Ultimate Packing Guide

Because it has to be ultimate or Google wont care. (And it’s a pretty spot on packing list.)

I am an advocates for light packing. The smaller and lighter a bag, the easier it is to zip around the world without a care. It’s also unbelievably refreshing to not own a lot of stuff.

To help you trim down the load, or to use as a reminder-check-list, here is Zazz’s list of the essentials and what is probably worth hauling around the globe.

Scroll down to the bottom to check out some handy packing tips.

photo 4

Give things away or ship things home when you start collecting too many souvenirs.

 

The Essentials

  • Backpack
    • Even if you’re not a conventional backpacker, I recommend backpacks for off-the-beaten-path traveling. Wheels are inconvenient for cobblestone and dirt roads.
    • Unless you are bringing extra gear for a hobby or camping, you don’t need anything larger than a 50 liter bag.
  • Passport
  • Visas
    • Some countries give you visas upon arrival and some don’t. Make sure to look into it well before your trip as sometimes it can take up to a month to process.
  • Debit / Credit card
    • Remember to inform your bank that you’re traveling.
    • Bring a back up. Twice I’ve had ATMs eat my card and the associated bank hasn’t given it back. It’s no fun to be stuck somewhere without access to funds.

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, & floss
  • Soap & Facewash
  • Shaving supplies
  • Shampoo & conditioner
    • Under 3 oz if you don’t want to check your bag on the plane.
  • Micro-fiber Towel
    • You can’t always guarantee your hostel or host will provide a towel. Regular towels are heavy and take up a lot of room; a micro-fiber towel is well worth the investment. Bonus: they dry quick.
  • Deodorant
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Birth Control
  • Sunblock
    • Essential if you’re fair-skinned and near the equator.
  • Moisturizer
  • Brush / comb
  • Insect Repellent
    • Essential in areas with malaria and dengue fever.

Ladies

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Make-up
    • I like to keep it simple with mascara, a mineral concealer, eye liner, and a small tube of liquid concealer for when I get dark circles.
  • Make-up remover
    • I use jojoba oil or coconut oil. When used lightly they double as a moisturizer for frizzy hair.
  • A compact mirror
    • I’ve stayed in cheap rooms that didn’t have mirrors, handy to have.

Clothing

  • One Pair of Good Shoes
    • Even if you don’t plan on hiking, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Try to find something light but sturdy with good traction.  I’m not a huge fan of wearing shoes and my feet are accustomed to less protection. If you’re like me, I recommend lace-up canvas shoes like Converse. They squish flat in your bag, are light, and stay on your feet during light trekking.
    • Cold Weather
      • Whatever your shoes, make sure they are water resistant.
  • Sandals or flip-flops
    • Flip flops are great for beaches, the tropics, and are even handy to have in cold weather climates when dealing with gross showers.
    • I personally travel with both flip flops and sandals. I like the more fashionable option that my lightweight sandals provide.
    • Ladies: I also travel with simple black ballet flats for when I need to dress a little more formally.
  • Socks
    • 2-4 pairs, depending on how often you wear your shoes. I usually wear my sandals, so I carry 2.
  • Underwear
    • You can get away with only two pairs if you wash a pair every time you shower, but I don’t recommend that.
    • Ladies: 1-3 Bras or crop-tops. 1 strapless.
  • Pants / trousers & shorts
    • Warm Weather
      • 1 pair of pants, I do not recommend jeans for tropical climates.
      • 2 pairs of shorts
      • Ladies: 1 dress that can pass as semi-formal
    • Cold Weather
      • 2 pairs of pants if you’re a guy, 1 pair if you’re a gal
      • Ladies: substitute a heavy pair of pants with a pair of leggings
      • Ladies: 1 dress that can pass as semi-formal
  • Shirts / Tops & Jackets
    • Warm Weather
      • 1 long sleeve or light jacket/cardigan. Air conditioning in planes and buses can get cold.
      • 1-4 shirts, depending on how sweaty you get and how often you want to do laundry.
      • Men: Make 1 of those shirts a dress shirt.
    • Cold Weather
      • At least 1 long sleeved shirt or cardigan / sweater
      • 1-4 shirts, they can be short sleeved if you’ve got a sweater or cardigan
      • Men: Make 1 of those shirts a dress shirt.
      • A good winter worthy coat. I recommend something packable like THIS.

Miscellaneous

  • Rain coat
    • Recommended for areas with frequent rainfall, such as tropical locations like Southeast Asia.
  • Compression Bags
    • I love these. They give you triple the amount of space and allow for a few (or more) cheeky extra outfits. Only downside is they’re hard to keep quite while packing and unpacking with them.
  • Power Adapter
    • Look up what outlets are used in the countries you’re going to.
  • Sun Glasses
  • Unlocked Phone
  • Camera
  • Student I.D.
    • If you have one, bring it. Many parks, museums, and tours give discounts for students. I’ve saved loads of money using my old university student I.D.
  • Laptop or Tablet
    • I used a tablet for the first year of my travels, I switched to my laptop only because it’s easier to run my website.
  • Tiger Balm
    • This stuff is great for relieving mosquito bites. You can also rub some on your temples and neck to relieve motion sickness and nausea.
  • Light bag for dirty laundry
    • I use a thin cloth tote
  • Ear phones / Ear buds
    • I carry a headphone splitter with me so I can share music with a friend on long bus/train rides.
  • Travel Pillow
  • Laundry detergent
    • Don’t expect your hostel to provide it. You can buy little travel-sized pouches or put the powdered kind in zip-lock baggies.
  • Headlamp
  • Super glue
    • Surprisingly handy for quick repairs and to reinforce fringes or ripped seams. Duct tape is great for this too.

Packing Tips

  • No Spills
    Bumps in the road and pressure changes in airplanes can make shampoo and lotion caps pop open and spill. Unscrew the lid and place a bit of saran wrap or a plastic bag over the bottle and screw the lid back on. Viola! I’ve been using this once since I was 16 and have never had a spill.
  • Twisty Ties
    A great way to keep cords and necklaces organized.
  • Transfer Bottles
    Have you used up half of your shampoo already? Buy some cheap travel sized bottles to transfer the liquid to in order to save some room in your bag. Also, keep in mind that some product companies have more container than product in an attempt to trick you into thinking you’re buying more. Do the same in those situations to utilize the most space.
  • Pill Containers
    Aren’t just for pills. They’re good for storing jewelry to keep necklaces tangle-free and they can also be used to store creams if you don’t want to bring the whole jug.
  • Dirty Shoes
    Wrap your shoes in a simple plastic bag to keep them from dirtying the rest of the contents in your bag.
  • Headphone Storage
    Buy a small coin purse or wallet to store your ear-buds in. Coil your headphones, slip them in the purse,  throw the purse in your bag, and ta-da! No horrific tangled mess at the bottom of your backpack.

Discover a handy travel tool or companion? Let me know by commenting below.

Happy travels!

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2 responses to “Ultimate Packing Guide

  1. Hi Zazz, your website is very useful and contains lots of information about travelling. I’m fortunate to have come across your website. I’m planning a solo backpacking trip to Thailand soon for around 1 month and now I’m looking for gears to buy. I have some questions to ask:
    1. About the backpack, what volume should I get? What features should I look for when choosing a backpack? Brands and their qualities?
    2. I read about hitchhiking in Thailand on your webpage. Was it in a particular region, e.g. Isaan? And how do you hitchhike in Thailand?
    3. You mentioned about “Travel as the locals do” in the “Travel Tips” section, are there local buses available for long-distance travel, i.e. from Chiang Mai to Ubon Ratchaburi? How can I buy local bus tickets?
    4. I need some advice on planning my trip. I’ve encountered some difficulties when planning my trip as often I’m not sure how long I should stay at one place and how many attractions I should go, i.e. there are more than 300 wats in Chiang Mai to visit, how do I plan which to visit?
    Places I’d like to cover: Mostly Northern Thailand and Isaan: Chiang Mai, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sariang, Chiang Rai, Ubon Ratchaburi, Nong Khai etc. Starting point, by train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai (might stop at Bangkok/Hat Yai/Hua Hin)
    -What do you think? Am I being too ambitious?
    -Budget-wise, are there any other alternatives to trains?
    P.S. I’m only 18 this year and it would mean so much to me if I succeed in this 🙂

    • Hi Saw, I’m happy my website was useful for you. I’ll try to answer some of your question the best that I can.

      1. Gather or estimate the size of all the things you would like to bring with you. If it exceeds a 70 lb bag, then dump a lot of things. Honestly, this question is answered somewhere in-between your personal comfort with carrying something and how much you’re willing to part with. Aside from size, I look for comfort, then strength and quality, accessibility, and usefulness. If it’s painful to carry the bag around, I wont buy. Will it fall apart within a few weeks? Check the seems and stitching. How easy is it to find an item in my bag that I might want? Multiple ways of accessing your bag is a perk.

      2. I hitchiked primarily in Central Thailand, near and through the boarder of Myanmar. I started off by writing basic hitchiking words on a sheet of paper along with destinations along the route of my final destination. Translate and learn simple questions like, “Can I have a ride towards (insert desired town or city)?”. Plan your route and ask about closer towns if you doubt the driver will be traveling as far as your destination. You will eventually arrive where you want to be. Wherever that is.

      3. You go to the local bus station. If you don’t know where that is, ask somebody or look it up in the respective town or city you are in. The internet is useful, however, be careful of overpriced tourist buses. I found that while traveling in Thailand, it was best to simply ask a local.

      4. See answer 3.

      The answer to this question is somewhere between your desire to visit particular places, and your desire to simply explore and enjoy the ride as it happens in the moment. Arrive, stay however long you’d like, and move on when you’re done. If you can’t make it to all of the places you would like, plan to go back someday.

      P.S. I once met a 17 year old girl successfully hitch hiking and traveling through Southeast Asia on her own. She was rocking it, appearing much bolder than I felt, and she eventually returned home before starting off on another adventure. As long as you keep your head about you, you should be alright.

      Have fun!

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