The Ultimate Packing Checklist for Backpackers
Table of Contents
Do you remember that scene in “Home Alone” where Kevin’s mom is on the airplane feeling like she forgot something…?
That feeling is what nightmares are made of.
Even worse than forgetting your son at home, imagine forgetting your Bank Card. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
Wherever it is you’re going, there is no need to take stress with you. By the time you are through to the bottom of this list, you can trust yourself that you haven’t forgotten a thing.
In the case that your passport is held as collateral at reception, or an embassy has kept it to process a visa, it wouldn’t hurt to have back-up ID such as your driver’s license or student ID.
There is nothing worse than being in a foreign country with a blocked ATM card. Call your bank before you leave to alert them about your travels.
Otherwise, they will think that some criminal in Bulgaria is using your card and inconveniently for you, flag it for fraud.
If you have the time, do some research about the best banks for travelers. I finally wised up and switched my account to a bank that doesn’t charge foreign ATM fees.
When a dorm bed costs $6 a night, and the ATM fee is $5, you really feel it.
Understand that adapters and converters are not the same. One is purely for fitting the outlet, while the other is for the voltage.
You can easily find a universal adapter at most electronic stores. If you are doing a permanent move, you can buy entirely new chargers in your destination country.
A Quality Backpack
You and your backpack will develop a strange bond. You will sleep with your bag, snuggle your bag, and you might eventually name your bag.
You need to love your backpack!
After three years of travel, my Deuter backpack (Lucy), wore out. That particular backpack was mid-range in terms of quality and price.
This time around, I really sprung for top-of-the-line. My new backpack, Monica, is made by Osprey, and was the best decision ever.
You can find an array of websites dedicated to travel insurance for short-term to long-term travel starting as low as $50 a month. It’s not required, but it may provide you with some peace of mind in the case of an accident or unexpected illness.
New foods in unfamiliar countries almost certainly guarantee you a day or two of stomach chaos. I like to travel with a mini-medical kit including stomach remedies and motion sickness pills.
Make a calendar
Write those hotel bookings, flights and visa expirations down.
It’s easy to lose track of time when you no longer have a job to revolve around!
If you have a flight at an ungodly hour, such as 12:00am, make sure you triple check the date! So many people miss flights because early morning departures are designed to confuse you!
Bonus Tip: Be aware that some cities have two common airports. Make sure you’re clear about where you’re going.
Do yourself a favor and take a screen shot of the address to your hotel, especially if the native language is foreign to you.
Odds are, you won’t have internet, and the taxi/bus driver might get confused if you don’t have something written in the local language.
Every time I enter Cambodia, they request a passport photo and I’m ready. They don’t actually need one, but it’s a nice way for them to make some extra cash.
I always feel like I’ve won a battle when I present my stack of passport photos. No sir, you will not be charging me $10 for one unnecessary picture today.
When those damn arrival cards comes around on my flight and I don’t have a pen, I promise myself I’ll remember next time…
Ipods, Ipads, Cameras and Phones!
I am always so preoccupied with everything else that I forget to check to make sure all my electronics are updated and charged. Or, make sure you have a good book handy. This is just a friendly reminder.
Most importantly, PACK LIGHT
The less things you have, the more free you are. Save room for shopping. And if you are unsure on whether to bring those jeans, or that lotion- then you don’t need it. Airlines typically have a weight limit per bag, which can get pretty pricey if you exceed it.
Sneaky Tip: put your heaviest items in your purse or laptop bag- airline personnel rarely weigh those. Then, redistribute your items after you go through security.