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Packing for your faraway adventures can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be a source of stress. With proper planning and organization, you can make the process smooth. And it gets easier with a little practice. Start by creating a packing checklist to ensure you have all the essentials, and consider the climate and activities at your destination. Opt for versatile clothing pieces that can be mixed and matched, saving space in your luggage. Using storage vacuum bags or packing cubes can maximize space and help keep your belongings organized. Check out my list of essential items and recommendations below for packing inspiration.

Packing Checklist

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Essential Items

Travel Backpack

When I travel, I prefer to carry just one bag—a large, durable backpack. When it comes to choosing a backpack, I prioritize certain features. Firstly, I look for an extra-large main compartment that can easily accommodate space saver bags and packing cubes, allowing me to optimize the available space. I also prefer having a couple of smaller pockets that are conveniently accessible. These pockets come in handy for storing items I frequently need during transportation, such as my passport or charger. 

Daypack

A daypack allows you to keep your valuable items secure and with you while you traverse your new destination. I personally rely on the lightweight Gonex Daypack, which has been with me on adventures in 10+ countries. You can actually spot it in the picture of me in Spain at the top of this page. The functional design features three zippered compartments (one inside), and two mesh pockets on the sides for water bottles. Additionally, it conveniently collapses into a compact size when not in use. I love this thing. 10/10 

Toiletry Bag

This is also another essential item that has traveled with me across the globe and back, multiple times. Many pockets to hold all my stuff. A large main pocket for the odd-sized stuff. But the best part, it comes with a hanging hook. I like to use a strong suction cup to attach my bag to the mirror in the bathroom of my accommodation. It saves me valuable counter space. 

Spacesaver Vacuum Storage Bags

Magical? Is this magic? OK, so these bags do not magically make your bag feel any lighter, but do help a ton with maximizing available space. I’d consider this a necessity for single backpackers like me. I recommend the small size if you pack light. I have the 4-pack: I take 2 and my brother takes the remaining 2. And don’t forget to pack the included pump, which is incredibly lightweight and compact. 

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Clothing

Leggings

As a woman, cotton leggings come in clutch for almost every weather scenario and they don’t take up much space in my backpack. I always make sure to pack a couple of pairs for every trip. They serve multiple purposes, from providing comfortable attire during flights to acting as an extra layer underneath dresses when the weather gets chilly. 

Shawl

Don’t sleep on the shawl. Or actually, do sleep on the shawl. A shawl is by far the most versatile clothing item I bring with me on my travels. I recommend buying a solid, neutral color. You can use it as intended (an extra layer of warmth over your clothes), a blanket, sun protection, privacy, a quick picnic mat, an emergency beach towel, an impromptu bag, a privacy curtain and even modesty for when the location, like visiting a religious temple, calls for it. The list is endless.  

Flip flops

Both my brother and I can be slight germaphobes. We would never go shoeless in our accommodation and we also prefer to take our shoes off at the door. That’s where a pair of flip flops come in. Plus, you now have beach and pool shoes. All around win. 

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Safety / Security

Portable Door Lock

These compact devices that provide an added layer of security for your hotel room or accommodation. They can be easily installed on doors that lack reliable locks or to prevent unauthorized entry.  

RFID Blocking Wallet or Passport Holder

RFID-blocking wallets or passport holders have become popular for protecting your sensitive information. These items feature special lining or shielding materials that block RFID signals, preventing unauthorized scanning of your credit cards and passports. 

Wrist Strap for Phone

I underestimated the usefulness of a wrist strap for my phone until I purchased one. It has proven invaluable in areas prone to pickpocketing. Now, even when I’m not traveling, I always secure the loop around my wrist when holding my phone in public. The added sense of security is comforting because nobody wants to drop or have their phone stolen, especially while traveling.

Location Tracker

Location trackers have gained significant popularity in recent years. The reason I bought one was actually for my brother. He accidentally left his wallet outside the restaurant we had just left in Munich. We sat on a bench briefly to review our plans, and we walked at least a mile before he realized it was missing. Luckily, a waitress from the restaurant found it and kept it safe. However, the intense anxiety I experienced while my brother sprinted back to the restaurant prompted me to get one of these for the future. 

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