These are my absolute travel essentials that I always pack in my backpack. I have put together my essential packing list for backpacking and traveling anywhere. These items are my absolute essentials and have all served me well in dozens of countries and have lasted for years.
When investing in travel gear and equipment its important to think about items that have longevity that can be used time and time again and items that pack economically (they can be packed without taking up much space).
After being stung for overweight luggage and being weighed down for 10 years here are my essential travel items that I can’t live without and don’t weigh me down!
- Katmandu Hybrid Backpack 55L. I’ll start with my backpack, this bag from Katmandu may seem too small for some, however I used to have a 70L and downsized and never looked back. Most people over-pack and I always suggest packing then re-think how much you are actually packing and take out at least 10 unessential items.
If you are going camping and putting everything into one backpack you may need a larger 70L bag, however this Katmandu 55L bag pictured below was able to hold 30 outfits and bathroom goods for my three month trip in India very comfortably. I roll my clothes and pack with an order, arranging my outfits in order of wearing. It’s a good idea to have a look book for the days traveling. I only started to make a look-book for work (as a TV Host) but I have found that creating look books for trips allows for more organized packing.
I chose the hybrid Katmandu (hybrids allow you to have the option to pull or have a backpack, it has a handle as well as shoulder straps, I personally like the option of being able to not have a bag on my back in city areas where its crowded I also like this option to give my shoulders a rest).
*when choosing a backpack its important to be sure its fitted correctly and the right size for your body (if not you are in for a long uncomfortable journey). I was fitted for mine at the Katmandu store and then found the same one second hand online.
2. Camera Gear and equipment for great travel photos, social media and memories. Be sure to include a good point and shoot at very least. There are things you can do with a good point and shoot that cannot be done on Iphone 7. Photography has become an essential part of travel to preserve the memories, especially is you have kids.
My point and shoot camera is the Fuji X100- I loved the retro look of Leica cameras and really wanted one of those but did research and the Fuji X100 was a better overall camera and it was a little less expensive. I purchased a mini tripod for $2 from a 100 Yen style store in Japan Town Los Angeles that screws onto my Fuji x100. It has allowed me to take fantastic professional selfies when traveling solo. I screw in the mini tripod set up my frame then put the timer on. Voila Instagram ready!
Gopro 4- If you are planning on a beach destination or doing any activities at all while traveling Gopro 4 is an essential piece of camera gear. Easy to operate, durable and produces incredible underwater shots (without investing in waterproof camera housing). Its perfect for adventure trips and for children to operate to capture memorable underwater shots, like sea life. The shot free diving in the Gili Islands was taken with a Gopro 4 and was a hit on Instagram
3. Trench Coat – You would be surprised at how much a trench coat comes in handy in any country and in any climate, it rolls up very easily and does not take up much space. A trench coat will keep you very warm in cooler climates, it allows for layering underneath. A trench coat comes in handy in warmer climates, especially if you are by the sea as many beach and ocean destinations can occasionally be cooler in the evening. I invested in my trench from Burberry, I like keeping the same clothes for 10 years plus. H & M and chain stores stock similar styles. If you invest in few key pieces you will find you save money in the long run.
My trench coat has been to around 30 + countries including on my three month backpacking trip through India
4. Essential clothing for every trip: (except Antarctica or Finland ;))
–2 x Flowing dresses and 2 x flowing cotton skirts many countries from India to Italy, and even Bali require legs to be covered in certain areas or situations. It’s best to always have long cotton (great for summer or winter) dresses and skirts.
I am so embarrassed when I’m in Europe and I see tourists walking into cathedrals in hot pants. Whether you are religious or not its advised to always respect local customs. Have commonsense when traveling and don’t be a trash tourist.
-oversized hat something that can be folded and ‘crushed’ I purchased a beautiful fedora in Italy but it wasn’t suitable for travel as, as soon as it was packed was ruined and couldn’t be worn again. H & M never fails to have a great variety of over-sized hats that can be easily folded and packed and still maintain the shape and look fab + protect your skin!
-tights and t-shirts for sleeping, changing on the plane, layering for warmth and even exercise. I always have at least 2-3 pairs of cotton tights, t-shirts. I love H & M and American Apparel for cotton basics.
-3-4 shawls: Shawls come in handy for many reasons: modesty, variation of looks for social media, warmth and comfort when traveling. I always wrap myself up with a shawl on car trips and on the plane for comfort. Colored shawls look great in pics and can dress up even a casual cotton t-shirt. Shawls are essential for muslim countries, India, Italy and Israel. Good quality and affordable shawls can also be found online on H & M.
–Essential Shoes: 3 x pairs essential: havaianas, canvas sand shoes, flat sandals (that can be worn casual or for an occasion) for an occasion (nice dinner). Flats are acceptable even for a nice dinner- If you’re not planning on dining in three michelin star restaurants forget the heels!
5. Essential beauty and personal care items.
–Paw-paw ointment (Australian) disinfects and heals cuts and chapped lips (I never go anywhere without paw-paw).
-Vitamin C serum–My one single beauty and anti-aging item I am never without is Vitamin C serum. I never sacrifice having great skin, even backpacking or during adventure travels. Vitamin C serum assists with collagen production and can be used as a day treatment, night treatment and without or without make-up. I have a formula that can also be used as a primer.
–Coconut Oil- Those who read my blog regularly know that I use coconut oil for everything from hair treatments to teeth whitener see my 20 Unique Uses for Coconut Oil here.
–Tea-tree spray– a natural insecticide and anti-microbial spray. Tea tree spray can be used to spray on stinky airline seats for anti-bacterial purposes and also used as a natural insects repellent and insect bite treatment, relieving itch, cleansing and swelling.
–Temperature stable probiotics (at least 20 billion) probiotics have changed my life! I can say without a doubt I would not be able to travel as extensively or happily without probiotics. Before discovering probiotics I had had Bali belly, Bangkok belly and every other belly in every country! I traveled 26 states in India eating street food, mostly with my hands and was never sick once. I was prepared! Take probiotics at least 10 days before departure and one every day. I prefer to take my tablet at night as I sometimes get cramps if I take it in the morning (I am sensitive though). Take them when it suits you, just take it!
-Mega B from blackmores or berrocca – vitamin b taken orally is great for maintaining energy levels on long journeys, especially for those who do not have much meat in their diets. Vitamin b taken before a late night and the next day can also assist with preventing a ‘hang-over’.
6. Essential electronics:
-Macbook air (light and compact) As I work from my computer, I cannot live without my laptop. I could never go pack to PC I’ve been using mac for 10 years now and feel alien when I hope on a PC. I use my Macbook for storing movies and shows to watch on long trips and of course for writing and editing pics.
–apple universal kit- you can purchase all in 1 but sometimes if does not work so I take my apple universal kit if I am planning on visiting a few countries in one trip as its more reliable.
-kindle– lightweight and keeps all your reading material in one place. Essential!
-Iphone 7 I always have my phone for photography, taking notes, listening to music and of course with a local sim – no matter where I am.
Packing list for carry on essentials:
I used to take much more in my carry on but have reduced this drastically as I am now a ‘light packer’. I was an over-packer for years and feel much freer now and somehow have more.
small backpack or satchel with a laptop section: Inside my laptop satchel:
Small make-up case with: simple face wipes, paw-paw (I use for lips and as a highlighter), tea-tree spray, vitamin C serum (to combat the dry air and to refresh upon destination arrival).
Clothing: pack light cotton clothing. shawl/wrap for comfort warmth, cotton tights, underwear and t-shirt
Other carry on travel essentials: note book for writing, kindle, macbook air, silk eye mask, camera gear.
On a long journey even a straw weighs heavy
– Spanish proverb
I’m updating my camera gear this year and investing in a drone as I am interested in cinematography and drones. On of my fave male travel bloggers The Expert Vagabond recently posted about a new drone and packing it – his blog has fantastic travel advice!
These are my absolute travel essentials that I always pack in my backpack every single trip. This is my no-fail proof packing essentials list for most destinations (except destinations with extreme whether conditions like Antarctica and Iceland). For more handy travel tips see my section all on travel tips What are some of your travel essentials and recommendations? I would love to hear below.