Packing for your travel can be cumbersome. Some do it at the last minute and some people get everything lined up 2 months ahead of time! For a trip spanning more than 30 days, our packing begins about 1-2 months ahead, just in case.
There’s nothing worse than forgetting to bring your favorite nail-clipper! or your favorite pair of socks! Holiday -ruined, lol.
We are here to make life easier for you so that you can focus on enjoying your travels!
Choosing a Backpack or Rucksack
We always travel with backpacks because is more convenient for us to ‘travel light’. We usually bring one big-backpack each and a small foldable day-pack for our snacks!
Some people prefer to travel with suitcases. Most probably because they have back problems or simply because don’t like the backpacks or rucksacks. That is just a personal preference.
Choosing the right backpack (or rucksack) is very important, especially when you’re carrying heavier loads.
In recent years, the technology applied to backpacks or rucksacks has improved a lot and we can find a big variety of them in speciality travel shops, both on the high-street or online.
What qualities should we look for when choosing a backpack?
Size and Shape
Sizes for backpacks are indicated in Litres, eg. 20L, 30L, 40L and up to 100L or more.
Shapes of the backpacks also differ for men and women. But there are many out there that are unisex. Backpacks are also made with different heights at suit a taller or shorter user.
Belt & Lumbar Support
Most backpacks over 30L comes with a belt to secure it in place. This feature comes in handy when you’re going cycling or even hiking as it keeps the backpack in place and not slide off.
The lumbar support comes in many different forms these days. Some comes in a moulded plastic and stretched-webbing to allow great airflow for hot climate so you won’t get a sweaty back and some comes in a moulded-sponge build.
Compression, Adjustment and Pectoral Webbings
Most backpacks, especially rucksacks of more than 40L comes with compression webbings to secure and reduce the volume of your soft items, so that the backpack doesn’t look ‘puffy’ or inflated.
Adjustment webbings comes standard to backpacks of all sizes. They are the cords that you pull to make the shoulder-carrying straps shorter or loosen to make it longer.
Pectoral webbings are the cords that crosses your chest to make sure your carrying-straps doesn’t fall off your shoulders.
Frames and Back or Shoulder Pads
Frames are usually fitted on rucksacks that are bigger than 60L and usually made for heavy-duty hiking. The frame acts as a bone to hold the shape of the backpack and support the weight of the load.
Back and Shoulder Pads are available in some of the backpack ranges as an optional upgrade. Some manufacturers made velcro sleeves for your to remove the original pads and replace with a new or upgraded piece.
What do you suggest?
The 50 litres and 70 litres backpacks from Quechua® Forclaz 50Litres Backpack or the Quechua® Forclaz 70L Backpack as shown below. Quechua was a brand exclusively available at Decathlon sporting goods store.
Why a Quechua 50L or 70L?
Because they are well priced good value for the quality. If this is your first buy, this is a good place to start. Consu had her backpack for 7 years now and counting, it’s still in great condition.
Also be sure that the backpack has a protective cover from rain and potential damages when outdoors. We recommend using the protector as much as you can.
If the backpack you’ve purchased didn’t come with one or you’ve never had one before, we would highly recommend you to get one for your trips. Its a great piece of investment as they are inexpensive these days.
And… how much should the bag weigh?
We try our best not to exceed 10 kgs as we don’t like paying for check-in baggage for flights. Although I recognise that this can be very difficult to work with sometimes… 🙁
but believe me that your ‘back’ is going to thank you!
At least try not exceed 12 kgs on a trip longer than 3 days and 8 kgs on a trip shorter than 3 days for the big backpack or rucksack. And the small day-pack should be about 3-5 kgs.
On one of our trips to Cambodia, Harris did carry 11-12 kgs in his backpack and didn’t like it after walking around for 3-4 hours. But he didn’t have much choice as it was quite a long trip.
Packing List for Holiday : What Should We Really Bring?
Regardless of whether you travel with a backpack or suitcase, the list of essential things is pretty much the same for every trip.
We have divided it in a few sections to make it easier to review the list and not forgetting anything at the time of final-checking before stuffing everything in the backpack.
Clothes (If the trip is to a warmer region):
- T-Shirts ~ 3 to 4
- Light Sweater or Jumper or Jacket ~ 1
- Jeans or Long Pants ~ 1
- Shorts / Skirts (for ladies) ~ 1
- Swimwear / bikini (for ladies) ~ 1 to 2
- Underwear ~ 3 to 4
- Socks ~ 2 to 3
- Sports Shoes (Trainers) or Trekking Shoes or Sandals ~ 1 worn
- Flip-flops ~ 1 in backpack
- Optional : Sunglasses ~ 1 worn
Clothes (If the trip is to a colder region):
- T-shirts (normal or thermal) ~ 1 worn + 1 in backpack
- Sweaters or Jumpers ~ 1 worn + 2 in backpack
- Jeans or Long Pants ~ 1 worn + 1 in backpack
- Pyjamas or Nightwear ~ 1
- Underwear ~ 3 to 4
- Socks ~ 1 worn + 2 in backpack
- Lined Boots or Sport Trainers or Trekking Shoes ~ 1 worn
- Coat or Jacket (Insulated) ~ 1 worn
- Just in case : Gloves, hat, beanie or scarf (depending on the season)
Sometimes its better to over-dress in colder climate than struggle to keep warm. If its too warm, simply peel of the layers of your clothes.
Bathroom or Toiletries :
- Medium Sized Micro-fiber Towel ~ 1 for shower use
- Light Toiletry Pouch ~ 1
- Toothbrush and Small Tube of Toothpaste ~ 1 set
- Small Shampoo and Small Body Wash ~ 1 set
- Dry Stick Deodorant ~ 1
- Disposable Shaving Blades or Battery Powered Shaver ~ 1 to 3
- Silicone Cup / Tampons / Sanitary Pads (for ladies) ~ about enough
- Optional : Hair Brush / Small Scissors / Clipper / Small Tubes of Perfume / Make-ups
Micro-fiber towels dries faster than the regular cotton ones. It helps when you’re on-the-go. If possible, get the combined shampoo and body-wash as 2-in-1, it saves space rather than having 1 each.
Dry Stick Deodorants are great for flights as you’re not allowed much LAGs (Liquid, Aerosol and Gases) on an airplane. Click HERE for a list of restricted hand-carry items by AirAsia.
Beware, don’t bring any long scissors or a ‘cut-throat’ shaving blade for a flight. Or even a big bottle of moisturizer (true story) as they may be confiscated by airport security at the scanners.
First Aid Kit:
- Anti-Histamines Pills or Analgesics
- Anti-Diahorrea Pills
- Band-Aids or Plasters
- Mosquito Repellent (If you don’t have problem with the bites try to buy one natural like citronella or lavender, if else you’ll need one stronger with DEET)
- Antibiotic ointment (this is very good if the mosquitoes repellent is not enough)
- Needle & Lighter
As for Mosquito Repellents, the lighter ones are made of Citronella or Lavender but the stronger-repellents are made with DEET. The stronger ones are for people with major issues with mosquito.
Most of our friends or family that are from Europe going to Asia (warmer climate) have problems with mosquito bites. Get some to spare, its better to be prepared.
- Passport & ID
- Visa (click HERE to check if you need one)
- Flight Tickets & Transport tickets like buses, trains, trams, ferries etc.
- Attraction Tickets like museums, rides, attractions etc.
- Credit / Debit / Travel Cards (see our useful Travel Money Card post)
- Cash and Foreign Currencies
- Travel Insurance (if you’ve got one for the trip, otherwise click HERE)
- Vaccination Card (click HERE to check if you need one)
- Driving License + International Driving License
- Itinerary (If you have prepared one)
- Mobile Phone and Charger
- Laptop / Tablet and Charger (optional)
- Photography equipment (optional)
- Adapter Plugs (according to your destination country)
- USB Power-bank or Spare Batteries
Other useful stuff:
- Small Umbrella or Disposable Poncho
- Sleep Mask
- Ear Plugs
- Sun Lotion
- Numeric Padlock
- Notebook & Pen
Harris brought a bunch of cable-ties (zip-ties) and got confiscated at an airport once. You’ve been warned lol.
And of course…. some SNACKS!
We always bring some Snacks in our Backpacks to avoid not starving the first few hours of the trip!! 🙂
Snacks like fruits (bananas or apples), peanuts, pistachios, nachos, biscuits and water. Sometimes we also bring breakfast-bars or muesli-bars. They are fast energy foods that can tie-you-over lunch or sometimes even dinner.
Bring a disposable mineral water bottle, empty it before a flight security check-point and refill it after at the water fountain as most airports have those.
This is also a great idea to avoid paying big money for drinks from the boarding-lounge shops. The TSA or airport security allows empty bottles when passing through the scanner.
How to Pack Everything in the Backpack?
Once we have the packing list for holiday ready, it’s very important to put everything inside of the backpack in the right way. Doing this we can take better advantage of the space and avoid possible damage to our back.
Try to put all the stuff according with the sections that we have explained above. It’s important not to mix everything. We save time when we have to package and when we need to pull something out of the bag.
We normally place the heavy items in the lower-center of the backpack and as close as possible to your back to avoid damages, such as electronics and photography equipment.
Extra hot tip!
You can wrap this heavy or hard items with some clothes to avoid them poking or rubbing on your backs 😉
Place the softer items at the top, such as clothes, shoes, towel… And put the underwear, socks and swimwear in the sides.
Most people roll up their clothes before to put it in the backpack trying to save space. But we use packing-cubes arranging clothes in one, toiletries in another one and so on.
Over the top, we always put the toiletry bag, first aid kit, and of course, things that we could need to use frequently, such as sun lotion, sunglasses, snacks! (to eat something in the first hours of the trip). Also don’t forget to bring water in a disposable mineral water bottle if is possible.
When we bring a hand bag, we put in here the documents, purse with the money and credit cards, mobile phone and charger, glasses, tissues… Or else, we could put all of these in one of the exterior pockets on the top of the backpack.
And that’s it!! We are ready to go!!