The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers

Post updated Jan, 2024

Over the years, we’ve literally packed, unpacked, and repacked thousands of times.

You could say that we’ve learned a thing or two about what items are essential and those that are not.

At the time of putting this ultimate packing list for travellers together, we’ve just completed an incredible adventure to visit every country in the world

So how exactly do you pack for long-term travel through all types of climates? What do you pack to ensure you’re prepared for sub-zero temperatures at Base Camp in Tibet to sweltering heat in the Middle East?

We’ve had to consider essential items to get us through many changing climates while respecting several different cultures at the same time.

Our ultimate packing list for travellers includes our best packing tips and hints, as well as our favourite travel gear.

The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers

1. How to choose a backpack

We’re firm believers that less is more. Experience has taught us that we can travel with much less than we think we’ll need. We prefer travelling the world with a backpack as opposed to a suitcase. It gives us much more flexibility and freedom to move about easier.

We’ve learned that the more space you have in your backpack, the more things you collect to fill the space. This, in turn, will increase the weight that you carry on your back.

We travel the world independently, which means we spend a lot of time on public transport. We frequently climb up hotel stairs and walk around cities with our backpacks on, trying to find our hotel or pre-booked guesthouse for the night. 

It is absolutely essential that we don’t overpack. After a long travel day, the last thing we want to do is haul a heavy backpack. If the load is lighter, it’s much easier to cope.

We LOVE our Osprey Backpack

We’ve travelled to 100+ countries with the Osprey 40L Farpoint backpack.

The best thing about this backpack is that it is carry-on size and for us, it is the most important item on this ultimate packing list for travellers.

southeast asia packing list

We always carry our luggage on board flights (well, except for that one time we did it and got stranded in the Pacific with no luggage).

Lesson learned – don’t check it in if you don’t want to risk losing it. Oh, and remember to include some patience in your packing list for travellers. It’s a super handy item to have, and you’ll need to get it out regularly.

Our Osprey 40L backpack is the perfect size to squeeze it in the overhead luggage storage. Furthermore, it’s easier on overnight buses or to sit on public buses with it sat on our laps.

It’s difficult to overpack with a 40L-sized backpack. We worked out very quickly what items are essential for our long-term travels.

2. But what if I’m more of a suitcase traveller?

If backpacks just aren’t your thing, or if it’s just not comfortable for you to carry, that’s OK too. This packing list for travellers is suitable for everyone.

It’s cool to travel with a small suitcase too. We’ve had many debates with friends about backpack vs suitcase – which should you choose?

Marty travels with a small carry-on Samsonite suitcase when she worked as a Trip Leader during European Summer. If you’d prefer to roll your belonging along with you, these suitcases are perfect.

RELATED POST – 20 Jobs that PAY YOU to Travel the World

3. Do you need a small day pack?

Travelling with a small day pack is a personal choice. We travel with one as we prefer to keep our valuables with us at all times.

This is especially important when taking overnight train/bus rides. A small day pack is essential to our ultimate packing list for travellers.

We carry this small Osprey day pack

We often lock our large 40L backpack to something stationary when we sleep and our small daypack containing our valuables will remain on our person, inside our silk sleeping sheet while we sleep – it feels much more secure to do this to deter any opportunistic thieves.

When we’re on the move, our small Osprey day pack sits on the front of our body with our Osprey 40L backpack on our backs, this makes it easy to quickly access passports or money.

4. The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers – Clothing

ultimate packing list for travellers
Ultimate packing list for travellers – This is Marty’s pack, ready to see the world!

Below is the ultimate packing list of all the clothes we pack for our worldwide adventures.

TOP TIPS:

On days when we need to take a flight, we need to ensure that our carry-on baggage is well packed and as light as possible. We always wear our heaviest and bulkiest clothes and our heaviest shoes these days. 

This ensures the check-in staff doesn’t have any problems with the size or weight of our carry-on backpacks – meaning we’re ok to board the flight with them.

5. Shoes

We’d love to travel with more shoes if we could, but it doesn’t make sense to make more than 3-4 pairs of shoes. They’re bulky and they take up vital space in your luggage. Choose your most comfortable and versatile shoes – and leave the others at home. These are our go-to shoes and part of our ultimate packing list for travellers. 

The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers
Our Ultimate Packing List for Travellers includes Birkenstocks. We love them!

6. Accessories/Extras 

how to get to tsingy national park
Ultimate Packing list for travellers must-have shoes for every kind of adventure.

7. Toiletries

We’re lucky to be able to share some toiletries on the road – so it gives one of us a little more room in our backpack. If Marty carries the toiletries, I’ll carry our espresso machine and fresh coffee to evenly share the load.

We try to keep toiletries to a minimum as they can be heavy. We also travel with carry-on baggage, therefore all of our toiletries must be 100ml or less.

  • Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • Small containers (100ml) for refills
  • Shampoo/Conditioner 100ml each
  • Bar of soap
  • shaver/razor (we never have a problem at airports with this in our carry-on)
  • hairbrush
  • Roll-on deodorant
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Exfoliating shower glove (we found these in Morocco..love them)
  • 100ml sized sunscreen – We like Nivea or Neutrogena brands
  • Nivea face moisturiser SPF30
  • Blistex and lip balm
  • A few pieces of makeup (which we rarely use, but sometimes it feels nice to dress up) 1 tube of foundation, bronzing powder, and brush, 1 mascara

8. Technology/Electronics

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9. Medicine

We have to be entirely honest here – we carry very little medicine with us on our travels. We don’t really believe that you need a massive bag of medicines in your ultimate packing list for travellers.

We try to rely on the fact that food is our medicine – so we try to eat healthy on the road and drink lots of water to avoid falling ill.

Of course, there are times when we have a cracking headache or might suffer from a bout of constipation from the dramatic change in our diet every few days, but other than that, we don’t bother with packing much medicine at all.

Obviously, everybody is different and you can choose to carry more medicine if you need to.

  • Doxycycline Malaria tablets – We spent the majority of 2018 in malaria-affected countries in Africa. We bought a few packets in Australia before we left and for the remaining months we spent travelling in West/Central Africa, we picked them up on route.
  • A few packets of Ibuprofen tablets 500mg
  • A packet of Cold & Flu Tablets
  • Laxatives
  • Sewing needles and some cotton
  • A small bundle of plasters/bandaids

10. Random stuff – The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers

  • Organiser for random cords/electronics
  • Number Coded Padlock
  • Packing cubes to keep random stuff in one place
  • Small laundry bag (to keep dirty laundry separate from clean clothes)
  • A reusable shopping bag
  • Travel Sling Bag (to carry a camera, iPhone, and some cash)
  • A few pens
  • Carabiners (handy to clip shoes onto your bag)
  • Poncho
  • Headphone splitter (so we can watch movies together on our Macbook)
  • Earplugs
  • Eyemask for sleeping
  • Insect Repellent – DEET (can pick up in many countries, so we buy it as we go)
  • travel pouch filled with tea bags, spices and snacks (muesli bars, nuts)
  • Plastic set of eating utensils
  • Corkscrew
  • Deck of playing cards
  • Face wipes
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Tweezers

If you’re planning on travelling to a continent with only warm temperatures year-round, perhaps our Southeast Asia Packing List might be a better option.

Heading to Europe? Our Packing List for Europe is ready for you!

And, if you’re ready for it – of course we’ve got the Ultimate Packing List for AFRICA for you too!

11. Lonely Planet Travel Guides

We love Lonely Planet Guide books, and we use them frequently on our travels. They are naturally part of our Ultimate Packing list for travellers.

You have the option to buy the standard guidebook, alternatively, purchase the E-Book version so you can access it at any time on your iPhone. This link gives you 10% off all Lonely Planet products.

These guidebooks are really easy to use, the information is regularly updated and they’re always having amazing online sales where you can save heaps of cash.

Caribbean Islands Hopping backpacking
Backpacking the Caribbean Islands

So there you have it! You can travel anywhere in the world with our Ultimate Packing List for Travellers. Is there something you love to travel with and consider your secret item?

Let us know and we may add it to our ultimate packing list for travellers.

Travel Tips

If your plan is to travel for a week, a month or even a few years, consider buying an eSIM to stay connected. This is our favourite travel product, and you can read more about what is in eSIM and why eSIM is so convenient for International Travel.

We love to share our knowledge of travelling, and you may enjoy reading our best travel tips from a lifetime of travel.

For the food lovers out there, don’t miss our Top 10 Best Countries for Foodies! And, if you’re more interested in history, these 30 Amazing Historical Places In The World will fascinate you! This post is packed with travel inspiration, so be sure to check it out.

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For more travel tips, and products we use regularly on the road, head to our Travel Resources Page.