The Ultimate Travel Packing List
If you’re looking for the ultimate travel packing checklist and recommendations tested by worldwide travellers, well, this is it, you can stop Googling now!
If there’s anything I’m an expert in, it’s packing! We’re going to go right back to basics, starting with the best travel luggage to essential travel items and super-efficient packing hacks.
Within this list of packing essentials, no matter what type of trip you are packing for, you can create a list based on our trialled, tested and recommended items!
Remember the days when you ran around like a headless chicken collecting all your travel bits and bobs the day before you departed? Well, you can kiss those days goodbye because I have all the best priced items for you to order online from Amazon! And whats’s even better, (life-changing actually!) purchases can be delivered to you the next day using this link to Amazon Prime.
We only recommend products we have tried and tested. We have sussed out the best-prices across all platforms, and Amazon seems to deliver every time!
You can use the ‘jump menu’ below, to jump to the category you’re most interested in.
THE BEST BACKPACK FOR TRAVELLING
So, you’re probably going travelling for six months, a year or maybe indefinitely! And, you’re going to be carrying up to 20kg on your back. Think about this, when you go on holiday for two weeks and fill your big suitcase., well, imagine carrying all that weight on your back! The most important factor when choosing the best backpack for backpacking should be back support and a weight distribution system. The Vango Pinnacle Rucksack is the one ticking other important boxes such as waterproofing, padded adjustable straps, accessibility, protection and expansion.
Sam spent a lot of time researching for the best backpack (he’s pretty thorough in his research and this one took a while), and the number of backpacks that were posted to our house was ridiculous. I think our postman wanted to quit by the end of it! None of them were giving the support we expected, until the Vango Pinnacle arrived, and here’s why!
What to look for in a backpack?
This backpack has all the best features. I can 100% say we have both never suffered from any back pain from our backpacks. The Vango Pinnacle Rucksack has a metal plate for protection, not only to my back but for my laptop that sits behind it. It’s the only backpack in their range with a metal plate. Waist support is important as the weight should be carried by your hips, not your shoulders, and this backpack has it. It relieves the weight from your shoulders by having a strong and reliable ergonomic hip belt with zipped pockets and distributes the weight of the backpack.
You will see a lot of travellers wearing a backpack that doesn’t fit them properly or haven’t adjusted the system correctly to fit their back. That’s why this backpack is great for its single-use adjustable height system. Even though this backpack is sold for men, I am able to adjust it for myself and I absolutely love it.
The padded shoulder straps are super comfy and don’t rub your shoulders like most backpacks. A chest strap is provided for extra support which I think is a great addition to finally secure your backpack, Sam doesn’t really use it but I think it completes the security and fitting.
The Vango Pinnacle is highly durable with extremely flexible material and a large detachable waterproof rain cover, which packs away underneath in its own little pocket and unfolds to cover the entire backpack for those soggy hikes.
Accessibility was important to us as there is nothing worse than having to fully unpack your backpack when you’re asked for identity documents you’ve hidden deep within your backpack. You can easily access your belongings from the front by unzipping the panel. This unique feature has also come in handy when I’ve forgotten to take out my fan for long sweaty bus journeys!
Side zipped pockets I didn’t use for a couple of months at first, but are super handy for toiletries like shampoo which you might not use every day and take up a lot of space in your toiletry bag. I have them facing upwards with tape around the top to avoid leaks.
Inner and outer hood pockets. Sam uses this in place of his ‘miscellaneous drawer’ at home. For all those small niggly bits, Sam rams it all in the top pocket or the inside hood compartment.
The 60-litre backpack has an extendable volume of up to 10 extra litres, which is useful when I have a shopping spree at the night markets!
We will continue to use our backpack for festivals, weekends away and camping trips instead of struggling with my small wheelie luggage.
THE BEST SMALL BACKPACK
Sam’s Oakley backpack has come in handy so many times and packs up to nothing, taking up no space or weight in your main travel backpack. We’ve used it on jungle treks, mountain hikes, snowboarding days and kayaking as it’s water-resistant. It has front and side panels and is stowable into its integral pocket and contains up to 15 litres.
THE BEST SHOULDER BAG FOR MEN
Sam swears by his Eastpak and has used it for many years on various trips. Keeping belongings in your pockets these days are just a big fat NO! And your wife isn’t going to look after all your bits in her cute little shoulder bag. Therefore, make sure you are prepared boys and get your own bag.
THE BEST TYPE OF PACKING CUBES
You might have heard of packing cubes before which are usually great for suitcase holidays. They’re square cube-like box bags to pop all your clothes in. However, I noticed travellers recommending the same for backpacks, but I struggled to understand how cubes would fit in a flexible round backpack. So, I did some research and trialled these!
At first, I said, “why on earth do I need packing cubes for my travels?” but now, I wouldn’t be without them. These packing bags make living out of a backpack so much easier. You don’t have to pull out all your clothes and repack them individually, you just grab the bag! These bags are flexible as your backpack technique will change from time to time depending on what you wear during each season, so having the flexibility of a bag works better as a space-saver compared to packing cubes in my opinion.
MULTI-USE DRY BAG
We each purchased a small 3L dry bag for dirty laundry. This water-proof dry bag is big enough to fit our dirty clothes in until we are due a weekly wash. However, this little dry bag with strap has become more than just laundry. Using the bag as it suggests in the title, we’ve used it for kayaking, snorkeling and tubing many times.
THE BEST AND MOST COMPACT JEWELLERY BAG
Have you ever looked for a decent jewellery bag to take all your beautiful pieces on holiday with you, and ended up with the soft pouch bag and all your necklaces tangle as well as losing earrings? Well, I looked high and low for this portable jewellery organiser for our travels, and I can confirm, there is a gap in the market for an item like this.
I left home with an empty jewellery case, with the idea of purchasing a new piece in every country. This organiser is the perfect caseto hold all my new travel pieces! It’s small, solid and squeezes into small areas of my backpack. It’s lightweight and has plenty of compartments for different types of jewellery. I have filled it so far with jewellery from India, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos. It’s excellent value for money and you won’t find another bag anywhere else at this price. If you do, please email me!
THE BEST HIKING JACKET AND PILLOW
If you have a proper hiking jacket, you’ll understand why they’re so amazing! If you haven’t, you’ll probably have the same feeling as I did about Birkenstock’s when I was younger! My fashionable mother-in-law had a berry coloured Rab jacket and when we borrowed the camper van one weekend, I borrowed her jacket for an early morning hike. I was so surprised how warm I was, but not hot and sweaty! It also packed up to nothing when the sun came out.
I made the commitment and invested in the Rab Cirrus Flex Jacket from Amazon. I even purchased the same colour as my mother-in-law (shame!). I can’t express how lightweight this jacket is, it packs up into one the side pockets and stuffs into any area of my backpack. Even Sam jumped on the band wagon and ordered one in his size. Oh, and it also doubles up as a travel pillow.
THE BEST WATERPROOF PONCHO YOU’LL EVER OWN
This eco-friendly poncho has saved our lives so many times throughout the rainy seasons in Asia. It wasn’t until I tried on another poncho, I realised how amazing this poncho really is! It’s down to the materials it’s made with and its ripstop fabric to guarantee the security of your clothes and belongings. Useful for hiking, camping, fishing and other outdoor activities, the eco-friendly poncho is extremely water-resistant, quick-drying and has a cloth sewn in to prevent water leaks. It’s amazing! This reusable poncho can also be used over your bag at camping, as a shelter for your hammock or as a picnic blanket. Don’t leave home without it guys, because you’ll be stuck with a leaky PVC poncho from the shops, ewwww!
A fantastic pocket sized travel mat, gifted to us before our travels, and what a gift it is! It’s the tiniest, waterproof fold up mat we take everywhere! Perfect for laying out on the beach to sunbathe or watch the sunset, outside our tent when camping or chilling by the pool.
The Matadoz is super lightweight and folds up smaller than you’re hand. It’s has four metal pins on each corner to stick into the sand or grass. WE LOVE it!
THE BEST WALKING BOOTS FOR HIKING AND TREKKING
I asked Sam for his review on his walking boots and he said “the BEST boots I’ve ever owned. Comfy, lightweight and waterproof… THE BEST!”
He wouldn’t elaborate any further than that about his Berghaus Fellmaster GTX walking boots! What I do know is, Sam has purchased a few different types of hiking boots over the years and, this time, opted for Berghaus boots with a single-piece leather outer rather than alternative textile-type boots (fewer joints and seams to leak). With an internal Gore-tex waterproof membrane, he does nothing but sings praises of the boot’s performance in any condition.
WOMEN’S WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTS
Oh, my absolute lifesavers! These are the real deal and the real reason why Sam switched to a single-piece leather. I decided to go for a high-rise hiking boot for extra ankle support and long-lasting cushioning inside for extra comfort. These dry-tec waterproof and breathable boots improve grip and provide durability and have got me through miles of trekking in the Himalayas, Taman Negara and the China Wall, they never letting me down!
THE BEST FOOTWEAR EVER FOR TRAVELLING
These beauties are one of my prized possessions! When I was growing up I always saw Birkenstocks as the old fashioned, ugly adult sandal, until my mother-in-law bought me a beautiful pair of purple suede two-strap sandals. I love them! However, suede for travelling wasn’t going to last so I went for a new all-leather two-strap pair of Birkenstocks in stone to go with my new summer wardrobe. I honestly wouldn’t be without them and I swear they’ve corrected the way I walk. I walk on the sides of my feet but with Birkenstocks, once you put them on after adjusting the straps your feet start to mould the shoe. They are perfect for exploring cities, smart enough to go with evening attire, light trekking and the best sandals for the beach, plus they’re really lightweight and don’t weigh down your Vango Pinnacle Rucksack.
Massive tip: whatever you do, don’t adjust the straps once bedded in as this will change the entire foot position and you will start to get blisters. Trust me, I did this with the purple suedes for one day and haven’t been able to wear since!
HAVAIANAS FLIP FLOPS
I suppose any kind of rubber flip flop would be fine but, these are the bad boys! I purchased my first pair back in 2014 but recently left my Havaianas in a taxi and was absolutely lost without them. I purchased a new pair and waited until my friend visited to bring them out to me. They are awesome to slip into for pool days, flip flops for the beach or visiting hostel wet rooms in the middle of the night. My Havaianas slip perfectly into the two extra side pockets of my Vango Pinnacle Rucksack and are super lightweight sandals.
THE BEST UNDERWATER CAMERA ON THE MARKET
It’s more than likely you’ll be going snorkelling or kayaking, even if you don’t like the sea, you’ll learn to love it in the end (speaking from experience and conquering my ocean fears!), especially when sea turtles are swimming around your feet. I’ve had over 20 compact cameras (yes, that’s right, I was that person in the nightclubs taking all the photos before mobile phones had decent cameras) and tested all the best camera brands; Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, Nikon, Panasonic and Canon. Which is the best compact camera? One which is shockproof (in case you drop things like me), waterproof (for all those underwater activities), dust-proof (ideal for Burning Man) and freeze-proof (if you’re trekking the Himalayas). The Fujifilm Finepix XP130 was a clear winner! Not only because it takes excellent quality pictures and video, but because I haven’t destroyed it. It’s also on sale at the moment with £65 off!
THE BEST QUALITY CAMERA FOR YOUR TRAVELS
I might be biased, but I absolutely adore this camera, and take all my photos with it, except when we’re travelling by bike I use my Fujifilm Finepix Camera above. I’m a little overprotective when it comes to keeping my Olympus safe from dust, pollution and stones flying around from Asia’s road infrastructure. This camera is perfect for beginners and intermediates. If you’re looking for a camera for your travels but don’t know how to use the manual functions etc… then this is the camera for you. The Olympus has a ‘Scene’ functionality where you can select the type of environment you are in, and the camera will set its settings automatically. Of course, it has the manual settings also, and you can purchase a good variety of lenses if you’re a bit of a pro. What I love most about this camera is, how the Olympus captures the environments natural colours, meaning you don’t have to spend time editing your photos. A popular feature of the Olympus is its powerful 5-Axis image stabilisation which means even with a wobbly hand you will still get the sharpest image. With the Olympus, you receive a 1-year warranty and the Olympus has £71 off using my link below.
JOBY GORILLAPOD STAND
It is essential to have a tripod for your travels. Trying to balance your expensive camera on top of crooked rocks and in between wobbly tree branches aren’t going to help get the best shots! I began searching for a really lightweight tripod that didn’t compromise its robustness. When my Dad recommended the GorillaPod stand with wrappable legs, allowing you to secure any professional camera equipment to virtually any surface, I soon realised this isthe one. Weighing only 1 kg and up to 20 cm in height, it was the perfect size to even fit in my shoulder bag. The sturdiness of the legs and being able to bend in any direction meant it didn’t matter where we were, because this tripod adapts to any environment.
THE ONLY KINDLE
I purchased this Kindle for Sam’s birthday and he never has it out of his hands! I’m not a reader, although thanks to this Kindle I am getting stuck into books! Sam never wanted to convert from books but he soon realised this is way more practical. I enjoy sneaking a read in before bed as the back light is kind on your eyes with a built in glare-free display that reads like printed paper, even in direct sunlight when we go to the beach. It’s the perfect travel companion whether you are travelling solo or not.
THE BEST PORTABLE WATERPROOF SPEAKER
What is life without music! I’m being serious… what is life without music? There was absolutely noway we were going travelling without our tunes so we invested in a new Bluetooth speaker for our travels instead of taking our heavy Bose speaker. Sam was weighing it up for some time and finally decided to go with the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Bluetooth Speaker! It’s sick! It has 360 big bass, lightweight, waterproof and floatable (which came in handy when Kayaking in Halong Bay in search of a private island for a mini party), small enough to pack, ideal to hook up to our laptop and watch films and there’s no compromise on sound! Using the Amazon link below you will see this Bluetooth speaker is half the RRP price so grab yourself a bargain.
PORTABLE POWER BANK
This might be an obvious one, but I want to tell you why! Not all outlets across the world work as you would expect. Sometimes it might be your plug, your adapter or even your charging wire! Therefore, a portable charging device isn’t just essential for those long bus journeys. Yes, it will come in handy while on the road, but also during power-cuts and when power sockets are dodgy. Which is the best portable charging brick? Well, there are loads, and I’m sure plenty of them are great. I tried saving the pennies by purchasing the cheapest device for a festival once and low and behold, it didn’t even work. After some investigation, I finally decided on the Zendure A2 after it won awards for the most reliable, lightweight and hard-wearing charging device on the market between 2014-2017, and it hasn’t let me down yet!
PROTECT YOUR CHARGING WIRE
Before we left the UK to explore the world, a friend said, don’t take anything with you that you don’t want to ruin! Everything gets ruined travelling, even your charging wires!
I picked up one of these little test tubes in Indonesia while on our scooter adventure to Komodo Island, for my phone charger and I’m so glad I did because Sam has purchased five charging wires since we set off! Split cable, slow charge, damaged connector and USB end. Your charging wire is going to be coming in and out of your backpack constantly, it’s not going to sit in its usual place, in a socket at the side of your bed, it will soon get damaged, trust me. You’re probably thinking, ‘well, I’ll just pick up another one on the way’ errr yeah you can, but good luck finding a genuine charging wire! So, save yourself from searching Oppo shops, being stranded without any battery and buy this tube!
Unfortunately, I can not find just the one tube for you to purchase, they’re actually really hard to find online, but the price is still amazing for 10 tubes and great if you are travelling in a group or even have a few wires you would like to protect.
THE BEST ZAPPER FOR MOSQUITOES
Did you know half the population are at risk of Dengue Fever? If you don’t know what Dengue Fever is, I suggest looking it up so you are totally aware of it and ensure you are using preventions such as repellent and keep covered up whilst travelling.
Let’s face it though, you are going to get savaged! Believe me, and no amount of deet is going to save you, some mosquitoes will bite through 50% deet! We have tried many different products and even made our own solution before (lavender, tea-tree oil, – it didn’t quite work but we smelt nice!).
We met a couple of German friends on our Orangutan Jungle trek who was carrying this zapper which heats up to 50 degrees. When you are bitten (not just by a mosquito may I add, also great for bee stings, wasp stings, hornet stings and horsefly bites) switch the device on, wait for the beep as it heats up and then apply it over the bite. This device takes away the sting and itchiness (you can scratch yourself to death with mosquito bites), dermatologically tested and free from chemicals. It’s the perfect alternative to many creams, ointments and gels and is small and compact to fit in your bag. Each battery allows over 300 uses before a new replacement, although our German friends said they’ve had there’s much longer!
Check out the newest, sustainable and advanced in technology Misty Mate! Ok, it might not be an ‘essential’ (although it is to me now!) but my gawd, this has saved my life so many times on long hikes, beach days, gym sessions and in the hot sweaty accommodations without AC.
It is extremely hydrating to the skin, sleek and lightweight to carry and completely human-powered meaning no batteries required!
Misty Mate is a lifestyle brand who focus on health and wellness! These girl bosses had the original concept of eco-friendly mist coolers back in 1989 when I was just two years old!
DOCK & BAY TOWEL
I first came across Dock & Bay on Dragons Den promoting their quick-drying, super absorbent and uniquely smooth microfiber feel beach towel. The big towel size is great for the beach, the sand drops straight off and for when towels aren’t provided in accommodations. We’ve tried a variety of these microfiber towels and if you’re like me with textures. some just feel, urgh (my teeth are itching now at the thought!). Despite their large sizes, they pack up super small, compact and lightweight weighing in at 1.1 lb which squeezes perfectly into my backpack when there’s a small gap to fill.
WHEN CLIPS ARE LIFE!
These are my absolute favourite items to carry! I have so many different types of carabiner clips, I’ve even started a collection because now they have fabulous metallic colours! I have a few heavy duty ones I used at Burning Man as I didn’t want them to seize up in the dust. I have smaller ones to carry lighter items like my Rab jacket or poncho and a heavy clip for my water bottle. I have them hanging on all my bags when travelling or my festival belts, they’re an absolute lifesaver! They are small, so you’ll want a few in case you lose any on your travels.