First things first, if you’re going on a long trip or an open-ended one like I am, it’s pretty important to get the packing right and ensure you have all the essentials to make your life easier whilst on the road. It’s worth remembering that if you forget something it really isn’t the end of the world and the likelihood is you can buy as you go and maybe even get it for a lot cheaper than you would of paid at home anyway!
This is a personal list of what I’ve packed as a clothes hoarder – around 80% of my bag is packed with clothes as that’s what’s most important to me and I’ve scrimped on other areas that may be more important to another traveller so adapt the list as you see fit!
It all starts with the right bag
Oh the bag… hours of trial and tribulation have gone into choosing this bad boy, it really is a minefield trying to find the perfect bag and I for one found it rather overwhelming. What to go for? Rucksack vs suitcase, wheeled vs duffel, 50L vs 75L, hand luggage, bum bags, and can I fit in a handbag!?
Sooo many options, it took me a while to decide but luckily for me, I’d spent the last 9 months working for Cotswold Outdoor and was able to get loads of advice from work pals who are super experienced and helpful – phew!
As a bad back sufferer I wanted to avoid a full on rucksack, so wheels were a must. In terms of brands I had become savvy to reputable luggage brands at work and I’d always loved the look of Osprey packs and the customer reviews were always positive, so when I found a wheeled rucksack hybrid with a detachable daypack it was the one for me.
Here’s the bad boy in Lagoon Blue which I love as I didn’t want to go for a black one, practicality doesn’t have to be boring and it’s very easy to spot in a crowd.
What’s in the bag
- Packing Organisers and laundry bags – off eBay for only £5 and they have been so useful.
- Hanging Washbag
- Pillow case
- Sleeping bag liner (for bed emergencies!)
- 2 travel towels and these feel like an actual towel unlike some travel towels so I recommend this one from Lifeventure at Cotswold Outdoor.
- Purse – Money, credit cards, student card etc.
With the clothes, I tried hard to mix and match and have lots of items which I could make duplicate outfits from. I probably went overboard but I always knew this would be the hardest part for me personally. The tops all rolled into one packing organiser then I had my bottoms (excl jeans) in another organiser. All the bulky stuff which I won’t be touching until I reach Australia (like jeans, sweatshirt, denim jacket) are at the very bottom laid flat.
- 15 tops
- 15 bottoms (shorts/skirts/culottes)
- 7 day dresses/dungarees
- 2 Kimonos
- 2 pairs jeans
- 1 sweatshirt
- 1 hoodie
- 1 denim jacket/shirt
- 3 pairs of flat sandals/sliders
- 1 pair trainers
- 4 pairs of socks
- 1 PJ top
- 3 bras (nude, white, black)
- 1 soft bra (for comfy days)
- 20 pairs pants
- 4 bikinis/swimsuits
- 1 waterproof ponch
- 2 bags – 1 bum bag, 1 soft pouch bag
- 1 belt
- 1 hat
- 2 sunglasses
- Jewellery – A few fashion necklaces and rings but nothing valuable.
- Hair bobbles and grips
- 2 portable chargers
- 1 portable speaker – UE Wonderboom
- 1 torch
- International adaptor
- Plug with 2 USB sockets
- iPhone & iPad chargers
- Insect repellent
- Tiger balm
- Aloe vera Vaseline
- Aloe Vera moisturiser
- Sun block
- Make-up remover
- Cotton pads
- Face moisturiser with SPF 15+
- Shampoo bar – Lush is amazing for these, they lather up just like shampoo and smell dreamy.
- Mini conditioner
- Shower gel pods
- A bar of soap (plus about 3 mini soaps I had accumulated from hotel stays ooops)
- Make up – all the basics, nothing too fancy but all skin products have SPF.
- Hair oil – my hairdresser recommended this is a MUST especially for bleached hair like mine.
- Leave in conditioner spray
- Dry shampoo
- Perfume – just ‘cuz you’re a traveller doesn’t mean you have to smell like one! I couldn’t go without my Jo Malone.
- Nail scissors
- Razor and shaving cream
- Nail file
- Nail varnish and removal pads
- Girlie things (you know what I mean gals)
- Hair brush and comb
- Hand sanitiser
- Handy wet wipes/baby wipes
- Compact mirror with a stand
- Pack of tissues
- Eye mask
- Ear plugs – a must for thin hostel walls
- Mosquito net
- Travel fabric wash
- Fabric scent pods (they smell amazing from Scentsy, to help avoid smelling like a wet dog!)
- Travel washing line
- Universal sink plug
- Mini first aid kit with added paracetamol, Imodium and re-hydration sachets for inevitable food poisoning *sob*.
- Hot/cold Water bottle – this is a must for two reasons. 1) The environment on many small islands have a massive litter problem due to the sheer amount of tourists so I’m trying to do my bit by refilling my bottle as much as possible to avoid extra waste. 2) Keeping water cold for up to 12 hours is an absolute god send. Mine was from a brand called Corkcicle and we have a second from a brand called Chilly’s which has a handy hook on it too.
- Travel pillow – with a handy hook so you can just hang it off your rucksack.
- Lonely planet books – one for Thailand Islands, Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia and Australia all from Cotswold Outdoor.
- Spare passport photos for Visas
- Copies of passport, itineraries & insurance
- Notebook & pen
- Teabags (typical Brit right here)
- Tile – this has been so useful, it’s a tracking device with an app so you can track down your luggage if it gets lost.
- Luggage tags on all bags
Things I wish I packed
- Waterproof cover for our bags – when it rains it pours in SE Asia.
- A proper lightweight waterproof jacket – the poncho is great for a one time wear but an actual jacket would of been a lot more practical.
- More plasters and compeed blister patches – after an average of 10,000 steps a day it’s safe to say my poor little tootsies are in shreds
- Savlon or Sudocreme for my poor tootsies, sun burn etc.
- More travel adaptors – as I accidentally blew our only one with my hairdryer ooops!
- A professional camera – if you’re into photography then a professional camera I’m sure is a must. I would of loved to of bought one to take advantage of all the amazing photo opportunities but my budget wouldn’t allow so my iPhone camera will have to do for now!
- A wet/dry bag – we ended up doing a Scuba Diving course which we didn’t plan so this would of been useful to take on the boat but also for any wet clothing which hasn’t had time to dry when you’re on the move.
- A sarong – but these are super cheap to buy in Thailand so I’ll be grabbing one for under £5 in a elephant print because are you even a traveller unless you wear elephant print!?
I’m still testing out which items are an absolute must vs things I could of left behind and it’s very much my own personal preference! Loads of the above could be cut down if you want to go hardcore to keep it light – did you know you can get a travel towel which is the size of a small hanky and apparently still dries you just fine!?
My bag weighed around 19kg and ideally I would of liked to of kept it below 16kg but I couldn’t part with anything in my bag so it all had to come!