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The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist for Your Long-Term Travel Adventure


elliandjake packing for their year-long backpacking trip.
My 34L backpack that I take with me everywhere.

Embarking on a year-long backpacking adventure is a dream come true for many travel enthusiasts. The prospect of exploring new cultures, landscapes, and experiences is undeniably exciting. However, it also comes with the daunting task of packing for an entire year on the road.


So, what's the secret to a perfectly-packed backpack for your epic long-term travel adventure? What should you bring and what should you leave? In this blog, we will break it down for you – from practical clothing choices to nifty gear picks – making sure you're all set for your incredible year on the road. Ready to dive into the art of laid-back packing? Grab your backpack, and let's roll!








Getting Started For Your Long-Term Travel Adventure.

What should I pack? That is often the most overwhelming aspect of preparing for a long-term travel adventure. However, this dilemma becomes entirely manageable with thoughtful planning, showing that you need not carry your entire wardrobe with you. For example, one secret to our packing is the selection of lightweight, quick-drying clothing, often crafted from synthetic materials that make laundry-on-the-go a breeze.


Our experiences in backpacking journeys taught us that less is more. The fewer items you carry, the more resourceful you become with what you have, and the lighter your load, the greater your sense of freedom.


When Jake and I travel, we usually take one backpack each in which we can sustain ourselves on the road for an indefinite time. Often, the sight of our compact backpacks surprises people, especially when we tell them how long we've already been on the road.


Last, before we dive into the packing list, and as you read through this article, it is essential to remember that every traveler's journey is unique, and your specific needs may differ. When it comes to packing for your long-term travel adventure, it's wise to trust your instincts and focus on what you genuinely require for your experience!


In no specific order, below is a list of our top five long-term travel essentials packing tips!



1. Travel First Aid Kit - Our Medicine Bag

A backpackers medicine kit.
Our self-made first aid kit for long term travel.

One essential item that we never leave out of our pacing list is a first-aid kit! Even though you may be able to find necessary supplies along the way, there's an undeniable peace of mind in having some medical essentials at your fingertips.


There has been plenty of time on the road when we start sensing the early signs of a looming cold, discover unexpected blisters on our feet, or required some disinfecting spray for minor cuts and scrapes. Lucky for us, we had essential over-the-counter remedies to treat our symptoms on the spot. Trust us; you'll be immensely grateful for the convenience of having everything you need readily available, sparing you the search for a nearby pharmacy.


Below is an example of what we usually include in our self-built first aid kit for our long-term travel adventures:


What We Usually Include In Our Medicine Kit (not all-inclusive):

  • Sore Throat Drops

  • Cough Drops

  • Dry Eye Drops

  • Immune Support Pills - for flu prevention

  • Fever & Flu Pills

  • Diarrhea Pills

  • Electrolytes Powder

  • Disinfection Spray - for cuts & wounds (holy grail, often needed by Jake)

  • Sea Sickness Pills (we wish we had these on a boat ride in the Seychelles).

  • Headaches Pills

  • Insect Bites Creme - relieves the itchiness

  • Blister Patches

  • Bandages

  • Gauzes

Note: Packaging the products you know work best for you is crucial. We've encountered a few illnesses during our travels, and having our trusted remedies on hand was an absolute lifesaver.



2. Toiletries: Beauty Products, Soap Bars, & Dry Shampoo

Blogger elliandjake packing their backpacks.
Elli packing for a five week solo trip to Bali.

As you gain experience in traveling, you uncover practical and convenient methods that make your journeys smoother. In today's world, you'll come across many products in the form of soap bars, eliminating the need to hunt for and overspend on travel-sized items. This approach simplifies packing for your carry-on bag and alleviates the hassles of the strict 100 ml liquid restrictions at the airports.


In the current market, you can readily access shampoo, conditioner, facial cleansers, and even body lotion in soap bars. This innovation isn't just efficient; it's also remarkably effective. I personally purchased my products in Germany, yet you can find these items in various locations, including the US, UK, and beyond.


Those interested in shampoo soap bar brands from Germany consider options like Sante, Lavera, and Share, all of which come at a reasonable price. If you are looking for dry shampoo, I recommend "Klorane - Oat Milk Dry Shampoo Powder," as it comes in a powder format, eliminating the need for sprays and offering convenience for your (carry-on) travels.


Our Toiletries Essential Packing List:

Teeth

Face

Body

Make-up

Electric Toothbrush

Face Cream

Soap Bar

Foundation & Concealer

Normal Toothbrush

Face Soap Bar

Hair Brush & Clips

Bronzer

Floss

Rubber Peeling Tool (for face soap)

Razor

Eye Brow Pencil & Eyebrow Gel

Tooth Paste

Hair Oil (argan oil) & Dry Shampoo

Nail Clips & Tweezers

Mascara (waterproof & normal)

Lip Balm

Female hygiene products

Blush

Sun Cream

Deodorant

Lipliner

Contact Lenses

Sun Cream

Note: Keep in mind that the list above is not all-inclusive, and it is tailored to our preferences and needs.


Bathroom Tips for Shared Spaces

elliandjake in a hostel in Australia.
My hostel towel (it came with the room) and my tote bag.

We recommend always having a tote bag (see picture above) with you on your travels! We found this a lifesaver when storing my bathroom essentials and towels in shared facilities. Whether dealing with less-than-pristine bathrooms or simply wanting to keep your toiletries off the floor, having a tote bag can make all the difference. You can easily hang the bag in a convenient spot, ensuring that your items stay together, clean, and dry.



3. Clothes, Shoes, Accessories, and Miscellaneous Packing Items.

elliandjake showing their backpacking list for solo travelers.
Elli's "organized" packing mess.

One question that always comes up when we talk about our packing list for our long-term travel adventures is, how do we pack for a trip that will include both warm and cold climates?


The answer is simple; personally, we always lean towards packing fewer and lighter items rather than overloading our backpacks. After all, buying any necessary clothing on the go is easy, especially in warmer destinations where affordable, lightweight dresses and shirts are available on every corner.


For example, during our year-long backpacking journey, we initially planned to stick to warm destinations, avoiding the need for cold-weather clothing. However, when faced with cooler temperatures, we layer our clothes or go to thrift stores to buy second-hand pullovers, which we would later donate. Furthermore, renting winter gear at the destination can be a practical solution if you are venturing into an extremely cold climate, as Jake did for his Mount Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal.


Note: As for those bulky jeans, I'd recommend leaving them behind. They consume valuable space and take a long to dry if you hand wash them. If jeans are a must for you, consider wearing them on your travel day to save backpack room.


Check out Elli's recommended clothing packing list below if you plan on sticking to one type of climate, warm or cold.


Ellis backpacking list for a 34 L Backpack (Warm and Cold Climates):

Warm Climate Backpack List:

Cool Climate Backpack List:

3x crop tops

2 t-shirts

2x dresses (light-weight)

3x long sleeve shirts (synthetic material)

1x jean skirt (optional)

1x long pants (light-weight)

2x long pants (light-weight)

1x waterproof pants

2x semi-long pants (light-weight)

1x sport leggings

1x jeans shorts & 1x linen shorts

2x sport bras

3x pairs of syntenic material socks

3x pairs of socks (Merino Wool)

3x underwear & 2x bras

3x underwear

1x bikini

1x bikini

1x cap

1x cap & 1x winter hat & 1x hiking head-band

1x running shoes & 1x flip flops 1x sneakers (for travel days)

1x hiking shoes & 1x flip flops 1x sneakers (for travel days)

1x sport leggings (long & short) 2x sport bras

1x fleece jacket & 1x wind proof parka

2x tote bags (linen/cord)

2x tote bags (linen/cord)

1x sunglasses

1x sunglasses

1x Travel Towel

1x Travel Towel

Warm weather hiking boots

Cold weather hiking boots

Miscellaneous: camera, drone, PC, & snorkeling mask.

Miscellaneous: camera, drone, & PC.

You might think the item numbers listed above are insufficient for long-term travel; however, remember that you can always wash your clothes on the go. Jake and I usually handwash our clothes every evening so we can leave them drying overnight and never have to pack dirty, stinky clothes in our backpacks.


And in case you are wondering if our clothes always dry overnight, the answer is yes! One of the main reasons they always dry is we always avoid taking clothing made of cotton. We opt instead for a synthetic material that is thin and dries quickly, especially when it comes to shirts and underwear.



4. Electronics and Useful Items to Pack For Your Long-Term Travel Adventure:

Electrical charger for travelers.
  • Universal Adapter - Multiple Outlet Plug

  • Power-Bank - phone charging on the go

  • Camera & Laptop

  • External SD Card

  • GoPro - underwater picture-taking

  • Drone

  • Combination lock - lock your valuables!

  • Flash Light

  • Phone Charger




5. Travel Documents: Visa, Travel Docs, Vaccinations, Etc.

Travel bag for long-term travelers.
Weekend trip bag size.

With all the excitement of packing your backpack with essentials, it is easy to forget to pack your travel documents. It happened to Jake once when he forgot his passport at home and missed his flight to the UK. To avoid the disappointment of missing your flights or delayed entry into a country, we recommend finding a good and secure pocket in your backpack and designating it as the "important pocket" where you can store all your essential travel documents before traveling.


Also, always double-check the entry requirements for your destination before venturing on your journey, a critical lesson we learned during an attempted trip to Greece in 2021. Despite having our COVID-19 PCR tests, we overlooked the requirement of filling out an essential travel form online, which was mandatory and must have already been completed 24 hours before the flight. Since we weren't allowed to fill out the declaration on the spot (literally three yes or no questions), we were denied boarding, as were many other disappointed travelers.


Also, during our trip to Brazil, we encountered a group of travelers who faced a similar experience. They were denied entry into Colombia because they hadn't considered the yellow fever vaccination requirement, which is mandatory for travelers journeying from Brazil to Colombia.


It's vital to recognize that each country has its unique entry conditions. Some nations require visas or pre-travel form submissions before departure, while others permit you to complete these requirements upon arrival.


Jake and I have different countries issuing passports, so we double-check the entry requirements for each country we visit. This proactive approach ensures a smooth and hassle-free travel experience.



6. Items We Wouldn't Bring Again

We were unsure of what to pack during our first long-term backpacking trip. After researching, we finally agreed on what to take with us. However, some items we packed with us remained untouched and added extra weight to our packs for an entire year. Below is a list of things that we no longer take with us on long-term travel adventures:


  • Sleeping Bag: Carrying a sleeping bag can be a burden due to its weight and bulkiness. If you decide to bring one, you might find yourself carrying around unnecessary weight in your backpack. If you plan on camping during your trip, consider renting or purchasing a budget-friendly second-hand sleeping bag, which you can later resell after its use.

  • Mosquito Net: More often than not, the accommodations we stayed in already provided mosquito nets around the beds.

  • Jeans or Heavy Pants: Jake brought jeans along on our first big trip but never wore them during our journey.

  • Cash for Exchanging Rates: Avoid carrying substantial amounts of money with the intention of exchanging it at potentially overpriced Exchange Counters. Based on our experience, the most favorable exchange rates are usually obtained when withdrawing cash from a regular ATM. However, an exception exists when traveling to Argentina, where bringing American dollars allows for an exceptionally great exchange rate.

  • Running Shoes: During our extensive trip through Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Cook Islands, I never found the opportunity to use my running shoes. Choosing between running shoes or hiking boots for your journey is advisable. If I don't bring hiking boots, I pack my running shoes that can also be used for hiking.


Summary

Remember, flexibility and adaptability are your best travel buddies when it comes to packing for a year-long travel adventure. The recommendations we've shared here are based on our experiences and insights, but the key to a successful trip lies in tailoring your packing list to your personal needs and preferences. Embrace the thrill of discovering what works best for you on the road, and be prepared to adjust your gear as you go. The most important thing is to pack light, stay organized, and never forget that the beauty of backpacking lies in its spontaneity. So, whether you're off to explore remote mountains or bustling city streets, trust your instincts, pack wisely, and let the adventure unfold one unforgettable moment at a time.


What are some things you wish you would have packed for one of your trips? Let us know in the comments below!

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