Are you a packing pro or a backpack beginner? Packing is often the most frustrating part of travel. You don’t want to be stuck in an exotic destination with nothing to wear — but equally, lugging a 20kg backpack around is liable to ruin your holiday. This travel packing list should help you figure out what exactly to take with you. When you can pack like a pro, adventure holidays will be more accessible than ever!


You may well be rolling your eyes right now, but just wait. It sounds obvious, but always make sure your passport is right at the top of your travel essentials list. We know too many people who’ve managed to forget that vital document — the easiest way to ruin a trip before it’s even started!

To visit all your planned destinations, make sure you have enough valid time in your passport. Most countries won’t let you in if it’s going to expire within three months. Check the rules about visas in advance, too. Nowadays, most countries offer e-visas — but that will depend on your nationality, your destination, and how long you plan to spend there.

Finally, we hate to nag, but it’s an absolute must: keep your passport in a small waterproof bag, ideally in its very own pocket of your backpack. In the excitement of your trip, it’s all too easy to shove a wet swimsuit into the same compartment as your passport. Serious water damage can mean shelling out for a replacement, and nobody wants to think about that while they’re relaxing in Bali!

photo of a British passport, with a red cover and gold lettering

Cash and cards

Forget about travellers’ cheques — we’re living in the 21st century! Though you may frequently rely on your cards at home, it’s worth adding cash to your list of things to pack for your holiday. Some ATMs aren’t too happy about taking foreign cards, and others may just be too dodgy to risk using. Plus, if you’re going somewhere remote, you might end up miles from the nearest cashpoint, surrounded by street food vendors who definitely don’t take cards.

Shop around to find the best rates for exchanging money before you travel. Don’t leave it until you get to the airport, as you’ll usually be charged a small fortune in commissions. Oh, and if you want to keep safe, carry two wallets. One should be easily accessible with just a small amount of cash and a dummy card; the other should be well hidden. This strategy makes it a lot easier to foil pickpockets, who often see travellers as easy targets.

Maps, a notebook and a pen

Yep, we’re going old-school for the next item on our holiday packing checklist! You never know when your internet coverage will let you down, so bring a paper map as a backup. Before you leave, make sure you have your hotel address written down so that you can consult it if need be. You might also want to jot down the names of stations near you, as well as the times of the buses and trains you’re planning to catch.

Keeping a hard copy of your plans is great if the internet fails or you run out of data. The only thing you should have to worry about is a monkey stealing your map!

girl with a map

Travel insurance documents

You do have travel insurance, right? This needs to be high on your list of things to pack for a holiday. No matter where you’re going, you should be insured. Maybe you’ll never need it — heck, we hope you won’t — but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Keep all your important docs in a special folder for easy access.


Among the things to pack, this is something you’ll have to check in advance for sure. Frustratingly, plug shapes are still not standardised around the world. If you’re a frequent traveller who likes to visit a wide variety of destinations, then add a universal adapter to your travel check list. Otherwise, make sure you’ve got the right adapter for wherever you’re going. Don’t think you can rely on USB ports, either — they’re very thin on the ground in some countries. If you want to know more about this, read our guide on travel adapters.

white adapter


Okay, time for a confession: we sometimes cringe at the sheer number of electronic items that travellers add to their holiday luggage checklist. That’s why we recommend you think carefully. Do you really need a phone AND a camera AND a tablet AND a laptop? Really?

The more electronic items you bring, the more you have to worry about. Keep it simple — unless you’re planning to do some mid-holiday work (which we definitely do not recommend), you probably won’t need your laptop. A full lighting rig is totally unnecessary, even if you’re a budding influencer. What about your external hard drive full of movies? Well, do you really want to spend your holiday in front of a screen?

One thing that can come in very handy is some form of waterproof camera. You might want to splash out on the real deal, or you can DIY it with a plastic sleeve for your mobile phone. Just check to make sure it’s fully watertight before you depart, or you could be in for a nasty surprise.

photo of a black camera framing the water

Simple clothes

We hate the rise of social media sometimes, as it’s made it harder than ever to write a list of things to pack for a holiday. You see influencers in far-flung destinations looking just as glamorous as they do at home, and you think that you’ll also need a fully coordinated wardrobe, complete with teetering high heels and the latest fashions, right?

Wrong. The ideal backpackers packing list should be nice and simple. Essentially, you’re looking to make a capsule wardrobe, so choose a few colours that go well together. Unless you’re travelling to Siberia or somewhere equally cold, it’s better to bring lightweight pieces that you can layer if necessary rather than bulky jumpers or jackets. Pay attention to the composition of your clothes, too. Tropical heat will turn polyester into sweat city, so opt for cooling cotton or linen if you can.

Remember this: wherever you go, you’ll be able to wash your clothes. That might mean proper laundry facilities, or it could mean hand-washing clothes in the sink. Either way, if you’re going for a two-week trip, you don’t need to add fourteen separate outfits to your overseas travel checklist. Three or four days’ worth of fresh clothes is enough. Really.

backpack with clothes


We’re keeping this one separate, as it should be. Choose shoes or sturdy sandals that you can comfortably walk in for several hours. If you’re going hiking, then break in your footwear before you go — there’s nothing worse than picking up blisters on the first day of your holiday!

Wherever you’re going, a pair of flip-flops or slides should be among the things to pack for your holiday. You’ll want to wear them around the pool, at the beach to protect your feet from hot sand, and in the evenings at your hotel or campsite. Plus, to put it delicately, you might well come across some questionable showers that have seen better days. Keeping your feet covered is a great way to avoid bringing home a verruca as a souvenir.

a pair of white flip-flops on the beach, with the sea behind


We recommend going for practicality rather than style. Yes, you may look fabulous in that string bikini (man or woman), but will it hold up when you go snorkelling? To avoid wardrobe malfunctions, choose swimwear that’s designed for actual swimming, not just posing.

Remember, again, you don’t need to bring a different swimsuit for every day of your trip. Swimwear dries quickly. To keep it in good condition for longer, give it a quick rinse after you wear it, then hang it up to dry.


These get their own entry, and for one simple reason: a disturbingly large number of backpackers forget them altogether. It could not be missing from our list of things to pack! Maybe you sleep in just your undies or in the buff at home. That’s fine — no judgement here — but when you travel, you might be staying in a hostel or sharing a tent, and there are limits to how much your fellow travellers want to get to know you. You don’t need to bring an adorable matching set of PJs, but an old, comfy T-shirt and sleep shorts are an excellent idea.

Sunscreen and aftersun

When it comes to toiletries, we believe in keeping it simple. For one thing, you’ll struggle to make it through airport security with a massive bag full of cleaners, toners, serums and essences. For another, bottles of liquids add a lot of bulk to your bag, and they have an annoying tendency to leak when tossed around in your bag.

That being said, sunscreen is an absolute must for your travel checklist. Make sure it’s from a scientifically-tested, reputable brand. Check the expiration date, too. If you live in the UK, you probably don’t slather on SPF-50 on a regular basis, so your old bottle may well be out-of-date. It’s worth bringing aftersun, too, just in case.


There are some parts of the world where toilet paper is definitely optional. You might want to embrace the local spirit and try scooping water out of a bucket after you’ve done your business — but we recommend bringing a couple of packs of tissues instead.

Why are tissues and not rolls of TP on our list of things to pack for your holiday? It’s quite simple: they’re not as bulky, they hold their shape better, and they come in waterproof wrapping. You may also need a few tissues if you’re caught short on a long hike or to clean up after munching on some tropical fruit. Basically, they’ll always be welcome.

a box of tissues taken from above

A good attitude

Top of the list of packing for travelling? Yep, it’s corny, but we don’t mind. It’s hard to get your checklist for hand luggage exactly right. You might find that you’ve missed something essential off the list, or you may realise on arrival that you’ve brought far too much. Be flexible. If you forgot your toothbrush, that doesn’t mean your holiday is ruined — you can always buy a new one at the local market!
Check out our range of great destinations for your next trip. Feel free to drop us a line if you’re not entirely sure about what things to pack for your holiday — we’re always happy to help!

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team