An example of a travel packing list, with items selected from my popular guide. Are you about to start you trip and you want to make sure to pack everything you need and don't forget anything in your luggage? Then follow my advice, matured after 7 years of long-term travelling, and have a look inside my backpack at what I actually take during my trips!
If instead of a real example you prefer a complete travel packing list with any item you can think of, and not my personal selection, then have a look at my popular backpacking checklist, so that you can select what you actually want, even if you have a different travel style than mine: backpacking, vacation, camping, weekend breaks are all covered in the same list.
Now let's focus on my backpack: I packed my luggage many months ago for a low cost and long term travel across Europe, but it's adaptable to any needs: you still wear t-shirts and underwear and use your toothbrush even if you go in vacation to the beach rather than backpacking!
I started this trip in summer and now at the end of January, it's the middle of the winter and I'm still around. So if you are planning a long term travel, the first essential tip, that I would never stress enough to remark, is FLEXIBILITY. Where I'm traveling now, in the UK, there is a mild winter so no need for a bulky down jacket. I just use an extra fleece that I bought for 1£ together with my raincoat, and that's my jacket. More layers together gives your more options for your look but also for the temperature range. A male swim suit can work as summer shorts, fleece pants become a pajama and a sarong a pic-nic cloth.
We take and leave on the way according to what we need and we adapt to the changing seasons. Another tip: don't take anything with you that you are attached too, if you are not ready to separate from it! Free shops, charity shops and second hand shops are good and cheap options to refill your luggage on the way.
Extra tip: If you meet travellers from your country on the way that are soon going back home, or foreigners travelling to your country and you are able to establish a relation with them, you can ask them to take some of your items, that you don't need anymore, back home for free! It works best with hosts from hospitality networks going in vacation rather than backpacking.
Detailed travel packing list
In the following travel packing list I entered all the items that I took with me during this trip and the quantity of each of them. The numbers are referring to the reference on the photo and the order is absolutely random, they are not sorted according to importance, weight or other criteria.
1) Sweaters and fleeces: I have three of them with different degrees of warmth. I like them with a full zip in front and hood, for maximum flexibility. In summer I usually carry only one.
2) T-shirts: I got three, of which one is of a fast drying technical material (bought for 0.20€ in a second hand shop sale). Super light backpackers would take just one and wash it at night, but that's not my case. I got the same number of t-shirts for summer and winter traveling. I usually have also a light, long sleeve one, that increase my flexibility when dressing up in layers.
3) Slippers: I hand made mine from a broken camping mat and a flat bicycle tube: superlight, rollable, indispensable for dirty showers.
4) Light microfiber towel
5) Winter hat, gloves and neck warmer. I take the first two also during summer trips for high mountain trekking and chilly nights in the north. If you don't have gloves, you can use socks in an emergency situation.
6) Notebook, pencils, pens, to take some notes and occasional drawings along the way.
7) 25 liters backpack that I always keep with me while hitchhiking. I pack in this small backpack my laptop, camera, food and water. Helpful also for daytrips and short breaks from your base point, when you don't want to carry everything with you.
8) Trousers: I got three in winter, one or two for the summer
9) Fleece pants: one of my most loved items, bought in Nepal 7 years ago and still useful for the warm and cold season alike, a really flexible item. One always with me plus one extra long underpants in winter.
10) This is a small pouch where I gather some random items: string, compass, lighter, matches, earplugs, elastic bands, sewing kit, a couple of small carabiners, portions of duct tape, small tube of glue, etc.
11) Waterproof pants: I rarely use them when it's raining, but they come really handy for dirty jobs if you are participating to work-exchanges or volunteering projects on the way.
12) Foldable spoon and fork and water bottle.
13) Empty 1kg yogurt container: the best and cheapest way to pack your lunch.
14) An extra fleece, a slightly bigger size than mine, so that it fits on top of many other layers. I bought it to be used coupled with my raincoat instead of a winter jacket: It works only for a mild cold season.
15) This is a "Peace flag", extremely light, that I can use for laying on the ground in the nature or at the beach, use as a sarong, a curtain and many other uses.
16) This is not essential but I found it useful: a third backpack (super light backpackers might scream now) that I use for grocery shopping instead of plastic bags, or for carrying with you some daily basics: water, raincoat, etc. It weights only a few grams and it's extremely compact when closed. Unfortunately it's not strong and comfortable enough to substitute the medium backpack for long hikes or to carry heavy items.
17) Underwear: usually four pieces that I wash while taking showers.
18) Socks: 2-3 pairs in summer 4-6 in winter.
19) Medium sized tripod for my camera.
20) Face mask against pollution for cycling or polluted cities that we got as a present; flashlight, just bought a new one that I can recharge through USB; leftover hand sanitizer bought 2 years ago.
21) Essential medicines, condoms and insect repellent.
22) A light net for dirty clothes: you can use a normal plastic bag if you wish, but I had this already.
23) Goretex socks: I carry them because I have it, but I wouldn't suggest to buy them on purpose. I mostly use them when my shoes are already wet inside for some reasons.
24) My photographic equipment with m43 camera, lenses, cleaning kit, etc.
25) Electronics: 13" laptop (You need it if you run a blog and like photography!), book e-reader for travelling (for the weight of half a book you get hundreds of them), external hard disk for backups, mobile phone, chargers, universal travel adapter, etc.
26) Raincoat: best if waterproof (of course!), breathable and light.
27) Bathroom kit, with toothbrush, homemade toothpaste, alum stone as deodorant when needed, multi use natural soap bar, nail clipper, compact brush, a couple of essential oils, a small bottle of shampoo filled somewhere, razor and blades, light and foldable bottle for nose rinsing.
28) Two person camping tent below 2kg (4lb 6oz), for trip in the nature, trekking, festivals, and when we get stuck hitchhiking.
29) Sleeping bag, around 900 grams (32oz), extreme temperature -17°C (1F). Same for summer and winter for us, but if you know you won't adventure in cold temperatures, take a lighter one.
30) Self Inflating sleeping mat, 550 grams (19oz) R-value 3.4
31) Waist bag for my mobile phone, wallet and small items, plus an extra thin waist bag I use under my clothes when hitchhiking or moving, to carry passport, extra debit card and some cash in case of theft.
32) My 75 liters rucksack bought in Indonesia for a great price-quality ratio. Read here my guide on how to choose a travel backpack, with my selected criteria.
33) Waterproof mid height hiking shoes that are my only shoes in winter (Not visible in the photo).
Consider that the weight of some of these items is shared with my partner Oti, in example the tent and the bathroom kit.
From my travel packing list are missing a swimming suite, that I usually have in summer and winter alike, but not at the moment, and sandals that I carry during the warm months and sometimes also in winter, when they are used as slippers. And a big bag of supplements that I sometimes need because of various health problems I've been fighting with in the last few years. But hopefully I'll soon get rid of it and relieve my backpack of almost 2 extra kg.
The weight of my 75 liters backpack is around 13 kg usually (28lb 10oz): not a superlight backpacker, but considering that 70% of the weight is electronics and camping equipment that I don't want to renounce to, I'm quite happy with it. I still remember my very first, long term trip in USA and Mexico in 2007 when my backpack reached 24 kg (52lb 14oz)! Please don't do that, that's why you are reading my experience!
Hopefully my travel packing list has helped you to clarify a little bit what you should take and what not, and has relieved you of some difficult decisions!
Continue with the next article if you want to read a complete backpacking checklist with every item you can imagine of!