Know what to put in the travel backpack it's not easy, especially the first few times.
Of course the things to bring really depend on the type of trip you are about to undertake, whether it is a trekking on a mountain, an inter-rail between the European capitals or a trip to Mexico.
Especially when it comes to clothes, each country has different needs: just see how to dress in Morocco, or how to dress in Iceland in winter to understand that what you will put inside the backpack will be completely different.
Do it travel backpack it may therefore seem like an incredible effort: I have therefore tried to make your life a little less difficult by making a list, based on my experience after 20 years of blood, sweat and "travel" tears, of all absolutely essential things to pack that are valid for any trip you are about to undertake.
I am not a fan of shopping and traveling in even difficult conditions I've always preferred practicality to style.
If you are looking for chic clothes to travel and take beautiful photos on Instagram, you probably won't find what you need here. But if you're aiming for backpacking style travel and then backpacking, this list is sure to be for you!
- How to make a travel backpack
- How to put stuff in the backpack
- 1 - Rain backpack cover
- 2 - Bottle of water
- 3 - Linen bag
- 4 - Head torch
- 5 - Door locks
- 6 - TSA lock
- 7 - Waterproof cape
- 8 - Universal adapter
- 9 – Money Belt
- 10 - Pillowcase and "sheet bag"
- 11 - Microfiber towels
- 12 - Clothesline and clothes pegs
- 13 - Anti-theft net for the backpack
- 14 - Sleeping bag
- 15 - First Aid Kit
- 16 - Essential clothes
How to make a travel backpack
If you are wondering how to make a travel backpack, the most important information I can give you is this: make the backpack light.
Whether you are camping or hiking, traveling in Europe or Asia, it doesn't matter. You need to travel as light as possible. This is why we will only talk about the strictly necessary things to bring.
This is the most important piece of advice I can give you to get started.
By traveling lighter you save yourself the hassle and stress of a heavy backpack.
Traveling lighter will also allow you to have a little bit of free space for the cool souvenirs you'll want to take home.
The second thing I would like to tell you is therefore: don't bring EVERYTHING you find on this list.
It would be foolish to try to take them all with you on your adventures, and depending on where you are going, it may be that many of the things listed here you will not need.
Based on the trip you are doing, try to figure out what on this list you might need.
For example… you are planning a vacation in a beautiful hotel on Lake Garda? 100% then you won't need to bring a sleeping bag (hopefully, otherwise maybe the hotel isn't that good)
So, pack only the equipment that best suits your travel style and itinerary.
For example, keep an eye on the weather. If you travel to Mexico in July, warm clothes may not be among the essential things to pack.
And if you're not a digital nomad or aspiring entrepreneur, then you can probably take that laptop off your bucket list.
And if you want to do like me instead travel blogging, I would recommend that you leave it at home anyway (unless you are planning 6 months of travel) and enjoy the adventure.
You will always be able to write about your trip calmly when you get home. But maybe it is worth bringing you a pen and a small notepad to take notes on the things you will post on your blog.
By thinking about your travel style and itinerary, you will be able to identify what to bring with you out of everything on this list.
How to put stuff in the backpack
When it comes to backpacking, the second thing you need to think about after weight is how to save space. My main advice is to fold clothes efficiently, roll them up, or use what are called i packing cubes that are these things HERE.
In general, heavy stuff is best placed at the bottom, things that are liquid and may open (shampoo) are best placed in plastic bags, and things you will need as soon as you arrive at your destination (like toiletries) on top or in the pockets.
Roll up your clothes instead of folding them because they take up less space (I was taught this to the scouts 30 years ago).
Well-made travel backpacks (like mine Deuter Traveller 60 + 10) generally have a main compartment and a smaller one at the bottom: in the first you will put clothes, in the second you will put shoes and shower slippers and a bag for dirty things.
Always backpacks like mine usually have a detachable backpack in which you will put the things you use for a day trip, in this way, when you arrive at your destination you can detach your backpack and already have everything you need inside or you can take it as hand luggage on the plane.
If you board the large backpack always put a change of clothes in hand luggage, the toothbrush and something to survive a couple of days, in case the backpack is lost by the airline.
This is one of the things I learned in Jordan when I ran out of a backpack and had to buy two pairs of cool underpants (but the only ones I could find during Ramadan)
In the side pockets you will instead put the things that you will have to take easily or that if they open they risk making you a mess: a bottle of water or shampoo, a small towel or waterproof cover for the backpack, some snacks that could make you comfortable munching on some very long journey in bus.
In general, backpacks also have pockets for travel documents although I prefer to always have them in my hidden money belt.
Besides saving space so try to have all organized well, this will save you from pulling your whole backpack in the air when you have to grab something you need!
Now let's see what to put in the absolutely essential backpack: you would never say it but I assure you that all these things will sooner or later be very useful to you.
1 - Rain backpack cover
Plenty of travel backpacks have one integrated rain cover, but many others don't (mine doesn't have it and in fact me I then bought this one from Ferrino which doesn't cost a lot, it's a great product and you can choose the size according to your backpack and color).
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You may think you don't need it, but I assure you it's one of the most indispensable things you can have.
Think about how many times and how many occasions your poor backpack could be subjected to water: showers while walking to get to the hostel, during a trip to Guatemala with the chicken bus (which will load your backpack on the roof and goodbye if it rains), on a boat trip, in the snow, during a trekking.
The worst thing that can happen is to arrive wet and half frozen in the hotel and hostel, to discover that your backpack is flooded and that, in addition to weighing a lot because soaked in water (him and the things inside it) you have no warm and dry no longer even a pair of underpants.
So if your backpack does not have an integrated waterproof cover, buy one: there are many models, for all sizes and all colors and folded and put in a pocket, they weigh nothing and take up very little space.
See the rain covers for the travel backpack at AMAZON
2 - Bottle of water
Staying hydrated when traveling is no easy feat, and having a water bottle in the side pocket of your backpack will certainly help.
This portable water bottle, sturdy and rollable could really be a great idea: it costs little, you can have it immediately at hand and when empty it is easy to store.
It's also tough enough to withstand the wear and tear of travel, with its flexible, shatterproof silicone body.
It is made from 100% food grade materials and is BPA, BPS and PVC free. To top it off, it is also dishwasher safe, can handle hot or cold drinks, is freezable, foldable and easy to add ice cubes or fruit through the large opening. What's not to love?
Also, access to clean water isn't universal, so you might want to consider using some kind of water filtration / purification system for your trip.
I love our Lifestraw for this. It is a drinking water bottle with a built-in purification system that filters harmful bacteria and parasites from the water, making it safe to drink.
More expensive than the previous one, but I assure you it's worth the purchase.
We have used it very often while hiking in Kyrgyzstan to avoid having to carry huge amounts of water on the back and simply collecting and filtering what we found in the waterways.
But we have also used it on many other occasions, when we did not trust that the water was completely drinkable.
LIFESTRAW see AMAZON
3 - Linen bag
I hate plastic: pollutes to death. But speaking of more practical things to put dirty things in is terrible: I don't tell you what comes out when you open it, or, if you take things to the laundry, I don't tell you poor Christ who will have to wash them what he will think when he opens it.
Damp things will stay damp, so add that to it as well.
The first rule therefore is to have a canvas bag to fill with dirty things and to put away under the backpack, waiting to arrive in a place where you can wash all your clothes.
The canvas bag is also washable and protects (if put in the washing machine with the underwear inside) your things from washing we say "strong".
It costs little, takes up zero space, does not pollute and protects your things. Can you really leave without?
4 - Head torch
Needless to say, a small one head torch it is one of the most useful things to take on a trip because it can be used in any situation, especially if like me you love camping or safaris.
I've used it dozens of times: during the safari in Tanzania for example, but also while trekking on horseback to Song Kol in Kyrgyzstan or Iran in the deep desert.
At night in hostels, in tents, when there is no electricity, in short, a must that in my opinion should never be missing. In my opinion, the head one is better, which also leaves your hands free.
View here on Amazon the Petzl headlamp which I use.
5 - Door lock
for girls traveling alone and maybe they go to the hostel a small door lock can give that extra touch of security and tranquility which, even if not strictly necessary, can reassure us and make our nights more pleasant.
I have always carried a small wooden wedge, but on Amazon there are much more practical and cute ones.
The universe is evolving and today to be quiet there is no longer just the wedge but real door alarms that sound if someone tries to enter the room.
And there are these silicone door locks made in leaflets and colored that weigh little, they are small and therefore very easy to carry in any backpack or travel suitcase.
6 - TSA lock
Fundamental especially for those who sleep in hostels and make use of the lockers or lockers that are made available by the hostel itself for guests.
See TSA locks on AMAZON
Locking your locker with a padlock is definitely best, especially if we carry expensive technology (such as a camera or computer) with us.
By carrying a lock with us, we above all bring more security for our belongings.
The lock can also be used to close the suitcase. If you are traveling to the USA it is necessary for your suitcase to be loaded on the plane, to purchase a TSA lock like these on Amazon.
7 - Waterproof cape
Le plastic capes they are really comfortable and cost very little. Small and light they easily find space in our luggage and can be useful for a lot of situations.
In fact, they are not only used to cover up and not get wet when it rains or snows, but they also serve to shelter from the wind or when you take boat trips to shelter from the spray, or to sit on a wet lawn.
WATCH IT on AMAZON
In general, poncho-like capes also cover your backpack, when you have it on your shoulder, and you have to walk in the rain and snow.
8 - Universal adapter
Nowadays we are accompanied by a lot of technology on our travels. Among smartphones, Ipads, notebooks, Kindles and cameras, the need to be able to charge them is really important.
Why buy so many small adapters, which fit on a trip and then end up used in a drawer, when you can buy a universal one?
So pay attention to buy one like the one in the picture above that is valid in 180 countries!
On Amazon you will find them for every need. The ones I prefer are the ones with USB connections like for example these you can find by clicking on this link.
ADAPTERS on AMAZON
9 – Money Belt
The magic word is, always, safety first of all. And the money belt doesn't need my introduction.
The money belt is a money belt and document holder that fastens to the waist under the clothes and therefore cannot be seen.
Useful for hiding money, credit cards (I also keep it to sleep sometimes) it is especially essential for the most precious things we carry with us: our documents.
I have a lot of them and it's one of the things I use the most of all. But you have to use them with cunning or try to never show that you have them.
Like? Well I generally use the tactic of putting some pennies in my pockets so I never have to show my money belt when I'm out and about. In any case, even if someone sees it, it's very difficult for them to steal what's inside.
There are all kinds and all prices. If you don't know which one to choose personally I recommend choosing the most comfortable one. It does not matter that it is large, in fact the less the better.
If you want to get an idea of the choice you have, just that follow this link on amazon.
See the Hidden Belts
10 - Pillowcase and "sheet bag"
I also often wear the sleeping bag, for reasons of hygiene. Often the cleanliness standards of hotels / hostels where we stay in other countries are not quite at the level we intend.
I'm not typically a fussy eater, but putting my face on a clean pillowcase I do, so I always find a small space for a pillowcase to take with me. At least I sleep knowing what I'm putting my face on.
A sheet bag is also a good idea: I started taking it with me after encountering bed bugs, but I used it a lot on train trips in Iran or India.
Even the sheet bags are cheap and there are both cotton and silk. Personally I like the cotton ones more because the silk ones, even if folded are smaller, are often slippery.
This is mine from Ferrino, in very soft cotton, but the market offers a lot of them even at more affordable prices:
SACCOLENZULO on DECATHLON
SACCOLENZULO on AMAZON
11 - Microfiber towels
- towels they are one of the essential things to take with you, but don't bring an ordinary towel on your backpacking trips!
Regular towels are heavy, inefficient and take up a lot of space. Travel professionals use microfiber towels.
Microfiber towels are made by travelers for travelers. They are super light and most importantly, they dry very quickly.
Small and light. Ideal for hostels where it is not difficult for towels to be asked to pay extra.
Convenient to bring at least a couple, a small one for the face and a slightly larger one for the shower.
On Decathlon the choice is wide and they cost very little starting from just over 1 EURO and have tons of reviews, so you just can't go wrong!!
See them on DECATHLON
12 - Clothesline and clothes pegs
Traveling light makes it indispensable wash your things very often.
In modern hostels it is not difficult to have a coin-operated washing machine, but then things have to be dried.
Often many hostels offer laundry service, but if you have a few things it's worth it (even if they often don't let you) wash them in the sink and dry them in your room or on the terrace.
A rope and a few clothespins to hang out are ideal, you can also tie the wire between the chairs in the room to create a makeshift drying rack. The wire can also come in handy for a lot of other uses.
13 - Anti-theft net for the backpack
It seems absurd, especially given the not entirely friendly price of the item I'm about to offer you.
But think for a moment how many times at airports you see backpacks and suitcases wrapped in meters and meters of plastic so that they are not opened (remember the countless cases of theft in luggage carried out by the airport gangs?) and think that every time you roll up your backpack it costs you 10 euros and moreover all this plastic adds to the already overwhelming mountains of plastic that are thrown away.
In short, by buying this steel mesh for the backpack in 4 or 5 journeys not only will you have recovered the cost, but you will be able to reuse it countless times, on buses, in airports, on long train journeys.
In addition, you will have contributed to protect and safeguard the planet, avoiding the use of km of plastic that we consume every day.
La backpack net it is one of those things I have had for a lifetime and I continue to be convinced that it is a great purchase: In India and China on the train I slept well and I absolutely did not worry that someone might open my backpack and take away my things overnight.
I also used it to tie the backpack to anything in the room: a bed leg, a pole on a bus, I even tied the backpack to the water heater tube and walked around quietly, sure that even if someone was entered my room he could not take away my things.
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14 - Sleeping bag
Sooner or later I'll have to decide to write an article on sleeping bag since it is one of those very useful things and that I have used so often that I think it was by far the most indispensable of the things on this list.
See it on AMAZON
There are an infinite number of sleeping bags: from camping ones and a little less expensive, to light backpack ones, to those for real high altitude excursions that protect you up to temperatures from which nothing else protects you. .
Even if you don't go camping a lightweight sleeping bag like mine it can always come in handy: it saved my life in Mexico on night buses when the air conditioning was kept at temperatures from Antarctica.
It came in handy on other 100.000 occasions: in Tanzania on the Ngoro Ngoro crater (where it reaches zero degrees at night) I used it to sleep in the sleeping bag that the safari agency had given me and have a layer in more.
Ok I was bundled up like a chrysalis stuffed into 2 sleeping bags one inside the other, but it worked.
I used it to sleep in Milan Malpensa when they canceled my flight for my trip to Egypt without giving us the hotel.
I could go on writing to you for hours about all the times it suited me to have him with me, but we don't finish it anymore, so let's move on.
Sleeping bags on DECATHLON
Sleeping bags on AMAZON
15 - First Aid Kit
It is always worth packing a small first aid kit. During my travels, I opened my foot with a glass in Senegal, I fell with the motorbike in Tanzania, insect bites a go go, not to mention the various gastroenteritis that Massi and I took especially in India and Egypt .
My first aid kit saved my life or at least made it easier for me.
You can decide to make yourself a small sachet, but there are loads of them made for travel and, depending on the destination you are going to, you can choose to add or remove things.
The important thing is that there are small essential things inside like the following:
- Antipyretic for fever
- Intestinal disinfectant (like Bimixin so to speak) - Ask your doctor first
- Broad spectrum antibiotic (like Augmentin, ask your doctor for a prescription)
- Disinfectant spray o Disinfectant wipes
- Mosquito repellent (at least 40% of deet)
- Bandages, gauze and plasters
- Cortisone cream for insect bites
- Throat candies
- Scissors and tweezers
- Sterile latex gloves
16 - Essential clothes
Choosing the right clothes when traveling with a backpack is very important. Here are some suggestions, although, as mentioned before, your outfit will depend on the area you are going to.
Prepare light clothing - Hot or cold weather, clothes that fold small and don't weigh too much - avoid jeans! Jeans are not good at all: they don't keep cool, they don't keep warm, if they get wet it's chaos and they take up space.
Even if you are heading for freezing cold, it is better to bring clothes that you can overlap rather than a large heavy jacket. Cotton is light and breathes. Indulge in more sweat-resistant things if you can.
Dress dark - Ok this one you might think is dirty, but darker clothes can be worn longer.
Bring as few things as you can - Clothes are pretty cheap in most parts of the world, so instead of carrying too many things, think that you can always buy them locally.
Underwear: this is better if you bring it to you. I prefer sports underwear like this on Decathlon.
Thin trekking pants: trekking pants are the best ever. some have practical zips to become "shorts" by detaching the legs. They have colors that go well with everything, they wash and dry easily, they are comfortable.
Long-sleeved mosquito repellent shirt: When traveling to certain areas, mosquito repellent shirts are a lifesaver when trekking or leisure in tropical climates. Be aware that mosquito bites are not only annoying but can lead to various diseases such as dengue or malaria. Long sleeves also serve to protect you from too strong sun.
T-shirt / tank tops: easy to find almost anywhere, don't worry too much about them.
Lightweight technical fleece: essential when you are on buses or trains with the air conditioning set to “freezing”. Decathlon has a wide choice, they are thin. comfortable and cheap (even less than 5 euros!).
You will need long-sleeved clothing if you are heading to cooler areas.
Un lightweight duvet that closes is very practical everywhere, I have one of the Patagonia that I have been carrying around for years.
Lightweight scarf or foulard: for young ladies, a light scarf is a great thing to take on any kind of trip. It protects the throat from the cold and from blows of air, it can be used to cover the mouth and nose from dust or to cover the head when visiting some countries such as Iran that require it or even simply as a matter of respect when visiting places sacred.
Buff: one of my favorite travel accessories. I always wear one and you see it in all
I also use it as an eye mask on long-haul air travel and in dorms. Soaked in mosquito repellent, it protects your neck. You can use it as a sun hat, to protect your neck from the wind or simply as a headband during a trek.
You can find it in wool, cotton, fleece, in short, there are all kinds!
I just bought this one from National Geographic (photos coming soon!)
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Sun glasses: I probably destroyed over a hundred pairs of sunglasses… in addition to the Rayban that they stole from me in Guatemala. It is always worth investing in a decent pair of sunglasses that are perhaps less stylish, but practical and durable and that don't break easily (and that don't make you want to fuck them)
Warm clothing: If you're planning a trip to cold areas, like Sweden in winter or Patagonia, do yourself a favor and get a pair of water-resistant gloves, a hat with ear flaps and a down jacket.
Trekking shoes: don't go around the world without decent shoes! Personally I use Scarpa shoes, I have two pairs, one low and one high and I used them both in the heat but also for trekking on the glaciers in Patagonia.
Technical sandals: if you will be spending a lot of time in the jungle, on the beach or on a sailing boat, then it is worth bringing a pair of good quality technical sandals; Teva makes the best hiking sandals in my opinion.
These here are mine and these also always accompany me on my travels!
Rubber flip flops: for warm areas, but also everywhere, for the sea, the swimming pool or the shower!
With the help of this list of what to put in the travel backpack, you'll be able to figure out exactly what to pack for your trip so you can travel around the world knowing you have everything you need for your next adventure!