It's an essential part of coordinating a successful adventure. A well thought out packing list can be the difference between a miserable, complicated trip and an easy well prepared adventure. The key to a good packing list is to stick to the bare essentials. Because if you choose your essentials wisely, it frees you up to fully experience your destinations with flexibility and spontaneity, unfettered by unnecessary tools or gadgets.
A good packing list is fully customized; but everyone can use a little help to either get started or fine tune their list. Below is the perfect packing list for the minimalist traveler. It fits into my 30L backpack with room to spare.
- Toothbrush: Buy a travel toothbrush that folds into itself. It saves space and it's more sanitary.
- Lip Balm
- Toilet Paper (stored in a Ziploc bag): Don't take toilet paper for granted. Nature calls when it wants to, regardless of whether or not you're near a traditionally furnished bathroom. Whether it's a a day trip to Tijuana or a month long excursion across the globe, always pack a roll of TP. Remove the cardboard in the center for easier packing.
- 1 Microfiber Towel: If you're traveling light, a traditional towel takes up way too much space and can get really heavy when wet. A microfiber towel packs down to almost nothing and is just as effective and drying off after bathing.
- Nail clipper
- Baby Powder: If you're going to be anywhere remotely hot and humid, or if you plan on doing any hiking or adventuring, this will come in handy.
The name of the game with clothes is quick dry. With quick drying materials, you can travel with 3 sets of clothes and be perfectly dressed for any occasion – well, 90% of occasions. Rather than waste time and money going to laundromats to constantly wash your clothes, you can wash your clothes in the sink or shower and let them dry overnight. You'd be amazed at how versatile and comfortable many of these materials can be, and how much space you can save in your pack.
- 3 Merino Wool Socks: Merino wool dries quick and takes way longer to accumulate odor than regular cotton socks
- 3 Quick Dry Underwear: "Only 3 pairs of underwear? Really George?!" I know it sounds crazy, but Exofficio makes a great product that not only keeps you dry and snug in any situation; it's also super light and packable.
- Bathing Suit/Running Shorts: Do yourself a favor and buy a pair of Myles Running shorts. They double as a bathing suit and you can even where them out to dinner in a pinch.
- 3 Nylon T-shirts: Unlike a lot of synthetic shirts, these T-shirts from Exofficio are light and breathable; and they dry crazy quick.
- 1 Button Down
- 1 Tie
- 1 Pullover
- 1 Suit Jacket (optional)
- 1 Pair of Sunglasses
- 1 Pair of Eyeglasses
- 2 Bandanas
- 1 Running Jacket
- 1 Pair of Linen Pants
- 1 Pair of Bluffworks: Best pair of travel clothing I've ever purchased.
- 1 Pair of Slacks/Jeans (optional)
- 1 Pair of Running Shoes: These will be your everyday shoes so choose wisely.
- 1 Pair of Boots
- iPhone: Android works too. Bottom line: unless you're traveling for heavy duty business, you can do most of your work on a smartphone.
- External Battery: Lifesaver
- GoPro: I recommend purchasing the older 3+ model without the viewfinder. This allows you to be more present while taking photos instead of constantly perfecting your pictures. GoPro has a super wide angle which allows you to capture a lot of images without sacrificing your attention.
- Transformer: If you're traveling to a country that uses different outlets, this is a must.
- Insurance: Travel Insurance is something you hope you'll never need, but is always good to have. Various plans cover theft, injury, or flight issues. World Nomads does a great job and isn't very expensive for a lot of coverage.
- Money belt: Invest in a nice silk money belt. Use it for documents you won't constantly need or for an extra store of cash. It's great for keeping your income sources separated, but don't be that guy who whips out the money belt at the dinner table; it screams tourist.
- Credit card
- Bank Card
- Travel Bank Card: It's a good idea to have several bank accounts for your trip. If you're curious, you can read about why here.
- Foldable Daypack: Even when packing light, some days you just don't want to lug your whole pack with you. Get a foldable daypack and problem solved!
- Business Cards
- Sleeping mask: A good sleeping mask lets you sleep anywhere. Even if it's just because you saw a bug and have to leave the lights on in your hotel room. Not that that's ever happened to me or anything.
- 2 Locks
- 1 Metal Cable: The locks and cable allow you to secure your bag wherever you are. In case you stay at a sketchy hostel or need a nap on the bus, this will give you peace of mind.
- 1 Notebook
- 1 Guidebook: You can find a lot of this information online nowadays. But I still like to have a hard copy of Lonely Planet wherever I go just in case I'm without power. Plus, books are cool.
- 1 Literary Book
- 2 pens
- 1 Roll Athletic Tape: Has a thousand different uses. A great asset to add to your arsenal.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Malaria Pills
- Vitamin C: For that stretch of days without fruits or veggies. It happens sometimes, and it's good to be prepared.
- Chia Seeds: For some extra fiber when you need it.
- Protein Bars
One Last Thing
I use a compression bag for my clothes when I travel abroad. It's super simple to use (no technology required) and it gives me way more space in my pack. That space let's me gather souvenirs or simply be more mobile wherever I'm going. Remember, less stuff means a greater opportunity for experience. Best of luck on your next adventure!