If you are new to backpacking travel, it’s critical you stop what you are doing and think about the items you can’t live without while on your travels. This isn’t the time to pack everything but the kitchen sink. Whether you are planning just a couple weeks of travel or perhaps a year, take as little as you possibly can. There are a few essentials of course that are concrete absolutes. But lots of the stuff you think you need is really just going to be a pain in your rear; or should I say back? Broken down into categories to make it easier, let’s have a look at what you need when setting off for some adventure travel.
There are a few travel documents you literally aren’t going anywhere without. It’s essential to photocopy all your documents and tuck them in a couple different places just in case you lose the originals. Give copies to someone staying at home along with your itinerary and method of contact too. Email works best just check in from time to time to reassure your loved ones everything is fine.
• Passport – if there is one single thing you can’t forget it’s your passport. Triple check to ensure it’s valid for at least 6 months after you expect to be back. The last thing you want is to be stranded in Turkey with an expired passport.
• Any entry visas you may need - depending on where you are going you may need an entry visa. Make sure you thoroughly investigate the places you intend to visit to get up to snuff on the entry requirements. Finding out after-the-fact won’t help.
• License or another photo id – it’s always a wise-owl move to make sure you have at least one other form of valid identification with you just to be safe.
• Money, credit card, and/or travelers checks – no matter what you are always going to need some foreign currency on you. Figure out how much you are going to need and get it before you leave. Otherwise, you may get nailed with insane exchange rates depending on where you are visiting. Having a credit card is critical to booking accommodations and in a pinch.
• Travel itinerary – most airlines ask to see your planned itinerary before you even board the plane. Having a plan just makes sense for safety reasons and getting the most out of your travel time. It doesn’t have to be perfect but the more detailed, the better.
• Hotel confirmations – have these handy on you and make sure you call again to confirm before you leave. There’s nothing worse than showing up to the wrong hotel or rolling in tired and hungry after dark to find out you don’t have reservation and the hotel is full.
• Flight confirmation – call ahead to confirm your flight and make sure you actually have a seat number on your ticket. Often flights are purposely overbooked and if you have a ticket with no seat assigned, you might end up catching the next flight.
• Health card or travel insurance health information and immunization records – make sure you have all documentation regarding your health. Many countries need to see that you’ve had immunizations before you enter and if you get seriously sick, you need something to help pay your costs. Please don’t wing this one or you might wind up with an enormous hospital bill.
• Emergency numbers – it goes without saying you need all your emergency numbers with you in a couple of spots just in case.
Footwear and Clothing (assuming warmer climate)
Packing thorough and light is your best move here. And we are going to generalize this basic list for a warmer climate. So if you are heading off to Iceland, you’ll need thermal long underwear, hats, gloves, warm socks, boots, and a quality winter jacket to start. So use this same base list and add the extras. Keep in mind when you are packing that less is more. You don’t need 6 pairs of shoes and 5 swimsuits. You can always wash what you have, even if you wind up doing it in the bathroom sink. So what. Less is more anytime you are traveling without a bellboy.
• Quick dry t-shirts – these take up very little space and are easy to wash and dry.
• Absorbent and fast dry pants and shorts – even in hot climates it can get cool at night. Make sure you’ve got at least 2 pairs of durable pants and a week’s worth of shorts. Again they are easy to wash and dry.
• Long sleeve shirts – for sun protection, damp mornings, and bugs.
• Warm fleece or sweater – just in case.
• Waterproof jacket - no place is immune to rain.
• Two swimsuits – just in case you lose one or have a wardrobe malfunction.
• Two hats – very important to protect your head and face from the sun.
• Evening outfit – if you think you need it.
• Runners – a must on any backpacking adventure.
• Hiking shoes – I trust you’ll be doing lots of hiking.
• Athletic Sandal – to give your feet a little bit of a breather.
• One pair dress shoes (if required)
• Socks – you don’t want stinky shoes and blisters.
• Undies – do we even have to go there?