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Packing Like a Pro and Traveling Light—My Ultimate Guide

Tips for minimalist travel using just a carry-on bag

Once you force yourself to pack light, your life on the road becomes so much easier. You’ll be more mobile, more comfortable, and you’ll often save money too—because sticking to carry-on luggage avoids many surcharges on flights (especially with budget carriers).

I’ve met people who carry up to 90 pounds or 40 kg when they travel. This is crazy! They haul around their way-too-heavy backpack filled with things they’ll never need. They sweat, they curse, and finally swear they’ll never pack so much again. This is not a fun lesson to learn.

Nowadays I travel with a total weight of about 11 kg or 24 pounds (though it used to be less when I didn’t bring so many electronics for my blogging). It pays off hugely to pack well, and I recommend doing some test runs at home. Lay out all your gear on your bed or floor, think about every single item, and try to eliminate all the non-essential ones. Try packing and unpacking a few times to see how it feels. If you’re disciplined, you’ll be able to feel free like a bird instead of packed like a mule.

This post is mainly about packing for a backpacking or round-the-world trip, though many of the tips can be used equally for a shorter trip or holiday. You can find packing guides that are even more minimalist, though in a few areas I prefer to trade a bit of weight for increased convenience. Of course, every traveller is different, and the approach I’ll show in a minute is just one example.

Choosing the right bag

Before we talk about packing, it’s worth thinking about the bag you’ll use first…

The best way to avoid overpacking is to start with the right size bag. This will remove the temptation to keep adding more things, and forces you to prioritise.

I recommend getting a bag with a capacity of around 40 liters. You might need something a bit bigger if you plan to go camping, but if you’ll be staying in hotels or hostels a bag of this size should be absolutely fine. If you’re not sure what bag to get, check out my list of best backpacks.

A smaller bag is much easier to handle during transit. For instance, you can easily swing it onto the back of a tuk-tuk. You can tuck it under your seat in a bus, where it will be more secure and easier to access. And if you need to run to catch that last train, you won’t be as encumbered and might actually make it!

Backpacks have advantages over wheeled luggage as well, at least for general world travel. A suitcase is fine for a holiday in a fixed location or when staying only in modern urban environments, but it’s not so great for sandy beaches, cobblestone streets, or dirt roads. A backpack is also more malleable and easier to store than a hardshell suitcase.

Most backpacks of around 40L capacity will be accepted as carry-on luggage, though it depends on their exact dimensions, so be sure to check the specs.

I used to travel with a 45L backpack, though I now travel with an Osprey Farpoint 55. This backpack can be split into a 40L main bag and a 15L daypack. This is not exactly minimalist, but I needed just that bit of extra space for the many electronic devices I use for my travel blogging. I’d say 40L is sufficient for most travellers, and if your backpack is over 55- 60L or so it might be worth downsizing.

3 rules for minimalist travel

  1. Pack the must-haves, not the nice-to-haves
    It’s easy to get into all kinds of “what if” scenarios in your head that will never happen. If it’s your first big trip, you might end up packing more and more things just because ‘more stuff’ feels somehow comforting and safe, even though it’ll just weigh you down. Try to be brave and pack less. Focus on the true essentials only.
  2. Don’t pack more than 1 week’s worth of clothing
    It’s much easier to do laundry than to carry weeks worth of clothing. Pick some versatile favourites with a simple color palette so that you can easily mix-and-match.
  3. Bring versatile instead of special-case items
    Focus on items that will be useful to you all the time, and think twice about anything you’ll use only on specific occasions. For example, equipment can often be borrowed or rented. If there’s a surprise situation on your trip, you can often find a cheap temporary fix instead of carrying something just-in-case for your entire trip.

Remember that there are shops all over the world, even in seemingly remote places! If you forget something, you can usually still buy it there.

Oh, one more good rule: try to keep about a third of your bag empty. This can serve as extra space for souvenirs or for clothes/items you might buy on the road. Plus not having it totally full makes loading and unloading easier.

So here’s how I pack…

Having covered some basic tips, let me show you exactly how I pack in a step-by-step way.

So… this is my main 40 liter backpack. I use this to store mainly clothes and toiletries. Let’s open it!

The key to how to pack light is to have the right backpack. This is the Osprey 55.

Farpoint 55 backpack filled with travel items.

So here’s what’s inside. Firstly, I use packing cubes to keep my clothing organised. For a long time I just kept my stuff in plastic shopping bags, but I’m glad I saw the light and bought a 3 piece set of slim packing cubes by eBags. They cost only $15 and makes organising my clothes a lot easier.

I roll my clothes before putting them in the packing cubes. It’s better to roll clothes instead of folding as this is generally more space efficient.

The only clothing I don’t put in the packing cubes are my pants/trousers. I also keep my shoes in a separate plastic bag.

All my packing items displayed next to my backpack, showing that minimalistic packing is possible.

I usually take about 6 shirts or t-shirts with me, ones that I know I’ll be happy to wear regularly. I’ll take 3 pairs of pants/trousers; if I’m going to a tropical or summer destination, two of these will be shorts. I’ll also bring one sweater or hoodie and my swimming shorts. 

Since I travel a lot in hot climates, I usually won’t bring nightwear. If it’s super hot I’ll just sleep in boxer shorts and a tank top. But if I’m going somewhere cold or temperate, I might add a pyjama or pair of jogging pants/trousers.

I usually bring 6 or 7 pairs of underwear. Some travellers advocate bringing as few as 3 (one to wear, one to wash, and one to dry), but I prefer having fresh underwear every day and only washing once a week.

I don’t bring more than 3 pairs of socks however. I recommend investing in some merino wool socks. Unlike cotton socks, you can wear them for several days without them getting stinky. Merino wool also provides warmth when it’s cold, keeps your feet cool when it’s hot, has the amazing ability to stay warm even when wet, and even dries much faster than cotton. (Gee whiz! Seriously though, merino wool is amazing…).

I typically travel with two pairs of footwear. In the tropics or in summer destinations, I’ll bring a pair of good walking shoes (mainly for nature hiking) and a pair of flip-flops (which I wear 80% of the time). In other climates I’ll bring one pair of walking shoes and one pair of casual shoes. I like canvas sneakers such as Converse All-Stars as they fold up easily and take up very little space. Girls can easily add a pair of flats, as well.

What about rainy or cold weather?

I most often travel in the tropics or in summer, so I don’t bother packing a jacket or rain coat. If you’re packing for cold or wet weather then this will add more weight, but not so much as you might at first assume. Your winter jacket, jumper, etc. will be on your body anyway, so won’t add to your luggage weight. For rain cover, just get a packable lightweight rain coat, as these can compress down to about the size of an apple. If you need to pack for multiple climates, consider bringing a compression bag for storing your winter items when you no longer need them.

My toiletries bag with solid soap and shampoo

This is my toiletries bag with toothbrush + toothpaste, sunscreen, anti mozzie spray, a small roller deodorant, and some matt clay for hair styling. Not pictured is my beard trimmer, which I bring only on longer trips.

Be sure to keep sprays and liquids under 100ml to conform with hand luggage regulations. Many products have smaller travel size versions.

Finally I have two soap containers, one with a soap bar and the other with a shampoo bar. Since they’re solids, they’ll always be accepted as carry-on. They’re also lighter and more compact than shower gel or shampoo bottles. I bought two soap containers in different colours so I can easily tell them apart.

A shampoo bar is a clever way to save space in your backpack

A shampoo bar works exactly like a soap bar. Just rub it in water and you’ll get some lovely shampoo. 1 shampoo bar equals about 3 normal shampoo bottles, so it’ll last you for ages!

A microfiber travel towel will also save space in your backpack

Inside the mesh compartment are just two more things.

Firstly a polyester laundry bag with a drawstring. This keeps stinky clothes nicely separated, and I like the world map printed on it too—it seems thematically appropriate.

Secondly I have a lightweight microfiber travel towel. These weigh at least 10 times less than the average cotton towel. Some people don’t like their velvety texture, though you are not supposed to actually rub this type of towel. After showering, use your hands to remove most of the water first, then just gently pat yourself dry. A travel towel is super absorbent so patting is typically all you need.

But why bring a towel at all? Well, I often stay in hostels where towels aren’t always provided. It’s also useful at the beach or on a hiking trip.

Microfiber travel towels dry faster than cotton ones. If it’s still wet when you’re packing up, you can just let it hang on the outside of your backpack for a bit, where it can quickly air out or dry in the sun. If your towel has a loop on it you can clip it to a carabiner.

That’s it for my main bag, though as I mentioned before I also travel with a smaller 15L daypack. Having a separate daypack gives me a bit more space and versatility. The Osprey Farpoint 55 backpack that I have is designed so that you can zip the two bags together or use them separately.

My 15 liter daypack

My daypack has a gopro and camera in it

The daypack is where I mainly keep my electronics. Currently I have a GoPro with monopod in here, and a shoulder bag containing my Canon 550D DSLR with 15-85mm lens. I used to carry other lenses as well, but after a while I realised that I wasn’t using them enough, so it’s just one lens now. I’m saving up for a Sony A7 mirrorless camera, which will bring the weight down a bit.

If you’re not set on having a full-size camera, obviously get a compact camera or use your smartphone. This will save you at least 1kg or 2.2 lbs of packing weight. I normally carry the camera bag over my shoulder, though it will usually live inside the daypack when I’m in transit.

Let’s see what else is inside…

A travel organizer helps to keep smaller items organized.

You’ll notice my Apple 13″ Macbook Air, shown here in a yellow protective case (hmm, it clashes quite badly with the inside colours of my backpack – eesh!). It’s a good idea to get a shell case for your laptop instead of a sleeve if you can, as this will protect it properly. I don’t mind using my laptop in a bus on bumpy roads for example, as it can happily bump against the side or armrest without causing any damage.

As a travel blogger it’s important for me to have a full-featured laptop, and the Macbook Air is one of the most lightweight options around. If you don’t need to do work on the road, go with a tablet or smartphone… or maybe none at all. I’m very much a digital nomad, but not everyone will want to bring so much gear. A trip abroad can even be a bit of an internet-free retreat…

I keep my passport, emergency money and bank cards, and misc. paperwork in this bag as well.

An LED headlamp comes in handy when you have to find your way through a dorm room at night, when there’s a power cut (which happens from time to time in developing countries), or when you’re hiking at night or on a caving adventure. A regular torch works too, but having a light strapped on your head means keeping both your hands free.

Buying a travel organiser changed my life profoundly, and I’m now a happier man. Seriously: I used to keep smaller items in different pockets, where they easily got lost. But no more! This travel organiser contains all my little knick-knacks, such as earplugs, condoms, basic first aid stuff and medicine, SD cards or USB sticks, a bandana, and various small cables. I also keep a wad of ziplock bags in there, for taking liquids through airport security or for food storage.

Not shown are my camera and laptop chargers along with a universal travel adaptor.

If I’m travelling in developing countries, I’ll also bring a small bottle of antibacterial gel, as toilets occasionally don’t have soap and it’s good to clean your hands before eating street food.

A few more handy items

There are a few more smaller items I want to tell you about. Two of these I consider essentials, namely the padlock and universal travel adaptor. The other little gadgets aren’t strictly essential, but they have made life on the road consistently easier for me.

A padlock shown keeping a backpack zipper closed

First off, a number padlock is super handy. It’s useful for locking your bag up—you’ll need zippers with rings on them to do this. If you stay in hostels at all, a padlock immediately becomes a must-have, as in hostels you’re typically meant to store your bags in a locker using your own lock.

I also have a wire lock, which sometimes comes in handy for securing my daypack, for instance when I’m sleeping on a night bus. I don’t use it all that often, but sometimes it’s handy for preventing opportunistic theft.

Attached to my daypack is a small carabiner for clipping anything onto the bag, and a safety whistle (in case I get lost in the woods or chased by a yeti).

I also have a universal travel adaptor with two USB ports. This thing is amazing as I never have to worry about all the different electrical plugs used around the world. It also lets me charge my laptop and two other devices via USB at the same time.

I tend to be in and around the water a lot when I travel and I often go on adventurous tours (like exploring river caves or waterfalls), which is why I now bring a water proof bagIt lets me to jump off a boat and swim to an island while still bringing my camera, for example. I also keep my dive log in there when I go scuba diving. It’s great for summer/tropical trips where you might be outdoors and around water a lot.

If you have many electronics with you, as I usually do, it can be great to bring a portable backup battery. I got annoyed with the multiple sets of spare batteries, chargers, and cables I have for everything, so I’ve been trying to simplify this by having just one universal backup battery. Now my GoPro, phone, and DSLR can all charge from this one battery. A cool bonus is that I can leave my phone to charge inside a hostel locker, instead of leaving it exposed somewhere.

Finally, while my current backpack already has an integrated daypack, when I still had my old 40L backpack I also packed a 15L foldable daysack. You can use this while sightseeing or hiking, and fold it back up when not in use. As you can see in the pictures below, they’re super compact. If you don’t need so many electronics on your trip, I recommend getting a 40L backpack with one of these foldable daysacks for when you need it, as this offers plenty of capacity.

A tiny compressed daypack held in my hand

A compressed daypack folded out to its full size

But hang on, you’re a guy…!

Wait, does that matter? Well, girls on the backpacker trail have sometimes commented that I can only pack light because I’m a guy. I guess the implication is that I can go totally Bear Grylls and be a scuzzy dirtbag with only one t-shirt to wear (not actually true), while girls need a huge wardrobe.

I think this is silly as I’ve seen countless female travellers pack just as light. It’s totally possible, regardless of gender, to put together a functional and nice travel wardrobe and still keep things under 40L or so. As long as you can do the occasional laundry, you don’t have to compromise that much. And while it’s true that as a woman you’re maybe likely to bring a few more toiletries and other items, many women’s clothes are also smaller than men’s versions, so surely the total volume ultimately shouldn’t be all that different.

Of course, my packing example does come from a guy’s perspective. There are going to be some differences in the details and there are other examples by female travel bloggers, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the overall approach can work for anyone.

The full list of all my gear

I hope this post has been helpful! Below are links to all of the gear that I use, leading to your local version of Amazon (US, Canada, UK, Germany, etc.). If you do decide to buy something from Amazon feel free to use these links, as they earn me a small commission. This in turn helps me write more 3000+ word in-depth posts like this one, without putting any banner ads on the page.

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49 comments

  1. Ivo Reply October 16, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Marek,

    First of all, congratulations on a great traveling resource written in a witty and inspiring way!

    I have a small question regarding your list: do you have any recommendations regarding t-shirts (materials, colors etc.) for SEA, or basically any cotton t-shirt will do? Looking forward to hear your thoughts on this.

    Happy travels!

    • Marek Reply October 16, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks Ivo! That’s a great question.

      Really any cotton or linen summer shirts will do, though it’s preferable to go for 100% cotton/linen/etc. Avoid synthetic blends if you can as they get very hot and sticky IMO. I like to go for medium or darker shades of colors as well (if possible) as it’s less of a big deal if they get a bit dirty.

      You could also consider getting a merino wool tshirt (like the ones at http://www.icebreaker.com). These aren’t cheap but they’re super breathable, soft, and comfy for hikes and other activities. I was skeptical until I got one and they’re actually pretty amazing. By no means necessary though – only do this if you can spare the money.

  2. ben Reply September 24, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I just spent 5 hours in your post, and $550 🙂 thank you Marek. From Morocco.

  3. Felipe Reply September 12, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Thank you so much Marek. I have just spent 2 hours in your post and close to $300 haha!! I really appreciate this post!! Felipe (Brazil)

    • Marek Reply September 12, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Hah thanks Felipe, glad it helped you put together your travel gear. Boa sorte! 🙂

  4. Jane Grahek Reply July 13, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Hi Marek, Thanks for sharing all your wonderful packing ideas! Mostly I want to thank you specifically for the Safety Whistle and the Wire lock. I have travelled solo for years all over the world and never needed them but now that you suggest it I think its a great safety tip. Thanks Again!

  5. Steve Reply June 12, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Very helpful article thank you.
    I would like to know whether you are able to get away with the 55L osprey as carry luggage or are you often forced to check it in?
    Thanks

    • Marek Reply June 12, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      I’ve gotten away with it most of the time (by detaching the 15L daypack and carrying it as the additional ‘personal item’). It didn’t work with Easyjet though – they made me check it in.

  6. Anne Betts Reply May 16, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Thank you Marek for such an informative post. Your recommendation of 40 litres is spot on. On my last trip of 2.5 months, I went with the Osprey Farpoint 40 and the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack. I travelled on several regional carriers with a one-bag carry-on limit of 7 kg. The best I could manage was a packed weight of 8 kg, but on all 9 flights the Farpoint 40 didn’t attract any attention and I had no trouble going carry on. The Stuff Pack served me well as a day pack, and of course packed away easily in the Farpoint 40 on travel days.

    One packing strategy I’d like to elaborate on is the idea of multi-purpose multi-use items. I find when I ask myself this question about every item I pack, my packing is more strategic. For example, on my last trip I didn’t pack my shower thongs (that serve as indoor footwear and beachwear) in favour of a pair of Croc sandals that not only served the same purpose, they were fashionable enough to wear to a few evening events and comfortable enough to wear as a walking sandal. Also, I traded in a pyjama top for a tunic I could use as daywear if necessary.

  7. Alex Reply April 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Marek! I will be asking for as much advice as possible! I will be traveling throughout europe for a minimum of 35 days. I Will be staying in hostels and will also be walking throughout nature for a few days at a time. Wondering what the most suitable bag os for myself. I do understand that it is personal preference but, from your experience, I would appreciate your personal opinion on what you would/have travel with and how. I think that the TALON 44 or the MANTA AG 36 would work. Which do you recommend and if neither please substitute! Any recomendations of where to visit in Italy, Switzerland. or France?

    • Marek Reply April 15, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Hey Alex! Between those two options, personally I’d go for the TALON 44 as I’ve found around 45L a perfect size – not too big, not too small.

      It’s been a while since I travelled in those countries so I’m not the best source on them right now, but have great memories of the Amalfi coast and Capri in Italy 🙂

      • Alexander James Solomon Reply April 17, 2017 at 2:50 am

        Thank you so much greatly appreciated. Ice it easy to access things in the bag? or is it all in one pile?

        • Marek Reply April 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

          All in one pile. I’m personally more of a fan of the Farpoint 40 and 55 bags (see this post) which open horizontally. Combine them with some packing cubes and it’s easy to keep them organized.

  8. Lew Reply March 23, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks so much for this great advice, your a life saver! Going for a year in a month with exactly the same bag as you have got. Thanks again

    • Marek Reply March 24, 2017 at 12:33 am

      Glad it helped! 🙂

  9. Alex Reply March 2, 2017 at 2:46 am

    Great post, very useful advice!
    Did you end up purchasing that Sony mirrorless camera yet, I am also currently saving up for one. I hear amazing things about them!

    Cheers

    • Marek Reply March 2, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Hey Alex. I was set on getting the A7 (and borrowed one for a while) but then went the totally opposite way and got a micro four thirds camera (the Panasonic GX8).

      The main argument for me was the affordability, weight, and small size of micro four thirds lenses. I’ve got a 24-70mm equivalent lens at f2.8 fixed aperture that weighs just 300gr. A similar lens on a full-frame Sony would weigh 3x as much and cost 2.5x more. The A7 is beautiful but I realized it’s the wrong upgrade path for me if I want to keep things very portable, do lots of street photography, etc.

      I’m going to do an article/video about this soon. 🙂

  10. Lisa Schofield Reply January 11, 2017 at 5:48 am

    I am a frequent flyer and I do go travelling a lot. Yet recently, I usually take my daughter with me. We both love nature and being a part of nature. In deed, in this early Jan 2017, we plan to take a trip to enjoy the atmostphere when the spring comes. We both love fashionable backpack in pink. Any good recommendation on this?
    Thank you for sharing these info and please keep it up.

  11. Aimee Reply January 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Really helpful and really informative, thank you! I’m thinking of going on a backpacking trip with a couple of friends before I head off to uni, and this will really help us all pack light and efficiently! Super super helpful

  12. kemiller715 Reply December 29, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Hi!

    I’m headed to Prague this June for a study abroad but am travelling throughout Italy and Greece for 10 days before and then backpacking throughout Europe the entire month of July. I really loved the blog and found it incredibly useful. I’m wondering if the Farpoint 55 would still be best, or if I might need a slightly larger pack since I’ll also be using it for school. I tend to be a light packer, I just want to make sure I invest in the right pack.

    Additionally, I’m looking into buying a camera for my travels, and was wondering if you had any recommendations on that. I tend to take a lot of landscape, structure, and monument photos, but I may also want to take some actions shots along the way as well. Is there any camera in particular that stands out to you?

    Thanks again for all of the great info! Reading your blog has exponentially increased my excitement for travels ahead as I begin to plan and start thinking about packing!

    • Marek Reply December 31, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      It’s great to hear that!

      Hmm, it’s hard to say without knowing what your other uses for the backpack are. Do you mean taking the pack to school everyday? (The 55 is already twice the size of most school backpacks.) Or do you mean you need additional space for books and such? If so I would probably consider leaving these additional items in a storage locker and travel with only your travel items through Europe.

      I have some camera suggestions here.

  13. Katie @ the tea break project Reply September 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Great list – and I totally agree, it’s just as easy for girls to pack light as it is for guys. I recently went to America for 5 weeks with just a 40L backpack and it was totally fine. In fact, I still ended up taking things I didn’t need! I think it’s trickier when you’re travelling to multiple climates – especially if you’re cutting back and forth between tropics and servere cold. But I think it’s probably still possible by layering. It’s just about being really really strict with yourself.
    Katie @ the tea break project recently posted…25 Reasons Why New Zealand May Just Be My Favourite Country on Earth (in pictures)My Profile

  14. Margaret Reply September 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Hi Marek – This is an amazing list of gear and confirmed my original packing list. I’m getting ready to travel to SEA for several months and need a new wallet to travel with. I’m considering just a very small billfold or something similar to Herschel’s Charlie wallet, but think I might need something with a zippable pocket. Do you have a preference or a favorite?

    • Marek Reply September 15, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Glad it’s been useful! 🙂 I have a tiny leather pouch that attaches to my belt and which fits some folded up notes. I like using this or just a simple billfold. I keep bank/credit cards and such locked up back at my hotel or hostel and never take any more cash than I need for the day, so a simple solution usually works for me, though everyone has their own preferences.

      • Margaret Reply September 15, 2016 at 4:05 pm

        Thanks so much for your reply. The dual wallet is a great idea – I usually just stuff extra money and my passport in a random pouch in my pack, but actually having a passport wallet to hold it all together while in my pack somehow seems revelatory. 🙂 Thanks again

  15. Karen DW Reply August 29, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Thanks for this great advise re: packing. I will take another look at the Osprey line.
    One thing to mention re: girls & packing… bras take a LOT of space! Mine, for a week, would be 2L, like a milk carton 😉 And I’m not even very busty. All well and good to think “it’s holiday, so go braless”. But for some, that’s not a comfortable option! Also, many clothes are designed for a particular shape, and a bra helps with that. 😉
    Happy traveling, all.

  16. Andrea Reply August 14, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Wow, I am glad I found this site! For everyone who is afraid of packing light:
    do you know the feeling when you get home and realize that you haven’t even used most of your stuff in your bag? I recently got this: I arrived home after 4 month of travelling. My bag weighted 14 kg and have a mexican hanging chair(!!!!) in it!. ( You don’t need to much on the road, cause the most important is inside you 🙂 )

  17. Kathryn Reply July 5, 2016 at 12:38 am

    I travel with a backpack that expands from 35 to 45l and have never had an issue. You really don’t need that much stuff!

    I’ve booked a flight for later in the year on BA and you get 23kg carry on luggage + checked bags. I can’t even imagine what you’d pack to get that much weight!

    I think it can be harder for women. I guess it depends. If you’re a size 8 with no boobs then it’s easy but I find the hardest thing to pack is bras!

    I travel long term and pack things like vintage dresses with full skirts plus a decent amount of makeup. I used to just buy toiletries at my destination but I’ve committed to only buying non-animal tested products so now pack my own because they are so hard to find in Asia. I still manage to stick to around 10-15 kg.

  18. Fiona Florence Reply June 23, 2016 at 5:05 am

    Hello Marek, Great post you give here. I love to travel so much but couldn’t manage my all things at a time. Every time missing something. Now, learn from you how to manage? Thanks for sharing……Love you.

  19. Dean Reply June 12, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Great list here Marek. I would suggest taking only one soap ‘shampoo’ bar because it can be used as normal soap too. I would also say that you can get by with a much smaller bag. I travel exclusively with a 20L backpack and still have room to spare.
    Dean recently posted…2016 Travelling light 5kg (11lbs) backpack tour with laptopMy Profile

    • Marek Reply June 12, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      Yes it’s definitely possible to go lighter. I think my approach is sort of a compromise between ultra lightweight travelling and the bigger backpacks some people use. 🙂

  20. Claudia Reply June 3, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Marek, thanks for all the helpful info, especially on Central America. I am looking to buying a portable backup battery and was wondering which one you have and if you would recommend it?
    Groetjes from a fellow Dutchie 🙂

  21. Claudia Reply June 3, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Marek,
    Thanks for all the info, especially on Central America!
    I am currently looking for a portable backup battery and was wondering which one you are using and if you can recommend it?
    Groetjes from a fellow Dutchie

    • Marek Reply June 3, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Hai Claudia! I’m using this one. It’s small but has enough for 1 smartphone charge or about 2 to 3 camera battery charges. Groetjes 🙂

  22. Jack Reply May 29, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Thanks for the post, Marek, It’s been helpful as I’m preparing for a trip to Central & South America. I’d planning to trek La Ciudad Perdida, Inca Trail, and perhaps a few other overnighters. Would you advocate taking a top-loading trekking pack (for all travel) considering my interest in these treks? Majority of my travel will consist of staying in hostels/not highly concentrated on trekking. Or would you recommend taking a front/side loading travel pack and renting gear for the treks? Also, any functional differences of note between Osprey 40/55 aside from the detachable daypack feature? Thoughts on the Osprey Porter 46? Thanks for all of your helpful info, man. Great work.

    • Marek Reply May 30, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Hey Jack. I would get the backpack that works best for you for travelling (as this is how you will most often use it). Both treks you’ve mentioned actually require you to do them organised with a company, and so they’ll be providing things like food and tents/lodging. For the Ciudad Perdida trek I actually left my main bag in a secure locker in Santa Marta and took only my daypack with my toothbrush and basic clothes on the trek. Other trails in Latin America can be hiked independently but in that case you could rent or use your travel backpack anyway. Since it’s not a focus for you I’d probably not worry about it too much. 🙂

      No major differences that I know between the 40/55 apart from the detachable daypack. The Osprey Porter 46 is a perfectly fine backpack. Only downside (for some) is that it’s got a tougher outside (the ‘walls’ stand up even if there’s nothing in it), making it less moldable and so it doesn’t always get accepted as carry-on luggage on airplanes, as the dimensions are a bit too big for that to start with. Other than that, it’s (as far as I know) a good backpack.

      • Jack Reply May 30, 2016 at 11:20 pm

        Awesome – thanks for the prompt and helpful response! Seems to me like the benefits of a side/front loading pack are plentiful and I’ll have options for if/when I choose to trek overnight. I appreciate your help!

  23. sagar Reply May 21, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Hey Marek,
    Absolutely amazing article, the list provided is really fantastic. right from the basic accessories. Bingo!!!
    A good start for the beginners like me.
    Keep Posting…
    Cheers. 🙂
    sagar recently posted…What to See, Do and Eat in Singapore?My Profile

  24. Mr Adam Reply May 10, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Great post 🙂
    Every trip I take, I pack less then the last – and every time get annoyed at how much I have. My last trip, I kept leaving things behind in hostels so I didn’t need to carry them.
    Going travelling again long term from next month, and I refuse to make the same mistake!

    • Marek Reply May 13, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Hah I also kept leaving behind and giving away things during my first long-term trip! Every time it felt like shedding ballast…

  25. Leslie Reply May 9, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    Amazing advice. I thought I was organized until I read this. Please keep up the great work. I have bookmarked this site.

    • Marek Reply May 13, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks Leslie! 🙂

  26. Dawn Reply May 8, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I love reading other people’s packing lists. I’m thinking of changing my vacuum bag to packing cubes so thanks for the recommendation, I’ll take a look.
    We’ve been travelling light for the last 3 years & are thinking of reducing our 40l bags to 30l this time. Re your mention of women travelling light, your readers might find my recent blog useful for remaining stylish & travelling light?
    http://wp.me/p3LBy5-xk
    Dawn recently posted…Eating our way around Asia – Our favouritesMy Profile

  27. Esme Reply May 3, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Hi Marek – I love your packing advice and particularly the sample chapter from your book. I’ve linked to your blog from my blog (https://roamingfentiger.wordpress.com)if that’s OK as I think the advice is too valuable not to pass on! Happy travels 🙂

    • Marek Reply May 13, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Of course Esme, thanks for linking to my site 🙂 Happy travels!

  28. Kate Reply April 7, 2016 at 3:39 am

    Great post, Marek! I’m about to set off on a RTW trip myself and feel like I’m constantly adding items to and removing items from the packing list.

    The water bag is a great idea that I wouldn’t have thought of. I’m intrigued by the idea of a shampoo bar, too. Still debating packing cubes!

    • Sam Reply April 23, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Packing cubes are the greatest. Some sort of organizations cubes or bags are the way to go, you will not regret them. I wish I would’ve found out about them years ago. It makes life so much simpler.

      Thanks Marek for the post, enjoy reading your blog. You have some great tips. You are absoulety right, women can pack light! We don’t have much more to travel then men. A few bralets, a dress or two and minimal makeup (if chosen), only takes up a few more liters. I opt out for a big bigger pack, due to my camping gear, but do love this osprey fairpoint pack with the day bag attached. Have been contemplating lately to switch to it, (just need to get back to the US to exchange it) I travel a day bag for hiking trips also, so I might as well go for it.
      Happy travels my friend!

  29. Nikolas Douglas Reply March 24, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Hey Marek thanks for the helpful info! I’ve put together a very similar kit and hope it will do the trick as I am slowly travelling from Guatemala to Chile with my girlfriend over the course of 6-8 months
    Nikolas Douglas recently posted…WE ARE STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION…My Profile

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