How I pack my backpack for an extended trip

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Maiden Voyage.

Traveling with a backpack as opposed to a suitcase is a different experience. When I used to travel with family, we never left with less than 3 suitcases in total. I hated walking around the airports because inadvertently I’d be stuck with rolling the carry-on suitcase. Blimey!

When I finally decided to get back into the swing of international travel, I made a decision to forgo the roll-around carry-on in exchange for a 65L backpack. Back in the solo travel days of my late teens to early twenties, I backpacked exclusively and enjoyed the mobility of doing so. So here I am, back to it!

Over the years, I’ve tried to improve on how things get stuffed into my backpack to maximize efficiency, and ease of access. I think I’ve got things to where I’m happy, so without further ado, here’s my personal packing list for the trip:

Packing for an extended trip

Regardless of whether you’re going on a weekend trip, one week trip, or a months long trip, the items needed stay the same. In my previous article Pre-flight preparations for solo travel, I touched briefly on the kinds of things that I bring with me on trips.

It all boils down to the following categories, simplified to fit my style:

Essentials

  • Footwear
  • First-aid
  • Phone chargers
  • Travel adapter
  • Water bottle
  • Insect repellent

Toiletries

  • Pretty self-explanatory
  • Wet wipes … trust me you need these!

Technology

  • Tablet / Laptop
  • Books
  • Batteries
  • Headphones
  • Camera & extra storage

Paperwork

  • Valid passport
  • Any required travel visas
  • Water-proof bags for the above

Intel & Plans

The climate in Thailand is hot and humid year round, with temperatures in November ranging from the low 80s to the high 90s, with close to 90% humidity EVERY SINGLE DAY. Cringe!

With that knowledge in mind, I knew that I needed breathable cotton shirts. My wardrobe would then consist of lightweight clothes.

I have arranged for lodging as well in hostels and host homes. So I had no use for camping gear.

I’ll be traveling to areas with limited wall outlets for device charging. (Unfortunately not all countries in the world have wall outlets scattered around for customer use)

I plan to walk and explore as lot, but I’d also like to stop in cafes and lounge for awhile. So I’ll probably need to bring day pack for my electronics and essentials.

My camera is coming along. Period.

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If you’re backpacking, chances are it’s going to be a top-load backpack. As such, things get packed in layers. Generally the layers are:

  • Bottom: bulky gear and items not needed until you’ve reached your destination.
  • Middle / core: denser and heavier items such as clothes, shoes, etc.
  • Top: bulkier essentials that you might need access to (i.e.: first aid kit).
  • Pockets: essentials that you’ll be using often or urgently.
  • Hooks, loops, latches: anything awkward that doesn’t fit in the core (i.e.: tripod).

The rule of thumb however is to put less-heavy items at the bottom, and keep the heavy stuff as close to the top as possible.

Bottom

The bottom layer of a backpack should contain items that you are least likely to need on a frequent basis (read: forget about getting to them until you get to your destination). Typically this would be where the camping gear goes, and also any items that you won’t need until you get to base camp.

  • Daypack
  • Laundry bags
  • Sleep clothes
    • Sleep pants x 2
    • Sleep t-shirts x 2

Middle

The middle or core-of-the-pack typically contains items that you won’t need access until your destination as well. The focus of this layer would be any heavier items, as that helps with creating as stable center of gravity. This creates the effect of directing the load downward instead of backward, which translate to less pain in your back.

In my case, I’ll be packing the bulk of my clothes in this layer.

  • Cotton t-shirts x 5
  • Utility shorts x 2
  • Jean pants x 1
  • Swim trunks x 1
  • Button down shirt x 1
  • Underwear x 5
  • Socks x 5

Top

The top of the pack usually contains items that you may need access to during the journey to base camp.

  • Windbreaker jacket
  • First-aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Wet wipes!
  • Laptop / tablet
  • Electronics bag
    • Chargers / adapters
    • Charger cables
    • Extra SD cards
  • Camera

Accessory Pockets

The external accessory pockets are for items that you need immediate / easy access to.

  • Battery packs<
  • Travel documents in water-proof bag
Series Navigation<< Pre-flight preparations for solo travelWhat happened at Thailand in a week >>
Matt

Matt

Traveler, blogger, photographer and all-out badass. I'm absolutely passionate about travel, coffee, and definitely food. I spend most of my time parking at coffee shops working on projects, planning future adventures, and writing. Sometimes I write music too.

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