What Should I Pack When Backpacking?

Wednesday, 31 August 2016
I'm sure this title may be deceiving, but I assure you, this will not be a detailed list of what I packed on my trip around SE Asia. You see life is a funny little minx. I like to pride myself on the fact that I'm fairly organised. Am I usually running late? Occasionally, yes. To the untrained eye would it look like I have no organisational skills at all? Yes. But in reality, I know what I need to get done and when it needs to get done by. Except on my most recent trip overseas...

Over the weekend, I decided to pack my bag (minus a few odds and ends) because I thought it would be helpful to write a post on what to bring when backpacking. I know there are plenty of these pieces floating around the internet, but I thought it would be an interesting twist coming from a person who is notorious for overpacking. The fact that I was able to check my bag at the airport and it only weighed 7.3 kg was nothing short of a miracle for this little lady. But that is not the twist to this story.

On Sunday, I had written out a detailed list of everything I needed to finish up before my departure on what I thought was late Wednesday night. Tuesday I started to panic because there was no way I was going to be able to finish everything on that list unless I wanted to pull an all-nighter. I was making a checklist of all the admin things I needed to accomplish the following day when I decided I should check in for my flight and pre-pay for my bag. Much to my surprise, I found out that my flight was leaving in 1.5 hours-, not the following night.

I froze... Nothing was coming to my brain except PANIC!! THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO PANIC!! I called my mate (who does a great job of calming me down when I go into this panic mode), and with the prompting to A. find my passport and B. call a cab, I was able to snap out of my shock. I quickly changed out of my work clothes, threw the extra stuff into my bag, kiss my pup on the head, and bolted out the door. Thankfully, I live close enough to the airport that I was able to make it in plenty of time.

I honestly have no idea what is actually packed in my bag. Whilst I sit here waiting for my connecting flight I can't help but laugh. Life is never a seemingly easy path. There are always obstacles that we face on a daily basis. Even if I was able to complete everything on my to-do list and finish packing properly, there still would have been the error that my flight was leaving at 0024 Wednesday not 0024 Thursday. And that's the biggest lesson I've learned from this. It really doesn't matter what you do or do not pack when backpacking, the most important thing is that you allow yourself to be flexible. Have the flexibility to buy items as need be. Have the flexibility to travel to a new place last minute. Have the flexibility to realise that NOTHING you packed is actually useful and that you need to sell all your clothes and start from scratch.
Trying to be organised.

I have successfully made it to SE Asia! I decided that I would detail what I planned to pack along with what actually made it into my bag:

3 x T-Shirts- I opted for darker coloured t-shirts mainly because I'm a massive klutz and always manage to make a mess of myself. Also, if we're hiking or spending most of the day outside, it won't show all the sweat and grime from the humidity.
2 x Singlets- I'm not entirely sure I'll need the singlets, but I figured they would be great options to layer on the days we go to temples or anywhere I will need to have my shoulders covered. Hopefully having the singlet will keep me from getting too warm.
1 x Nice top- I decided to pack on semi-nice top just in case we decided to go out or treat ourselves to a posh dinner one night.
1 x Cardigan- this ended up being two, but both were equally helpful.
1 x Water resistant jumper- I somehow managed to pack my winter one last minute. Extremely helpful in the 29-degree heat of SE Asia (I hope you can sense my sarcasm)
2 x Shorts- turns out I ended up packing three pairs. Oh well, I definitely needed the three.
1 x Maxi Skirt- I honestly think I could have left the maxi skirt at home and opted for a pair of lightweight pants.
1 x Day Dress- a Lifesaver for beach days. I also was able to dress this day dress up a bit for nights out.

1 x Thongs- A must bring. While a lot of the guesthouses and hotels provided a pair of bathroom thongs, not all did. Unfortunately, mine broke midway through the trip, but I was able to snag another cheap pair from the servo.
1 x Sandals- Great for when my thongs decided to give out on me. The downside, they weren't the best pair for when it rained.
1 x Walking Shoes- Perfect for the temples and hike!

The Under Bits
16 x underwear- I probably went a bit overboard here. However, I absolutely hate running out of underwear on holiday. I always pack one pair for each day I'll be away. Some people are ok washing their undies, I, however, would prefer not to worry about that.
4 x socks- I figured we weren't spending a significant amount of time hiking so I'll take a risk with just 4 pairs.
3 x bras- one strapless, one regular, and one sports bra.

1 x microfibre towel- I knew that I needed to take a towel and seeing as SE Asia is incredibly humid, I wanted a towel that wouldn't stay wet constantly. This was an excellent investment! I highly recommend travelling with a micro fibre towel!
1 x sunglasses- nope those did not make the final cut. Thankfully my friend had an extra pair
1 x baseball cap- Which sadly disappeared whilst working with the elephants. I hope Pah Poi likes the Red Wings.

Paperwork and Such
1 x copy of all travel documents and passport- none of this made it as I had planned to finish up all admin stuff that last day before my trip.
1 x insect repellant spray
1 x box of insect repellant bands
1 x toiletry bag
1 x hand sanitiser
1 x package of cleaning wipes
1 x sunscreen
1 x padlock
1 x travel journal

1 x phone + earbuds
1 x DSRL camera
1 x international converter

Overall, I think I packed fairly well for this trip. What do you think? Is there anything I could have omitted or something I should have added? Let me know!

And until next time...
Stay Curious!

Never miss an adventure by following along on social media:


  1. As long as you enjoy being a backpacker , what you bring does not matter, the memories matter and the fun!

  2. On the off chance that the portable suitcase is the main thing you are wanting to convey with you, at that point you certainly need to pack insightfully. sleeping bag for the money