Backpackers: What To Pack

Packing is tricky, especially if it’s your first time on the road. It takes a while to find the right balance.

Some pack too much, some pack too little. Personally, I’m in between. I don’t take that much but I do have a bag that would get minimalists crazy. But, with more than 175 cities traveled, I believe I can have a respected opinion on this one.

I usually take two backpacks: one big 60-liters one which I carry in my back and one smaller pack which I take in the front. It’s quite the standard for most backpackers these days, and probably the most flexible and comfortable way to travel.

But what exactly? Here it is:


  • 5 T-shirts (may take more in summer.)
  • 2 Shirts to go out.
  • 1 linen Shirt (if summer.)
  • 1 Sweater (light) and another one (heavier) if in winter. May take an additional one if it’s really cold.
  • 2/3 Pants. 1 Jeans, 1 colored/stripped/themed, 1 seasonal (linen in summer, thicker thing in winter.)
  • 2 Shorts + Swimwear (summer), just one if in winter.
  • 1 Light Jacket (classy – leather, linen, etc. depending on the season.)
  • 1 Heavy Jacket (in winter)
  • 1 Rain Poncho.
  • Plenty of Underwear and Socks.
  • 2 Belts (one zipper-belt to hide money, one to go out.)
  • 2 Scarves or 2 Handkerchiefs depending on the season.
  • Gloves (if going to cold places.)
  • 2 Shoes, the most comfortable I can get. Used to take hiking boots but they take a lot of space. Usually one of these is sandals.
  • 1 Pair of flip flops.
  • Cap, wool hat and sunglasses.

And nothing else. It’s not really as much as you might imagine and it all fits in the big pack. Plenty to dress up and I can survive around week without washing anything.

Tech Stuff

  • 1 Digital Camera (it’s small, just to take the usual tourist photos) and I usually take one pen drive to store the photos and keep the memory free.
  • 1 Ipod (I got the 80gb normal one loaded up with music, movies, audio books and photos.)
  • 1 Cell phone (unlocked.) Gives me the chance to buy cheap SIM cards everywhere I go to. Would love to change it for an unlocked Iphone soon (to surf the web, games, etc.)
  • 4/5 Movies in DVD.
  • Electrical Adapters (if applicable.)
  • Sometimes, just sometimes, I also take my Laptop (with mouse.) – I would take a netbook if I had one.

Other Stuff

  • 2 Notebooks (one diary, one to write down important stuff) plus a couple of pens.
  • All my documents (ID, Driver’s license, etc.) and at least 2 color photocopies. Travel insurance and address and phone for hostels and the Italian and Argentinean embassies everywhere I’ll go (may seem too much – but it really takes only 20′ and can save A LOT of trouble.)
  • Credit and debit cards, plus a lot of money in cash (U.S. dollars or Euros, in 20s, 50s, and 100s – and always new bills with no writing on them.)
  • One book (which I can change for another one in most hostels.)
  • 2 Locks.
  • Spices Kit for cooking.
  • 5+ Energy/Protein bars (the more time I travel, the more I take with me.)
  • 1 Towel.
  • Small Pillow (usually one I take from the airplanes. Vital for long bus/train rides!)
  • Toiletry + Cologne.
  • Aspirins, band aids and other small first-aid stuff.

As much as it looks, it’s only 10 to 12 kilos on the big one and 5 or less on the smaller one. This leaves me plenty of extra space for souvenirs or for new clothes I buy on the way.

What do you take with you? Do you have any suggestions? Have your say and leave a comment below.