One of the questions I get asked most is what to pack when travelling overseas.

That is the sentence I always see when I click on articles telling me what other travellers packed.

So, what better way to start my own list of all the things I shoved and crammed into my backpack? And what better time to write this list than as I pack to head home?

The first time I went travelling for a few months I took a suitcase. That suitcase weighed 30kg and all the handles eventually broke off it, as it was so heavy until I had to buy another huge suitcase to replace it.

And yet for some reason I was tempted to bring a suitcase again.

That was until, a week before I left, when I found myself rolling my suitcase in the rain and then having to lug it over mud.

Instantly, I was transported back in time to the London Underground and lugging my suitcase up stairs while thousands of people hurried beside me.

No thank you, I said. No thank you.

So I headed to Kathmandu and found myself two pretty backpacks – a 55L for the back and a 15L for the front.

When I left Australia my back backpack weighed 15kg. While the front one was not weighed, I think it’s safe to say it’s at least 10kg, conservative weighting.

But if we just consider my back backpack that alone made me feel like an intrepid explorer. So, what was in my backpacks?

Backpack Back


15 shirts

2 knits (I donated one in Scotland because I was heading to the warmth and I was sick of it and the room it was taking up in my bag)

1 wintry dress

2 pairs of pyjamas (including a hard-to-roll up onesie)

2 pairs of jeans

3 leggings + 1 thermals

1 pair of shorts

12 pairs of socks (6 long, 6 short)

5 bras + 3 crop tops

16 pairs of underwear

2 big winter jackets (I donated one in Scotland as I was leaving because it wasn’t particularly warm and was taking up unnecessary space)

1 soft-shell, beautiful black Kathmandu jacket (I lost this in Seville somehow walking down the street – broke my heart)

1 casual jacket

3 scarves

3 beanies

1 bikini

1 shawl

2 kimono jackets

1 awesome hat (purchased along the way to spice up my van travel and stay sun smart)

1 One Girl school dress

This is probably what my soft shell jacket looked like on the streets of Granada until someone swiped it. Sad. So sad.

1 pair tennis shoes

1 pair joggers

1 pair thongs

1 pair boots (original black boots got so soaked in Scotland, I replaced them with a grey pair in Spain)


1 selfie stick (ditched this because I never charged it and it was taking up room)

1 flimsy, cheap, eBay, made in China tripod (ditched because it broke)

2 clutches

Jewellery (accessories are important!)

Gardening gloves (a gift from a friend I used and then left at organic farm as they were dirrrty!)



Tiny travel sized shampoo & conditioner (replaced with large bottles that I’m leaving in Spain)

One bar of soap




Mini perfumes I bought at the airport upon departure

Me wearing my gloves that I left at Oxenfoord Organics, the boots the Scottish weather and years of wear ruined and the jacket I lost. Take from that what you will.

Dry shampoo



Moisturiser – face

Moisturiser – body

Spray for my belly button ring

Travel-sized mouthwash

Floss (sorry dentist, haven’t used)

Midge repellent (purchased in Scotland and left with van hire man to use to his heart’s content)

Backpack Front



Notebook and two pens

2 external hard drives (movies/photos/documents)

Canon EOS 7D camera

Photos of my family and a little motto magnet a friend gave me

Daily thoughtful cards my Mum gave me

Cords cords and more cords to charge everything

European and UK power adaptors

Maps of Scotland & Madrid (accumulated along the way)

Travel wallet (including passport)

Hand sanitiser



Water bottle





20 toilet seat covers (given to me by my sister in 2013 but never used as I always thought ‘save it for a really bad toilet’ – must use!)

The handiest way to get your clothes to take up as little room as possible. Best recommendation I got.

As you can see, I didn’t want for anything. I don’t really know how it all fits into my backpacks, but it does. It really does (positive affirmation needed for final packing).

It helped that I bought these super handy, squishable bags for my clothes and similar Kathmandu travel packing-made-easier cases.

Sure, there have been a few times when I thought I broke the clasps on those handy orange bags, but so far, so good.

And the only damage my backpack has sustained is one of the side straps fraying due to my Copenhagen stopover, lugging the backpack like a suitcase.

Would I pack it all again?

It would depend on how long I was going somewhere.

Packing the amount of clothes I did gave me some leeway between needing to find a Laundromat, which was especially pleasant when I was vanning around.

It also meant I had plenty of layers to keep me warm because I don’t deal well when the temperature drops below 13 degrees Celsius.

But, it did also mean checked luggage was necessary whenever I was flying somewhere for longer than a weekend.

What I would recommend is packing a bikini even if you are travelling during winter to a cold country. It ended up being a purchase I really didn’t need.

And warmer socks. I am definitely investing in some warmer socks for Canada and the United States.

That’s it folks. You can definitely do it with a lot less, but my mama introduced me to Justin Case at a young age and it’s been hard to say goodbye to him.

Wish me luck, I’m off to pack!

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