Now that you’ve got your First Aid kit, electronics, and lady business packed up, it’s time for the fun to begin. What to pack for an international trip?
Apply common sense here, if you’re going on an extreme water buffalo hunt in the deep waters of Zimbabwe, you might need to do a separate search related to your specific travel needs (and you might need to get some great insurance). This travel packing list is more of a guideline – as we don’t believe in rules!
This list is suitable for budget backpackers, flash-packers, and non-fussy female travelers, and remember – everything is customizable.
The Options (pick 2-3 bottoms, 2-3 tops, lots of underpants)
This comes with the eternal Jeans Debate. Are they too heavy to carry? Are they too bulky and impractical for hot climates? I can only tell you that I’ve never once regretted bringing my jeans*, and don’t know anyone who has.
* while it’s not a “regret”, I could have lived without my jeans in SE Asia. Unless you’re a massive fan of restricting air flow to your lady bits, think about leaving the jeans at the bottom of the bag for this portion of your trip.
Maybe not all gentlemen would like to wear yoga pants , but you would be sorely missing out, friends. Free-ballin in a pair of yoga pants is as close to heaven as you’re going get on an overnight journey…or so I am told.
Ladies, I don’t need to sell you on these. Comfortable in all situations, and an acceptable substitute for pj pants when Aunt Flo comes around.
This is also for the female travelers, unless you’re a real chill man with a sense of style. Or you’re Scottish. I’m not judging.
The most hideous pant invention in the history of ever. Almost all brands are unflattering to a humiliating degree. Having said that, you might want to bring a pair as they are incredibly useful. Pockets for hiking trips, keeping your wallet safe, and stowing away whatever bits and bobs you don’t want to search through your bag for.
Also, the legs zip off in case you’re dying to show a little calf muscle, or get a farmers tan from your knee down. Does anyone have a tip on a brand of these pants that don’t look awful?
Just like pants, but shorter; what a phenomenon. Do I really need to list the ways in which shorts are useful for both sexes? No, I don’t.
God bless lightweight, long sleeve shirts. They ward off mosquitoes, sunburn, and lecherous taxi drivers.
Bonus Tip: Do not, I repeat, do NOT bring a white one. You will have stains from your body sweat, from dirty children’s hands, and from the food that didn’t make it in your mouth. It’s a blank canvas ready to hold all your hygienic errors.
Whatever country you’re from, you know this lovely piece of clothing. Like a regular t-shirt whose arms have gone missing. Good for the girls, good for the boys, good for ladyboys.
When you’re not able to be barefoot, or wear your flippy floppies, a good pair of socks is the next best thing. Get socks made from moisture wicking material, and watch your foot odors disappear. Please. Do it for the love of fellow humans who have to be in the same room as you. Your friendship rate will double, perhaps even triple!
Doesn’t matter what kind of T-Shirts you bring as long as they are clean and not white.
Guys, if you’re bringing a jersey from your favorite sports teams, be prepared to make a lot of friends / enemies; at the very least, you will be stopping every 20 meters or so to talk about the team.
Ladies, if you’re bringing one shirt that showcases the girls, make sure you bring another which is modest; use them at the appropriate times.
Guys, a clean button up shirt will work wonders when combined with grooming efforts. Ladies, the little black dress is perfect in this instance as well.
Why on earth would a backpacker need to bring a nice piece of clothing, you may wonder? Allow me to state the reasons. In case you get to crash a wedding, attend a funeral, dine with grown-ups, sneak into a swanky hotel to use their facilities, or get upgraded at the airport. Prepare for success, it will follow!
Hoodie vs Jacket: I love my hoodie so much that I would write a haiku about it, alas, the hoodie no longer has a place in my backpack. They tend to be too bulky to justify. Unless you’re planning on being somewhere truly cold for a long time, bring a lightweight jacket and layer up. When you get home, you can cuddle your hoodie and tell it how much you missed it. Maybe that’s just me?
You know those guides that say “you only need to bring 3 pairs of underwear, just wash them in the sink and keep going”.
Those guides have no friends, and definitely no girlfriends. Please bring at least 5 pairs of underpants. I know you think you can turn them inside out and keep going, but you can’t. Really.
Ladies, our panties are much smaller and there’s no reason not to bring at least 7 pairs. Keep it clean, girls, keep it clean.
I must relate a truly embarrassing tale and hope that you are all remain my internet friends after reading about what a gross human being I am. Much embarrassment below:
For my first backpacking trip (2 months in Greece) I was pretty sure that I knew exactly how to be a pro-backpacker. I did all my internet research and found that Tevas are the best brand in the hiking sandal world. I clicked “buy now” and in no time, a pair of brown leather hiking sandals arrived on my doorstep. They fit, they were comfortable, we were happy, my Tevas and I.
We hiked the monasteries of Meteora, we ran the trail in the world’s deepest canyon, we drunkenly stumbled through olive groves, we were living a life of footwear bliss. One sunny day, we were hiking and came upon a river that had to be waded through. No problemo. My Tevas might be leather, but they are waterproof. We crossed that river and I didn’t lose my traction, not even on the mossy stones. My Tevas were my second best friend.
That night, however, my sweet Tevas betrayed me. Sitting in the hostel with my travel buddy, we listened to the booming thunder of the Gods while chugging Greek wine. It was a perfect evening. Until we became aware of the dead body.
Granted, we did not see a dead body, but we knew it was there. “Something is definitely dead” said my companion. “Dead and rotting” I said, covering my mouth and nose.
We peered out the windows, no dead bodies there. We looked in the hallway, no carcasses about. I wanted to find the source of what was bombing my nostrils with this stench, so I strapped on my Tevas and went outside. Whatever it was, was very, very close. Curious.
It only took about 5 minutes of walking around before I realized it was me.
My sweet Tevas had gotten wet, and were retaining water. Foot water. Stream Water. Canyon dust. Monastery water. It was unbearable. No problemo. My Tevas can overcome anything. I dried them out for the next two days, dousing them with baby powder, using cat litter to absorb the rot, and refused to get rid of them.
Two more weeks with my comfy Tevas and stinky feet. People in restaurants would look over their shoulders, trying to find the source of the smell. I’d look over mine too. Yes, what could that awful smell be? But I knew it was me; my filthy, rotten Tevas had betrayed me forever.
I wasn’t giving them up, however. They were so comfortable, so good to my feet, like second skin. Second, smelly skin.
Eventually my travel companion threw down the law. I am awoken in the middle of the night by her. She is in tears- violent tears- because she can’t take the odor of my shoes any longer. “I can’t even sleep. Get those expletive, expletive, expletive, shoes out of here!!!” It was her or my Tevas. Adieu Tevas, you raunchy pieces of leathery crap.
All that is to say: do not buy leather hiking sandals or no one will like you. Moreover, they might hate you and hold it against you for a long time, mocking you mercilessly in front of boys and colleagues.
To that end, I now recommend using an ankle stabilizing hiking shoe. I love my Merrell’s, with Goretex. They don’t smell. They can stamp out fires and they’re only a little bit slippery on wet marble. They’ve carried me in the forests of Panama, jungles of Colombia, canyons of Jordan, ruins of Turkey, hills of Greece, and show no signs of stopping. Worth every penny. Did I mention they don’t smell? Ladies, I realize they aren’t the most flattering pair of shoes out there. If you’re looking for form and function, they’re your best bet. If you need fashion, head over to Travel Fashion Girl, who covers all the bases.
Being a California girl, I’ve spent more time in flip flops than any other type of footwear. I’ve tried them all, and the one shoe that my feet keep coming back to are Reefs. Slipping my foot into a pair of Reefs is almost as satisfying as walking on a sandy beach. (Reef really should be paying me for that line.) The quality, comfort, and overall awesome-ness of this flip flop cannot be stressed enough. Proof? Some versions have bottle openers on the bottom. That’s right. Do not delay, get your Reefs today!
Do you have a solid idea of what to pack? If not, drop your questions here and I will help you out as best I can! For destination packing lists, travel outfits, and how to mix and match your clothing to maximize the space in your bag, visit Travel Fashion Girl, and let her know Brandy Bell sent you!
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