In this article we will walk you through the step-by-step starter backpacking kit, our own mistakes we made, and more essentials you’ve to know before you tie your shoelaces.
And just so you know, initial difficulties are common.
This is an extension of our perfect hostel packing list.
We have met (in our hostels) so many backpacker beginners asking us about the backpacking essentials, wishing they had a backpacking kit for their initial travels. We think it would have also been useful for us when we started backpacking many years ago.
BTW, then backpacking, Hostels will become your second home. Make sure you read our beginner guide to hostels.
Oh boy did we stupid mistakes back then…and still do!
It would have avoided some trial and errors on our way, saving money at the end.
I can still remember one of my first backpacking trips to Marrakesh with my old and not so useful backpack…more on that later under #BackpackerMistakes.
The Backpacking Bundle
Again, in this article we share with you a smart way to get your travel career started.
We are sure you have done lots of research already (or find this as #1, congrats then!). But we want to stop you right now, ’cause simplicity is the key.
1.1 The Backpack
1.2 Packing Cubes
1.3 Outlet Multi Adapter
1.4 Day Bag
1.5 USB Power Bank
1.6 Phone Case
1.7 Pad Lock
2.1 Quick-dry Travel Towel
2.2 Toiletry Bag (+ check list)
2.3 Dry Bag
2.4 Ear Plugs and Eye Mask
2.5 Photo camera (or cell phone…)
2.6 Travel first aid kit (Medical checklist)
2.9 Flip Flops
2.10 Versatile clothes
2.11 Water bottle
2.12 Documents (+Check list)
2.13 Update: items added by our community
After all our experience and asking many travelers we meet around, we have our backpacking kit list here, explained step by step, point by point.
Adding the WHYs, the PROs and also the CONs.
1. The Backpacking Bundle
We found a great backpacking bundle kit covering the minimal basics you will need for your travels. It is called No borders bundle.
Update: This bundle is no longer available. Yet, you can do it yourself. We will share now what you need. It includes:
Adding a few backpacking essentials on top, you will have everything ready for your trips.
The only decision you will have to take is where and how long you wanna travel.
The backpacking bundle gives you the very essentials you need. It is a no-brainer for all the first decisions you have to make for your equipment and gear.
We got the kit, and we created a small unboxing video for you. It shows all items included.
The backpacking bundle from Traveling Tranquilo covers the essentials offering a great deal.
Just compare prices. If you buy the items separately, the cost will be higher.
You might also consider that if you buy items separately every item will have to be sent separately, which increases the shipping cost.
With the backpacking bundle you will just have to click one button to order the first essentials and get them straight to your door.
The products included are high-end quality products and in case you might think you do not need/ like any product, you can even personalize your bundle.
If you do not want any more headaches, just order the no borders bundle.
What includes the No Borders backpacking bundle:
- The backpack
- Multi adapter
- Daily Bag
- Packing Cubes
- Power Bank
- Phone Case
- TSA Approved padlock
Let us review each item on a separate basis.
1. The Backpack – by Nomatic
The very first essential when you are starting out backpacking the world is: a backpack!
We meet many backpackers using the traditional mountain backpacks of 35, 40, 60, 70 liters.
Yes, the capacity of a backpack is measured in liters.
When thinking of backpacks, we first think in the bulky hiking backpacks. Right? Yes, backpacks have evolved in the past 3-4 years. A lot!
Nowadays there are more comfortable options to backpacking the world.
Be realistic, a mountain backpack is great for a mountain trip and also hiking, but if you want to travel around the world… I would pick a lighter and more comfy backpack.
Check out my backpacker mistakes when starting to travel.
Good to know: When I, Matt, bought my latest backpack, we did not come across a model like the Nomatic, as it is quite new. But it would have been our number one option. We will explain why.
Also, even-though you might think the bigger; the better; it is the other way around.
The smaller the backpack, the better!
Because you will fill the space you have. Again, you will fill your backpack whatever size it will be. Therefore, we think it helps to set yourself a space restriction.
When you buy a backpack with 30 liters, you will pack it to the brim. When you choose a 120 liter backpack, you guessed it, you will fill up that baby!
We are really going into detail about Nomatic backpack. If you prefer to sit back and listen, here is super useful product walk- through video.
With a minimalist squared design, Nomatic backpack is a functional 40L backpack which feels more like a 45-50L.
A 40 liter backpack is large enough for extended trips, yet compact enough to be carry-on approved.
That’s another highlight about the Nomatic backpack. It can be used as a carry on.
It is just 21 in x 14 in x 9 in (53.3 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm), which is allowed as a carry on for most airlines, even the low cost airlines such as Ryanair.
That is perfect if you want to avoid the time, money and hassle of luggage check-in. In low cost airlines, you have to pay extra for check-in luggage.
Able to function as both a backpack and duffel, this bag adapts itself to many styles.
Another advantage is how it opens.
The Nomatic backpack opens like a suitcase. Other than many hiking backpacks, you can actually open the zipper all around instead of trying to reach from the top to the bottom. It will be easier to reach any item you need from your bag. There are many backpacks for travelers which open like a suitcase nowadays, but this Nomatic opening system has a plus.
The biggest compartment opens from the inside, meaning, the part you carry on your back.
Enjoy your walks with no worries about your belongings.
Also this bag is rain resistant. That is a plus ’cause you do not need to find any rain cover for it and put it on and off when it is raining or not. On that note it is important to mention, the Nomatic is not 100% water-proof. So you cannot go swimming with it. It is only “rain proof”. When walking in rain, your belongings inside won’t get wet.
In order to not be limited to having all your stuff in the big compartment, it comes with seriously useful organizing pockets.
Ready to know all your organizing system?
Here we go:
The one side of the backpack has two lateral pockets for snacks, booking documents, or even a small pocket notebook. They are easily accessible even when carrying the bag.
On the top, there are 3 organizing pockets.
1. Pocket for water bottle
The intention of the Nomatic team is that you use this compartment for your water bottle. As it is water resistant it is very practical as any spoil will not affect the rest of your items. You can carry your water with no fear when using this pocket.
This pocket might be a bit small if you love having a 1,5 Liter water bottle with you.
But this pocket can also be used for many other things:
Separating wet socks, or even some clothes you want to have near you, like gloves, a hat, sun glasses…
carrying your toiletries. Not only will it be a safeguard against leaks, but as the pocket is easily accessible, you will be fast at the airport security line.
2. Felt lined easy access pocket
This pocket is not really big. The Nomatic designers think it’s ideal to put your passport, tickets and other items needed for security.
The special feature? The felt lining. A great and innovative touch for protecting your phone and other electronics from scratches.
Even-though it can be useful when you are sitting on a train, I would not recommend you to use this pocket to store your phone when you are walking around the city, as it is easily accessible. Fear not, Nomatic thought about different solutions for this:
- a security pocket (find the explanation below)
- a pocket with a zipper on the waist straps.
3. A separate compartment to store shoes or warm clothes
There is also bigger compartment on the top of the bag. Here you can store your travel shoes or (warm) clothes that can become handy during your travels.
More organization pockets:
On the other side, you have a bigger organization pocket, which is meant to store all your gear in a very organized way. Just have a look at the photos.
This pocket comes with many organizational compartments inside.
The most interesting pocket of all of them is the RFID safe pocket – an internal pocket with zipper and RFID-Safe material.
What is RFID?, you might ask?
RFID stands for Radio-frequency identification. It is possible to read some of your RFID Cards such as credit cards from further away. This is why a RFID safe pocket is very interesting!
This pocket is designed for holding your compact security items like passport, credit cards, money, ID… It comes with a free TSA approved lock.
Read: 39 safety travel tips for offline and online
The zippered pockets in this section are really useful. You have also nylon, stretchy pockets, meant to be used for all your chargers, and cables.
A dream for nerd organization techs which we have not seen in any other bag.
Just be careful when opening this side. Make sure you open it with zipper facing up to avoid items falling out.
On the bottom side of the Nomatic bag you have a shoes compartment. It is very useful, and not only cause you will avoid getting all your other clothes dirty from your shoes.
Smart to know: Have you ever seen a backpacker carrying the shoes tied outside the backpack? Well, this is considered very rude in Asia. Try to avoid this in Asia.
You wont loose your shoes either ’cause they will be inside the backpack.
As these pockets are independent from the main pocket or interior bag, they are great to store things which you don’t want to mix with your clean fresh clothes.
Smart packing tip: If you don’t want to bring extra shoes, you can still use the space! Pack an article of clothing that needs a bit of compression such as a jacket, a sweater…Now, that’s already the 2nd level of maximum-packing-efficiency.
Detachable Waist Straps
We get it. Even though waist straps can be very useful for extended travel, not everyone likes them.
The Nomatic travel bag comes with removable hip straps. Such a convenience!
You can use them when going on longer journeys and detach them later.
The waist straps are padded so you can feel comfortable. They come also with zippers to put pocket money, cellphone, headphones…you name it.
Personal note: for extended travel, we do really recommend to use the waist straps. It helps you to keep balance.
Main compartment – travel bag
Last but not least, the actual biggest compartment for packing.
As mentioned, the bag opens from the back. It opens like a suitcase, making it easy to reach any item you might need.
The lid of this main compartment is set up to accommodate your laptop and/or tablet. Even though the laptop pocket is spacious, we are not sure you can fit in laptops bigger than 15-inch.
On that note, we always travel with a laptop of 13 inches. It is light and fits every bag. Many travelers we’ve met even travel with smaller laptops.
In this compartment, we come to appreciate the sharp corners of the backpack. You will be able to pack right up into the corners, meaning, you can pack it like a suitcase. Anna loves packing her clothes in a really organized way, so she is very happy with it.
Packing Tip: the shoe pockets on the top and bottom mentioned above will use space of this main compartment. Don’t load them too heavily.
The Nomatic backpack comes with a mesh laundry bag.
We love to have a laundry bag! It has been perfect for hanging it in our accommodation and taking the laundry to be done.
Nevertheless, bear in mind this laundry bag is mesh, so it has holes. Meaning, when using it for dirty clothes it can trespass the smell to your other clothes.
The simple solution? Put the laundry bag in one of the separated compartments for dirty clothes. That way you won’t mix the dirty and clean clothes.
The bottom compartment is perfect for it as the laundry bag fits with no problem.
The best way to organize your clothes is with packing cubes. This brings us to the second element of the no borders bundle.
2. Packing Cubes
In the backpacking bundle you will find a 3 piece packing cube set.
The packing cubes help you keep your luggage organized. At first we did not believe in the power of the packing cubes, after trying them ourselves we can admit we cannot live without them.
Why use packing cubes?
Stay organized: They allow you to keep things separate: using packing cubes helps you stay organized.
Keep clothes neat: packing cubes allow you to stuff things in it keeping clothes wrinkle free
Reduce time spent sifting through luggage: as you will keep your things separated, you will reduce the time spent to find what you need.
Easy to keep clean: as the packing cubes are made of nylon, you could wash them in the washing machine if needed
Allow you to pack more: really good and bad, you will be able to fit more in a bag, a s you will fold things into smaller spaces and even save space
They are reusable: we heard many travelers use the cheapest option of ziplock bags as alternative to packing cubes, however ziplock are not made for repeated used. Packing cubes are durable and strong.
Creative: You could use the packing cube as a comfortable travel pillow.
Packing cubes will not only help you keep organized, they will save you time and effort re-organizing your backpack.
You will just have to unpack and repack the packing cube needed to take what you need instead of unpacking the whole bag. After that, just replace the packing cube in the bag. Easy as that!
Packing cube set of Standard Luggage Co.
The packing cube set of Standard luggage Co. comes with a fancy feature.
You can attach them to each other. Attach the cubes together and hang them from a door or closet hanger, then you have your wardrobe ready and organized everywhere in the world.
How to use packing cubes?
Roll up your clothes, place them in a cube, and zip zap. We recommend rolling the clothes so they will wrinkle less. The packing cubes will also keep most items packed as compactly as possible.
Why exactly are these packing cubes used in the no borders bundle?
Standard luggage co. offer better compression in comparison to other standard packing cubes, and whilst they are not compression cubes they will save space.
The material is of good quality and the mesh screen helps keep things visible. You can recognize what is on each packing cube without having to open them.
The material used is water repellent, making them the best option for backpacking. Bear in mind as there is a mesh screen. That means they are not entirely waterproof.
3. Outlet Multi Adapter
When traveling around the world, you need a trust-able (and durable), multi outlet adapter.
Many countries have different outlets, so it is better to bring one multi adapter with you than buying the one you need on each country.
It saves space and money.
Good to know: Many hostels also sell adapters at reception, yet they are usually more pricey and maybe only country-specific.
The OREI M8 adapter is compatible in over 150 countries thanks to its innovative spring loaded design.
It allows 4 different socket adapters to neatly fit inside one single device.
Two of them are additional USB charging ports, meaning you can charge multiple devices at once with no extra chargers. It has also a handy compact design.
With a built in, replaceable fuse you will stay safe while powering up abroad.
“ A must have for every traveler who wants to stay charged up abroad.”
Tip: bring this multi adapter with you also at the airport and you will be able to charge your phone anytime you find an available outlet.
Smart to know: Did you know your smartphones charges faster with a plug than using a laptop?
There is 15 different types of sockets, so get ready. Here is a map overview of countries using different socket systems.
Even inside Europe the plugs vary. Malta has a different system than Italy and Spain, for instance.
It is really complicated. And we even do not know the differences. This is why such a multi-adapter is so handy. You just bring it with you and do not need to care – because it always fits!
4. Day Bag – Matador DL 16 Backpack
Even though the Nomatic backpack is comfortable and you could take it everywhere, it is very useful to have a Day Bag by Matador (or Anti-Theft daily bag) with you. That way, you leave your backpack at the accommodation with the heavy items and just bring your essential things for the day.
Packing as light as possible will maximize your energy.
Why carrying around items that you do not need anyway? Better leave them securely at your accommodation.
Read: 13 safety tips when staying in hostels
For us, a day bag is just as essential as a backpack.
The Matador daily backpack is included in the bundle.
It is a compressible day bag. It is just the perfect companion for your one travel backpack.
The Matador Daily bag has a 16 liter capacity, yet you can toss it into a compression sack and throw it inside your larger pack.
“For us, a day bag is just as essential as a backpack.”
On the airlines where you can only carry one backpack, just compress it and put in the big backpack.
As the low-cost airlines are constantly changing their packing game, if they want to put your backpack on the belt just get your valuables and put them on your Matador daily bag.
You will be able to carry your valuables comfortably any time.
It is also a great size for a hiking day pack or exploring the city while traveling.
The bag itself is 4.1 oz in weight, and when compressed it is just 4.6” long x 2.5” round.
What can we say about the Matador daily backpack?
We were pretty impressed with how ridiculously lightweight this thing is, considering its capacity when unpacked. You could carry this bag in your jacket pocket all the time if you want, which makes it perfect even for non-planned grocery shopping.
Regarding the material, the big player here is ripstop nylon named Cordura – a lightweight, strong fabric. It is the same used on parachutes. The material is resistant and water repellent to protect your belongings anytime.
Just bear in mind that as the body of the backpack is made of lightweight flexible material, if you do store uncomfortable, sharp items you will feel them in your back. But normally, in a daily bag you won’t be carrying those items.
It is more for an extra pullover, camera… Impressively for us, even our 13“ laptop fits!
The bag has two extra lateral mesh side pockets, great for a water bottle, snacks and other smaller items.
And the straps in the shoulder? They are basic but the mesh material provides ability to breathe. The straps also come with plastic adjuster loops at the bottom so you can adjust them based on your body size or how much weight you’re carrying.
The Matador daily bag also comes with an Exterior Pocket, great to throw your keys or some quick-grab items you might like to separate.
Features of the Matador daily backpack:
- Additional front zipper pocket
- puncture resistant material (cordura)
- waterproof materials & water resistant zippers
- ultra light design
- compact attached storage bag
- breathable straps
Conclusion: The matador is light, it is waterproof and portable; exactly what you need in a day bag!
As their motto says: Good things come in small packages
5. Power Bank
Nowadays, our smartphones serve not only for communicating.
We do use them to take photos, send messages to our family, look at memes, find information, find addresses, use instagram, take videos etc etc etc.
That is why, the power bank has become a must have when traveling.
The Giant Jakery powerbank is as small as a deck of cards, yet able to recharge most phones multiple times.
“The only thing Giant about this power pack is the amount of charge it holds.”
It is capable of recharging any USB compatible device, its perfect for long flights, train rides between cities, or even to take with you for the day while you explore.
It is equipped with a flashlight, and two outputs, so you can charge 2 devices at once.
You will be able to share the power bank with your new friends, or just recharge your cell phone and one more device at the same time.
Worry not, it is strong enough to charge both devices at the same time.
6. Phone case
A phone case is a life saver for your phone in more situations than you might think of. And while design and material are very personal, the Iconspeak case is designed to easily communicate all over the world.
How? Well, this protective case has icons with basic and easy messages.
Simply point to one of the icons on the phone case to communicate.
For example: there is the icon with a bus. Point it to get the directions to the bus stop, or ask the bus number you have to take to arrive to X.
The material of the case is high quality.
It is only available for
- iPhone 8
- iPhone X
- Galaxy S7 and
- Galaxy S8
You will be able to choose between two different colors: black or cyan.
If you have another phone, or you love your case soooo much, then you can just personalize your no borders bundle without the phone case.
Good to know: Currently the phone case is not available for iPhone PLUS, so unfortunately Matt cannot use, so Anna does instead.
Inside the Nomatic backpack, you will find a TSA Approved padlock.
Thought to be used with the Nomatic backpack, this padlock is useful not only for the backpack, but also for many other situations.
Put it on your daily backpack if you are heading to tourist places with pick-pocketing fame.
Use it on your hostel to store your luggage on the locker…
What else do you need to have a kick-ass Backpacking Kit?
There are some items that will facilitate your backpacking life and will make your travels easier all around the world.
We always recommend to travel as light as possible. You do not really need many things you have been considering, but there are some items which are really useful and you might not find them in all the places you are traveling to.
2. Which items do you need to add to your backpacking kit?
As mentioned in the beginning, the No borders bundle is the perfect backpacker kit for starting. There is a few more things we would add to the backpacking essentials.
1. Quick-dry Travel Towel
If you are constantly traveling and moving, a towel that will dry fast is a good investment.
Also, if you plan to stay at hostels and low budget accommodations, towels are not always included in the price.
You can avoid this extra cost bringing a light travel towel with you. You will need the towel anyway if you are planning to go to the beach.
The best option is a microfiber towel.
They are light, they dry fast, and they are relatively inexpensive.
You can even use the towel as an extra blanket if you do not like the blanket offered at the accommodation, as a picnic cloth, or it could be a life-saver when it’s cold on the plane.
It is great resource for a backpacking life.
I have seen some backpackers using a towel to enter the temples in Asia.
A good trick to refuse the sarong rental they do offer at the temple entrance.
2. Toiletry Bag
Even though you will buy soaps and creams during your travels, you might leave for your travels with some of them already in your backpack.
When adding the shampoos and soaps think about the plane restrictions.
It is not allowed to bring more than 100ml. containers and the maximal amount for hand- luggage liquids is 1L.
A good trick for girls using many creams and make up items is to use solid soaps and shampoos.
Actually, a solid shampoo and soap is a good investment for everyone.
They are one of our last hacks ’cause you do not need to worry about liquid restrictions and they are light and durable.
Need a full toiletry bag list? Check out our hostel packing guide in order to not forget anything.
Also, regarding a kind of toiletry bag, we do totally recommend getting a toiletry bag with a hook. It will make your shower experience in places with few hangers a bit more convenient.
3. Dry Bag
For adventure and water activity lovers, we do totally recommend to pack a dry bag.
That way, you will be able to bring with you your cell phone or camera during your kayaking trip. It can save your electronics also from heavy rains.
We were using the dry bag also as a laundry bag before having the Nomatic Backpack, as it does not transfer smells to other clothes.
This is obviously a recommendation for travels near the coast and destinations where it’s likely to rain.
4. Ear Plugs and Eye Mask
There is no worse thing than not being able to sleep at night.
When traveling around the world, having some ear plugs in a handy place is very useful.
You might need them for a new dorm mate that snores. Yes if you are sharing a dorm, it can happen!
Using ear plugs will save your sleep. They cancel the noise which will let you fall asleep easier. Fear not! You will hear the alarm if it is the same tone you have always been using.
You can order good earplugs with Amazon.
UPDATE: I recommend getting Noise-Cancelling ear plugs.
Even if you are not planning to stay in dorms or a shared room during your travels, it might occur that you book a place which is noisier than you expected.
Ear plugs are also handy on small airplanes and trains.
5. Photo camera (or cell phone…)
We are sure your backpacking trip will be memorable, and you will enjoy your time. And even though our minds remember the good moments, over time we tend to erase old memories.
In order to be able to transfer you to those good moments again, there is no easier way than looking at a photo.
Take photos of your new friends, those buildings you don’t wanna forget or those special moments that made you feel powerful, happy, euphoric.
Many people are worried about bringing their big camera, or buying a new one.
The truth is, the best camera is the one you use.
Nowadays, smartphones have also very good cameras.
The smartphone cameras are good ’cause you carry them always in your pocket and it is easy to upload photos to your PC or send photos to your friends and family.
Nevertheless, with bright sunlight, it might be difficult to take stunning photos.
Also, using that camera will make your battery empty faster.
That is why, many travelers also bring an extra camera with them.
But what kind of camera should you choose? There are many on the market!
Here you have a great and compact explanation of the camera types:
they are small, light, you can use them also underwater and they can survive all kinds of abuse, including being buried in sand or mud, or even dropped on the pavement. We have the GoPro Hero and love it! Being able to take some photos during our adrenaline activities is always a plus.
Compact digital camera:
also known as point-and-shoot cameras. They are fairly cheap, small and light. They will allow you to capture beautiful images by simply pointing the camera at the subject and clicking the shutter. They don’t require extra lenses and they doe all the hard work automatically. The big contra is that you won’t be able to customize your shutter speed or aperture.
Digital SLR camera:
this more “serious” type of camera will take photos to the next level of image quality. They deliver remarkable sharp and spectacular images, and even high resolution videos. You will be able to customize all settings and also change your optical lenses if you want to. They are more expensive, and also a bit bulky, but bear in mind the quality is really good if you choose good brands such as Nikon and Canon.
Many videographers and photographers around the world mostly use DSLR.
A good combination of the two popular types of Digital cameras mentioned above. They are a mix between the point-and-shoot for its compact size and a DSLR for its interchangeable lenses and impressive output.
We changed our bulky digital SLR camera for a Fujifilm XT-20 and love it!
Talking about photos, make sure you back up your photos each certain time if you are traveling around long-term. Unexpected situations can make you loose all your photos.
Simply use an extra SD card (stored on a different place than your camera gear), external USB, or iCloud storage…
6. Travel first aid kit
Depending on your destinations, your travel first aid kit should include more or less things.
But here is a list of basic things you should include in it:
- plasters and bandages
- anti septic wipes
- rehydration salts
- any medication you should take
7. Head Torch
Even though all cell phones come with a torch, carrying a small, light torch with you is a good idea. A Dynamo flashlight is a great option, you do not need batteries to recharge it.
We love the head torches, cause they let you have your hands free.
A head torch is not very expensive and will be useful in many situations:
- when a light goes off,
- when your phone runs out of battery,
- after contemplating stunning sunsets in hidden destinations or
- even as a light on your motorbike when biking Vietnam (yes, we had to use it once or twice when our bike light broke and it was a life saver!)
8. Walking shoes
Comfortable walking shoes are really important.
You will be spending hours on your feet while exploring!
And there is no quicker way to shatter the magic of exploring than an uncomfortable pair of shoes…
Yes, your head will make excuses as you want to eat something else or just stop to contemplate 5 more minutes… just because your shoes are hurting. At the end of the day, your shoes will hurt so much that you might not be able to still explore the city the day after or you will have to skip an awesome activity cause you have painful blisters.
Make sure your shoes are breathable and comfortable and you will be ready to explore with no problems.
Update: We are huuuuuge fans for the Under Armous UA Speedfit 2.0.
They are lightweight and breathable synthetic and textile upper. You can use them even in water.
Another incredible alternative is the Minimalist Socks.
9. Flip Flops
Apart from your walking shoes, make sure you add a pair of flip flops to your travel list. They are great for going to the beach, island hopping and warm places.
Did you know that many temples in SE Asia require you to remove shoes before you enter?
You will need them also for public swimming pools or common showers.
Tip: pack some used, durable flip flops that let you walk without getting blisters.
10. Versatile clothes
The number 1 rule for packing clothes is: Never bring clothes that you might wear.
If you might wear it, don’t pack it, cause you will probably not use it.
Stick to those clothes you absolutely love, the basics that don’t need to be ironed and choose items than can be easily matched and paired.
Here is an example of what you can bring for a Backpacking trip in summer season:
- 4 cotton t-shirts
- 1 shorts, 1 pair of jeans
- 1 rain jacket
- 7 pairs of socks, 5 underwear
- 1 swimwear
11. Water bottle
Water is the human body’s major component. On average, 60% of the human adult body is water.
Drinking water helps maintain the balance of the body fluids, we do need to drink water.
The easiest way to remember to drink more water is to carry a water bottle at all times.
That is why, we do encourage to bring a reusable water bottle with you.
Also, carrying a water bottle around can save you some dollars. Many countries in Europe have drinkable tap water, you will find fountains with potable water around…
Furthermore, you will help the environment to reduce a lot of plastic. This is always a good idea!!!
12. Money and documents
Not to be mentioned last because it is the less important thing.
You must carry your documents and bring money with you if you wanna see the world.
Here you have it! A simple backpacking kit to start discovering the world.
As mentioned, It does not matter if you are exploring just 3 days or long-term traveling, the items mentioned are essential for your travels. And we explained all whys, so if you do not consider any item essential just let us know why on the comments below.
The no borders bundle gives you the essential gear for your travels, and with the extra items we mentioned, you should be able to pack light and travel further.
UPDATE: We asked our community via Instagram what they carry always when traveling. Here is what they said.
13. SIM card
A local SIM Card is handy to download all travel apps like currency converters and offline maps!
We are not really recommending a traditional scarf, but a sarong or a light foulard (preferably in cotton) that will be useful for so many situations.
15. Baby wipes….
You never know, and this thing is very versatile 😉
16. Hand sanitizer
A travel size hand sanitizer is helpful in many situations.
For example, before eating during your snorkeling trip in Thailand, where you won’t have any toilet on board.
17. A personal note book – as souvenir
The personal note book is a great idea to let your new friends write down notes. This can be small notes to you that you will read when you get home, for instance. We actually met quite a few travelers doing this. A very creative way to bring home unique souvenir and memories.
3. My Backpacker Packing Mistakes
Alright, alright. I promised you my own backpacker mistakes.
Or better to say, the backpacker mistakes when it comes to packing. I am not too embarrassed though since making mistakes is part of the process, I guess. Have a look on the 13 common backpacker mistakes and how to handle them.
#1 the wrong backpack
On my very first “backpacking trip”, I traveled through Spain and Portugal on my own.
Since I did not own a backpack, I borrowed one from a friend. I did not want to take my bulky, heavy suitcase with me. At least that I did right. So, my friend gave me his backpack. It was a huge 70 liter hiking backpack with thousands of pockets.
It was so heavy, so huge and bulky.
In that moment I thought it would be perfect.
Truth be told, it almost killed me, Okay, that’s exaggerating a bit. Once I packed it up that beast was heavy, you wouldn’t believe it. And again, I was going to backpack through Spain and Portugal…in August…with a 70 liter backpack on my back.
I was such a genius!
#2 huge day bag
And my ingenuity continues. I thought “I cannot bring that big backpack for wandering around the city, I need a day bag“. So I got myself a nice day bag, bulky again and heavy.
It is really not a good idea to get a day bag that is heavier than the actual items you’re carrying around…does not make sense. Bring a small one.
Another advantage of a small bag? You pack and carry less.
#3 packing everything for every occasion
My #3 on this list is packing everything for every occasion. I packed sneakers, good shoes, hiking boots, flip flops (2 of course, 1 for the showers, 1 for the beach) and x different pants.
It didn’t make much sense. I ended up wearing the same 3-5 tshirts, 2-3 pants and one air of shoes. The only thing you really need a lot of is underwear and socks. That is it.
That being said, this obviously depends where you are traveling. Traveling super light in the deepest winter is quite challenging, if not, impossible.
#4 wearing brand new shoes
That was a terrible idea! I was on my way to Canada in winter and I did not own a single pair of winter boots. So, the day before leaving I bought a new and nice pair of footwear.
My flight went from Barcelona to Amsterdam to Vancouver. I already put them on for my flight from Barcelona to Amsterdam. I did not even leave the airplane in Amsterdam, the new shoes were killing my feet.
Wearing brand new shoes instantly for traveling is not the best idea, I learned.
#5 several white or bright t-shirts
Another classic mistake. And I am happy to say, I am by far not the only one doing this. Many many do this. Bringing white and bright t-shirts is not the best idea. They get dirty very fast and are harder to clean.
Personally, I still travel with a white t-shirt, I simply love them.
But I also now bring a grey one, dark blue, black, etc. The dark colors do not get that dirty easily….well, that’s not exactly right. When a dark-colored t-shirt gets dirty, you won’t see it directly.
#6 Underestimating Packing Cubes
I took my sweet time to understand and appreciate packing cubes. I have always seen them and I always thought Packing Cubes only take more space and add more weight to my backpack. Seriously.
I started to use them at one point and have not stopped since. It is so useful to have all your shirts in one cube, all your underwear and socks with another. Try it!
You see, I did my fair share of big and small mistakes when starting my travel career. You might think. Truth be told, I am still making smaller mistakes and find ways to improve packing etc.
The first time I traveled to Thailand I packed 13 t-shirts. Seriously, I am not kidding: 13 t-shirts! You can laugh now!
Just try to avoid the huge mistakes and you are good to go. You will do many mistakes during your travels. Hence, this is part of the experience.
4. PDF Packing Checklist for free download
That was a lot of information now.
In order to make it more simple for you, we created a packing checklist PDF. You can download this PDF for free, and even add your own notes to it.
(Click the photo below to download or here.)
5. More Information and Resources
- What is a hostel?
- The Hostel Packing List – including 23 items we recommend
- Get Your Guide in Review – the best way to book sightseeing tickets?
- How to Book Hostels (and the best websites to use)
- Flights and how to score cheaper flights
- Travel Insurance
- How to travel the world for FREE
Here you have it, the backpacking beginner’s kit which will save you from many mistakes.
If you have any other ideas, or mistakes that you made during your first backpacking trip, we would love to hear them. That way, we can all learn from each other.
Over to you
Now it’s time to hear from you. Do you have any questions? Is anything not clear, maybe we missed something for your backpacking kit?
Just comment it below: we are curious to read which things you personally consider essential items for your travels.
– – – –
Pinterest is your friend