Backpacker’s Checklist

Everyone gets a little anxious before traveling. There’s always that feeling that you’re forgetting something leaving an important item behind, especially when you have to pack all of your things into a huge backpack.

In many traveling experiences I’ve learned what to bring with me and what to leave at home. Throughout the years I’ve found myself in situations that I couldn’t solve or that made me spend more money that I expected to. For example, I forgot to bring my student ID with me once so I had to pay full price at every museum, while my friends got a free ticket or fair student discounts. There was also this time when I forgot to bring all of my outlet adapters so I had to buy a new one at the airport for about 20$. This other time we bought a bottle of wine to drink by the river, but none of us had a corkscrew, so you know what happened next… Yes, I know I didn’t die or went bankruptcy in these situations; but I could have eaten a lot more gelato if it weren’t for all of these unforeseen expenses.

To reduce the pre-trip anxiety (and hopefully, save you guys some money) I will share with you my list of important items divided by category.


  • ID, Passport, and License: even if you’re not planning on driving, every trip is an adventure and you could end up in a situation that requires you to.
  • Health and travel insurance.
  • Check-in and reservation: they might ask for it you’re from another country.
  • Student ID: when you’re young and traveling to another country, immigration personnel might think that you’re looking to stay there illegally. A student ID proves that you have plans to go back, plus you get discounts in every museum and other venues.
  • Credit cards (and their PINs).
  • List of your country’s embassies in all the places you’re visiting with their phone numbers (just in case you get in trouble).


The kinds of clothes you pack depend on the season, but besides the obvious and no matter if I’m traveling during winter or summer I always like to pack those you-never-know items.
  • Swimsuit (even in winter).
  • Sweater (even in summer).
  • A nice suit or dress.
  • Sandals.
  • A hat.
  • Extra underwear.
  • Sunglasses.


  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Deodorant.
  • Shampoo and liquid soap.
  • Razors.
  • Tweezers.
  • Q-tips.
  • Purell and wipes: you will need this on a daily basis.
  • Baby powder and cologne: you don’t always get to shower.
  • Microfiber towel: they’re compact and they dry fast so you can pack it back without getting your belongings wet.


  • Common medications: headache and stomachache pills, flu treatments, band-aids, alcohol.
  • A pen.
  • Insect repellent.
  • A small umbrella.
  • TSA approved locks.
  • Waist-pouch: to protect your money and passport.
  • Sleeping bag.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Electronics and their chargers.
  • Outlet adapters: not every country has the same outlet and usually they cost a lot more if you’re in need and can’t find a good store. 
  • Cooler.
  • Backpack: pack a smaller one to carry your things while you walk around the city. That way you can leave your big backpack at the hostel. 
  • Flashlight.
  • Corkscrew and bottle opener.
  • Plastic bags: just in case you need to pack wet items among your dry ones. 

Things to do before the trip

  • Scan your documents and send them to your own e-mail. That way you can print them in case the originals get lost or robbed.
  • Get health and travel insurance.
  • Print your hotel reservation or invitation letter.
  • Charge all your electronic devices.
  • Find maps of the cities you’re visiting.
  • Make sure you don't need any extra paperwork or permits to get in there.
  • Leave a key of your place to someone you trust in case there’s an emergency while you’re gone.

Those are the items I always pack and the things I pay attention to when traveling as a backpacker. Hopefully I will continue to update it and improve it. With this checklist I wish you the best of lucks in the adventures to come and of course, you’re welcome to add items based on your own experience.
Bon voyage!

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