What to put in your backpack or suitcase for a long trip?

This is a major concern before leaving on a trip: what should I take in my luggage to travel far and long?

 

This question tortures many travellers who do not hesitate to travel many kilometres and severely cut their budget to make sure they are well equipped away from home. This list is quite feminine but the essential is there. The recommendations also apply to boys, except for dresses and bras, of course!

Where are you going to start your big trip? This is the first thing to consider before making your list

 

In Asia it is rather hot, in the north it is generally colder than in the south. In countries with a Muslim culture, travellers, both men and women, will have to cover themselves up out of modesty. So the contents of your luggage, depending on where you are going to start this great adventure, will be slightly different. But only slightly. In South America or Asia the weather is different, but don’t be fooled by preconceived ideas.
In winter in Egypt, it is cold! In Asia, at high altitude, it is very chilly and in the desert, the nights are freezing. So, in your bag or suitcase, it is imperative to put clothes adapted to the cold. 

Is there an ideal checklist for a long journey?

 

Unfortunately, there is no such list, because what you think is important to take with you on a trip is very personal. You will find in these recommendations, the most common things, the ones that I think are most useful when you go on a trip around the world.
Whatever you choose, here are a few rules that I think are essential:

  • Opt for quality
  • Avoid plastic as much as possible
  • Keep it simple
  • Think organic
  • Choose washable, reusable clothes for the trip
  • Think light, simple and practical

When it comes to travel clothing, the choices are sometimes difficult. You’re faced with a tide of clothes that you cherish on a daily basis and it becomes difficult to sort through. Think that what suits you here may not fit where you’re going. It is better to choose few clothes but good quality, simple, plain, sober. Avoid anything that spoils quickly in the wash, such as heavy flocking, superfluous decorative elements or lace. Eliminate fancy cuts, transparent fabrics, think large, comfortable.
Don’t take too many clothes. It’s heavy, bulky, when travelling, it’s better to travel light. Apart from the shoes you should have bought beforehand and a quality anorak, you will find everything you will need on site as you travel.

1 or 2 fleece jackets, at least one of them with a hood

Light and warm, easy to wash and quick to dry, it will also resist stains 

1 Strong trekking trousers

 

1 A pair of trousers for the “everyday” or a pair of jeans

Very important, these trousers are the centrepiece of your travel wardrobe. 

Trekking shoes

Unavoidable, essential, fundamental. Whoever wants to travel far takes good shoes. (see the article: Which shoe to choose for the big trip? ) 

A pair of flip-flops

Even in cold countries, a pair of flip-flops is important to relax your feet after a day’s walk or to shower in a clean shared bathroom… perfectible. 

Lightweight trainers

Converses for example or any other light pair of tennis shoes to match a dress and leave the walking shoes at rest. 

Bob, cap, hat and gloves

If you already have these accessories, take them with you. But be aware that you will be able to buy them on the spot. They are inexpensive and often of much better quality than what you can find in France. 

One or two small scarves for head or neck

To warm the neck, to hold the hair in windy conditions, to protect from the sun at all times, they don’t take up any space and it looks nice. 

A big scarf

On chilly days, a large scarf is perfect for long journeys by plane, train or bus when the air conditioning is turned up. 

Practical accessories to take with you on your travels

 

A sheet sack, the ultra light sleeping bag

Not to be missed whatever country you visit. You can never be sure of the cleanliness of the bed in which you are going to sleep. There are different materials: polyester, silk, micro-fleece. In France, especially in the shops, they are scandalously expensive. In Southeast Asia they are available in pure silk in all colours for a very affordable price. Otherwise, if you (or your mum) know how to sew, why not go to the fabric shop and make your own, it’s very easy! 

A gourd

Make war on the plastic that pollutes our oceans and land. There are clever models with a filter straw that will allow you to drink any kind of water and avoid buying plastic bottles. Make sure you mark your name on it. 

A multi-tool for outdoor like the famous swiss knife

They can be found everywhere at a modest price. This accessory is not on this list to build a hut, but to remove a broken key from a lock, straighten a twisted blade, disassemble a recalcitrant lock, loosen a zip lock, in short, to tinker and repair punctually. They often have an optional bottle opener and corkscrew which can be welcome. 

A knife, the irreplaceable Opinel knife

I never miss an Opinel in my luggage. Eating, cutting, cooking, pruning, picking, an Opinel is an obligatory accessory for all travellers. Like the gourd, mark your name well on it, preferably in pyrography, as it is likely to make people envious. Remember, each time you go on a plane to put it in your hold luggage, otherwise it will be confiscated! 

A compass

Electronic technology is good but it breaks down, it may run out of battery or simply have no mains. A small carabiner compass always attached to your small backpack will be very useful so you don’t get lost.
 

A whistle

It is an essential part of the trip. On a walk, wherever you go, you must be able to signal for help. This tiny little whistle can save your life! 

3 aluminium carabiners

Attach a picnic bag to your backpack or suitcase, hang your small backpack on the bus instead of having it in your feet, carabiners have many uses. They don’t weigh much and travel with your luggage without taking up space. 

A coded padlock

The best padlock in the world is a code padlock with a flexible locking bar. So it adapts to all sizes of lockers and you will never lose the key. 

Sunglasses

Solid, with good UV protection, sunglasses are a very important accessory. You have to pay for them so that they don’t break on the first impact and protect your eyes well. High mountains, the sea and the desert are very dangerous for the retina! 

Earplugs

Bus journeys, dormitories and public places such as bars or cafés are usually noisy. If you need silence for sleeping or working, earplugs are very useful. 

Headlamp

Reading a book, returning to the hostel at night, wandering through the jungle or the mountains, a headlamp is essential when travelling. Prefer quality like Petzl , even if it’s more expensive, it’s not the kind of accessory that should breaks at the important moment. 

A solid and waterproof watch (at least 5 ATM)

There’s no need to put a high price on it, as valuables often attract thieves. No need to buy a technology monster, light, date and second hand are more than enough options. Choose a nylon strap like the GI’s (strap type), leather is too fragile and metal is uncomfortable. Don’t forget that you will sometimes keep it on your wrist day and night. 

A light waterproof bag or dry bag

They can be seen in every airport and are now legion on the web. They are available in several sizes and colours. Light and practical, they can save the life of a mobile phone, camera, passport or sketchbook.
Very practical also for keeping your belongings dry when trekking or boating, they won’t weigh much in your luggage and will certainly prove their usefulness several times during the trip. Choose the quality (like Deuter), a waterproof bag that doesn’t keep its promises, it’s disaster guaranteed. 

Anti-mosquito protection (spray)

Malaria-malaria, leishmaniasis, dengue and yellow fever, the mosquito transmits diseases that we could do without. Otherwise, it is responsible for insomnia, swollen eyes, delirious itching which, if not left alone, can quickly become infected in a hot and humid climate. A mosquito repellent spray should always be in your luggage and accompany you on walks, meals, parties, cafés, etc.
There is a wide variety of repellents available. Choose the one that suits you best, but you will soon run out of this precious elixir of serenity. You will then have to make do with what you find on site. Don’t worry, you can find it everywhere in the world and of good quality. 

A fine nylon rope

5m are enough to hang your clothes in the bush, fix, repair, tie up what needs to be fixed. It doesn’t take up much space in the bag and is very useful when travelling. 

A tube of cyanolite glue such as Super Glue or Loctite.

Ideal for repairing small breakages, these tubes of glue are very small, light and useful, I personally always have one at the bottom of my toilet bag. Don’t stock them, you can find them absolutely everywhere!  

A small sewing kit

It can be found in all supermarkets but you can make it yourself. Wrap solid sewing thread, about 1 metre per colour (black, white, blue…) on a match. Plant 3 or 4 needles of different sizes in a sheet of paper, add a few emergency buttons, 4 or 5 safety pins, a thimble, pins, a needle threader and put it all in an aspirin tube, a pill bottle or a toothpick box and voilà! You’ll have enough to repair snags, tears and lacerations even in the middle of the jungle.

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Hygiene and care 

 

A practical and sturdy toilet bag

Equipped with a hook to hang everywhere, take care that it is very deep so as not to pour when it is full. I swear by Deuter’s Wash Center… puncture-proof, practical and solid.

A bar of soap in a soap box

Send heavy, bulky, expensive and polluting plastic shower gels to the dump. A good soap lasts on average one month and does not weigh much. Don’t forget the plastic soap box, metal soap boxes rust after a while.

2 microfibre towels, one large XXL and one small for the hair
Why 2? One for the shower, the other for the hair or to accompany you on a short hike. A very large XXL towel is perfect for bus or train journeys as a blanket.

Shampoo, conditioner, face cream…

The contents of the toiletries kit are truly personal. Everyone will put in what they think is essential. To avoid taking up unnecessary volume and weight, think of the silicone bottles and travel tubes to be filled throughout the journey. They avoid buying non-recycled plastic and limit the volume transported. Sometimes equipped with a suction cup, they can stand on their own on the shower wall tiles.
There are almost always large bottles of shampoo in the hostels, which you can tap a little to fill your bottle. Otherwise, joining together to buy a bottle of shampoo can help to share the cost. Do the same for face creams, sunscreen, moisturising milk, etc., you will considerably reduce the weight of your luggage.

Cleansing wipes

In mini pack, it is recommended to always have some in your backpack. Refreshing, disinfecting, purifying, moisturising, there is something for everyone. They should be useful from time to time if you have handled dirty objects, for a picnic in the bus, etc. They are not very environmentally friendly and should be used in small doses.

Condoms

When travelling, it is better to go out covered!

Make room for new travel products: the essential without the superfluous!

 

Today there are cosmetic products designed for travel, such as solid shampoos, all-in-one soaps and a host of other products dedicated to hygiene that are very suitable for travel. Some companies offers beautiful references to slip into your bag or suitcase.
They are of impeccable quality, economical in unnecessary packaging, multi-tasking and always organic.
Just one hitch: for a long journey, you will break down after a month.

Déodorant
Choose a compressed model, a deodorant or even better, an alum stone. It really lasts a very long time!

A depilator
Yes, it’s heavy and cumbersome but, well, it’s hard to do without it.

A bar of soap for the laundry
When travelling, you often have to do your own laundry (panties, socks, T-shirts). A laundry soap is a must, like Marseille soap for example. Avoid tubes of liquid detergent such as “Genie sans bouillir”, they are heavy and the liquid form means that you use a lot of them. Once empty, it is plastic waste that you will have to dispose of in a country that may not even know what recycling means and your tube will end up in the ocean. 

But then again…
Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush (small size), comb, cotton swab: don’t stock up, you can find them everywhere.

Tweezers, nail scissors, hairdresser’s scissors, nail files are useful when travelling. Sun cream in small quantities, hair tweezers, elastics…
Mascara, kohl pencil, nail varnish, why not, but only one. If you bring cosmetics, remember to replace the make-up remover with a moisturising milk, don’t forget cotton discs and nail polish remover.

The good news is that there are reusable discs or squares of cloth for facial cleansing. They only need to be washed: more room in the toiletry kit.

It is not always easy when you live in a country where there are many toilets, but in Cambodia or Togo it is even more difficult. Be ready for the adventure by taking stock of the most suitable hygienic protections for the trip, we explain everything to you!
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Essential electronic equipment


A backup battery (or powerbank)

A long train or bus journey in prospect? A long hike, an evening that lasts until the early hours of the morning, it’s never good to run out of smartphones these days.

Cables, chargers for your electronic devices

To be stored in a tightly closed box.

An electrical plug adapter

And yes, not all countries use the same electrical systems as Europe. It is not really useful to invest in a universal adapter, they are quite bulky, heavy, they fall easily from the sockets… bof. Adapters are cheap in the country of destination, otherwise they are the type of accessories that are given or exchanged between travellers: those who leave get rid of them, those who arrive benefit from them!

A multiple USB plug socket so you can charge your devices at the same time

In hostels, there is often only one socket for charging electronic devices.

SD cards and the box that goes with them

Protecting your photos by keeping them on an SD card can be a good solution if you are in a country with a weak connection. Uploading a single photo can take time and make the more serene ones lose patience. While waiting for a more powerful connection to upload those dear memories, well-protected SD cards (32, 64 GB) in their boxes will be very useful.
For all these little wonders of technology, remember to protect them with a waterproof bag or a shock-proof cover, as the journey may put them to the test.
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Official papers 

 

A passport valid for many years, but still? 

 

Credit Cards

At least 2! You are never safe from loss or theft. By owning 2 credit cards (which you will keep in two different places it goes without saying), you will save yourself a lot of trouble. If your credit card disappears, you will find yourself penniless and unable to pay for a room or a bus ticket. If you have a second credit card, you will be able to cover any urgent expenses until you receive your new credit card. 
 

Student card

Your student card can save you a lot of money. Indeed, many museums, sites or cinemas around the world accept them. 
 

International driving licence

It doesn’t take up much space and to rent a car it is often required. Remember to apply a few months before you leave. 
 

Boat licence

For the boating licence it is a little more complicated but it is possible. You must obtain an International certificate. This licence requires certain conditions to be met, ask for information in your country. 
 

Dive card and divebook

Are you a diver? Don’t forget your dive card!
 
It’s best to keep these important papers in a sturdy and practical pocket, it’s really a must. The freezer bag can be handy punctually but it won’t last long. Protect them well by laminating them if necessary.
 

Health

 
It’s all inthe article:  the perfect First Aid Kit for the travel.
 

The little extras

 
A card game to make friends
A Mikado game to kill time
A travel notebook and pen for souvenirs
A sketchbook, pencils, felt-tip pens and/or watercolour if you like to draw
One or two watertight boxes to keep small objects safe: earrings, SD card, phone chip card, etc.

Everything you want to know about the luggage of the great journey is here!

To read also to prepare for the trip

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