Travelling light is the name of the game when it comes to backpacking, after all, you have to carry everything you’ve packed on your back. For many first time backpackers, the urge to overpack is overwhelming. A good target is about 10 kg (22 lbs) of total gear, including the pack.
Aim for carry-on size, which means 40L – 50L. If you go bigger, you will need to check your pack when flying, which can cost extra, take longer and you run the risk of lost luggage. Look for a pack that has an internal frame, padded hip belt and lots of pockets. Shop in-store and get some help finding a pack that fits you properly.
A scarf is incredibly useful. Not only can ladies use it to cover heads or shoulders during sightseeing in churches in more conservative countries, but everyone can make use of one as a small blanket while on a train or bus, a pillow to rest your head, something to sit on while outside or even as a towel.
Make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes, suited for the weather. Hiking shoes or boots are quite popular, as they have a good grip, are a bit sturdier than regular sneakers and are ventilated to keep your feet cool and dry. Backpacking with the wrong shoes might cause serious back pain. Choose wisely.
Universal Adapter Plug
They’re small and lightweight, but essential if you want to charge things. A multi-plug USB charger also comes in very handy for all the devices that are charged that way.
A tablet or chromebook are a great alternative to a laptop. They give you much of the functionality of a laptop but are only a fraction of the size and weight. They are also easier to hide in your pack so they don’t get stolen.
This is where so many people overpack. You want to keep it to as few items as you can. You only need 2-3 full outfits, which you can then wash in the sink or if you’re lucky your hostel offers laundry service (by the way all wombat’s CITY HOSTELS do). If you have enough socks and underwear, an outfit can be worn a few times before it needs to be washed.
Make sure that you have a rain-proof coat, since it will rain at some point. A windbreaker can offer a bit of warmth when you need it and help keep you dry. If you’re backpacking in rainy seasons you might also consider getting an extra rain cover for your backpack.
These are great for keeping stuff dry and organised. Bring extra and you can stash a snack or leftover food to eat later at your hostel or on the road.
DSLR cameras take great photos, but are big and require multiple lenses. Consider using your smartphone as a camera. You can pick up lens kits that will fit in your pocket and give you lens options. Selfie sticks double as a monopod for when you need a steady shot.
You should bring your own stuff, because hostels, campsites and other budget accommodations often don’t offer toiletries. Choose small units or even product samples. Avoid liquids over 100 ml. This way you save some hassle at the security checks when taking your backpack as carry-on luggage and save some time at the airport.