My Packing List Constants

One of the most stressful parts of leaving on a new big adventure (at least for me) is deciding what to pack! When you backpack you carry everything you need, essentially your home around on your back like a hermit crab. Except hermit crabs don’t have to worry about having appropriate shoes.

last year

I’m a little more than a month away from leaving for South America (!!!)  and I’m going through my travel checklist, looking for decent travel insurance, finalizing my itinerary etc. But it’s the packing that really kills me. Packing for Australia and Asia last year was hellish but in some ways Latin America is even tougher. It doesn’t help that I have an extremely open-ended itinerary. I’m basically trying to pack for an entire continent with changing seasons and altitudes which mean I’ll need clothing for a variety of temperatures. I’ll be spending a lot of time in posh cities like Bogota and Buenos Aires so I don’t want to look like a total slob but I’ll probably also be scrambling over ruins, climbing mountains and lounging on beaches.

Add in the totally indecisive neurotic behaviors I seem to develop only in relation to packing and you have a pretty un-happy me. The other day I spent 2 hours just trying to pick out a windbreaker! And I didn’t even buy one!

My one saving grace is my travel constants. I’ve been backpacking long enough that I’ve developed a range of travel gear that I know I can depend on in any scenario. These are the things I remember to take with me on every single trip and can’t live without.

My backpacker uniform

My Packing List Constants

  • Sleep mask- a nice thick sleep mask can help you get some rest in the most adverse conditions- busy hostels, long bus rides, the summer solstice. I have a nice pair from Dream Essentials and I take them everywhere.
  • Crossbody bag– I love crossbody bags to use as daypacks. They are much safer from theft than purses and you can definitely find the right one for any trip. Here’s a great post for you to find your best crossbody bag for travel.
  • Quick drying towel– My first backpacking trip I brought a full size towel and oh-boy that was a pain in the ass. Since then I’ve switched to an REI brand towel that dries super fast and folds up super tiny. You can’t really sit on it at the beach but it’s super useful for packing (you don’t want to know what a damp towel will do after 12 hours in your hot backpack. Trust).
  • Hard-core flip flops– in warm weather I live in flip flops, so I like to have a comfy and durable pair that can withstand a mountain climb or two.
  • A big scarf– So versatile: wear it around your neck when it’s chilly outside, as a blanket on icebox bus rides or fold it up for a makeshift pillow. It’s a coverup when you need to visit a temple and- in a real emergency- can even be a skirt.
  • Comfortable jeans– I don’t care what anyone says, I am pro-jeans on the road. They are just so comfy and warm and nothing looks quite as stylish when you want to go out at night.
  • Built-in-Bra tank tops- They sell these at the Gap Outlet in a variety of colors and I pretty much live in them on the road. They are comfortable, layer-able , good in hot weather and you can sleep in them. I literally own about 12.
  • Eyelash curler- I’m vain, okay? I happily go make-up free on the road, but if you need to look a little polished some nice curly eyelashes go a long way.

What about you, what are your packing constants? 

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34 thoughts on “My Packing List Constants”

  1. A travel diary! I know it’s very old fashioned to write now a days, but I do love my travel diaries, nothing beats having your memories permantly penned.

    Other than that, I’d say a sarong, pashmina scarf, head torch and sleeping bag liner.

  2. I always bring jeans (of course!) and a quick-dry towel, but even those can get a bit smelly after a while. Or maybe I’m just gross.

    I also bring photos of my boyfy & family (it helps with homesickness), chapstick, solid shampoo, and my facial hair trimmer! I hate shaving all my facial hair off, unless I absolutely have to!

  3. Here’s my list of thing to bring on any trip:

    1. Camera!!!
    2. Mosquito repellent
    3. Flashlight
    4. A pair of Crocs (I know they’re not flahy but good for any occasion)
    5. Medicine box with all sorts of stuff…
    6. Chapstick
    7. Sharp knife
    8. Pants & Shirt & Sarong (only 1 of each – less is more and I do plan to shop a bit as well haha)

    Hmmm…I wanted to write 10 but I can’t think of anything else at the moment 😉

  4. Well naturally I have to have my camera and netbook, if I lost everything I’d still be happy traveling with those.
    Apart from that though I have a few icebreaker tshirt, they keep a constant body temp and are microfibre, so dry quick, and hardly any smell 😉 Also my hiking pants that zip off into shorts, can be very convenient.

  5. Hmm my fav facewash and shampoo/conditioner at the time. sometimes it is those little constants that are nice when you are on the road.

  6. I bring a golf ball, compression socks, mild pain killers, Airborne, electronics, Yin Chaiou Pien, lots of dental flossand the laptop. The golf ball will plug up any sink around the world (laundry, contact lenses) and, if a towel is put over it, can be put on the ground and I can give my spasming back a trigger point massage – invaluable. The socks get me through long flights with no leg swelling, The dental floss can double as thread, rope (braid together) and tying luggage together.

    I also bring my wad-up-in-a-ball trenchcoat. Yes, it acts like a coat, a bathrobe, a blanket, and a pillow. It has lots of pockets and is big enough to dress in lots of layers underneath if I need to. It has hundreds of thousands of miles on it and it comes with me everyhwere.

    But no jeans – too heavy and uncomfortable.

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