Your Guide to Packing in 2021
Last update: 04/27/21 | April 27, 2021
After more than ten years of traveling the world, what I wear in my bag has changed a lot. Most of this change has to do with the fact that I now carry a lot of blogging related material, but it also reflects the fact that I’ve learned a lot about packaging since I first hit the road in 2006.
I traveled with big travel bags, 60 liter bags, 30 liter bags, carry-ons and everything in between. I have learned different packaging techniques over the years.
And today I want to share this knowledge with you.
So what should you pack on your trip?
As small as it gets.
Wrapping up the light is a cliché, but one that has a lot of truth. The more I travel, the more I realize that I don’t need a lot of things. Everything I need now fits in one backpack.
I like to write down whatever I think I need – then cut it in half. I always wonder, “Am I going to use this enough to justify the weight?”
Most of the time, the answer is no.
I only take the essentials, and if I really need something that I didn’t bring, I buy it on the go. It is not that difficult to find medicine, clothes or an umbrella abroad.
I also try to respect the same climate when traveling to avoid having to carry lots of different clothes. I don’t want to lug sweaters around Thailand! However, plans may change, and if that happens, I’ll buy a light jacket or sweater. I’ll keep it until it’s a burden and then give it away.
Also can doing laundry abroad so I like to wear enough clothes for 7-10 days, do laundry, then start over. You don’t need to bring a lot when you can just wash what you have.
Regarding the long answer to what you should pack? Well here is my suggested packing list – but you have to tailor it to your needs.
(To note: This focuses on travel in a non-winter climate. If you are heading to a cold place, you will need to adjust accordingly.)
- 5 t-shirts
- 1 long-sleeved t-shirt
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easy to dry, but I wear them a lot – a good alternative is khaki)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 8 pairs of socks (I always lose my socks so I take more! I don’t know where they go?)
- 1 pair of dress shoes (heavy to carry, but when I visit friends we usually go to a place not suitable for sneakers. It depends on the destination. I do it more in Australia and Europe and less everywhere elsewhere.)
- 1 dress shirt (to go to a respectable place in the evening)
- 1 pair of black dress socks
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 pack of dental floss
- 1 razor
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel (always bring a towel!)
SMALL MEDICAL KIT
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Eye drops
- Hand sanitizer
To learn more about first aid kits, check out this in-depth article on how to make one for any destination.
Special tip: buy a small backpack so you won’t be tempted to overpack. We subconsciously like to fill up empty space, so if you have a big bag you’re more likely to overpack just so you don’t waste space. By purchasing a smaller backpack, you will be forced to take only the essentials – a mental trick that works great!
I have found that this list leaves me with nothing to miss. I’m sure many of you will read this and say, “But what about X?” or “You really don’t need Y.” Well that works for you, and this list works for me. Tailor your list to your travels.
I’m writing this post not because I think there’s a perfect way to pack, but to answer the recurring question about what I’m doing and why. This is my list and fits my “summer hunt, hostel living” lifestyle.
But the real point I want to make is that you really don’t need a lot when traveling. You never need as much as you think.
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Book your trip: logistics tips and tricks
Book your flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are my two favorite search engines as they search websites and airlines all over the world, so you always know no stone is left behind.
Book your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for budget guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. It’s full protection in the event of a problem. I never go on a trip without it because I have had to use it several times in the past. I have been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and the best value are:
Ready to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list everyone I use when I travel. They are the best in their class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.