What To Take - Basic List | Travel Guide


Travel Blog Travel Guide - Beginners Guide to Independent Travel

Planning and Preparation

What to Take

The biggest mistake the new independent traveller ever makes is taking too much. Trying to be prepared for everything you will encounter in an extended period away, will mean that you have too much in your pack and are not prepared for the everyday reality of travel, when you have to carry that pack. Even if you are strong, a heavy pack will dig into your shoulders causing pain and backache a lot faster than you might imagine.

TravelTip! - 15Kg (33lbs) should be your maximum. To weigh your pack, stand on some scales, note the weight, put on your pack, and stand on the scales again. Subtract the first number from the second and you have your pack weight. Or you could simply put your backpack on the scales and get its weight without having to do the maths.

Now that said, some people will of necessity carry more. The photographer, musician, or diving instructor will often take extra heavy but essential equipment. That's a decision for them and no doubt there will be days when the extra weight is quietly cursed.


  • Backpack or suitcase
  • Clothing;(Hot/Normal Destination)
  • Wind and waterproof jacket - try to get one that is breatheable.
  • Fleece, designed for under the jacket when cold and wet, or used on its own when just cold.
  • 2x Lightweight shirts/blouses - long sleeves - for warm nights with mosquitos about, and which can double up as slightly smarter wear.
  • 2x Light weight travel trousers, long legs, suitable for trekking. Consider zip off trousers/pants that turn into shorts.
  • 3x Tshirts
  • 2x shorts/skirts.
  • Socks and underwear - matter of some debate, between 5 and 10 pairs.
  • Shoes - designed for hiking/walking, but also not so shabby as to look out of place in a restaurant.
  • Sandals - for when you're not wearing the shoes.
  • Plastic slippers - known as thongs, flip flops as well, for use in showers or just lounging around.
  • Second bag - light weight, collapses down to a small size, designed to be packed away 90%!o(MISSING)f the time
  • Duct Tape - essential, massively strong tape good for fixing just about anything. Black electrical tape, slightly different uses.
  • Guidebook - maximum two - one for your destination and the next area, you'll have to pick up the rest as you go, carrying too many is crazy.
  • First Aid Kit - bandages, disinfectant wipes, antiseptic cream, pain killers.
  • Sun glasses - get a good quality pair that protects against UV in your home country, those on the streets often come from dubious origin and may not protect your eyes again harmful UV rays.
  • Swimsuit
  • Sleeping bag - for the occasions where you don't have bedding provided, or you don't trust it.
  • Silk or cotton sleeping bag insert.
  • Earplugs - if you can wear these, they are an essential. You will be in dormitories where someone snores, where the doors bang, where the sound of the motorway next door is too loud for sleep. Earplugs will allow you to sleep when otherwise you can't.
  • Eye-mask - dormitory lights go on, go off, go on - so do bus lights.

Nice to Haves:

  • Fiction books - take two paperbacks, when you've read one, trade it for another - hostels often have a trade bookshelf.
  • Music Player - CD Player, Ipod, Cassettes, Minidisk - what you take is up to you. (See the techie part of this guide).
  • Camera - SLR or digital - as long as you have something to record your adventures. More in the toys section.
  • Torch - small one - a LED head torch is perfect, as it allows your hands to be free when in use.

Onebag.com - a great site with lots of packing tips aimed at getting down to that one carryon.

Next: Backpacks vs. Suitcases

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