Travelling Light – A Packing List

As we mentioned in our last blog ‘How to Travel with Carry-On Only’ we are advocates of travelling light. In fact, these days we only ever take a daypack irrelevant of the length of the trip. Here we take a look at our packing list for our most recent trip which included New York City, Mexico, Cuba and Colombia. We left the UK in January and returned at the end of March (reluctantly due to COVD-19). Consequently we had to be prepared for a wide range of weather!

The Essentials

Passport/Documents (It’s a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport and any other important documentation in a separate place).

Cash/Credit and Debit Cards – Always handy!

The Backpack – Osprey Questa 30 Litres – We both use these backpacks and they are perfect for our needs! There’s a padded sleeve for a laptop at the back and the bag is divided into three main sections. Additionally, there are several smaller sections. On the exterior, mesh side pockets and a front bungy compression system add oodles of extra storage space.

T’s Osprey Backpack


Sunglasses/Glasses/Contact Lenses – Contacts have to be stored in the plastic bag for airport security, so you are somewhat limited as to how many it is possible to take on a long trip. Consequently, it’s best to alternate wearing glasses and contacts if possible.

Guide Book or Download – Although downloading a guide book is a great idea when travelling light, we still prefer a real book. This can be an issue if we are travelling through several countries! In this case, we will usually mix it up. On this trip, we had the Rough Guide to Mexico on a Kindle, extracted a few pages from a Cuba guide for Havana (sacrilege, we know!) and took a Lonely Planet book to Colombia!

Our Lonely Planet Guide to Colombia

Notebook/pen – We always travel with a lightweight notebook each so that we can take notes for the blog.

Re-usable Water Bottle – Save money and the planet and carry an eco-friendly re-usable water bottle with you on your travels.

Pack of Playing Cards – We enjoy an occasional card game when we are travelling. We take a mini pack of playing cards of the type that can often been found in Christmas crackers! Every little helps when it comes to travelling light!

Mini Playing Cards

Travel Towel – Don’t even think about taking a regular towel. Towels are usually provided wherever you are staying, even in budget accomodation. However on occasions when a towel is required, a lightweight, quick drying travel towel is the way to go.

Life Venture Travel Towel

Bug Spray Important if you are travelling in the tropics, especially in malarial areas.

Foldaway Lightweight Day Pack – We couldn’t be without our trusty foldaway pack and use it every day. We use it to pack whatever we need to take with us during the day and also for shopping. The G4Free day pack holds 20 litres. An essential item.

Our Trusty G4Free Day Pack

Mini Sewing Kit – A small sewing kit (as with the playing cards above, we sometimes use those found in Christmas crackers!) is virtually weightless. It’s great for repairing clothing or backpacks. Alternatively, we sometimes simply take a small spool of strong cotton and a needle.

Small First Aid Kit – Our kit usually includes pain killers, travel sickness pills, antihistamines and plasters. On this trip we took anti-malarial tablets with us due to the regions we were travelling in.

Life Systems Compact First Aid Kit

Moneybelt – A thin and lightweight money belt is an important piece of kit, especially if you are travelling in places which have higher than average crime rates. Keeping cash, cards and your passport together in a money belt reduces the risk of theft. Additionally, we also keep a ‘muggers stash’ of around $50.00 handy just in case.

Zip-Lock Bags – Handy for keeping snacks fresh or storing toiletries in. We tend to use them to store toiletries in, rather than using bulky toiletry bags. Consequently, we are always prepared for airport security as well!

Packing Cubes – A great way to organise the space in your backpack.


Laptop – Taking a laptop is a personal decision based on whether you are likely to be working while you travel, how long you are likely to be away or whether you will want to upload photo photographs while you are travelling. We both travel with laptops because we use them to write and blog. If it wasn’t for that we would probably be tempted to leave them behind as they definitely add to the weight!

Phone – On our last trip, T took her phone and Ku didn’t (although a lot of people thought it a crazy decision!) However, as we were travelling together, it was only necessary for one of us to carry a phone and it worked out fine for us.

Kindle Fire – We both love our Kindles and consider them to be an essential item when we travel. Not only can we load them up with a never-ending supply of books, but we can use them to stay connected, listen to music and even watch movies.

Digital Compact Camera (Canon IXUS) – Many people are happy to use their smart phone to take photographs and there’s no doubt about it, the quality is often excellent. As she doesn’t always carry a phone, Ku always takes a digital compact camera which has a zoom lens, flash and is super-easy to handle.

Headtorch – A torch (or flashlight) is a useful item to have in your backpack. Many countries suffer from frequent and sometimes lengthy power cuts. If you are carrying a phone, then it is probably unnecessary to take a headtorch as most phones have a flashlight on them and often that will suffice. However, if you are planning on camping, a headtorch is essential as it allows you to carry out tasks hands-free.


Toothpaste & Brush/Deodorant/Soap/Moisturiser/Shampoo/Conditioner

Eco-Friendly Wet wipes – Very useful for when you can’t wash your hands and essential for camping! We rarely travel without them.

Sun Block – Important if you are heading somewhere hot and sunny!

Lip Salve – Another important item!

Travel Hair Brush We use a small folding hair brush which also has a mirror. It’s compact and perfect for travelling light!

Travel Hair Brush


As we mentioned in our previous blog, we wash clothes on a daily basis. When we are travelling in a warm climate, it’s easy to dry things overnight.

Fleece – It’s important to choose a fleece that isn’t bulky and will pack away easily. It should be lightweight and cosy. Even if you are travelling in the tropics, you never know when you might need something warm to throw on. Additionally, the air conditioning on buses can be extremely chilly!

Wet Weather Gear – Actually, we took a risk and didn’t take wet weather gear on this trip. Luckily we didn’t need it.

Three T-Shirts – Wear one, pack two.

One long-sleeved top – Useful if it’s a little chilly or to protect your arms from the sun.

One pair of cargo pants – Lightweight and cool.

One pair of jeans – Although some travellers don’t take jeans because they think them too heavy, we like to wear them if we are going out in the evening and we also tend to wear them for flights/bus trips. We noticed in Colombia that everyone wears jeans. Sometimes it’s good to blend in.

One pair of shorts – Make sure they are lightweight and comfortable.

Sarong – So versatile – you can wear them, use them as beach towels and even wrap shopping in them. They are also light, quick to dry and don’t take up much room in a backpack. Perfect for travelling light.

Foldaway Puffer Jacket – We took these along on our last trip because our first stop was New York City in January! As it turned out, NYC was in the middle of a heatwave and we didn’t really need them! These jackets are however, excellent for travelling light, and come with a small bag which they can be squashed into!

One Foldaway Hat – Especially important if you are travelling somewhere hot to protect you from the sun when hiking.

Hiking Hat!

One swimsuit

Three pairs of underwear

Three pairs of socks

Flip flops

Hiking Boots

These Boots were made for Walking

Categories: PackingTags: , ,


  1. Thanks for the list.

  2. Notebook-pen and sewing kit idea is good. Nice list of items.

  3. I have a somewhat similar list, although I take black evening pants rather than jeans so I can wash my day clothes before dinner and eat posh if I feel like it. I also take a collapsible umbrella (goes in an outside pocket on my day pack) which doubles as a sunshade. I am also a fan of money belts – when I get home from a long trip I feel undressed without one. I travel with an iPad and a phone, I use the Kindle app rather than a Fire. I also agree about preferring hard copy travel books, I cut mine up and discard as I go.

    • Thanks for taking time to comment. Ah, yes – the collapsible umbrella is a good idea and not only in the rain! We don’t like to destroy travel guides, but we have also cut them up to save weight, especially when travelling to multiple countries. Happy Travels!

  4. Osprey makes such great backpacks. I have the Porter 30 and it holds so much.

  5. Great list.We carry a small roll of duct tape and have travel combo locks for all our zipper compartments for our back packs.

  6. Nice lists. I would add instant coffee or tea, water purification tablets, and some small gifts for young children in foreign countries.

  7. As someone that loves traveling, packing, and lists this was a perfect post for me! Thanks for sharing your ideas 🙂

  8. This is well compiled list, especially for backpackers like me. Thanks for sharing !

  9. That us too…always travel light…

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  11. Excellent list! I’ve never travelled with only a daypack – I traveled to Europe for 5-weeks last year with a large Rick Steve’s backpack, which was a beast to carry. I’m definitely going to try going lighter next time around with your suggestions only! Thanks again!

  12. For all that my husband and I travel under very different circumstances, your suggestions for travelling light are still excellent! I plan to see how many of your ideas I can incorporate in our packing!

    • We know that travelling light isn’t for everyone, but as backpackers it definitely the way to go for us! Glad you liked our suggestions and hope you manage to incorporate one or two of our ideas! Thanks for reading the blog and Happy Travels!

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