To be or not to be. To pack or not to pack. Only one of them is an existential question for a traveler. And always a cause of a lot of distress. Now I ain’t an absolute expert on the subject – below I have mentioned several links to the real pros – but through quite some experience I do like to share my personal lists and tips without you.
PLEASE NOTE: in sharp contrast to other travel blogs, I don’t have any affiliate links. My tips below are my personal opinion, I have used all the mentioned products myself, and am not making any money with these recommendations.
The big question is of course which backpack to take. Amongst travelers, the Osprey brand is a sure favourite. Their backpacks are light, sturdy and have tons of small convenient features.
For my first big trip in 2019 I took the Farpoint 55, as it’s not too big to take as cabin luggage in the US and still forces me to limit the amount of baggage. It is also super-handy that it has a detachable daypack. But… it is still rather bulky, and within Europe there is no chance you can get it into the cabin. Experience also taught me that it is still inconveniently big when you travel in chicken buses.
The Osprey Farpoint 40 is a better choice when you want to go smaller. But the equally compact Outbreaker Travel was my weapon of choice for the second long trip (in 2020), as the 35-liter version exactly meets the requirements for intercontinental cabin luggage (the 45 litre is good for US cabins even). It forces you to restrain yourself even more and pack up light. It doesn’t look sexy, is almost twice as expensive (around 200€) as the small Osprey, and I had to order it through an American postal address, but it was very convenient and sturdy.
Additional stuff for your backpack:
- Waterproof protection: for when rain season really kicks in
- Overnight pack for the essentials as part of a bigger backpack
- Packing cubes: personally I use the Pack It cubes. All of these are extremely handy to organize your stuff (shirts, underwear, socks, etc) into separate bags. They save space and keep your backpack neat
- Computer: the iPad Pro and MacBook are usually mentioned here. And indeed, the smaller the better. With recent improvements to the software, the iPad Pro is probably more than up to all tasks necessary, especially if you are only on holiday (and not a digital nomad). I took it with me on my second trip and it was just brilliant for blogging, photo and video editing and browsing.
- Camera: First my personal favorite. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is my weapon of choice in cities. It is ultra light-weight but most of all very small, so it doesn’t look intrusive when you are taking pictures and it also doesn’t look too expensive to thieves (because it has a fixed lens). Picture quality is excellent, it even records 4K video. If you really really want a full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sony A7-series (the body alone without lenses already clocking in at a whopping 1500€…) is an excellent choice. I used the Sony A7iii it for my second trip outside of the big cities, with a kit zoom lens (28-70mm) and two prime lenses (35mm and 85mm, both at F1.8 for the photographers amongst you)
- iPad or MacBook charger
- USB adapter / charger
- Camera USB cable
- Camera charger
- Battery charger: I use the Patona Synchron charger for my Sony A7iii camera
- Power bar / battery: the Anker power core 13000mAH is a very solid choice from one of the best brands on the market
- Smartphone + charger
- Needle for replacing SIM-cards in smartphone
- World plug: the UNIDAPT is brilliant. It has several USB sockets and the power plugs for the different regions in the world, packing ghe best of both worlds in one sturdy device
- Headphones / earphones: the Shure SE215 in-ear headphones are of great quality. As most smartphones don’t have cables anymore, I have switched to the Bluetooth Anker Soundcore, an excellent budget choice. I splurged around 80$ on the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 when I was in Medellin for a month, a small and great-sounding bluetooth speaker and a legend amongst travelers
- USB stick for crucial files: the Corsair Flash Survival stick is indestructible
- hard drive: I opted for a solid state drive, and bought the Samsung T5 1TB which is very compact and resilient (because it has no moving parts)
- (Zip-off) trousers
- Swimming gear
- Swimming goggles
- Flip flops
- Merrill Vapor Glove Shoes (and Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter shoebag)
- Patagonia R1 fleece jacket
- Patagonia M/S Houdini windbreaker jacket
- Rain jacket: I have a light but solid Marmot M Precip Eco Plus jacket
- Thermal socks (no cotton!)
Hygiene / toiletries
- Micro fibre towels (they dry quickly)
- Hand sanitizer
- Nail scissors
- Deodorant (no spray!)
- Toilet bag (I use Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter)
- norit or similar against diarrhaea
- ORS against dehydration during / after diarrhea
- Earplugs (seee Independent)
- Mosquito spray
- Money belt or pickpocket secure clothing: personally, I am not a fan of these, as they can get uncomfortable in warm weather. And if someone points a weapon at you, a money belt doesn’t help either
- Sleeping bag linen: for your personal hygiene it is advisable to have one with you. You never know where you end up, this thing at least protects you against anything really dirty
- Passport, tickets, visa etc
Now, above is basically the compulsory gear you need to take on long trips. The amounts can vary, depending on how long you go, whether you want to wash your clothes every week or every month, how big your backpack is, etcetera.
If you really want to be prepared like a pro ( did anyone say coffee?), there are several blogs almost exclusively dedicated to packing lists. So if you want to know more, visit any of these sites:
- Neverending Voyage: great blog by a couple who have been traveling for years and years, with a carry-on-sized backpack only
- Travel Made Simple: site dedicated to make traveling as easy (and light-weight) as possible
- Food Fun Travel: the name is the programme!