-sleeve t-shirts
  • 3x sleeveless tops/vests
  • 1x long-sleeve shirt/baselayer
  • 1x nice top
  • 3x shorts
  • 1x travel pants
  • 1x long bottom layer
  • 1x hoodie/fleece
  • Lightweight packable waterproof jacket
  • 2x swimwear
  • 1x button up shirt/cover up
  • 1x sarong
  • 7x underwear
  • 3x socks
  • 1x pyjama shirt
  • Sunhat/cap
  • Sunglasses
  • 1x lightweight dress or long skirt (ladies specific)
  • 3x bras (2x regular and 1x sports bra) (ladies specific)
  • Optional: Packable insulated jacket

Footwear

  • 1x sandals
  • 1x trail runners
  • Optional: 1x nice shoes
  • Optional: 1x thongs

Toiletries

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Bodywash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toothpaste
  • Roll-on deodorant
  • Suncream
  • SPF lip balm/chapstick
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Hair brush
  • Nail clippers
  • Reusable razor with spare heads
  • Optional: moisturiser
  • Optional: dry shampoo

Ladies-specific toiletries:

  • Menstrual cup
  • Bobbles
  • Hair grips/claw clip
  • Minimal makeup
  • Reusable makeup remover pads

Medical supplies:

  • Basic first aid kit (plasters, bandages etc.)
  • Painkillers
  • Oral rehydration sachets
  • Antihistamines
  • Tweezers

 

Electronics

  • 2x Adapters
  • Charger(s)
  • Powerbank
  • Earphones/Headphones
  • Kindle/E-books
  • Small lightweight speaker
  • Optional: Camera
  • Optional: Laptop

 

Extras

  • Padlocks
  • Bungee cords
  • Carabiners
  • Headtorch
  • Eye mask and ear plugs
  • Sim card pin
  • Face masks
  • Playing cards
  • Travel towel
  • Tote bag
  • Waist pack or small items bag
  • Water bottle
  • Decent sized dry bag
  • Optional: Neck pillow
  • Optional: Flat-packed mirror
  • Optional: Mask & snorkel
  • Optional: Multi-tool
  • Optional: Spork
  • Optional: Laundry wash
  • Optional: Clothes line
  • Optional: Travel journal
  • Optional: Film camera

 

Range of travel items for long-term travel

 

Did this list help you decide what to pack for your next backpacking trip? Let us know over on Instagram @paddypallin, and make sure to tag us using your favourite gear on your travelling adventures.

 

Shop our full range of travel gear here.

About The Author

Darcy Smith

Darcy is an outdoor lover from the east coast of Scotland who is trying out life in Australia. Having travelled through much of Europe and Asia, her favourite place in the world remains the Scottish Highlands. Darcy loves hiking, camping, bulldogs, brunch and sunsets.

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