What’s In My Backpack? (For 8+ Months of Travel)

Packing for longer than 10 days can seem daunting and impossible, but I managed to live out of a 46 liter backpack for 8 months. This is my guide for packing for long-term travel.

I included what was actually in my backpack plus suggestions for you on how much of each item to pack.

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I had an Osprey Porter 46-liter backpack. I was debating between buying the Osprey Farpoint 55-liter backpack and this one, but I ended up going with the Porter because I figured the lighter the better.
It’s a great backpack and can fit a lot, even though it’s only 46 liters. A lot of backpackers I met were jealous of how small mine was, wishing they had packed less. Plus, it’s carry on-compatible, so you don’t have to pay extra for luggage!
So, if you’re looking for a durable, light, and affordable backpack, I recommend the Porter 46. (#notsponsored)

Ok now on to the CLOTHES!


TOPS: 

Plain T-s:

I packed: 3
From: 2 on the left are from Urban Outfitters, 3rd was given to me by a motel in Myanmar
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Every other day/everyday
My suggestion: Pack 2 or 3 of these because you will wear them A LOT.

Crop tops:

IMG_0324

I packed: 2 (but lost 1)
From: Made by a tailor in Hoi An, Vietnam
Necessity: 8/10
Use rate: Every other day
My suggestion: Pack 2 of these– preferably ones that can double as both day and night tops so you can use them for various occasions.
Pro-tip: If traveling to conservative countries, do NOT wear these. If you do, pair with high-waisted pants so your torso is not showing.
Examples of conservative countries in SE Asia: Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka

Long-sleeve tees:

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I packed: 1
From: Urban Outfitters
Necessity: 1/10
Use rate: Almost never
My suggestion: Don’t pack this! It’s hot 99% of the time in SE Asia, and if it DOES get cold, you can wear a sweater.

Athletic tees:

I packed: 3
From: Various races in NY
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Every other day
My suggestion: This highly depends on your activity level. I run every other day or every two days, so I need them.
However, if you don’t run or work out much, then only bring 1 for trekking/hiking.

Sweaters:

IMG_0325

I packed: 1
From: American Apparel
Necessity: 5/10
Use rate: Once a month
My suggestion: Pack ONE small, comfy sweater. You will use it for the airplane, when the AC is ridiculously high in your dorm room, and when hiking mountains.

Plaid shirts:

IMG_0322

I packed: 1
From: Muji
Necessity: 8/10
Use rate: Twice a week
My suggestion: This proved to be really nice to have on buses/trains/planes, where you’re not sure how cold it’ll be. I also used it a lot in places where it got a little bit colder at night.

Denim jackets:

IMG_0328

I packed: 1
From: Thrift store in Tokyo
Necessity: 2/10
Use rate: Once a month
My suggestion: Totally unnecessary; it’s more for fashion than for practicality. It was pretty warm, so it was useful in colder situations, but that was rare. Denim jackets also tend to be big and heavy, so it’s not the best use of your space.

Light jackets:

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I packed: 1
From: Uniqlo
Necessity: 8/10
Use rate: Twice a month
My suggestion: This is really nice for hikes that take you up to higher altitude, or in the unexpectedly cold or rainy places. I used mine a lot in the mountains of Sri Lanka, in Pai, Thailand, and whenever it rained.

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Winter in July. #isthisstillsrilanka #needgloves

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BOTTOMS:

Jeans:

I packed: 2
From: Left was made by a tailor in Hoi An, right one from store in Tokyo
Necessity: 3/10
Use rate: Once a month or less
My suggestion: Bring only 1 pair. I never wore them enough to warrant having two pairs.

Leggings:

I packed: 2
From: Left from Muji, right from Forever 21
Necessity: 7/10
Use rate: Twice a month
My suggestion: Pack 1 or 2. They are quite compact, so they don’t take much room and are useful for when you run out of clean shorts, are doing some athletic activity, or for the plane.

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Have ya ever had an orange coconut??!

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Loose pants:

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I packed: 2 (I actually bought them while traveling– one ripped, so I threw them out)
From: Random store in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Necessity: 5/10
Use rate: Once a month
My suggestion: These are good for hot destinations that require you to wear long pants for religious reasons (e.g. when you visit a Buddhist temple). I wore them a lot in Myanmar, where nearly everywhere is a religious site, but otherwise shorts are fine.

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Saw some temples the other day.

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Sweatpants:

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I packed: 1
From: Muji
Necessity: 3/10
Use rate: Once a month
My suggestion: You don’t NEED to pack sweatpants, especially since they tend to be bulky, but they are useful for trekking/when you’re in colder climates. I used mine everyday when trekking in Myanmar, but I also would have been fine in just a pair of leggings.

Denim shorts:

I packed: 2
From: Left from thrift store in Tokyo (HIS Jeans brand), right from J Brand
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Every 2 days
My suggestion: I think 2 was the right amount. They did get a bit worn out by the end, but I would value athletic shorts over denim shorts.

Athletic shorts:

I packed: 3
From: First 2 from Target, 3rd from Lulu Lemon
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Every other day
My suggestion: This also depends on your activity level, but are a bit more practical than atheletic tees, even if you never work out.
Pro-tip: Buy some waterproof ones for when you go swimming (so it doesn’t look like you peed your pants when you pull on your shorts). They are also good for everyday wear in general. Bring 2 or 3 pairs.

OTHER CLOTHING:

Romper:

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I packed: 1
From: Store in Koh Phi Phi
Necessity: 4/10
Use rate: A few times
My suggestion: My romper is quite revealing, so I couldn’t wear it in the more conservative places. However, it’s totally fine in places like Thailand & Bali where they are more used to western tourists.

Dress:

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I packed: 1
From: Made by a tailor in Hoi An
Necessity: 5/10
Use rate: Almost never
My suggestion: I almost never wore mine because it is a bit on the fancier side, but I would recommend bringing one casual dress. They are easy to throw on and tend to be quite versatile: you can wear them to the beach, to dinner, or to walk around in.

UNDER GARMENTS:

Socks:

I packed: 7 pairs (but lost a few along the way)
From: Various
Necessity: 9/10
Use rate: Every other day
My suggestion: Pack 6 or 7 pairs so that you don’t run out of them too fast. You will be wearing flip flops a lot, but if you do hikes/walks/runs, you will need multiple pairs of socks.

Underwear:

I packed: 8
From: Various
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Everyday
My suggestion: Pack an obnoxious amount, at least 10.  You will lose them, they will wear out, and you NEED them.

Sports bras:

I packed: 3
From: Various
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Everyday
My suggestion: I could have brought another pair, I wore mine so often. It might just be me, but I prefer sports bras to normal bras anyway, so the more the merrier.

“Real” bras:

I packed: 2
From: Gap
Use rate: Almost everyday
My suggestion: 2 was the right amount for me. I brought one clasping bra, and one non-clasping bra. As I said above, I tended to wear my sports bras more often, so I didn’t need to bring so many “real” bras.

Bikinis:

I packed: 4 tops, 2 bottoms
From: Various
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Every 2 weeks
My suggestion: I think I brought the appropriate amount for how long I was traveling. When I lost one of my bikini tops, I bought a new one to replace it. I was near the ocean quite a bit in my travels, so it was nice to have a bit of a variety to choose from.

SHOES

Casual sneakers:

I brought: 1
From: Bershka
Necessity: 8/10
Use rate: Every two days
My suggestion: Bring a pair of casual, non-athletic, cute sneakers for everyday walking.

Running shoes:

I brought: 1
From: Saucony (Saucony Kinvara)
Necessity: 9/10
Use rate: Every other day
My suggestion: DEFINITELY bring these if you want to run, but even if you don’t run, you will want some athletic shoes for trekking/hiking.

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Always climbing 🐒

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Flip flops:

I brought: 1
From: Havaianas originally, but I broke those and got a new pair in Sri Lanka
Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Every day
My suggestion: Bring them. You will use them!
Pro tip: Bring a pair that’s NOT the typical black havaianas because they might get confused for someone else’s and may get accidentally stolen. Bring a pair that you can easily identify as your own.

Strappy sandals:

I brought: 1
From: Can’t remember
Necessity: 1/10
Use rate: Almost never
My suggestion: DON’T bring them. They have been sitting at the bottom of my bag since I started traveling. I thought I would want them for fancy nights out or for nicer occasions, but those don’t really exist in the backpacking world. You’re fine with just your flip flops.

ACCESSORIES:

Warm hats:

IMG_0361

I brought: 1
From: Muji
Necessity: 2/10
Use rate: Almost never
My suggestion: You can bring one since they’re quite small and don’t take up much room, but they aren’t really necessary. I wore mine in Taiwan because it was a bit chillier there, and again when trekking in Myanmar, but I probably would have been fine without it.

Caps:

IMG_0368

I brought: 1
From: Street vendor in Hoi An
Necessity: 8/10
Use rate: Almost everyday
My suggestion: Buy one! They are SUPER helpful in the hot weather.

Makeup:

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I brought: 2 eyeliners, 1 mascara, 1 eyeshadow, 1 blush, 4 lipsticks/lip glosses, 1 concealer, 1 tweezer
From: Various
Necessity: 1/10
Use rate: Almost never
My suggestion: This is highly individual, but I almost never wore makeup in my 8 months of travel. I would suggest bringing maybe one mascara and 1 eyeliner, and maybe 1 lipstick, but anything more is not really necessary.

Hair stuff:

IMG_0352

I brought: 1 small pack hair ties, 1 small pack hair pins, 3 headbands (1 of which I bought while traveling), 1 hair straightener
From: Various
Necessity: 4/10
Use rate: Once a month
My suggestion: To be honest, I tended to forget that I had headbands. And I NEVER used the hair straightener. The hair ties are definitely useful, but the headbands/hair pins are not as important. However, they’re quite lightweight and small, so it’s not a huge deal whether or not you bring them.

Jewelry:

I brought: 5 rings (2 of which I bought while traveling), 2 chokers
From: Various
Necessity: 2/10
Use rate: Once a month
My suggestion: This is another one of those things that I forgot I had. Some people where jewelry everyday, but I am not one of those people. Whenever I remembered, I’d wear it, but that seldom happened. So unless jewelry is something you where everyday, I don’t think it’s super important to bring any.

TOILETRIES:

I brought:

  • Small toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Small shampoo,
  • Small conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Small lotion
  • Razor
  • Pack bandaids
  • Iodine
  • Small contact solution
  • Tampons
  • Sun screen
  • Deodorant
  • 100 tablets of allergy medicine
  • B12 supplements
  • Contact lenses

Necessity: 10/10
Use rate: Everyday
My suggestion: Toiletries are something that you can buy anywhere, so I wouldn’t stress too much. The only things that I would recommend you make sure to buy BEFORE your travels are: tampons (they are hard to find, especially in SE Asia), b12 supplements (if you take them), and your contact lenses (if you wear them).

MISCELLANEOUS:

Sarong:

IMG_0320

I packed: 1
From: Random store in Krabi, Thailand
Necessity: 7/10
Use rate: A couple times a week
My suggestion: I didn’t start my travels with a sarong. One was given to me by a friend, which I unfortunately lost a few months later, so I bought another one. I use it as a cover-up when I swim, for laying down as I tan, to cover up when I enter religious temples, and I’ve even used it as a yoga mat.

Umbrella:

I packed: 1
From: Can’t remember
Necessity: 3/10
Use rate: Once or twice in 8 months
My suggestion: You may want to swap this out for a rain jacket, which may be more useful. An umbrella is compact and practical, but I hardly ever used mine. A rain jacket can be used for warmth as well, so that may be the better item to pack.

Romper:

IMG_0308

I packed: 1
From: Store in Koh Phi Phi
Necessity: 4/10
Use rate: A few times
My suggestion: My romper is quite revealing, so I couldn’t wear it in the more conservative places. However, it’s totally fine in places like Thailand & Bali where they are more used to western tourists.

Dress:

IMG_0350

I packed: 1
From: Made by a tailor in Hoi An
Necessity: 5/10
Use rate: Almost never
My suggestion: I almost never wore mine because it is a bit on the fancier side, but I would recommend bringing one casual dress. They are easy to throw on and tend to be quite versatile: you can wear them to the beach, to dinner, or to walk around in.

BONUS: Things I WISH I had packed:

  • Quick-dry towel
  • Packing organizers for my clothes (like this)
  • Rain coat
  • Sleeping mask (really useful when sleeping in dorms)

 

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