Backpack Basics and What I Carry In Mine

One common problem which many backpackers seem to face when starting out is what to take with them on their journey, and how much they should pack. Below I’ve listed some of my backpack basics, and what I carry in mine

In no particular order:


The more and more I travel the less and less clothes I seem to take! I often find that after a few months I am chucking out things that I haven’t worn much, or just buying the odd thing along the way when something wears out. These days, when packing clothes I usually take: 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, 5 tops (1 long sleeved), 1 jumper, 4 sets of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, bikini, pyjamas, towel (not clothes but I didn’t know where else to put it) and 1 skirt or dress. To be honest, you could probably cut down on the jeans, shorts, and tops, and you probably don’t need a skirt or dress (especially if you are a man! 😛 ) but as much as I like to have a light bag, I do still like to have a few options when picking something to wear, or when something is in the wash.



You really only need 2 pairs of shoes with you when you’re travelling but I normally take 3; 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of trainers/comfortable shoes, and 1 pair of dolly shoes (I normally bring dolly shoes as my dressier option. For any girls out there, dolly shoes can be a versatile option as you can get away with wearing them for a night out, as well as with jeans during the day if it’s not to hot, and also if you are on a working holiday visa and attending interviews where you can’t wear flip flops or trainers).



I carry a small toiletries bag with me which contains shampoo, conditioner, shower gel (don’t take soap. it’s really messy after you’ve used it the first time and is not meant to be kept in a backpack!), toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, make-up, any medication needed (check with customs for each country if taking medication with you), and exfoliate/moisturiser (not really a necessity but is more of a vanity thing for me! 🙂 )



Almost all of these are not a necessity but I choose to take them for the reasons which I will explain as I go along. Hairdryer (you don’t need a hairdryer, but if you have long hair like me it would really make things a lot more difficult if you don’t have one )

Network unlocked mobile phone (I always take a mobile phone and buy a Sim Card from the country I am in if I am staying there for a while. It’s the best way to contact other travellers if you want to meet up for drinks or at other points along your travels out with social networking sites, but also just for emergencies. If someone was hurt, I was stranded, or for some reason needed to contact home/be contacted immediately, I like to know I have that option).

Laptop computer (This is definitely not a necessity as you can normally find internet cafes wherever you are or within your hostel, but if you are trying to do this professionally then a laptop is essential as internet cafes are simply not going to be able to cut it and are usually slow and with old soft wear. On top of that, a lot of hostels offer free wifi, as well as most coffee shops or food outlets so it can save you a lot of money in the long run)

Camera For me a camera is a really important tool when you are travelling. Aside from the fact that you need one if you are trying to do this as a profession like me, but I love looking back on photo’s and remembering the people and the memories from that time in place. I like the idea too, that I can look back on these moments when I’m old as some of the best of my life, and long may they continue.

Hair Straighteners My one vice! I am slowly weaning myself off of using hair straighteners as to be honest my hair is quite straight anyway and they take up unnecessary room in my bag! I have gone days without them when I’ve been in the outback or camping, but I am also a girl who likes to party and unfortunately for nights out, I have a much better time when I feel and look good, so for vanity’s sake they are always in my backpack! 🙂 I have literally chucked out clothes and toiletries just to fit them in!

You will also need a small bag for hand luggage which I usually use to carry things like purse, passport etc, and to use on day trips out.

So there you go. My life’s possessions all packed up into one bag.

8 Responses to “Backpack Basics and What I Carry In Mine”

  1. Great tips Jane I will be sure to take note as I prepare my packing list.

  2. jane says:

    That’s great Chris. Glad I could help 🙂

  3. Lauren says:

    Great list. I love your honesty with the hair dryer and hair straighteners, though I don’t know what ther latter are- giant hair rollers?? I have wavy hair and just let it dry.
    For pants, I bring 1 pair jeans and one pair of cargo pants. I always bring a thin wool sweater too. What’s a jumper?
    I get along with two pairs of shoes – black Chaco sandals and sneakers that can be worn runnng or hiking.
    I haven’t traveled abroad since owning a netbook or iPhone, and the combo of both these would enable me to leave my big camera behind, my journal, compass, mini alarm clock, and possibly even a guidebook, depending if it could be bought electronically.
    I always bring sunblock too.

    • jane says:

      Hey Lauren,
      a jumper is just a British term for a sweater, and Hair Straighteners are another British term for Flat Irons. I’m actually glad you asked this as sometimes I forget when I’m writing that some terms I use for things aren’t international, so will make me remember for future posts 🙂

      I’ve travelled with a net book and a laptop at different times and found them both good, although the laptop can get a little heavy after a while. I don’t have an iphone although I think I may invest in one at some point as they have so many functions that would be really useful when travelling.

  4. Danni says:

    Hi! I’m new to your blog and this was a great first post for me to read! I’m nerdy in that I love posts about packing and travel gear, and I completely love that you bring a hairdryer and flat iron! I have long hair too and always bring them (although I’ve started trying to get away with just a hair dryer.. verdict is still out on that one). My friends always tell me I am a high maintenance backpacker but I just feel better when my hair is not awful!
    Thanks for sharing your list!

  5. JH says:

    Looking at your list of items, I missed my backpacking days !

    I have 2 backpacks, 1 for medium & 1 for long trips, ended up taking the medium backpack for long trips too. Basically squeeze as much as stuff inside & yes, electrical gadgets & accessories getting more !

    Not including my smaller bag or messenger bag & maybe small pouch !

    Happy backpacking !


  6. Ali says:

    I was just thinking of how I’d love to see someone’s packing list in the hopes that I will eventually take a long backpacking trip. I have a backpack I’ve used for 2 week trips & it’s just barely small enough for me to bring as a carry-on. I pack more clothing than you listed so I’m very encouraged about trying to stick to my motto of carry-on only! Glad you posted this list!


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