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Whats In My Backpack?? How To Travel Lite

To help other travellers out there I’ve made a list of Whats In My Backpack.  And some tips of how to Travel Lite, so you know what to pack for your next trip.  There’s nothing better than the freedom of travelling with a light backpack.

We all know the feeling of picking up your backpack and wondering why on earth it’s so heavy.   

I learnt my lesson on my first 6 months backpacking in Europe where I had a crazy 25kg of gear in 2 backpacks.  Now I manage to Travel Lite with about 12kg, that with some trickery I still manage to take as carry-on luggage on all airlines.  

For other travel tips please see my posts on How to Couchsurf Safely and my 10 Favorite Apps


Whats In My Backpack

General Items




  • My backpack, A 65L hiking backpack from Macpac.  Comfortable although the backpack actually weighs 2.5kg empty.  My next backpack will be a 50L lightweight backpack.  No need for tough heavy canvas for travelling.  
  • Small day backpack.  Very light but comfortable to use while exploring a city.  
  • A Pillow.  This pillow is my one luxury item. I actually got it in Alaska and it has been right around the world with me.  I use it everywhere as I find most pillows too thick.  
  • Flip Flops.  I need to buy a better pair.  I go through a pair about every month.  Lost, broken or stolen.  
  • Nice Shoes.  These are very lightweight plastic dress shoes that you can wear if you need to dress up.  Not very nice but I hardly ever use them.  They cost me $3 in the Philippines and weigh almost nothing.  
  • Plastic poncho.  I’m currently travelling around Asia in the wet season and have only used this 6 times in 2 months.  It cost $1 and I really don’t see the point of buying a real raincoat.






  • 4 pairs of shorts. One of them for swimming.
  • 7  T-Shirts.  More than I need but I got a bit carried away shopping in Bangkok.  And it’s so hot and sweaty in Asia it’s nice to have a spare.  One is expensive merino from home that is just way too hot in Asia.  
  • Underwear.  
  • 3 Pairs of Socks.  One woollen that I haven’t used in Asia.
  • One Merino (woolen) Hoodie.  Perfect for cold days or when the air con is turned down too low.  Useful for sleeping as the hood doubles as an eye mask to help you sleep.  
  • Lite Weight Down Jacket.  Very handy for if you go somewhere a bit colder.  But it’s small so in a hot place it doesn’t add much weight.  
  • Warm Hat.  This is great because it also doubles as an eye mask for sleeping in light places.  
  • Sun Hat.  I always like to wear a hat.  Extra protection than just sunscreen.
  • Very Small Towel.  I don’t carry a large towel.  Just 50cmx50cm is all you really need.  Saves weight.  






  • Laptop-Charger-Cables and Protective Case.  If your not blogging or working then there’s really no need to carry a laptop.  Less things to worry about losing or having stolen.  There is nothing a smart phone can’t do these days.    
  • Smart Phone.  I resisted the smart phone until May, 2016.  I got this new Samsung S4 for $100 USD in the Philippines.  GPS, camera, social apps, constant data connection etc… it makes travelling much easier.  Don’t forget to back things up however.  I’ve met a lot of people who either lose or drop their phones.  Have it in a protective case while travelling.  
  • Hard drive.  Essential for backing up photos.  And if you don’t carry a laptop you can still use it with other computers.
  • Head phones.  Essential for listening to music on long bus rides.  Get some that block background noise, great for when someone is snoring in your hostel dorm!
  • Camera and case.  Panasonic, nothing special but has a great zoom.  I hardly use this now that I have a smartphone.
  • Camera Charger.  Annoying to carry but it actually uses the same adapter as my laptop.  Try to take a camera that charges via USB.   
  • Go Pro.  Great for documenting your trip with the added bonus of being waterproof.  
  • Spare SIM Cards.  Collected from other countries as you never know when you will be back.
  • Double Audio Jack.  Great if you’re travelling with someone, to use 2 pairs of head phones on the same device.


Random Items



  • Name and Address.  If you lose your bag someone is more likely to get it back to you if it has your name on it and an email address.  
  • Note Book.  I don’t really use this much
  • Mosquito Repellent.  Essential in Asia and a lot of other countries. 
  • Sunscreen.
  • Ear Plugs.  Great if your a light sleeper.
  • Nail Clippers.
  • Jade Carvings.   For gifts.  
  • 2 Pens.  Very handy
  • First Aid Kit. My entire first aid kit consists of iodine disinfectant and some band aids.  It’s all I’ve ever needed in 5 years except once when I had to buy some antibiotic cream in Hawaii for an infected cut.  
  • Wildkiwi Business Cards
  • Selfie Stick.  For when I travel alone.
  • Toilet Paper.  In 3rd world countries if you want toilet paper your better to bring it yourself.  Often hard to come by.  
  • Spare adapters for UK and Europe.  As you change countries so do the power plugs change.  I carry a couple of different ones.  
  • Soap, Chapstick, and Tiger Balm.
  • Key Ring,   A gift from someone. My one and only souvenir from Thailand.


My Secret Money Belt


I think the single most important thing to have is a small secret money/passport belt.  No one knows when I’m wearing this.  It sits under my t-shirt or even down my pants.  I can wear it with my backpack on, in a club dancing, or sunbathing at the beach and no one knows.  If I got robbed there’s a good chance people wouldn’t find it.  Most importantly I never need to take it off and never put it down so it can’t be snatched away or forgotten.   




  • Passport, The Single most important thing I carry!
  • Cash.   I always carry some cash just in case you get stuck without an ATM or your card gets swallowed.  Here I have $200-$300 in 5 different currencies. 
  • Debit Cards.  I have 2 options for getting money from the ATM.  In 5 years I’ve used my second option 5 times.  
  • Drivers’ Licence and Firearms Licence. 
  • Spare Passport Photos.  Saves you a few dollars each time you have to apply for a visa.


Things I Forgot




  • Instant Noodles.  Just in case I get stuck and hungry.  
  • Shampoo 
  • Spare Soap from Hotels.
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush and Natural Tooth Paste.   I bought it for 50c in Thailand…not sure how natural it is!


A Few Tips On How To Travel Lite


Just Take The Basics

Of course, it depends where you’re travelling;  hot or cold, Western world or poor countries.  But my biggest piece of advice is only take the minimum things you need.  I’ve been to 50 countries on 6 continents and I’ve never yet been to a country that I couldn’t find something that I needed if I looked hard enough.  Especially in the Western world there won’t be anything you can’t find in another country, maybe of a different brand, or colour but it’s always going to be there.   So don’t worry about carrying spare clothes, an extra tooth brush or extra clothes.  If/when you need them you will almost always find what you need.  


Aim To Have A Carry On Sized Backpack

It makes it so much easier to Travel Lite if your backpack is small enough for carry-on, and saves you money!  I have a full sized 65L hiking backpack with a frame with about 12kg total weight.  (I’m in Asia as I write this.)  

To make my bag carry-on I simply take out my laptop and a couple of small heavy items and put them into my pillow case.  Then I tighten all my straps on my backpack and make it as small as possible.  

When I go to the check-in desk I quickly put my backpack behind the counter and they almost never ask to weigh it because it’s out of sight.  And no one will ask to weigh a pillow!  That’s stupid even though it might now weigh 3-4kg!  Innocent pillow!  

If they do weigh your backpack and it’s over take out some clothes to wear.  At this point they won’t want to wait for you so they just let you go!  Easy!  I have never had any airline weigh my bag after the check in counter.

If you only have a carry-on bag the airline can’t lose it!  We have all heard stories of bags ending up in other countries.  A great way to spoil a trip from day one!!


Don’t Collect Too Much Junk Along The Way

Personally I don’t buy souvenirs but if you do, try to collect small items.  Things that don’t weigh too much.  You’d be surprised just how much they can add up after a few countries.  And don’t forget that a lot of souvenirs are actually made in China.  Not the exotic country that you’re in! 



So that’s what I carry.  Its just an example of a travellers backpack.  I’ve met people Travel Lite for years, with a 35L backpack, and some people travelling in Asia with 25kg everywhere they go.  Its obviously much harder when your in colder countries as you need more clothes.  Maybe you want to go hiking and have a tent.  Sometimes it cost a bit more because you have to buy extra clothes as you go.

I hope this post will help you Pack For Traveling and to see what you really Do and Don’t need.


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