Here is my generic packing list.

You can adapt it to any destination by removing the items that do not apply.

The essentials

  • small daypack with an outside pocket for water bottle (for hikes, day trips)
  • light shoes or sandals (waterproof sandals are ideal)
  • walking/hiking shoes or boots
  • 4-8 tops (T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, blouses, tank tops)
  • 4 bottoms (shorts, pants, knee-length skirts, capris)
  • sweater or fleece, and windbreaker/rain jacket (depending on destination)
  • socks (2 to 6 pairs)
  • underwear (4 to 8 pairs)
  • small toiletry bag with small size toiletries
  • earplugs (try the foam type – essential unless you are a very heavy sleeper!)
  • medical kit
  • good sunglasses
  • sun hat (e.g. Tilley)
  • sunscreen
  • drinking bottle (0.5 to 1 L) – stainless steel is ideal e.g. Kool Kanteen
  • insect repellent (in the tropics)
  • small amount of laundry detergent
  • money belt
  • print-outs of e-tickets, vouchers, booking confirmations
  • passport (with enough validity left on it)
  • money (cash, debit card, credit card)
  • travel insurance policy number and emergency phone number
  • one or two pen
  • photocopies of all important documents and cards kept separately from the documents
  • mini sewing kit
  • ziplock bags (for food storage, wet items, etc)

Very useful in the developing world:

  • small flashlight (during power outages, or to explore caves)
  • universal sink plug (for hand-washing in the hotel sink)
  • flip-flops (for beach, bathrooms, etc)
  • light sleeping bag or sleeping sheet, pillowcase (treks, dubious linen in guesthouses)
  • small lock (for your checked luggage and lockers)

The extras

(Depending on your preferences and your trip, you may want to bring some of these.)

  • bathing suit
  • sarong (replaces a bulky beach towel – you can buy one cheaply in Southeast Asia)
  • snorkeling mask and tube (rent the flippers)
  • light folding umbrella
  • camera, memory cards, battery, battery charger
  • universal plug adaptor or individual adaptors
  • binoculars
  • small hairdryer with dual voltage
  • sleeping gown or pyjamas
  • small towel (for treks, or hostels that don’t provide them)
  • small dictionary and/or phrasebook
  • guidebook (in paper or electronic format)
  • notebook/diary
  • reading material/E-reader
  • small laptop or iPad and/or smart phone and/or iPod
  • noise-cancelling headphones (for noisy bus or plane rides)
  • Swiss army knife (in your checked bag)
  • washcloth (rarely provided in hotels)


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