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Prepare for adventure: What to take on a backpacking trip

Updated: Apr 1

It is important to travel light and with the essentials in a backpack.


Going backpacking had been in our plans for a long time. However, the emotional decision to pack your backpack and leave brings with it a crucial question: what to take?


Preparing for a backpacking trip requires considering several factors, such as the destination, expected weather conditions, culture, and activities planned throughout the trip.


In this article, we want to share with you in detail what we take with us, from the essential items to the small details that make all the difference. This guide will help you organize your luggage and ensure you are prepared for this adventure.


At the end of the article, you can download a travel checklist with all the essential items for your trip.


It is very important to only take the essentials in a backpacking trip.
It is very important to only take the essentials in a backpacking trip.

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What to take on a backpacking trip

 

Suitcase or backpack?

Choosing between a suitcase and a backpack depends on your travel style, planned activities, and your personal preferences. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and the decision can be influenced by factors such as ease of transportation, type of transport used, and duration of the trip.


For our travel style, we chose a backpack as it is more practical and easier to carry.


When it comes to size, remember, less is more. Traveling light is essential on a long trip to be able to carry your backpack without suffering. We opted for a 50-liter backpack for each of us, and it was more than enough.


To organize our backpack, we opted for organization cubes, and it was one of the best purchases we've ever made. The clothes were organized inside the cubes, and the backpack was packed and unpacked very quickly.


Necessary documents


  • Passport: valid for a minimum of 6 months after the date of return.

  • Travel insurance: Having travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen events is essential.

  • ATM Cards: The Revolut Card is great for travel; We always use it and have never had any problems. With this card, you do not pay exchange fees for the local currency.

  • Vaccination report: Make sure you have the recommended vaccines for the region, such as typhoid fever and hepatitis A.

  • International Driving License: If you plan to drive during your trip, an international driving license may be required in some countries.

  • Visa: Check if the first country you are going to visit requires an entry visa. As you travel, check the visa requirements for each country you plan to visit and obtain them in advance if necessary.

  • Cash: It may be helpful to carry some physical cash, such as dollars. We didn't take it, but it might be useful to have some in reserve for the borders.

  • Copies of documents: Photocopies of your passport, insurance policy, and driving license may be useful. Keep them separate from the originals.


Clothes

Ideally, choose light and comfortable clothing. Avoid too many patterns and pieces of clothing that don't match. Bring enough clothes for about 7 to 10 days, regardless of whether you are traveling for 1 month or 1 year. As a rule, accommodations have a laundry service, or you can easily find these services in cities.


  • Shirts

  • Tops

  • T-shirts

  • Shorts and/or skirts

  • 1 pair of light pants

  • Long dresses (to enter temples you must wear modest clothing and have your shoulders and knees covered),

  • A light jacket or hoodie (for cooler climates or air-conditioned buses)

  • Sports shorts

  • Sports top

  • Thermal sweater (to colder climates, in our case we only use it on the plane)

  • Underwear (socks, panties, bras)

  • Sleepwear (pajamas or something comfortable to sleep in)

  • Scarf (it's very versatile, you can use it as a sarong or to cover your shoulders)

  • Raincoat

  • Swimwear (if you plan to visit beaches, bring a bikini/swimming suit)


Footwear

  • Comfortable sandals

  • Slippers 

  • Sport shoes

  • Trekking shoes (if you want to go on trails, this shoes can be very useful)


Accessories


Personal hygiene items

As it is a long trip, we bought many of the items on this list along the way. However, for the first few days, we chose to take some of them from Portugal.


  • Toothpaste and toothbrush

  • Deodorant

  • Shampoo

  • Shower gel

  • Moisturizing cream

  • Hair brush

  • Baby wipes

  • Kleenex

  • Disinfectant gel

  • Razor

  • Nail cutter

  • Clamp

  • Hair wax

  • Shaving machine

  • Tampons/sanitary pads

  • Makeup (BB cream, pencil, mascara, lipstick, eyeshadow)


First aid kit

When we went to the traveler's doctor's appointment, they recommended some medications that could be useful during the trip. To these, we chose to add a few more that we thought we might need. We share with you a list of those we take with us.


  • Seasickness pills (very useful for boat trips)

  • Antidiarrheals

  • Paracetamol

  • Ibuprofen

  • Antihistamines

  • Strepfen

  • Antibiotic

  • Mosquito repellent (for clothes and body)

  • Hydrocortisone ointment

  • Biafine

  • Contraceptive Pill

  • Sunscreen

  • Thermometer

  • Band-Aids

  • Masks (we went in March 2023; wearing a mask was no longer mandatory, but on some transport, it was recommended)

Having medication while traveling can be useful
Having medication while traveling can be useful

Electronic devices

In addition to the 50-liter backpack that we carry on our backs, we also carry a 20-liter backpack each, with the electronic devices that we would need during the trip.


  • Phone

  • Computer

  • Photo camera

  • Drone + extra batteries

  • Power bank

  • Tripod

  • Chargers (phone + camera)

  • Action camera

  • Headphones

  • Memory cards

  • External hard-drive

  • Universal Adapters

  • Triple plug (T)

Extras

  • Sleeping kit (blindfold and earplugs - of everything we took, earplugs were what we found most indispensable)

  • Travel pillow

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Microfiber Waterproof Towel

  • Raincoat

  • Notebook and pens (logbook)

  • Crosswords/ coloring mandalas/ colored pencils

  • Backpack padlocks

  • Laundry bag

  • Reusable shopping bag

  • Hair elastics/headbands


Some extras that can help make your trip better
Some extras that can help make your trip better

Download now the travel checklist we prepared for you, which includes all the essential articles we covered throughout this article.


TravelChecklist
.pdf
Download PDF • 57KB

Bon voyage!

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