My Backpacking Checklist

In a few days I’m off backpacking around South East Asia for a couple of weeks.

I’ve had lots of little city breaks and holidays in Europe, and I worked in the Philippines for a month in 2016. Although I travelled at the weekends when I was over there, and I’ve also spent some time pottering around South East Asia.

I am definitely what you could call an over packer, but I have managed to hone my packing skills over the various years of going to festivals and trips abroad.

I’ve got a 40l backpack which I can fit everything in, and it’s also just small enough to take on as hand luggage.

travel planning

I’ve done a few long haul flights (check out my other post about how I survive these), and I always have horrible anxiety about my luggage being lost at the connecting airport. It hasn’t happened to me but it has happened to people I know so it’s not a completely unfounded fear! So if I can take it as hand luggage rather than checking it in it definitely relieves some pre-flight worries.

One purchase that has made my packing so much easier is the packing cubes that I bought on Amazon a few months ago. It’s really helped to make everything so much more organised and I know it will make things really easy to find when it comes to unpacking too. I also absolutely love a travel wallet; it makes everything so much easier at the airport when you need to be taking tickets, passport, insurance paperwork etc in and out.

Have a look below at what I’ve packed in my bag!

backpacking preparation

Essentials –

So it goes without saying that I’ve got my passport and my plane tickets! I’ve also got money, bank cards and my travel insurance paperwork in my travel wallet.
I’ve got all my medication for the time I’m out plus a few spares just in case.

Clothes –

I’ve got a couple of pairs of shorts and tops, playsuits, a dress and a bikini. I’ve also got a couple of sets of pyjamas ( I would live in pyjamas if I could)!
For shoes I’m just taking a pair of flip flops and a pair of trainers for any days where I’m doing lots of walking.
I’ve also got some loose trousers and a jumper to wear on the plane because they can get really cold.
Finally, I’m taking a hat for those extra sunny days!

Beauty and Toiletries –

I’m not a huge makeup wearer – I’m actually really bad at makeup. So I’ve packed an eyelash curler and waterproof mascara (which is all I wear really), and of course my trusty Wunderbrow, which I can absolutely not do without. I will happily leave my house without a scrap of makeup on but if my eyebrows aren’t done I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got some makeup wipes, deodorant and a razor.
I’ve got travel shampoo and conditioner, shower gel and sun cream. I’ll be honest, I have really long, thick hair and washing and drying it is an absolute nightmare, so it’s pretty much a once weekly activity. This is why I’ve packed small bottles of shampoo and conditioner, but plenty of dry shampoo! Also the nature of having bright, colourful hair means that the colour bleeds a lot, which makes washing it in public/shared areas tricky!
In addition to being terrible at make up, I’m also terrible at hair. To be fair, pretty much everyone finds it difficult to style my hair because it’s so thick, so I’m using that as an excuse. All I’m packing to manage my hair (which is naturally curly and massive) is a tangle teaser, a few bobbles and some grips.
Aside from my medication, which I consider an essential, I’ve got plasters, antibacterial gel, some standard medication and tissues.

Miscellaneous –

Of course I’ve got my phone, a portable charger and an adaptor. Last time I was away travelling I had a notebook and a pen with me to document everything I had done in the day and I love looking back on it, so I’m going to do that again too.
I’ve packed sunglasses and a travel towel which is super light and compact but also really absorbent – ideal for any trips where you need to pack small and light.
I’ve got a couple of padlocks for my bag, and I’m also taking a dreaded selfie stick. I really dislike them in principle but some of my favourite pictures from the Philippines were taken with one and it seems silly to miss out on those opportunities for the sake of my pride!
I’ve got a little foldable day bag to take out on trips with me, it takes up hardly any space at all and is really roomy when opened out! Plus it had cats on which is always a bonus.
I’m fairly certain from other flights that I will get a sleep mask and ear plugs when I’m on the plane, but I don’t want to risk not having them so I’ve packed a set too.
I’ve also packed my Beats. I know that I shouldn’t take anything expensive but they are my luxury item to make my journey a little more bearable!
Finally, I’ve got my little travel good luck charms that my mum bought me before I worked away last time.

travel charms

Are there any essential things you wouldn’t do without when travelling?

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The essential backpacking packing guide


  1. I always like to bring some medicine too I don’t like to find myself in a position to don’t find what I need or I want during this time out, it can be a nightmare!

    Liked by 1 person

      • yes i’m looking forward to it WITH MY WHOLE HEART!!!!! i’m so glad to hear that your friend loved it. i’ll be in delhi teaching children in the slums!! how did you decided to backpack solo the first time?!?💙💙

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s amazing! The first time I went away alone I also worked/volunteered – I was really lucky in that I was given a scholarship to fund it so just went for it! I’ve had the travel bug ever since. I bet you’ll have an amazing time! 💛

        Liked by 1 person

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