WHAT TO PACK
Travelling soon? Take the stress out of packing with my Travel Packing Checklist.
For my first trip overseas (and for a couple after…) I simply packed what I “needed”. I would throw in everything I thought I might use and end up with an almost full luggage weighing about 19kg and returned with an even heavier luggage. For someone quite petite, it definitely wasn’t a smart way to pack – staircases were an absolute nightmare, and I would often require help from others.
The packing checklist I created will help ensure you don’t forget to bring the essentials. A few items on the list you can definitely do without, just depends on the kind of trip you plan to have.
TIPS ON PACKING LIGHT
More recently, I can travel with just my carry-on luggage and this is my preference, especially for longer trips. When packing these days, I consider the following questions…
- Will I definitely use this [insert item]? If I’m unsure and it’s relatively cheap to buy in-country, you won’t find it in my luggage.
- Do I really love this [insert clothing]? I’ve found that I only need to pack 1 or at most 2 of a particular type of clothing. For example, if I have a favourite sweater and I know for sure that I’d choose this sweater to wear on any day of my trip over any other I’ve packed – I’d bring just the one, there’s no point carrying an extra.
- Can I pair [insert clothing] easily with others? Pack clothes that go well with others you plan to bring. I stick to plain clothes (those without patterns) and white, black, grey, navy, light blue, and tan pieces – muted tones are best and easy to match with others.
- How often will I be doing laundry? If my trip is just for a week or two, it’s unlikely I’ll be doing any laundry so I would bring just enough clothes and underwear to last me for that period. If I’m going for any longer, then I’d have to do my laundry at some point so I would bring just enough for a full week.
- Is this [insert item] going to take up a lot of space? If it’s a yes and I can live without it… it won’t be in my bag.
BUYING TRAVEL ITEMS
Try not to buy anything new for your trip unless it’s absolutely necessary (I know… it’s hard!!). Consider borrowing items from friends or family. I borrow things from my sister who is, lucky for me, a bit of a traveller and shopper! In the past, I’ve borrowed her packing cubes, luggage, daypack, padlocks, collapsible water bottle, travel pillow, travel adapter, and even her kindle…
I’d say other than my North Face Rain Jacket, I don’t have any specialised travel clothes. I would avoid buying clothes that are going to be worn only while travelling as it’s kind of a waste of money… but if you think you’ll get your money’s worth, then go ahead. Uniqlo is my favourite when it comes to buying lightweight and easy-to-pack clothes as they’re usually suitable for both travel and home.
Remember, unless you’re travelling to extremely remote places, most things can be purchased in-country. It’s awesome travelling light… you may end up having to buy a few things but I find that way better than overpacking and travelling with a large heavy luggage. You’ll also save money if travelling by plane as you won’t have to pay for checked baggage – which can really add to the price of flights!
Australian?? If yes, make sure your Cashrewards is activated before purchasing any goods or services. If you haven’t heard of Cashrewards, you’ve unfortunately been missing out on some great cashback offers including 17.5% at Hostelworld, 8% at Amazon, 5.5% at Expedia, 10.5% at Lonely Planet, 4% at Booking.com, 5.6% at Agoda, 5.5% at Wotif, 5% at Groupon, 3.5% at ASOS, 4.9% at Avis, 8.5% at The Iconic, and 4.9% at Uniqlo! Head over now and create your account >> use this Cashrewards link and we both receive $5 on your first purchase!
A list of some of my favourites!
- The North Face Women’s Venture Rain Jacket – I bought this rain jacket for my trip to the Canadian Rockies and I wore it almost every day! It’s waterproof and has underarm zip vents for those sweaty times. I have it in XS and it fits very well. I wouldn’t wear it in extremely cold conditions as I don’t think it would keep me warm, at all. If you plan to wear layers underneath, keep in mind that it’s quite fitted and might get a little tight and uncomfortable if you have more than 2 layers, especially around the underarm area. Consider buying one size up if you plan to wear multiple layers.
- Sony Alpha a5000 (with 16-55mm kit lens) – My first ever mirrorless digital camera. I’ve had it for over 3 years! I take it with me on every trip. I love that it’s small, relatively light (compared to others of similar specs), simple to use and has wifi connectivity. The screen flips up 180 degrees so it’s great for taking selfies too! All my photos are taken with this camera, except for a few wide angle shots which were taken with my GoPro. If you’re interested to see the quality of its recording, check out my Seoul or Busan video.
- Sony 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens – If you’re going to buy the Sony Alpha a5000, I highly recommend getting this 35mm lens. It is a bit of a splurge but definitely worth it! I used only the kit lens for about a year and a half before adding this to my collection (of two). I think it’s best to be familiar with any camera you have first before purchasing additional lens or accessories. Many of the photos I took in Europe were taken with the 35mm – you can take some really nice close-up shots (good for food and portraits, check out >> coffee!) This lens basically lives in my daypack when I travel. Warning, it’s a little heavy…
- GoPro HERO4 Silver – I got this GoPro as a birthday gift from my partner but I would’ve bought it myself if I hadn’t! The GoPro is the only other camera I’d have with me on my trips. It’s small, barely takes up any space, and with its waterproof casing, you can record underwater! While you can take photos with the GoPro (check out >> Eiffel tower), I mainly use it to record videos. Many of my short travel videos feature GoPro footage – see my Japan video.
- Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – If you love reading, the Kindle is a must-have! I prefer reading paper books but packing light is priority! I had the Kindle (without light) for a couple years before switching to the Kindle Paperwhite (I swapped my Kindle for my sister’s :D). If you can afford it, just go for the Paperwhite as the adjustable light will come in handy.
- JOBY GorillaPod – This tripod is awesome!! It took me a while to find a suitable tripod and I’m glad I settled on this one! I love that it doesn’t take up much space in my daypack and I can wrap its flexible legs around almost anything! I don’t think it’s a must-have but it’s definitely useful for solo travellers that want to have at least a couple shots of themselves on the trip, that aren’t selfies, without having to annoy a stranger.
- Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack – I did a lot of research before settling on this 40L backpack. It was really hard to find this bag online or in-store (in South Korea, where I was living at the time) for cheap so I actually bought the Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek + ND 33:40 backpack for my travels instead. However, I found the Lowe Alpine too small to be the only bag I take with me on my travels so when I finally found the Osprey on sale (at half price!), I knew it was meant to be! I’ve since travelled with my Osprey to Europe and Canada. I really like travelling with my Osprey – it’s a good size, opens wide (like a luggage case), has several adjustable straps (including ones at the shoulders), a laptop section and several compartments for better organisation so you don’t have to go digging to find your stuff! In terms of comfort, I prefer my Lowe Alpine as it has the ventilated AirZone back system and a thicker hipbelt (but then again, we’re comparing a hiking backpack to a travel pack). Regardless of what backpack you’re considering, you should try it on first (possibly with something heavy placed in it) to ensure it’s a good fit and comfortable when secured. Also, with hiking backpacks, there is a difference between women’s and men’s.
- Lonely Planet Travel Guide – Lonely Planet Travel Guides are the best!! I’ve used other travel guides but I don’t find the content anywhere near as structured, detailed or practical. With Lonely Planet guides, you usually get a good intro on the country, a survival guide, a few itineraries, a summary of top experiences, and essential information on attractions/activities such as opening hours, costs, ‘how to get there and away’. I never purely rely on these guides when I travel but they provide an excellent starting point for research. The online store gives you the option to buy just the eBook version, which is cheaper than getting the hard copy. And you don’t even have to buy the whole eBook! If say, you’re just travelling to Bangkok and won’t be exploring other parts of Thailand, you can buy just the chapter on Bangkok or the region that covers Bangkok, for as little as A$3.34 (with their regular 33% off flash sales). The Lonely Planet website previously held an “All eBooks $9.99” sale, so you should keep an eye out for that by subscribing to their newsletter (when you subscribe, you’ll receive a 20% discount on your next guidebook purchase). If you’re located in Australia and wish to purchase a hard copy, it’s best to buy directly from their online store as it’s free shipping and you can get 10.5% cashback through Cashrewards!
Below is a checklist I created to help make the process of last-minute packing less stressful… so don’t you worry about forgetting the essentials, it’s all covered here! BTW, this is a woman’s packing list… If you’re a guy, it shouldn’t be hard for you to work out what you don’t need, but you may want to add a few things like a shaver or beard trimmer?
I hope you found this post helpful.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you sign up or make purchases through them. I have not been paid to include these links. They are just products or services I use and love. Thanks for your support!