Travel Packing List: Do You Carry These Things?

By Mark Wiens 69 Comments
Here's what I bring with me when I travel!
Here’s what I bring with me when I travel!

I’ve seen a lot of travelers carrying around GIGANTIC backpacks, and honestly, it just looks painful.

Now I’m not a super minimalist or a crazy lightweight traveler (if you actually need and USE all those things in that huge backpack, that’s totally fine), but instead I’m an advocate of traveling comfortable, and for me comfortable does mean pretty light.

The main problem is that many travelers that carry around those huge backpacks, carry a lot of unnecessary things – things they don’t even really need or barely ever use.

Travel packing list - the essentials guide!
Travel packing list – the essentials guide!

Before we go over my personal travel packing list, I’d like you to think about a few things:

You can buy things as you travel. As I mentioned in the video (below), nearly everything you could need is available in the country you’ll be visiting. I have yet to visit a country where they don’t sell t-shirts or toothpaste.

Limit your amount of clothes and toiletries. I’ve seen many travelers that include way too many clothes and toiletries on their travel packing list. Ask yourself, “do I really need 8 shirts and 6 bottles of cream?”

Consider the size of your backpack. It’s an odd phenomena, but whatever size your backpack is, you’ll likely fill it up. The solution is to use a smaller, more manageable backpack. I use a North Face Big Shot (more in depth suggestions below).

To be honest with you, I would pack this same list if I was going on a 1 week trip or on a 1 year trip.

One last thing, this travel packing list reflects warm weather locations, if I was going to travel to a colder destination, I’d definitely add some layers and a heavy coat. Also, I apologize that this list is male oriented (and I have no experience packing as a female!), but if you are a female, you can use these same principles.

This is a guide, adapt it to your unique personal needs. Watch the video below and then take a look at the written list.

Note: If you can’t see the video, watch my travel packing list here.

Clothes

Toiletries

Of course, if you’re taking certain prescription drugs, bring them too.

Electronics

Traveling with electronics has tradeoffs. To be honest, if I didn’t blog, or make food videos, I would probably not carry a laptop and instead just carry an iPad or smart phone. However, since I work while I travel, I need a full laptop. It’s heavy, big, and gives me extra responsibility, but it’s something I need.

Important Documents

Optional Accessories (Yes, I pack these things)

Travel packing list
My current backpack is The North Face Big Shot Daypack

Travel Backpack / Luggage

The North Face Big Shot Daypack – Great backpack, in my opinion it’s a perfect size, and it has a nice place to store a laptop – the reason I prefer it now over the Osprey Talon 44.

Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag – I absolutely love this camera bag. It fits a DSLR camera perfectly, and also includes some extra space where I often keep a bottle of water, a book, maps, and other things I need quick and easy access to. I’d highly recommend it.

Hope this packing list helps, but remember, being comfortable (whatever that means to you) is the best way to travel!

*Many of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning if you should purchase anything, I will get a small commission. That being said, these really are the things I recommend and personally use.

69 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Rand

    2 years ago

    Hi Mark, I couldn’t agree with you more about carrying a multi-tool when traveling. However the biggest drawback is that I almost always travel carry on only and haven’t found a substitute tool that is allowed past security. Do you have any good suggestions of a functional tool without a blade? Thanks!

  • Karina Isaac

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark, thank you so much for your great travel tips, they are very useful! My friend and I will be visiting Bangkok in a few weeks, and your videos have been our salvation for trip planning!
    Oh and must say, it’s so nice to see in your video that even with the lightest of packing, you make room for your Bible! That’s great 🙂

  • giang

    6 years ago

    Do you think your wife would be up to making a post geared towards women and what she packs when she travels?

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hi Giang, that’s a good idea, I’ll ask her.

  • Makena

    6 years ago

    Hello Mark.
    Greetings from Hawaii!
    Love your website and your Youtube channel! I also prefer the light and simple approach when travelling.
    I have a question, do you know where I can purchase a North Face Big Shot backpack like the one you use? I’m looking to make a change where my pack is concerned but it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere. The Amazon link you provide shows that it is unavailable and its not on the North Face website or any of the many other websites that I’ve tried. I can only find listings for the Big Shot 2. Not sure of the difference there. Any suggestions or ideas?
    Looking forward to more great videos from you. Thanks for your time and keep up the good work!
    Makena

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Hello Makena, great to hear from you, glad you like this style of packing as well. Hmm, I might need to update that, it looks like they may have updated with the Big Shot 2 and maybe discontinued the original version – but they look very similar. Hope you’re doing well, happy new year!

  • mirod

    7 years ago

    How do u travel with pen knife or any tool in freight not allowed

  • Jae

    7 years ago

    Dear Mark,
    my husband and me found your webpage somehow via youtube. We wanted to see videos about KL since we are leaving for SEA in 12 days. Once I saw one of your videos, I was sooooo impressed and hypnotized! You make the videos so unbelievably awesome to watch! Our passion is to travel and without a doubt – the food in all the different countries! I seriously applaud you for making the effort to create such an amazing blog/website and share it with the world!
    Please continue to travel and showing us what you are eating and experiencing – we will be following you! Btw – we loooooove when you taste some kind of food and then start smiling! It’s the BEST and makes us smile every time as well! Thank you so much for that! Wishing you all the best! Keep up the amazing work!

    All the Best from Germany!!!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hi Jae, great to hear from you, and glad that you’ll b coming to SE Asia soon. Thank you for watching my videos and for your kind words. Sounds like we share a passion for food and travel. Thank you again for your support and hope you have a wonderful time traveling and eating.

  • Blop

    7 years ago

    Hello Mark,

    Great videos 😀
    Is the Osprey Talon 44 ok for airplane carry-on ?
    For example in EU low-cost company, do they accept it ?

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Blop, thank you. So far, airlines I’ve been on have been fine with it, but not sure about EU, have never traveled there. Probably it will be fine as long as your bag is not packed to capacity.

      • Julie

        7 years ago

        Hey Mark.

        Can you please tell me the make and model of the tripod you use? Thank you!

        • Julie

          7 years ago

          sorry, Mark. I didn’t realize you had replied to my previous post. Happy tripod hunting, and please reply back if you ever do buy another one – I’d be interested in knowing which one you get. Thanks!

  • Cyntha

    7 years ago

    hi! I watched your Bangkok video and want to go in October for the Vegetarian Festival. I have never been to Thailand before. Is it safe for a single woman to go? I liked the packing list, just would revise it a bit for a woman, lol.

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hey Cyntha, thank you for watching. Yes I think overall Bangkok is safe for a solo female traveling, just make sure you stay in a good place and do be careful is you go out at night. Bangkok is a great city, you’ll love it.

  • Truly Julie

    7 years ago

    Nice post. Can you please give the make and model of your tripod and approximately how much it weighs? Thanks so much!

    • Mark Wiens

      7 years ago

      Hi Julie, my tripod is actually a bit heavy, I think it’s this one: Oben AC-1321 3-Section Aluminum Tripod. I hope to get a lighter one in the future, probably a nice Manfrotto, but they can be expensive.

      • Julie

        7 years ago

        hi Mark and thanks for replying. I get that it is heavy, but, in general (other than the weight), do you like this model or are there any other drawbacks?

        thanks!

        • Mark Wiens

          7 years ago

          Hi Julie, I really like it for still photos, it’s good value for its price. My only drawback is because I shoot a lot of videos now, so I might upgrade to a tripod with a panning handle.

  • Lisa T

    8 years ago

    Good list! Having traveled overseas on many fast-moving backcountry and urban work trips, I think you’ve nailed it (very close to the same thing for girls who are proper travelers). For me the key is quick-drying fabrics for everything (ideally not ones that smell, like Patagucci) and I like a packtowel over a normal one. Don’t envy you carrying the tripod, but imagine it has many uses in addition to the main one. Thanks very much for the backpack recommendation – have been looking for a hybrid just like that.

    One possible addition for trips to cities where you may be stepping in hazardous or nasty stuff – Merrell makes super-lightweight ventilated sneakers that can go in the washing machine. Can’t make out the model on the tag any more ;>

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Lisa, thanks a lot for stopping by and glad you pack in a similar manner. Washable shoes sounds great!

  • Mike

    8 years ago

    Hey Mark,
    Excellent packing list and video. The less luggage I have to carry the better. I find my wife and I are going lighter with each new trip and simply buying extra clothing, etc. when we arrive at our destination. I’ve seen so many people with those giant backpacks and it make my body ache! As long as I have my cameras, I’m as happy as can be!

    Cheers,
    Mike

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Mike, good to hear that, I agree. I feel a litte pain myself every time I see those giant backpacks too! We all need to have a few individual necessities, but from there, we really don’t need much!

  • Michael

    8 years ago

    Hey I have a quick question about the Lowepro Sling. I shoot a T3i and carry the Canon EF-S 10-22 mm, the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8, and the Canon 70-200 L. What’s the chance I can fit all three of those in this bag? I’ve heard it can comfortably accodate 2 lens, which is the setup I usually roll with, but when I know I’m going to get some really money shots, I bring all three.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Michael, I think it would work, because of the expandable pocket – but you may want to find a place where they have it and test it first.

  • Thomas

    8 years ago

    Great work on the video! I think I probably packl about the same amount of stuff as you, although generally less clothes as I like to buy them whilst im traveling that way I don’t stand out a mile as a tourist.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Thomas, thanks for sharing. Buying clothes on site is a good method!

  • Yong

    8 years ago

    Great list Mark. I’m a geek and listed in the link I provide below are necessary gadgets that I need all throughout my travels. Let me know what you think.

    http://bit.ly/Wy60PG

  • Tommy

    8 years ago

    Hi Mark, love your work. Do you carry all your gear as carryon on AirAsia or do you check your bags when you fly? I am going to KL-Penang-Hanoi-ChiangMai-Bangkok and will be flying AirAsia.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hi Tommy, yes, minus the leatherman, I just carry-on when flying AirAsia. I haven’t had a problem, but they can be quite picky sometimes, so keep your bag weight to the limit.

      • Miguel Marcos

        7 years ago

        Mark, was going to ask about carryon and the Leatherman and security. How do you handle this?

        • Mark Wiens

          7 years ago

          Hey Miguel, I actually made a mistake in the video. When I travel by air I leave the leatherman, but when I travel on land I carry it with me. Sorry around the confusion!

  • Nate

    8 years ago

    Hey Mark – interesting that the North Face backpack has a laptop pouch. I’m using an Osprey at the moment as well, but I’m intrigued. How good is the protection for the laptop?

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Nate, the thing I really like is that the laptop pocket (which is located against the back of the backpack), first has an elastic pouch keeping it tightly in place, and at the bottom of the pouch is a 1 inch tube pad (so if you set down your bag, your laptop never hits the ground hard). Padding is not to be compared to one of those backpacks made specifically to carry a laptop (with huge bulk pads all around it), but it’s sort of the balance between practical and enough padding. For myself, I think it’s perfect.

  • sully86

    8 years ago

    mark: This is a good article mark. I guess the only problem for some people is that the unecessary has become an essential because they are born with those comforts for a long time. I think that is why some travellers are willing to travel heavy because they can’t let go. lol.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Sully, thanks, and good point. That is very true! So I think everyone needs a little personal experience to find out, and decide, exactly what’s worth bringing or not.

  • Cassie

    8 years ago

    Great list, Mark! I have the same camera bag in black and I absolutely love it! If I’m not using the camera I can take the padding out and carry it as a purse — though, strangely enough, it doesn’t look like a purse when my husband is carrying it.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Cassie, awesome, glad you like the same bag, I love it!

  • Cate

    8 years ago

    Great post. Packing is always the hardest part!

    My backpack carries my laptop and DSLR which makes it heavy to carry… but it has wonderfully comfortable straps, a well structure back which supports and corrects my posture and it’s also waterproof! Huge bonus for traveling the tropics.

    As for being female and packing, I try not to pack too much. I often just pack a skirt or two, or a casual dress as well as comfy shorts, harem pants and singlets. A little cardigan and sparkley sandals to help dress up a little. This trip, I’m packing my Crocs (I did a post on these not long back) – waterproof, non-slip, very comfy… and to keep them clean, pop them under the water in the shower and then leave them to dry!

    My skin is overly sensitive, so I need to be careful about what I put on it. I take small amounts of things like sunscreen, moisturizer and insect repellent, but after a few trips to Thailand, I’ve discovered what I can and can’t use and thus, don’t need to bring that much anymore! 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Cate, great to hear from you, nice to hear a female perspective. What type of backpack do you use?

      • Cate

        8 years ago

        I have a Kata Bumblebee-210 DL. I can fit my laptop, tripod, my DSLR + 2 lenses and all associated paraphernalia including chargers and leads, plus three days of clothes. Its a sensible size and it fits into overhead luggage bins on flights. I find it works really well for me. 🙂

  • Tracy Z

    8 years ago

    This is great, super helpful!

  • ulmne

    8 years ago

    What I also do to save even more space in my backpack is that I always pack all those free samples of toiletries that I sometimes get when I buy toiletries. Free samples are much smaller and if you ration them they can last for your entire trip.

  • Adam

    8 years ago

    I, like you, am no extreme lightweight backpacker, however I only carry a 27ltr backpack.

    I also carry a MacBook Pro as I work online.

    I am thrilled to see someone else also talking sense and carrying as little as possible.

    I would, however, make one change.

    As you so correctly state, most things can be purchased enroute.

    I would not (and do not) carry any toiletries. I save the extra space for more socks and undies.

    Of all my clothing, these are the things I need change most.

    I also (thanks to laundry services and sunscreen) carry only a couple of tees, purchasing new ones at each destination.

    So long as I have a couple for travelling in, I buy new ones at each place I visit.

    More often than not the laundry or sunscreen has destroyed my cheap tees anyway.

    In favour of an equal argument for the both of us, however, (I assume) we are both lucky enough to have the ability to travel whilst receiving a regular income. This is a luxury that most backpackers travel without, and so, the cost of purchasing new items enroute is something that they would rather leave out of their planned budget, be prudent and travel with everything they will require.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Adam,
      Thanks a lot for commenting. Yah, I agree that’s a good point, we are lucky enough to earn while traveling, making it more possible to buy necessary things along the way. At the same time though, I think if you’re on a tight budget, you shouldn’t need to buy anything other than a few of the really essential toiletries – don’t need to ever buy more clothes or things like that. Glad you share a similar packing philosophy as I do – it’s just so much more convenient and comfortable to travel this way!

  • jo

    8 years ago

    so i guess my last question posted here a while ago is answered finally!?
    guess i have to look for a camera cheaper than 800 dollar…

  • Maria Teresa Polo

    8 years ago

    Hi Mark, thank you for your travel packing info. I do bring the same adapter as you do. I wish I can do the same, but girls are different from guys. Toiletries are very important to us and for me, I usually bring additional disposable panties. I also use simple cellphone when I travel. And I saw that your sling bag is really useful.
    Thanks again for your travel packing video.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hi Maria, thanks a lot for sharing. Yes, I fully understand this list could be quite a bit different for a female. I think being comfortable is the best way to travel. Thanks a lot for watching!

  • Owen Lipsett

    8 years ago

    Awesome list and video Mark! I liked it so much that I just edited my latest blog post to add a link 🙂

    Some specific questions/comments:

    (1) Do you go for cheap or expensive sunglasses? As for me I’ve lost some expensive ones in the past and go cheap, figuring that the difference in price is due to the quality of the frames

    (2) I noticed you’re wearing a black shirt. Do you generally go for dark clothing or light – I can see advantages to both (dark dries quickly but white is generally cooler).

    (3) I noticed you don’t carry a smartphone and wondered if you could share your thinking behind this. (I’m probably the only person in Korea without one so I’m glad to see they’re not mandatory for nomads! 🙂 )

    (4) I’m glad you specified you carry a soccer jersey – I find them incredibly useful since they dry so quickly. I also noticed that’s it’s for the Argentine national team – are there certain shirts that get you a better reception than others (e.g. Brazil, Argentina, any others?). In some places it can be a life of death matter – I remember riding in a train car with River Plate hooligans in Buenos Aires, just an hour after I’d seriously considered wearing my Boca Juniors shirt that day, relieved I’d chosen not to do so.

    (5) I’ve found it useful to have both a very light windbreaker/raincoat and a fleece. The windbreaker makes the fleece a little warmer (to a surprising degree actually) if you need and is useful if you’re caught in a warm rain.

    Thanks again for an awesome post!

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hi Owen, wow, thanks a lot for including my video!

      1. Like you, I’d probably go with cheaper (but not fake) sunglasses if I bought them. However, my girlfriend at the time (fiance now) bought me a real pair of ray ban’s and I’ve had them now for about 2 years and used them almost everyday – and they are still in great condition. So if you’re prone to forgetting sunglasses, definitely go with a cheap pair!

      2. Yes, but that’s mostly out of preference, and they stay a lot nicer looking than white shirts.

      3. So far don’t have a smart phone. I’m on my laptop a lot, so when I can get away and take a walk, I don’t want to be answering messages. I like time away from the internet. That being said, there are a lot of conveniences for sure, but in my opinion it’s still not a must for me.

      4. Great, yes, they are so comfortable and good especially in warm weather. I think in Asia, it’s pretty safe to wear any team you’d like without too much trouble, but yes, could be a problem in other areas of the world. Ha, glad you didn’t wear the Boca shirt that day!

      5. Thanks for sharing, that is a good combination. My previous raincoat broke, and I haven’t gotten a new one yet!

      Again, I appreciate you reading / watching and posting this on your site as well. Thanks for the extra tips too!

      • Owen Lipsett

        8 years ago

        Hi Mark!

        Thank you so much for your in-depth reply! It was my absolute pleasure to share it.

        It’s also really nice to know that one can live well without a Smartphone. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but as well as being a fan of your work, I really like your whole philosophy, which this is a great example of. 🙂

  • Tristan

    8 years ago

    Reading other people’s packing lists is like travel porn for me. I love it. I use that same Eagle Creek hidden pocket thing, and I love it. It’s a great way to carry your passport and important documents.

    Thanks for the recommendation of a plug adapter. I’ll be buying one in a couple months when I move from Mexico to Georgia (the country) and the one you mentioned looks great.

    But overall, I have setup similar to yours—a smallish backpack and a courier-style shoulder bag. Usually I can fit everything into my backpack and stuff my shoulder bag in there, too (it’s packable), but sometimes I’ve acquired one too many things and need to use the shoulder bag for overflow.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Tristan, thanks a lot, glad you enjoy it and good to hear you pack in a similar way. I’ve found that the universal adapter is great, instead of trying to figure out which plug a country uses and then running around to the nearest store to search out an adapter – the universal comes really handy!

  • Wil @ Where’s Wil

    8 years ago

    I don’t know if it will work for your situation but gorrillapods are a smaller/lighter tripod option great for traveling.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey, thanks for sharing Will, yah I’ve thought about getting one, that would probably make a lot of things easier!

  • Stephanie – The Travel Chica

    8 years ago

    I like the sling camera bag because it doesn’t actually look like a camera bag.

  • Sean

    8 years ago

    The video is private, but I’m assuming that’s incorrect!

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Sorry Sean, thanks for letting me know, up and running now!

  • Rosemary

    6 years ago

    Light rain coat or windbreaker (good if it is the type that comes with a pant) These are good as they are windproof, waterproof n also give some warm. The best thing is they have multi purpose uses, not expensive and very very very light. Bring also some big n small plastic bags. I do not know whether your backpack is waterproof. U can use them to protect your belongings n bags from getting wet in case it rains. The big plastic bags to cover your whole bag from outside or inside.