One of the most common questions we’re asked is “what is the ultimate packing list for travellers?”
We’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years. That’s a lot of time to trial different items and products to get the ultimate packing list right. 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.
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 Airbnb or pre-booked guesthouse for the night. Here is why you should use Airbnb when you travel.
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 more than 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 The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers.
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.
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.
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
Below is the ultimate packing list of all the clothes we pack for our worldwide adventures.
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.
The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers – If you pack right you are ready to explore the world!
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.
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.
We have to be entirely honest here – we carry very little medicine with us on our travels. 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
Sewing needles and some cotton
A small bundle of plasters/bandaids
10. Random stuff – The Ultimate Packing List for Travellers
A travel pouch filled with tea bags, spices and snacks (muesli bars, nuts)
Plastic set of eating utensils
Deck of playing cards
11. Lonely Planet Travel Guides
We love Lonely Planet Guide books and we use them frequently on our travels and 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.
These guide books 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.
Expert Travel Tip: Never leave home without travel insurance! Seriously, things don’t always go to plan. When that happens, it’s good to be covered. Read our 15 Expert Travel Tips after 15 years of Travel.
We use and recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance. We’ve used this company for more than ten years now and they’ve covered us in more than 150 countries.
Read more about why a good travel insurance policy is important to have.
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 it your secret item? Let us know and we might add it to the ultimate packing list for travellers.
Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 186+ countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.