Travel Tips

Packing for Backpacking

9:56:00 AM

When I pack for a month trip of back packing, I take pride in having as little as possible, but having anything I may need with me!  A Mary Poppins Bag!  I take with me only a backpack the size of a school bag.  I know this isn't possible for everyone, but let me show you how I do it!  This way, your bag doesn't get too heavy, you're limited on how much you can acquire on your trip- which saves you money!!!- and you never have to check your bag no matter what budget airline you take.

I just got back from backpacking South America for 5 weeks.  Here is what I brought for that particular trip.
Note: Be familiar with the weather and conditions of all the places you are going.  I was going to be in places that were as low as 30 degrees and as high as 80 degrees, which makes it tougher to choose clothing. I was going to places with mosquito threats, so I needed sprays and a net.  Research and be familiar with the needs of the areas!

My Packing List!


10 pairs of underwear
Walking shoes, slip on shoes, dancing shoes
Bottoms: 1 pair of jeans, leggings, shorts, trunks, and a skirt
Tops: 3 tanks, 3 short sleeves, 2 long sleeves, 1 athletic top
A winter jacket, scarf, gloves, and ear wamer
2 hats ( I got one there)
1 sports bra and 1 bra
1 bikini
1 cardigan, 1 athletic zip up, and 1 warmer pull over
1 dress
Socks: 7 regular, 2 tall, 1 wool
I bought a poncho sweater there too!


A shoulder bag for buying gifts, and to carry around day trips
A book and a journal, pens, sharpie
Camera, lens, filter, gopro, phone lenses
Filtered water bottle, life straw
Locker lock, backpack lock
Money belt, card reader block
2 sunglasses (I don't know why!)
Eyemask, ear plugs
Chords: chargers for phone, cameras
Outlet converters
Deoderant, toothbrush
3 travel sunscreens, 4 travel bug sprays
Scissors, nail clippers, ducttape, Q-tips, safety pins
2 hand sanitizers, wet wipes
1 bag of travel toiletries- shampoo conditioner, soap, razor, toothpaste
Mosquito net
Manilla folder with print outs of ticket confirmations, copy of passport, itinerary, directions, and any collected papers on the way
Purse ( This was my sacrifice purse if I were to be mugged)
Personal safety alarm, flashlight
Medicine: any prescriptions like inhaler, melatonin, tums, pepto, antibiotic, Dramamine, allergy pills, diamox (altitude sickness), ibuprofen
Motion sickness wrist bands
Hair: ties, bobby pins, head band, comb
Makeup: mascara, eyeliner, chapstick, lipgloss, 1 pallet for eyes and blush
EmergenC packets, throat/cough drops, granola/protien bars
Extra ziplock bags and plastic bags for organization or if it rains
Thermometer, bandaids
Rain poncho
Deck of cards
US dollars, credit card with no transaction fee, debit card
Extras for you- I needed a wrist brace
I carted around the airplane blanket and pillow too for comfort on busses!

I always make sure to have snacks with me.  You never know when you are going to get stuck in a place with no food open, or really expensive food you don't want to buy! Protein bars work well or trail mix.  Something with a little sustenance but small.  I like quest bars :)

How to pack ALL that into a backpack!

  • Pick thin shirts and roll them up.  Now put a sock around it!  This helps keep the roll nice and tight.  The bigger items, I put a hair tie or rubber band around them.  
  • Line the rolled up clothes along the bottom of the bag.  You'd be surprised how little space it can take. 
  • When on the move: I wear the tennis shoes, the jeans, a shirt, the money belt. I tie a cardigan or zip up around my waist.  I put the gloves and ear muff in the pocket of the winter jacket, and the pull over rolled up into the sleeve of the jacket- carry that on your arm.   
  • I put the sandals along the side of the bag and fill them with things like deodorant, or sunglasses. 
  • My backpack has lots of straps on the outside- I clip on to the outside- the water bottle, the scarf, the duct tape, safety pins, the airplane pillow, and the mosquito net
  • Organize the small things into ziplock baggies.  One for chords, one for medicine, one for toiletries, etc.  That way it is easy to shuffle through the bag to find things
  • Put medicines into baggies too- they don't need to be in the extra box or the pill container- those are always way bigger than the actual medicine.
  • Place the folder along the back of the bag and pile in the ziplock bags of things- don't forget to make liquids accessible in case they ask you to take them out at an airport
  • I keep the journal and book in the shoulder bag, as well as my camera.  And then as I collect souvenirs and gifts, I put them in that bag too.  This bag also helps when you are just going out around town for the day and you need a bag to carry just your camera and water or something.  That way you don't have to unload your entire backpack.
Practice packing a few times.  You can't leave any hole in the bottom or else it won't fit most likely.  Squeeze small things into holes and places.  It's a fun game of Tetris!  You will find what works best with your things and the size of your bag.

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  1. Hi Mandy! Love the post. For traveling abroad I absolutely love this power adapter: . There are two USB charging ports built in so you can charge your devices without tying up the plug, and it's not any larger than other universal adapters.

    1. OOOOH! Thank you! Yes that one looks like a great one!

  2. Amazing tips! I will need to try out your tips for my upcoming trip since I'm usually terrible about packing lightly. :)

    1. Thanks Karen! It's pretty satisfying having just the one small backpack when you're on the go!

  3. Um.. can you come help me pack next time?! I try so hard.. but it's a 'stuff' explosion every time!!

    1. Haha! I would love to Brittany! Although, I've had my fair share of 'stuff' explosions too!

  4. Those are some good packing skills! I'm very impressed you can fit everything into that size backpack.

    1. Haha thank you!!! It still surprises me every time!

  5. 5 weeks is so impressive! We went to Japan for two weeks with hand luggage only and it was AMAZING!! Being able to move around without lugging bags is fab!

    1. It really is fabulous! Just have to make sure you do laundry at some point!

  6. I've never gone for a month with only hand luggage, but I did do two weeks. I could've definitely kept going. Have you ever had a problem with unlabeled medications once you've taken them out of the original packages?

    1. Yeah! If you can do two weeks, you can do it for months! Actually, I haven't had any trouble with this. As for the medications- I'm sure it is a possibility to come across a problem, but so far, no one has asked about my medicines on any of my trips!



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