Packing a BackpackOver the years, what I carry in my bag has changed a lot. Most of that change has to do with the fact that I now carry a lot of gear related to blogging, but it also reflects the fact that I’ve learned a lot about packing since I first hit the road in 2006. And while many websites have packing lists, I want to combine all my previous posts on the subject (there are about three) into one updated post that reflects my current views on what people should pack on their trip.

First, the short answer to what you should pack: take as little as possible. I take only the essentials, and if I really need something, I buy it. It’s not that hard to find medicine, clothes, or an umbrella overseas. I also try to stick to the same climate during my trips to avoid carrying lots of different clothes. I don’t want to be lugging sweaters around Thailand!

However, plans can change, and if that happens, I buy a light jacket. I keep it until it is a burden and then I leave it behind. The more I travel, the more I realize I don’t need a lot of stuff. Everything I own fits into one backpack. Packing light is a cliché, yet one that has a lot of truth to it.

But the long answer to what you should pack? Well, below is my suggested packing list:

1 dress shirt for when I go out to a respectable place in the evening
1 pair of jeans (They may be heavy and not easily dried, but I wear them a lot. A good alternative can be khaki pants.)
1 pair of shorts
1 bathing suit
6 t-shirts
1 long-sleeve t-shirt
1 pair of flip-flops
1 pair of sneakers
8 pairs of socks
1 pair of black dress socks
1 pair of dress shoes (heavy to carry around, but when I visit local friends, we usually go somewhere not sneaker-friendly)
7 pairs of boxer shorts
1 towel

1 toothbrush
1 tube of toothpaste
1 razor
1 package of dental floss
1 small bottle of shampoo
1 small bottle of shower gel
Hair gel so I can keep the fro down between haircuts

Hydrocortisone cream
Antibacterial cream
Doctor-prescribed antibiotics
Hand sanitizer

GEAR (for those blogging, taking video, or anything else)
Nikon Camera
Wireless microphones
Universal power adapter

A key or combination lock (everyone should have this, too!)
Zip-top bags
Plastic bags

Special tip: Buy a small backpack so you won’t be tempted to overpack. We subconsciously like to fill empty space, so if you have a big bag, you’re more likely to overpack just so you don’t waste space.

I’ve found that this list leaves me wanting for nothing. I’m sure many of you will read this and say “But what about X?” or “You really don’t need Y.” Well, that works for you, and this list works for me. Tailor your list to suit your travels.

I write this post not because I think there is one perfect way to pack but to answer a recurring question about what I pack and why. I haven’t touched upon this subject in over three years, and people keep asking me “What should I pack when I go away?” This is my guideline and suits my “chase the summer, live in hostels” lifestyle.

But the real point I want to emphasize is that you really don’t need a lot when you travel. Before I go on a trip, I write down a list of what I think I’ll need and then cut it in half. You never need as much as you think.

In the end, there is never a definitive packing list. Everyone has different needs. My list suits my needs. It might not suit yours.