Clothes make up a fair percentage of the things in your backpack. If you take too many clothes, you end up with a heavy bag or no room for other essentials, and if you take too few clothes – well, let’s not go there.
It’s important to consider what clothes you need. You’ll be surprised, you don’t need as much as you might think, and you certainly don’t need to take your whole wardrobe. We took 20-litre daybags for a week in Greece and wondered what other travellers (on the same one-week package) had in their two huge suitcases.
This list should cover you for any eventuality. We’ve been travelling for almost three years carrying basically these items, and we don’t need much else.
What to bring
- 1. Five pairs of undies (and a couple of bras if you use them).
- 2. Four or five pairs of socks. Good quality ones, you’ll be walking a lot.
- 3. Sneakers or hiking shoes.
- 4. Flip-flops.
- 5. Lightweight nice shoes (optional).
- 6. Three or four t-shirts.
- 7. A nicer t-shirt or top.
- 8. Two pairs of trousers, preferably non-wrinkle, zip-off. Not jeans!
- 9. Shorts or a skirt for the beach.
- 10. Thermal underwear if going somewhere cold. Merino wool is good and black is always a good colour — you might be able to use your thermal top as an outer layer.
- 11. Two thin long-sleeve tops
- 12. A heavier jumper (but not very heavy or bulky).
- 13. A rainjacket
- 14. Hat, gloves and scarf if heading into winter anywhere.
- 15. A sarong can be handy for girls and guys — as beachwear, for heading to the shower in or as a spare sheet.
- 16. A sun hat.
- Think about where you’re going, and when. Investigate temperatures and pack for temperatures more extreme than what you discover.
- Pack layers. You keep warmer and have more options if you can layer up.
- Make sure all your items match — choose a colour scheme and stick to it.
- Add extras as necessary. Buy country-specific clothes in that country.
- Remember, you don’t need to pack everything in your wardrobe. Pack light and you won’t regret it. You can buy things along the road, in fact you’ll need to because things wear out quite quickly when you wear it every day or two days.
- Category pack: have a small bag for undies, one for winter gear (that can be pushed to the bottom of your back in summer), one for summer gear and one for work/party stuff. It’ll be easier to find things and the things you’re not using will be out of the way.
- It’s quite a good idea to take some old stuff with you when you travel. Wear it a couple of times then chuck it and buy something new. You’ll probably want a souvenir of your travels anyway, and clothes can be a great way to do it. Sure it’ll wear out, but it’ll be in all the photos!
- Don’t take anything that needs ironing! If possible, hand-wash your clothes before you go and see how quickly they dry. If you’re thinking about taking jeans, this experiment should dissuade you.
- Cotton undies tend to breathe well — get thin ones that pack small.