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What to put in my Backpack

What to take, what to avoid and what will I really not need.
8 years ago, February 16th 2012 No: 1 Msg: #151899  
Hello there,

I have 37 days, 18 hours and 3 minutes left until my first (and solo) backpacking adventure. I had to say this because I am very excited and glad that it is finally happening. Anyway, onto the point:

Obviously I have not been backpacking before but I have research a bunch and feel I know (somewhat know) what I should and should not do/take etc. But I would like to get some tips and pointers from you all in regards to what I should/n't take and what I really will not need.

I am going to be backpacking around the UK, Holland, Belgium, France and Italy (possibly also a little of Germany) from the 19th of March until the 23rd of May. So far I have the following planned to be in my backpack:

2 pairs of jeans
2 singlet tops
2 t shirts
1 long sleeve shirt
One light cardigan
Socks, underwear and a hat.

First aid kit
All purpose wash (for body, hair, clothing etc)
Toiletries (the basics)
Make up (this will be minimal)
Locks (one small and one medium)

Sneakers (which I will be wearing 😉 )
A couple of pages taken from a guide book.
Camera (small cheap Samsung that I love dearly)
Mobile phone

I want to be as minimal as possible. My pack is 55L but I don't want to be lugging around my whole life in it. Also note, I have most likely forgotten some items on my list but it will not be much more.

Quick Questions:
Is it worth packing a jacket or should I just purchase one if I need one when I arrive? I enjoy the cooler weather and would wear layers if it was to be cold. Should I have a light jacket or something heavier? I don't particularly want to have something too bulky that will get in the way once the weather warms up.

Also, I am pretty sure that I may only need one pair of jeans, but as I am starting in the colder countries I am unsure whether to take two pairs and then buy a lighter option when I am in France/Italy.

Advice? Thanks in advance 😊 Reply to this

8 years ago, February 16th 2012 No: 2 Msg: #151915  
Oh, a very interesting topic, I could waffle on for ages here, but I'll limit myself to just 10 suggestions:

1) Pegless clothes lines - fantastic for hanging clothes when an outdoor location is not available.

2) Universal sink plug - many cheaper places don't have plugs, and trying to keep the water when one is trying to wash or clean a face can be a pain.

3) Silk inner sheet - a wonderful item to carry - provides extra warmth in cool rooms, and prevents you from sleeping in sheets of dubious cleanliness. There are some great ones on eBay.

4) Head torch - great for finding things at night and finding your way to bathrooms and toilets when no lights are available.

5) European and UK Adapters - you'll need something to plug your netbook and camera charger into the European and UK sockets. If you are going via Asia first, buy them there, much cheaper than Australia.

6) Stuff sacks - great for putting dirty clothes in or for carrying loose items like souvenirs that you may collect along the way.

7) Clothing Alternatives - I must admit a bias to not liking jeans, but when you are travelling, jeans are heavy, bulky and slow to dry. Have you thought of some pants from a travel store instead which are lighter and dry easier? These stores are also good for buying ultra-light and thin thermal underwear which may obviate the need for you to purchase a jacket.

8) Medical certificates - now you are not likely to need this when going to Europe, but I always bring a letter from my doctor (with another copy elsewhere) which explains the need for all items I'm carrying - i.e. medication, aspirin.

9) Remember to get your phone set up for global roaming before you depart. My strong advice is to never use the phone to call to or from Australia when travelling - rely on SMS instead.

10) Money belt - essential to take with you - good for keeping your valuables away from prying eyes and hands.

I'm sure to think of other things, and if I do, I'll add them later. Reply to this

8 years ago, February 17th 2012 No: 3 Msg: #151961  
1) Clothes line! Oh this is a good idea I had not even thought of how I would dry my clothes. Sad really. I am too excited, I may forget everything!

2) I have looked into getting a sink plug, you have just confirmed the purchase!

3) I was hoping someone would add something about silk sheets. I was unsure if I should take one or not. I get allergies from chemicals that are strong and the 'dirty' bedding thought had also made me head towards buying a silk sheet. I am quiet sure that is now a confirmed purchase to be.

4) I was going to get a small flash-light? This could be equivalent to a head torch?

5) I already have adaptors, I did mention I would forgot things 😉 I got them here in Australia so I missed out on cheaper prices. But, they are essential.

6) Stuff sacks? My backpack has a separate section for dirty clothes but I was iffy about actually using it as such. What exactly is a stuff sack? Just a bag of sorts? Or it is actual name per se?

7) Thank you for this comment! I think I will be definitely heading out to get more options. I didn't like the idea of just wearing jeans but I haven't had anyone I know do anything like this so I just thought jeans would be the easiest (and heaviest sadly)

8) On the medical term should this matter if I am only carrying allergy pills? They are over the counter and I haven't actually arranged a doctor in my current location as I only moved recently. I don't usually take panadol or any other drugs, Would you recommend that I would need one for the antihistamines?

9) Yes, my phone is all ready prepared for the trip 😊

10) I have a neck wallet. The store had no money belts and I prefer the neck version for some reason anyway.

Thank you for your help and please, share if you have anything else to add. 😊 Reply to this

8 years ago, February 17th 2012 No: 4 Msg: #151963  
In response to your questions:

4) Flashlight and torch are the same, but a head torch is very handy. I use the Petzl brand, their cases can be a bit flimsy at times, but the illumination is excellent.

6) Stuff sacks - I could try to get a photo of one and put it on here, but it might be easier to visit a outdoor store - Kathmandu come to mind - but there are alternatives. You might know what they are when you see them.

8) Medical - if you happen to be going to the doctor prior to leaving then grab a certificate. As mentioned before, heading to Europe is unlikely to present problems. Since I travel to places such as Africa and Middle East, I always ensure that my medical paperwork is in order.

I do have four more for you:

11) Travel pillow - these can squash to a small size and open up again - wonderful for long journeys and also for places with dubious pillows or very flat ones.

12) Packing cells - the smaller ones are wonderful for putting electric cords in, it is hard to describe but I'll send you a private message with a couple of links. There are larger ones, which I use to sort my clothes (i.e. the tan ones hold my pants, blue ones hold my shirts) are tremendous, but not as effective in smaller backpacks - mine is 70 litres so they work fine.

13) Mini speaker for MP3 - one of the best items I've ever purchased. If you wish to relax in your room and listen to music without listening via headphones, a mini-speaker is an excellent purchase. Great for when you are wandering in your room packing or something similar. This will be expensive here in Australia, cheaper if stopping in Asia.

14) Business cards - sounds ridiculous, but believe me they are not. I have one with my personal email and Travelblog Profile page. I don't put a phone number on it, as email is much cheaper to keep contact initially. Get them through Vistaprint, but choose when the specials are on.

I do my "travel gadget" shopping at Kathmandu in Australia (no, I'm not on a commission, wish I was!), but don't buy their clothes - I am not fond of the available styles for men. Reply to this

8 years ago, February 17th 2012 No: 5 Msg: #151970  
Well, you have indeed made a head torch seem more appealing with those comments as well as the stuff sacks and packing cells. I am definitely keen to hit up Kathmandu and see what they have available. It cannot hurt to look at least!

I do not plan on seeing a doctor before I leave but as stated I feel I should be all right with no certificate.

11) You are not reffering to a neck pillow here I take it? It would be nice to have a compact pillow of sorts. Backpacking will be very different for me with only one pillow or none in hostels. So I will definitely have to look into this.

12) Packing cells, I do only have a 55L pack but as stated earlier it won't hurt to check them out. Being able to put the cords in them may be a good reason as I was concern about how would be the best was to do so.

13) Mini speaker for MP3. Well I am more one for headphones, but its a great idea I am sure.

14) Business cards? Wow, that is an interesting idea. Would be an easier way to give my email out when I am travelling and such.

Thank you for your good pointers I will indeed be sure to check it out more. It is nice to hear from people so experienced and it helps me make sure I am not doing things 'wrong' per se or being forgetful! Reply to this

8 years ago, February 17th 2012 No: 6 Msg: #151983  
11) Pillow - it is not a dedicated neck pillow, as in the one that wraps around your neck, but a miniature pillow, they are not inflatable. I used them for back support on planes, trains or buses, and then as an extra level of pillows if the place I'm in has some poor pillows. Kathmandu stock them, so just ask to see one.

Did you receive the private messages I sent you with some nice links? Messages with links can sometimes be blocked.

I am more than happy to provide you with as much information as you need - wish someone had done the same with me prior to my travels! When travelling, it is usually easy to decide what clothes to take, but travel gadgets take more time to become familiar with.

One more bit of advice is with toiletries. I've managed to to cut the weight of my toiletries by more than half and that was by using small travel bottles (100ml or less) to fill with shampoo, shower gel or shaving gel instead of the original large containers. Now I take even less than 100ml and use instead some small toiletry bottles (around 40ml) acquired from a hotel once. It is now easy to purchase small tubes of toothpaste that don't weigh much or take much space. Same with small pieces of soap, I usually procure one from a hotel on my travels and keep it for future use. Reply to this

8 years ago, February 17th 2012 No: 7 Msg: #151994  
11) I ended up getting one of their inflatable neck pillows. I have problems with my neck and this was an excellent option. Though I did see the pillow you had referenced and it was also a good idea.

I did receive the email you sent and the links did work. Kathmandu did not have any stuff sacks when I went there but I will check again before I leave as I do think it would be a good idea, as you suggested the colour-coordinating would come in handy 😉

I am thankful for your assistance 😊 I do hope to one day get my head around all of travel gadgets as such but as mentioned I know it takes time. A good recommendation for the toiletries also. I picked up a bottle set weeks ago with 50-100ml bottles for all my needs but thank you for sharing the idea of even smaller bottles. I feel that will come in handy when I am in Asia (hopefully in the near future) as wish to pack even lighter. Reply to this

8 years ago, February 18th 2012 No: 8 Msg: #151997  
I recently started to use facial wipes instead of taking face wash with me. No matter how tight the bottles are some liquid always seems to leek even if it is within a designated plastic bag.

Agreed on the jeans as they would take way too long to dry. Reply to this

8 years ago, February 18th 2012 No: 9 Msg: #151999  
I still have yet to see if my bottles will leak. If they do my next step was to do the same. Wipes are always handy also!

And yes, I am thinking I will try to find some nice equivalents to jeans! I do have some longer stays in places but otherwise it will be a pain to dry them. Reply to this

8 years ago, February 18th 2012 No: 10 Msg: #152000  
In response to: Msg #151994

Great that you were able to get to Kathmandu!

Leaking toiletries, I have had problems with them in the past. I bring a small collection of sealable plastic bags (easily purchased from the supermarket) and if I suspect something could leak, then I pop the offending item into one of them.

Just remembered one more thing (gosh, my list could be endless!):

15) Antiseptic Hand Gel - not essential in Europe, but certainly is in many other places. Before every meal I use this, and sometimes during the day. I partly credit it for keeping me healthy in places such as India, Middle East and Africa. Reply to this

8 years ago, February 18th 2012 No: 11 Msg: #152003  
I have ensured I have a fair few sealable plastic bags handy. Antiseptic/Antibacterial hand gel is a part of my every day life. I am definitely taking a small bottle with me as well as replenishing on the go!

And endless lists are fine, the more information the better 😊 Reply to this

8 years ago, February 27th 2012 No: 12 Msg: #152446  
Seable space plastic bags and space plastic bottles have saved me so much space and money! Good luck with you travels! Reply to this

8 years ago, February 27th 2012 No: 13 Msg: #152453  
Thank you! I am counting down the days, less than three weeks now :D Reply to this

8 years ago, February 28th 2012 No: 14 Msg: #152557  
oh how exciting...cant wait to see your blogs! 😊) Some things i'd consider are:

at coles for $3 you can get a 'sard' soap block that actually washes clothes. Otherwise if you just use normal soap or detergent to attempt to wash clothes by hand they all goes a beautiful grey blue colour 😊

i agree with the guys above on the jeans front. I had a pair of pants that were cargo style but a zip at the knees so i could wear them as shorts or pants and quickly change if somewhere relegious needed pants instead.

Have you got something 'nice' to wear? Maybe look for a little black dress or summer dress you can throw in your bag (that wont need to be ironed) to go to something nice at night whether it be theatre or a show or a restraunt.

Instead of a silk msheet maybe buy the smallest lightest sleeping bag you can. I think mine is about 10cm by 5cm and weighs about 500g so that you can use it at hostels and not need to worry about their linen at all.

but i do like your style and you can always buy what you need when you get there, rather than take stuff you never use! One thing we did on our second trip was buy a touristy tshirt at each location so that was our memory thing but also practical and something clean lol! although maybe get something subtle so someone else would have had to have been there to know what it is 😉
Reply to this

8 years ago, February 28th 2012 No: 15 Msg: #152579  
Neither can I 😉 )

In regards to soap I get horrible allergies so I am only going to take the stuff I have with me already that I am not irritated by. But I am sure $3 soap would come in handy otherwise!

I am thinking I will just take long cargo style pant. I was unable to find a pair I liked that unzip but I have some that can be rolled up if I do get to warm in the later months.

I do have something nice to wear and it can be scrunched up as much as possible and still looks good. So that is perfect 😊

I had seen and thought about a small sleeping bag but some hostels say no? Silk sheets are a little out of my budget so I may just be taking something I sew together.

I love the idea of a touristy shirt from each destination! Or even a small trinket as such. I am leaving that up to my budget and my likes at the time, though now you have got me wanting touristy shirts! I am going to look so touristy already the shirts may just compliment the look 😉 Reply to this

8 years ago, March 1st 2012 No: 16 Msg: #152669  
heya, oh i meant it is a soap that washes your clothes, not you 😊 So rather than taking detergent or attempting to find a laundry mat, if you take the sard soap block (found in the clothes washing section at the supermarket) then it actually works. I think i took detergent for a good 5 years before i discovered it and everything would be come a grey colour 😊

Try and find tshirts that only people who had been there would know are touristy! Like a street name or something 😊

have fun! Reply to this

8 years ago, March 2nd 2012 No: 17 Msg: #152670  
Yes, I know what you meant. I get allergies to washing powder/liquid also so I have some concerntrate stuff with me that I'm not allergic to.

Wow, that sounds like a great idea with the shirts also! Will have to see what I can find! 😊

Thanks for your advice and tips! Reply to this

8 years ago, March 2nd 2012 No: 18 Msg: #152692  
B Posts: 277
Hi, Europe in March and April can be cold even in the southern parts so do bring some thicker pants and a fleece jumper, a light cardigan may not be enough. It would be quite unusual to be really hot during these months so get dressed for temperatures 5-25 degrees, maybe even colder during the evenings. Enjoy your trip! Reply to this

8 years ago, March 7th 2012 No: 19 Msg: #152858  
Thanks for your input Inga 😊
I am Vegan so I do not wear fleece or wool but I have stocked up on a couple of nice thermal shirts. I decided not to even bother with jeans and just got some nice light long cargo pants and dress pants.

I enjoy the cooler temperatures and to save packing a jacket I will leave the purchase until I am in the UK if my cardigan and layers do no suffice.

Does anyone know how cool the weather will be around the end of April/start of May in Italy and the South of France? I am just curious as I have found a few different answers from varied sources. Reply to this

8 years ago, March 7th 2012 No: 20 Msg: #152884  
I was in the south of France in mid-May and I remember that the weather was beautiful, the nights were cool, but I certainly wouldn't call it cold.

There are a few good weather sites around that list monthly temperatures/rainfall/sunshine and more. The UK based World Climate Guide is the most comprehensive in my opinion. Reply to this

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