Wide Open World


What To Pack- A Backpacking Minimalist's List for International Travel


What To Pack- A backpacking minimalist's guide:

Not many people know this, but a week before we were supposed to travel to Peru I managed to give myself a moderately severe concussion. If you think packing for a month abroad for you and your child is stressful, try adding brain fog, headaches, dizzy spells, and exhaustion. Thankfully, I'd written down my packing list prior to my injury so when it came down to it, I actually felt pretty prepared.

Now, after about 14 years of international travel I think I finally have the backpackers list nailed. Below is a rough summary or skip the read and print off my free checklist.


Click here for my free printable checklist for women.

Click here for my free printable checklist for men.





  • camera, charger, SD cards, spare batteries
  • cell phone (takes quick photos and you can connect to wi-fi to tell your friends that you're safe), charger
  • headlamp- we always take headlamps or flashlights wherever we go.
  • headphones (especially if you have children- try to find ones that work for your kids sensitive ears.
  • a drybag to keep all of your electronics safe.


  • waterproof jacket
  • warm layers
  • hiking shoes or sturdy runners
  • gloves/mitts
  • Buff or a toque- I love my Buff since it doubles as a neck warmer and fits under my hood
  • sandals- you wouldn't do base camp without them would you?


  • travel bottles of Shampoo & Conditioner (I try to find shampoos that double as bodywash)
  • soap (if not using a 2 in 1 shampoo)
  • toothbrush & toothpaste
  • razor
  • nail-clippers
  • hairbrush/comb
  • hair-ties, bobby pins
  • dry shampoo & baby wipes- The closest thing that you might get to a shower some days
  • moisturizer
  • for ladies- tampons/pads/menstrual cup
  • condoms
  • a handy bag to throw this all into - often called a bathroom bag


  • a novel to read on flights and long bus rides
  • a notebook and a pen or two
  • waterbottle
  • sunglasses
  • some local currency (Order ahead at your local bank for a small fee) and a few American Dollars
  • toilet Paper- Trust me, carry this everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
  • waterproof cover for your daypack
  • previously listed but always in my carry on (jacket, sweater, headphones, cell phone, camera, headlamp)
  • **Note- I always try to keep my most valued possessions on me at all times.


  • bathing suit/swim shorts
  • socks ( I prefer merino wool hiking socks and sports socks)
  • underwear/ boxers
  • t-shirts/sleeveless
  • longsleeves
  • pants
  • shorts
  • sweater (I prefer merino wool)
  • dress
  • hat
  • dirty clothes compression bag & clean clothes drybag/meshbag


  • waterproof cover for your backpack if backpacking
  • sunscreen
  • bugdope
  • first aid kit


  • Passport
  • health passport with proof of required vaccinations
  • applicable visas and entry requirements
  • any medications and prescriptions
  • glasses/contacts

I am a bit "over the top" and always pack everything into its own different- coloured drybag. Then when I'm digging through my backpack I just need to pull out the bag that I need. The bags save my belongings from any water damage and make everything easy to find.

I have one for my electronics, one for my dirty clothes, one for my emergency supplies/first aid kit, and one for my clean clothes. So in total that is 4 medium sized. My bathroom bag just sits inside.

If camping, I also have one specifically for food and stove which I never interchange with the others. (bears have really great noses and I don't really want one confusing my clothes for food)

What are some methods that you use to keep organized while traveling?