Jungle Clothes And More: Everything You Should Include In Your Amazon Packing List

Jungle Clothes And More: Everything You Should Include In Your Amazon Packing List

Picking the right jungle clothes and deciding what to pack for a trip to the Amazon basin is easier said than done. That’s why I have decided to put together a packing list to make things easier for you.

With the amount of traveling I do, I have become a pro at packing, for just about any kind of trip. I have plenty of hiking clothes (I hike so much that my closet is packed with hiking pants and rainproof jackets!); safari clothes, thanks to a recent trip to southern Africa; and after having traveled to Guyana I also have a good deal of jungle clothing.

I have become so good at packing that it now takes me no more than one hour to pack before a trip, and I do it right before walking out the door to catch my flight. Gone are the days when I’d agonize over what to pack and I’d end up carrying my entire closet on my back (I remember once my backpack weighted 18 kg, and I literally bent over the weight!). I was so bad at it that I even admitted being an unsuccessful backpacker.

Read why I call myself an unsuccessful backpacker in this post.

The Challenge Of Packing The Right Jungle Clothes

A recent trip to Guyana, however, proved challenging in terms of packing. The trip organizers sent out a detailed packing list, but some items on it made absolutely no sense to me. I was asked to bring a 10 meters long paracord – which I didn’t bring because (errr!) I don’t actually know what that is (and thankfully I was never asked to use it!). I was warned to pack as light as possible (which I am ok with). And obviously, I was told to pack a good deal of jungle clothes.

But, for as detailed as the Amazon packing list I had was, I wish there were some items I took with me, and others I had left home. So, for all those of you who are planning to visit Guyana soon (which you will be, since it’s an absolutely incredible country), I have put together a packing list which includes all the jungle clothes you will need, and a few other essential items, and I have also listed what you really should leave at home instead.

However, before I tell you what to actually pack, let me go over a few things you need to keep in mind when picking your jungle clothes.

jungle clothes

I guess I picked the right jungle clothes! Wearing my Kuhl Kliffside Convertible Pants and carrying my 28 liters Cabin Zero bag.

What You Should Know Before Packing Your Jungle Clothes

You need to pack light

A trip to the Amazon basin in Guyana is not like any other. There’s no luxury involved, nothing fancy about it, and chances are you will get dirty, sweaty, muddy most of the time. So, don’t pack anything precious with your jungle clothes.

Furthermore, chances are that you will be moving around quite a bit, on a combination of tiny charter flights (for which weight restrictions are taken seriously, and prior to the flight every single item is weighted: bags, food supplies and passengers too), small boats and 4×4 rides along bumpy roads. Space is always limited, and there will be weight restrictions in place. This means that your Amazon packing list has to be kept to the absolute essentials.

It’s hot in the jungle

When putting together your Amazon packing list for Guyana, keep in mind the weather conditions. Guyana is pretty much located on the equator. There are two seasons: dry (from September to December) and rainy. I obviously recommend visiting during the dry season (though keep in mind there can be showers even then). What hardly changes throughout the year is the average temperature, which stays between a balmy 29 and 32 degrees Celsius during the day, and hardly decreases at night.

It wouldn’t seem so bad, right? Temperatures during the summer get even higher than that in southern Europe, after all. However, a factor that has to be considered is the humidity. It makes the air heavy, and the perceived temperatures much higher: the minute you get out of air-con (which by the way isn’t really a thing outside of Georgetown) the air becomes literally thick – even the slightest form of exercise results in profuse sweating. So much for keeping your nice jungle clothes clean!

Long sleeve tops and pants are a must

Bugs, mice, mosquitoes, chiggers and other small parasites love the jungle as much as we do (possibly more). Such thick vegetation and humidity provide the perfect environment for them to thrive. This means two things: no matter how hot it is, forget about wearing tank tops, shorts and flip flops unless you like the idea of itching like like a mad man (your jungle clothes should all be long sleeve tops and pants); and wear a good insect repellent on any inch of skin that remains exposed.

As well as the right (non) colors

I learned the importance of wearing the right colors when I went on a safari in Africa. Bright colors attract insects, whereas neutral colors such as mauve and khaki are best to view wildlife (there is a great deal of wildlife in Guyana – check my post to discover more) and are not as attractive to  bugs. The same reasoning should apply when picking the right jungle clothes for Guyana, for wildlife spotting is a thing there.

See what I wore in Africa on my post “What To Wear On Safari.”

Clothes take forever to dry

When I had to pack for my trip to Guyana, I was thorn between taking many changes of clothes, or just rely on washing whatever I wore daily. In the end, I washed most of my clothes at the end of every day, since I could rely on the fact that I’d spend 2 nights in most of the places I visited. However, keep in mind that with such high humidity, unless clothes are hang to dry in the sun, it take a good while for them to dry (do not expect them to dry overnight!). Make sure your jungle clothes are made with light, quick dry fabric.

Amazon packing list

A 28 liters Cabin Zero proved to be perfect for my trip.

Jungle Clothes And Other Essential Items To Add To Your Amazon Packing List

The Backpack And The Daypack

The first thing to consider when putting together an Amazon packing list is the kind of bag you want to carry. Having established that you will need to pack more or less light, what you travel with depends on the kind of trip you will be going on.

For a soft adventure trip like the one I did, a 40 liters Cabin Zeroor something similar, or a similar size trolley is just perfect: it will feet all your jungle clothes, shoes and other essentials and it won’t take too much space on the boat, or on the plane.

If, on the other hand, you plan to go on a hard core adventure, you will need a good backpack. Osprey is my go to brand. I am a fan of the Ariel 65 (the equivalent for men is the Aether 70). Kestrel 68 (for men) and Kyte 66 (for women) are excellent alternatives. All of them are spacious enough to hold all your essential jungle clothes and whatever else you may need for the trip.

However, keeping in mind you want to keep weight down as much as possible, I’d suggest going with the Tempest 40(for women) or with the Stratos 50 (for men). I have used my Tempest 40 on a recent trip to Catalunya, where I had to carry around my backpack for the whole day even when hiking, and found it comfortable and able to carry just the right amount of clothes. It probably is the best choice for an Amazon packing list.

With regards to the daypack, I traveled with a 28 liters khaki Cabin Zero, and found the backpack to be comfortable and to hold everything I needed. One thing I did miss, though, was having side pockets to keep bottles of water handy. So, it’s probably a good idea to opt for an Osprey Daylite Plus.

jungle clothes

A proper Amazon packing list shall include a camera

Camera Gear

One of the nicest things to do in Guyana is taking hundreds of photos of the unique, breathtaking landscape and of the beautiful wildlife. This is the kind of place where you will wake up to the call of howler monkeys; where if you may spot the elusive jaguar as it runs off into the forest; where the cock of the rock will show bright and orange against the thick green layers of the jungle. Make sure that your Amazon packing list includes the right camera gear that will allow you to take beautiful photos of what you’ll see.

Other than your smartphone (I am a huge fan of iPhones), which is perfect for taking quick videos while walking around in the jungle, make sure to carry a good DSLR camera (I have a Nikon D3300 which is nice and easy to use) and a couple of good lenses. I had an 18-105 millimeters which proved good for landscape photography (I used it to take photos of Kaieteur Falls, both on land and from the plane). I also took my 70-300 millimeters lens, which is best for shooting wildlife.

If you are into action, also take a Go Pro or a steady cam.

To fit all this camera gear and a few more accessories and things, take a good daypack. I am a fan of the Osprey Daylite Plus and of the Cabin Zero 28 liters.

For more things to do in Guyana, head over to my post “13 Absolutely Amazing Things To Do In Guyana.”

Essential Jungle Clothes

This is an list of jungle clothes and a few other items that you must include in your Amazon packing list:

2 pairs of loose fitting hiking pants in neutral colors (remember what I said: bright colors attract insects!). I had my Kuhl Cliffside Convertible pants (which I never converted, by the way!) and my Hykr pants.

A pair of cotton pants. I like ali-baba pants, even though they are not the most flattering, because they are lose and comfortable. The bonus is that they are usually made with cotton, and they are easy to wash and dry.

3 or 4 long sleeve t-shirts, better if cotton and also in neutral colors. Make sure they are easy to wash and dry. I took my Kuhl Sora t-shirt which I have in several colors, and my Wunderer shirt.

3 or 4 tank tops – you can wear them under the shirt, to soak up the sweat (I know, gross!) and keep you cool.

4 or 5 pairs of underwear and the same amount of socks – make sure the socks are lightweight cotton. I had a pair that was rather thick and my feet almost exploded in them, as it was so hot.

3 sports bra for the ladies: they are more comfortable than the regular stuff, and in the heat all we want is to at least be comfortable, if not cool!

A long sleeve and long pants pajama – either that, or jungle clothes that you can happily wear to bed too. I know it sounds crazy to sleep in anything but your underwear in such heat, but insects and other creatures do get in the room when in the jungle (besides, what if you sleep in a hammock like I did after hiking?). Besides, despite mosquito nets anything can get in your bed (I had a small mouse in my bed one night, stuck inside the mosquito net with me!).

A rain jacket or poncho: even in the dry season, rain can suddenly come in the Amazon. I was walking along the Canopy Walk at Iwokrama Rainforest when it started pouring and I had to rush back to the lodge, getting soaking wet on the way. A good rain jacket or poncho is an essential item to add to your Amazon packing list. I have a fantastic Kuhl Airstorm Rain Jacket.

jungle clothes

My Kuhl Kliffside Convertible pants and my Sora t-shirt proved to be perfect jungle clothes

Leave At Home

Things you don’t really need to include in your Amazon packing list, on the other hand, are:

Shorts: there really is no use for them. I wore them in Georgetown thinking there would be less mosquitoes than in the jungle, and ended up being covered in bites and itching for days.

Leggings, jeans or tight pants: I brought a pair of leggings with me and literally melted in them. They really do not belong to an Amazon packing list. The same goes for anything tight (it’s too hot to wear tight clothes, and mosquitoes can pick right through it!) or jeans (they were included in my suggested packing list, but I am unable to wear them when it’s hot so didn’t bring them).

An extra cardi or light sweater: I used mine only during the flight. Other than that, it is always too hot to even conceive the thought of wearing something warm.

The Shoes

A pair of good hiking boots: a proper Amazon packing list can’t do without. I have been wearing the same Dolomite pair for ages (they aren’t really available outside of Italy). They are so comfortable that when the sole got completely worn out I had them resoled. You’ll need something with extra ankle support, especially if you plan to hike a bit, because the forest can get extremely muddy and slippery. Besides, you will want to keep your ankles covered to avoid mosquito and chigger bites (I only know too well!). Columbia makes some excellent hiking boots, like these ones.

Check out my post about the nicest hikes I did in Guyana.

An extra pair of shoes: this is totally up to you, but I was glad to have something more lightweight that I could wear around the camp at night. I took a pair of Converse All Stars but going back I would opt for a pair of light canvas shoes. They are much lighter to carry, and go well with jungle clothes.

A pair of sandals: I took my usual Hawaianas flip flops, which are great to get in the shower and I find comfortable to walk around, but a pair of Teva sandals are also great, especially as you can wear them with socks at night – your feet will get a break, and you won’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes and other insects. I know that wearing sandals with socks isn’t exactly glamorous, but when in the jungle, I hardly think anyone is bothered!

Beauty and Personal Care

A proper Amazon packing list needs to include a few essential items that will be much needed in the jungle. Other than the obvious stuff – which you do need to carry, because the lodges in the rainforest only offer soap in terms of toiletries, here’s what I recommend taking.

Sunscreen: the sun is intense on this part of the world, so you need to protect your skin accordingly. I opted for a SPF 100, though I tend to burn easily. A good quality SPF 50 should be plenty. In any case, make sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

Sunscreen lip balm: we always protect the skin, but forget to protect the lips! They are delicate too, you know?

Sunscreen spray: when the temperature is too hot, the last thing we want on our face is a thick layer of cream. A goodsunscreen spray is lighter in texture but just as effective, and it won’t stain all your nice jungle clothes.

Water mist spray: seems futile, right? Believe me, when the heat of the jungle strikes, you will be glad to have this little Evian water mist spray that will instantly refresh you. I didn’t have one with me, but thankfully one of my travel mates made sure to include it in her Amazon packing list so I occasionally snatched it from her.

Face and baby wipes: they are light and easy to carry, and much needed after a hike. They are also perfect to remove the thick layer of insect repellent and sunscreen before going to bed, and a must if camping in the jungle overnight.

Hand sanitizer: it will come in handy any time you have to use the bush toilet, especially if camping overnight.

jungle clothes

The perfect jungle clothes are long sleeve shirts and pants

Insect Repellent And Itch Creams

If you are even remotely similar to me, mosquitoes are big fans of you. You want to avoid being bitten, not only because it gets itchy and annoying, but also because of malaria and yellow fever risks. Make sure to apply copious amounts of mosquito repellent, preferably with DEET. I opted for a 50% one, but it’s a bit oily. There also are lighter options. Either way, make sure that you include it in your Amazon packing list.

You may also want to consider a clothing treatment, whereby your jungle clothes get sprayed with repellent that stays for up to 30 washes (you can either do it yourself, or take it to specialized places to do this for you).

Other things I recommend carrying are mosquito repellent patches or bracelets – just so as not to leave any chances on those mosquitoes.

In case that, despite all precautions, you get bitten, make sure to have a good itch cream (preferably with cortisone) to treat the bites immediately. Chigger bites itch badly, but if you don’t want to make it worse, don’t scratch it (it will only inflame the bites) and apply a good cortisone cream. If you fear you may get an allergic reaction to bites, make sure to also pack some benadryl antihistamine tablets that you can swallow with some water. It takes up to 3 weeks for the bites to heal fully.

Another thing I’d take, just in case, is tea tree oil. Its smells keeps the bugs away, and its healing powers are well known: applying a drop on a bite will immediately soothe it.

By the way, remember that there are still malaria and yellow fever warnings for Guyana, so you will need to show proof of having a yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the country, and I also recommend you get a good travel insurance. You can find a good one here or here.

First Aid Kit

I take a first aid kit with me pretty much on any trip. Sure enough, I had to include one in my Amazon packing list. This should have: paracetamol or any other pain relief tablets; imodium or other diarrhea medications; bandaids and bandages; a good antiseptic cream and antiseptic wipes; a cortisone cream; steristrips; hydration tablets(ideally, you’ll be drinking plenty of water and juice throughout the day, but the heat is fierce and you may need extra help!)

Amazon packing list

Binoculars are a nice addition to an Amazon packing list

Miscellaneous Stuff To Add To Your Amazon Packing List

Other things you will want to include in your Amazon packing list are a good hat to protect your head from the sun – personally, I think I look silly in a hat, but I had to wear it as the sun was really getting to me! Besides, the right hat can match even the nicest jungle clothes.

Sunglasses are a must during the day, to protect your eyes from the fierce light. And another must to include in your Amazon packing list is a head lamp or a torch, which will be needed at night as there often is no electricity around the lodge, and even less so when camping in the wild. Make sure to take one with a red light option, to keep bugs away.

Make sure to take a power bank: there is no phone reception at all in the jungle, but if you plan to use your smartphone for photos and videos, it make come in handy to have a bit extra power, so I recommend adding it to your Amazon Packing list.

Binoculars are a nice add on, if you have room in your luggage. You’ll need them any time there is any cool bird around (which is pretty much every day) or if you are lucky enough to spot a jaguar (I was, by the way!).

A water bottle is a must. There is no garbage disposal in the Amazon basin of Guyana, and though the indigenous communities due their best to protect their environment, plastic waste is still an issue. A refillable water bottle significantly reduces the amount of plastic you consume, so make sure to include it in your packing list. I have a steel one which is wonderful, as it keeps my water cold for hours.

Read more about the indigenous communities of the Rupununi region of Guyana in this post.

If you enjoy reading, make sure to include a nice book (or a Kindle) in your Amazon packing list. You probably want to include it even if you are not much of a reader. Tv is not a thing in the Amazon basin, let alone the internet. You will want to keep yourself entertained once you are back at the lodge at night!

One last thing I’d include in an Amazon packing list (and which I regret not bringing) is snacks. Don’t get me wrong, food in Guyana is delicious (you can read more about it in this post), but on those long boat rides a snack such as a protein bar or a trail mix wouldn’t hurt.

Travel Insurance

I recommend getting travel insurance whenever you get out of the country. You definitely want to get a good one if you plan to visit a remote place as the jungle of Guyana, especially as there still are cases of yellow fever and malaria there! (Also remember that yellow fever vaccination is required to enter the country) I recommend using Allianz Travel Insurance. You can find a good one here or here.

Final Notes

A trip to the Amazon basin of Guyana is by no means a comfortable one. Forget about looking pretty, and make sure you actually feel comfortable. Pick jungle clothes that are, more than anything else, smart. Protect yourself against the heat and the insects; drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables to make sure you get a good dose of fibers and sugars.

By all means have fun!

Have you ever been to the Amazon? What are you essential jungle clothes?

Traveling long term? Make sure to read my post All The Useful Backpacking Essentials For Long Term Travel.”

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Guyana during my visit, and wish to thank them for the wonderful welcome and the incredible experiences. The views expressed in this post remain my own.

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Find out all the jungle clothes you need to take to the Amazon via @clautavani


Find out all the jungle clothes you should back for your trip to Guyana - via @clautavani



My packing routine

My packing routine

Everyone really knows by now. I love traveling – so much so that I have even opened a blog and made a profession out of it. Each year, I spend around 4 to 5 months on the move, on a combination of long and short trips. I have a countless number of suitcases, backpacks, daypacks, carry-on bags, trolleys and what not, of various sizes and different quality.

With all the traveling I do, I should have become a pro at packing by now, and have a consolidated packing routine. But guess what? If there is one thing that I truly, wholeheartedly hate about traveling is having to pack. I am terrible at it. I am poorly organized, so I always end up forgetting something. And I often end up carrying much more than I actually need – in proper unsuccessful backpacker style.

To find out why I think of myself as an unsuccessful  backpacker, read my post “How to be an unsuccessful backpacker.”

travel list

I still remain an unsuccessful backpacker

Picking the best travel bag

One thing I have learned, though. And that is that, regardless of the length of my trip, having the best travel bag – one that perfectly suits the kind of trip I am going on – is a key factor when packing. I mean quality stuff here – and I do invest my money when it comes to good quality travel gear, because I know I need something reliable.

With all the travel bags I have, I pretty much carry a suitcase if I know I am traveling comfortably and someone else is going to carry it for me. This hasn’t happened very often in the last few years – actually, last time I did carry a suitcase was during my press trip to Indonesia.

I generally prefer backpacks, and I have a few of them actually. Backpacks don’t fit nearly as much stuff as suitcases, so I am forced to travel more lightly. But they match my kind of trip much better. Imagine me walking the tiny alleys of the Old City Varanasi, in India, trying to dodge the crowds, dogs, cows, cow poo, people on bikes and scooters, and garbage with a suitcase. It would have been impossible. I was glad I could move swiftly.

I also have a good selection of carry-ons. If I am traveling for a weekend or even for a week, I travel carry-on only and pack something that fits in the overhead compartment on the plane. I just can’t stand waiting endlessly for my bags to arrive and this way I can just get out of the plane and make my way to town. I have a fantastic travel bag that I can wear as a backpack, so that if I have to run through the terminals for connecting flights I can do that easily – much much better than having a trolley. I realized this when my sister and I were coming back from Mexico and we almost missed one of our connecting flights, and I could run much faster than she could, as I had a backpack!

A nice carry on bag is the perfect item for a short trip

A nice carry on bag is the perfect item for a short trip

My packing routine

So, picking the right kind of travel bag is pretty much the only thing I do right when it comes to packing. I have tried to overcome my hatred for packing in many ways, some of which have been working well so far. In an attempt to learn to pack more lightly, my packing routine now involves making an incredibly detailed list of what I may need – I even have it written down on a blog post, actually. Who knows that someone else may learn from my (err, let’s call it) experience.

To read more of my packing tips, check my posts All The Useful Backpacking Essentials For Long Term Travel” and “My Ultimate Packing List.”

Except, at times I am so busy with work that I don’t even have time to write that list. So for example I am traveling to go to Israel and Jordan in 3 days and I have noted down nothing, and needless to say I haven’t even started thinking about what I should carry, or looked at what the weather may be like in the region. In fact, I am in a slight panic. Perhaps I should stop writing this post and actually write my packing list.

Anyways, back to my packing routine now. So… once I have my list down, I take every item I need and put everything in my living room. The table, chairs, coffee table and couch all get covered with every single item I think I may need.

Not exactly a pro at packing

Not exactly a pro at packing

That’s when I start panicking a bit more – because woaaa that is a lot of stuff, do I really need all of that? So I call my mom begging her to please come by and take a look at all my stuff and help me pick. Yes, I said that: I do call my mom for stuff like this. But don’t worry. My mom curbs my “italianity” by telling me off and saying she has better stuff to do – i.e. reading a book, filing her nails, petting the cats. You know, that sort of urgent stuff.

If my sister comes by my place, I beg her to please take a look. She’s usually a bit more willing – perhaps because she shares my passion for travel; and she even takes the initiative to tell me to drop a thing or two.

I then proceed to color match the outfit: I find that if I have stuff that can be easily matched, I end up carrying less. And this way, I start eliminating a good amount of items that go back in my closet. Then I start selecting shoes – I always wear the heaviest ones on my flight (usually my hiking shoes); the toiletries – which are the heaviest item on the backpack; and the pharmacy – which I always carry because I worry I may get sick (and I have asthma, and I may meet someone who needs assistance, and you never really know do you?).

I am becoming better at packing, I promise!

I am becoming better at packing, I promise!

When I eventually begin to actually stuff my backpack, I look like a nut. I play loud music – preferably some Gogol Bordello. I go back and forth placing items on my backpack, moon walking around. For each couple of items I get in the backpack, I take a break (this is hard job, you know) and go back to my MacBook to check my email or get on Facebook. I could lie and say it’s for work or urgent matters but the truth is that I simply need a distraction and a diversion from packing.

Eventually, I go back to packing, and everything comes together almost nicely. And once packing is over, I can finally relax with a much needed glass of red wine.

What’s your secret to packing efficiently?

All The Backpacking Gear Needed For Traveling

All The Backpacking Gear Needed For Traveling

If you are traveling – whether long or short term – there are some things you can’t do without. Discover what are the  main backpacking essentials you should take with you in this post. 

Packing efficiently for a trip – whether a long or short one – is easier said than done. Until not long ago, my packing list was the perfect reflection of my status of unsuccessful backpacker. I carried around 18 kg of stuff on my back (although to be fair that included two bottles of Malbec wine I had bought in Argentina and one bottle of Mezcal I had bought in Mexico), and something like 10 kg on my front. It was way too much, and I could hardly walk from the bus station to the hostel.

Find out why I think I am an unsuccessful backpacker.

In fact, it is thanks to that huge backpack and day-pack, each filled to the brim with all the useful items on my backpacking essentials check list, that my ex started calling me “Turtle Tavani,” stressing that I did resemble a turtle and that if I ever fell down I wouldn’t be able to stand up again. I realized he was right when I went through border control in Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay, and I dropped something on the floor. I had to beg someone to get it for me as I could not bend.

travel list

My huge backpacking essentials list got me the nickname of Turtle Tavani

Years on, my backpacking essentials list has significantly shrunk: I understood that traveling is much more about being comfortable than it is about looking pretty in pictures. Now I pack smartly, trying to make sure I bring clothes that I can easily wash and mix and match. This way I carry less stuff, because I refuse to travel with a backpack that weights more than 12 kg. What hasn’t changed is that my ex still calls me “Turtle Tavani.”

I have also learned to pack more efficiently. Regardless of how much stuff I put in my travel list, I make sure that the heavy stuff goes on the bottom of my backpack, so that the weight is on my hips rather than on my shoulders.

But what items are never missing among my backpacking essentials? Here they are, in no particular order – I understand that this is a very girly packing list, but I am sure guys can easily adapt it to their own needs!

Backpacking Essentials: Everything You Need To Take On Your Trip

Backpacking essentials #1

A good backpack

This is the most important item on any good backpacking essentials list. I have tried several backpacks in the course of my travels, but the ones I like the most are the Osprey Ariel 65, which fits very comfortably on my shoulders and hips (they have a woman and a man’s version); and the Berghaus Wilderness 65+15 (this is a lot larger, though!). Beware that choosing a travel backpack is no easy task – it has to fit perfectly or else it will be a pain to carry.

travel check list

A good backpack is the number one item on any proper backpacking essentials list

Or a nice carry-on

If I am going for only a short time, I’d rather travel carry-on only. My favorite carry-on bag is by Cabin Zero: it fits up to 44 liters of stuff, which means I can carry most of the items on my packing list. The good thing about it is that I don’t have to check it in, which is especially convenient if I have short connections between flights.

travel check list

A nice carry on bag is the perfect item on a packing list

A good daypack

The second most important item in my backpacking essentials list is a good daypack. This is where I keep my important stuff (whichever can’t be missing in my travel list!) when commuting – my sunglasses; my iPhone and headphones; my MacBook which I always carry if I am traveling for more than a week; my camera and lens; all my cables; my power bank; my book or my kindle; a guidebook if I carry one; a headlamp (I hate being unable to read if the hostel doesn’t have a personal light); my passport, wallet and travel documents; and a few toiletries such as a travel toothbrush. It often ends up being as heavy as my backpack.

Packing cubes

One of the best backpacking essentials is  packing cubes. I didn’t even know what they were until a friend of mine showed me the marvel. They allow me to organize my clothes and to keep them in some decent order (I am otherwise unable to keep my backpack organized). I also carry dry packs, in order to keep my stuff safe from getting wet.

A hangable toiletry bag for all my toiletries

In my backpacking essentials I always include a good toiletry bag which is both waterproof and that I can hang on a towel rail or in the room. I prefer carrying the toiletries that go in my packing list from home rather than buying them on the way, as I can’t usually find small sizes or the products I prefer using (I prefer stuff that isn’t tested on animals).

The toiletries that are never missing from my travel check list are: a shampoo and a conditioner bar by Lush – they last forever, they leave my hair soft, my scalp never itches, and they are 100% vegan; a good shower gel or, in alternative, a good bar of soap; an electric toothbrush – I am mildly obsessed with brushing my teeth properly – toothpaste and dental floss.

travel check list

Carrying comfortable clothes only is the key to organizing a good backpacking essentials list

Among my backpacking essentials there are a good sunblock with SPF 50+; deodorant; a night cream; a bar of massage oil – it is super handy to moisturize my skin and takes up very little room; some make up stuff – though I hardly wear make up when I travel; nail clippers, a file and tweezers; a small brush and a comb; some elastic bands for my wild hair; daily use contact lenses.

Other items that are generally in my travel list are a bar of laundry soap (I normally buy one that is ecologic, and that can also be used on the body and hair just in case I run out of everything else) and a disinfectant hand gel.

Clothing and shoes

The clothes in my backpacking essentials list vary depending on the place I am visiting and on the season. I can safely walk around in shorts during the summer months in Sardinia, in Spain or in Central America. But no matter how hot it is, I can’t do that in India, where I need to cover my shoulders and wear large pants or long skirts. And if I go to cold places such as Ukraine in the winter, or Tierra del Fuego or Patagonia (whether in the summer or in winter), I need to wear warmer clothes.

Having said, there’s a number of items that I carry with me pretty much regardless of the season, and that hence are always in my travel check list.


I never travel without my wind and waterproof jacket by The North Face. It’s always among my backpacking essentials because it has proved to be extremely reliable under any weather conditions: I can wear layers under it and feel warm and dry; or just wear it by itself if it’s not cold outside. I admit it was pricey, but a great investment.

travel list

One of my backpacking essentials is a good wind and rain proof jacket

My backpacking essentials also includes a scarf, which I wear on long flights or bus rides. In some countries, it seems that the hotter it is outside, the colder the air conditioning is and this doesn’t agree with my delicate throat – so I’d better wear a scarf. Besides, I can ball up a scarf to use it as a pillow and I can use it to cover my shoulders on religious sites. That’s why I always have it in my travel list. Keep in mind that in some religious sites, such as Angkor Wat, visitors are required to actually wear a t-shirt that covers the shoulders and long pants.

Read more about Angkor Wat and the appropriate dress code to visit on my post “Visiting Angkor Wat and other things to do in Siem Reap.”

If I am traveling to cold places, I also include a hat and a good pair of gloves in my packing list.

travel check list

Unmissable backpacking essentials: leggings and a good fleece

A couple of fleece sweaters and jackets – Columbia makes some top quality ones – are a must among backpacking essentials. I have one that is thicker and has pockets and a zip at the front, which is super warm; and another one which is thinner but extremely comfortable and warm and packs really lightly, and is always in my packing list. I even carried it to Ukraine recently, and it proved to be a saver in the extreme chill!

Also in my packing list are a number of cotton tank tops and t-shirts. Nothing fancy: it’s stuff I can easily wash in a sink if I have to and which I won’t regret throwing away if they break.


A good pair of hiking pants is usually included in my backpacking essentials. I go hiking on pretty much all of my travels, and hiking pants are perfect as they are generally waterproof, windproof, and they dry super easily. My travel check list also includes a pair of shorts, a number of leggings, and cotton pants or sweat pants – whatever is comfortable to walk around in, and whatever can be easily washed without fear of it getting ruined. I used to never include jeans in my travel check list because they don’t keep me warm if it is cold outside, and they don’t keep me cool when it it hot. However, I find that if I am traveling to milder climates they are actually ok to wear. And I throw in a pretty dress, just in case.

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A proper packing list to warmer climates should include a pair of shorts

As I love hiking, I never forget to include a few pairs of hiking socks among my backpacking essentials. These are socks that are meant to keep my feet warm and dry, especially if they are paired with good hiking boots. Normal socks may be fine, but there are chances that feet may move around in the shoe and the rubbing may cause blisters. I’d rather play it safe and wear good socks. And I try to remember to also pack a hat, so that my head doesn’t burn under the sun.


Lots of people I know say that they don’t include hiking boots among their backpacking essentials because they are heavy. I actually don’t carry them around in my backpack, but I wear them during flights or long commutes. I have two pairs of hiking shoes and I generally include one of the two in any packing list. One is a pair of sturdy Dolomite boots, so comfortable that when the sole was completely consumed, rather than throwing them way I opted to have them re-soled. They keep my feet dry, they give me proper ankle support and they are very reliable on slippery and uneven terrain. I don’t think they are even produced anymore, but there are plenty of other good hiking boots around.

Unless I am carrying my Dolomites, the other shoes that go in my travel check list are a pair of Solomon hiking shoes. These are a bit more lightweight and good for easier hikes – I would not recommend them for several days hikes, for example, but they are fine for a short, easy walk.

Other than that, the shoes that are never missing from my backpacking essentials list are my Converse All Stars shoes, and a pair of Havaianas flip flops which I use to get in showers when I stay in hostels, and to walk around in cities when it is too hot. This doesn’t apply to India though – it is simply too dirty there not to wear proper shoes!


Finally, my backpacking essentials usually include one or two bikinis. Whether I am traveling to Koh Chang, in Thailand, or to Flores, in Indonesia, where snorkeling is a must; or whether I am going to colder places where there is a gorgeous spa like Bergamo, a bikini packs so small that I hardly have doubt about including it in my travel list.

Find out more about Bergamo on my post “Why I loved Bergamo.”

travel check list

A swim suit should always go in a packing list

Other stuff

Whenever I go on a backpacking trip, I make sure to include a quick dry towel in my packing list. This folds really small, and it dries super fast. I use it in hostels when they don’t rent towels (yes, there still are some that don’t!) and whenever I go to the beach.


A good backpacking essentials list is never complete with a proper selection of medicines. The very few times I didn’t carry any where also the times I needed them the most. My friends even made fun of me when we backpacked across Peru, as my pharmacy included a thermometer. But they were happy I had one when one of them was terribly sick. Besides, I have asthma and I always have to have a selection of prescriptions in case I get sick.

As part of my travel check list, my pharmacy includes some non-prescription stuff such as Imodium and paracetamol. I also always have a good mosquito repellent with some Deet, as at times I visit places where cases of dengue, malaria and chikunguya have been recorded.

What items do you always include in your backpacking essentials list?

For a more detailed guide on what to bring on long term trips, read my post All The Useful Backpacking Essentials For Long Term Travel.”

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Organize your packing list to travel the world - via @clautavani