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Packing Lists

The lists below are just suggestions.

Always, remember the following:

Less really is more, no matter how little you bring, you won't even need it all!

Take out EVERYTHING you want to bring...

Start packing it away in order of priority.

Anything non-essential you can't fit, you CAN BUY!

Getting your laundry done or doing it yourself abroad is usually VERY cheap so pack light!

Backpacker Packing List

Backpacker Packing List

If you can get away with packing a small enough backpack that you can bring it as a carry on, you can save LOTS of money by not having to check a bag. This will require only bringing travel-size toiletries, but I wouldn't suggest carrying more than that at once anyway because of how heavy toiletries can get. Plus, you can bring another smaller carry on bag which will be nice to have for day trips.

*Adjust number of clothing items below based on the weather where you're going! Also, if planning to camp a lot, check out Trip Savvy for an exhaustive camping packing list.


  • Passport + all Documents Needed

  • Plane ticket

  • Debit/Credit Card

  • Emergency cash (min $200)

  • Prescription medicines (plus doctor suggested travel meds)

  • Glasses/contacts if needed


  • Toothbrush with case (my recommendation: Quip)

  • Travel size toothpaste + floss

  • Travel size shampoo & conditioner

  • Travel size body wash

  • Baby wipes (helps when no shower available!)

  • Deoderant (not aerosols)

  • Razor

  • Travel size sunscreen

  • Travel size lotion

  • Makeup

  • Makeup remover/facewash

  • Brush

  • Hair ties/clip

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Lip balm

  • Q-tips

  • Nail clippers/nail file

  • Tweezers

  • Travel size insect repellant

  • Cortizone cream

  • Band-aids + Neosporin

  • Safety pins

  • Contraceptives if desired

  • Tampons/pads

  • Tide pen

  • Travel size Febreeze spray

  • A few travel Tide packets


  • Earbuds

  • Cell phone charger

  • Laptop + Charger + Case

  • Portable battery charger

  • Worldwide Plug Adapter

  • Head lamp or small light


  • Sunglasses

  • Hat (& Beanie if will be cold)

  • Travel towel

  • Eye mask + ear plugs

  • Travel pillow

  • Swiss army knife

  • Trashbag (for dirty clothes)

  • Pen and small notebook

  • Travel wallet/money bag

  • Waterproof cover for backpack

  • A few fun items!


  • Underwear x 7-10 (LOTS!)

  • Socks x 5

  • Bras (2-3 Sports & 1 Regular)

  • Bathing suit x 2-3

  • Athletic shorts x 2-3

  • Athletic pants/leggings x 2-3

  • 1 pair pjs

  • 3 tank tops

  • 3-5 T-shirts/casual tops

  • 1 pair jeans

  • 1-2 pair casual shorts

  • 1-2 long sleeve shirts/sweaters

  • Light jacket/hoodie

  • Down or fleece jacket if needed

  • Raincoat + waterproof pants

  • 2-3 nice outfits (depending on what type person you are!)

  • Flip flops

  • 1 pair nice sandals/shoes

  • 1 pair casual shoes/converses

  • Tennis shoes

  • Hiking boots if necessary (*very bulky & heavy, many hikes can be done in tennis shoes!)

Vanlife Packing List

Vanlife packing list

Start with the Backpacker Packing List above except no plane ticket, minimum $1000 emergency cash, and regular size (instead of travel size) toiletry items, towel, and pillow. Plus bring more warm clothes!

What else you pack in your van from the list below will depend a lot on what amenities your van has (kitchen, shower, toilet, etc).

*If planning to camp a lot instead of sleeping in your van, check out Trip Savvy for an exhaustive camping packing list.


  • 1 Big soup pot + lid

  • 1 large frying pan

  • 1 small sauce pan/pot

  • Hot water heater

  • Bullet Blender or food processor

  • Cooking utensils (big spoon, spatula, whisk, grilling tools)

  • Hot pads

  • Crockpot (if have electricity hookup)

  • Portable stove if none in van

  • Cups, coffee mugs, wine tumblers

  • Reusable plates & bowls

  • Cutlery

  • Mini Spiralizer

  • Chopping board

  • Large and small cooking knives

  • Measuring cups & spoons

  • Mixing bowl

  • Tupperware

  • Corkscrew & bottle opener

  • Koozies

  • Can opener

  • Lighter/matches

  • Mini grater

  • Water filter

  • Large container for clean water

  • 2 kitchen towels

  • Aluminum foil

  • Basic spices/oils/ingredients you want on hand


  • Toiletries from Backpacker List

  • Hand soap

  • Bath and hand towels

  • Portable outside shower (if don't have one)

  • Trashcan

  • Toilet paper

  • A candle :)


  • Blankets

  • Pillows

  • Alarm clock

  • Books: for pleasure reading and to study new language(s)

  • Bedside light

  • Blackout curtains

Cleaning Supplies

  • Paper towels

  • Dish-washing soap

  • Sponge

  • Trash bags

  • Febreeze + Air freshener

  • Detergent

  • All purpose cleaner

  • Lysol wipes

  • Mini rechargeable vacuum

Van Necessities

  • Water hose + filter

  • Small trashcan

  • Bucket for washing clothes (if want)

  • Engine Manual

  • Basic toolkit, car jack, jumping cables, & tow rope

  • Extra mechanic supplies: brake pads, oil filters, gas can

  • Installed safe for important items

  • Documents Needed

  • Extra van keys!

  • First aid kit

  • Fire extinguisher


  • Fans: electric & battery power

  • Lights: electric & battery power

  • Industrial size power Adapter & Converter if van has electric hookup

  • Chargers & spare batteries

  • Camera + stand

  • Portable speakers

  • GPS (if not using phone)


  • Cooler (if no fridge)

  • Laundry basket

  • Sun blocker for windshield

  • Chairs + table for outside (this one works inside too and as a table top on the bed!)

  • Camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc if needed)

  • Bike + rack if desired

  • Surfboard, SUP board, snorkel, snowboard, or other toys

  • Umbrella or other awning

  • Other fun stuff

Getting Ready to Leave Checklist

Getting Ready to Leave Checklist

Don't forget to do some of these crucial items before you leave for your long-term travels!

6 Months+ Out

1-2 Months Out

  • Get all prescriptions needed for entire length of travel if possible

  • Go to dentist & get health checkup + final immunizations

  • Look for Remote/Work-stay options if needed

  • Apply for international credit/debit cards + gas card (if vanlifer)

  • Give notice to landlord

  • Get full mechanic inspection

2-3 Weeks Out​

​Final Week

  • Pack + buy travel toiletry items

  • Withdraw emergency cash

  • Put rest of belongings in long-term storage

  • Unlock cell phone if possible and/or change plan

  • Set up any automatic payments for bills/subscriptions still required (plan for how to file taxes on the road too!)

  • Forward mail to family member

Fun Ideas

Ideas For a Few "Fun" Items to Pack


  • Small, easy to pack games such as cards, dice, dominoes, travel Catan

  • Polaroid camera with extra film & take pictures with everyone you build a relationship with along the way

  • Save all of your wine corks or beer caps from your travels

  • A physical map to draw out your route and mark where you've been

  • Download apps such as Polarsteps and 1 Second Everyday (and see other Apps to Use)

  • Workout bands + yoga mat (maybe not "fun", but useful!)

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