Packing list: What is in my backpack and what is not?

Well…almost a year ago I started writing this blog. But I never finished it, no idea why not, but apparently I just couldn’t. Now, however, while I’m sitting on our balcony in Amsterdam, still a bit tired of the diving lesson that I did this morning (it’s Sunday, the alarm was set at 05:55 and the water was ICE cold), I suddenly feel a big urge to finish it. Therefore now in this blog: what was in my backpack before I went on our world trip? What was a big hit and what do I definitely leave home next time?

Packing list for trip around the world! 

When you are going to make a trip, you always prepare yourself somehow. You determine your destination, book your flights or other transport and you might already have a route set out. For me, exactly the same applies, and as you may have noticed, I like planning. I had been preparing a lot for our world trip that we made last winter. We booked our tickets well in advance (read here more about how we book cheap flight tickets), made a travel plan per country and booked some hotels.

The last part of the preparations, packing our bags!

Nederland: Lowlands

First things first: suitcase or backpack?

Do you travel with a suitcase or backpack? I myself have a huge preference for my backpack. Not only convenient because I have my hands free, but also nice because I can take my baggage relatively easily during a hike (although I must honestly say that I have never taken all my luggage with me, but well… it is a possibility! ). In addition, I like the fact that I am forced to pack light with a backpack since it’s full quickly. And finally, a backpack is often easier to store because you can completely dent it and make it flat. That was really an advantage for us when we travelled through New Zealand with our campervans. In our van there was not much spare room, so we could just lay the backpacks, completely flat under the bed. I have a 55-litre backpack (more than enough), which I can increase to 70 litres. This is the Osprey Ariel 55 including rain cover and I had this handy flight back with me (I can highly recommend this one!).

[Nov. 2019 update: nowadays I use the NOMAD KAROO 65L slim-fit backpack. This beautiful backpack comes with a flightback]

Or rather taking a suitcase on a world trip?

On the other hand, a suitcase is a lot nicer for your back (provided you do not have to carry your suitcase behind you for hours). It is less warm than a heavy backpack on your back. And you can take more stuff with you. When I go to a place where I will not change my location a lot, I usually have a suitcase with me.

And what about a daypack?

Finally, I always carry a small backpack (daypack) as hand luggage. In this, I carry, while travelling, my laptop, headphones, passport and some food. I have this bag, the North Face Router of +/- 35 litres (relatively large). Especially the separate laptop box is very useful to protect my MacBook. When we arrive at the destination, I find it useful to be able to have a backpack when we walk into the city, go to the beach, or go for a day of hiking.

[Update Nov 2019: nowadays I use the NOMAD TOPAZ 38 L slim-fit backpack as my daypack. It has a bit more space and because of its special back system, it is the perfect backpack for a multi-day hike.]

My best packing tip ever: Packing cubes!

Okay, I can no longer travel without these! Just before we went on our trip around the world, I bought, a number of packing cubes. In these, I keep my closing, rolled up and sorted out. Previously I would put my clothes in plastic bags and well, then halfway through the holiday everything was crammed into those plastic bags, not very convenient. With these cubes, I actually have my own clothes drawers with me and everything is (almost) without creases in my bag.

I bought these packing cubes. (€ 9.99 at Decathlon), but I also found this one (more expensive) on Amazon.

What to pack for a trip around the world?

Below you will find my complete packing list! If possible I try to link to the item in a webshop *. If there is a minus ⊖ behind the item, it means that I will not take this next time (explanation can be found below). Is there a plus ⊕ behind the item, then I can really recommend this item (also then you will find the additional explanation below).



1 men’s shirt
1 superlight winter jacket
1 raincoat
1 fleece sweater
1 thin sweater
2 dresses
8 tops ⊖
2 sports shirts
1 sports shirt long sleeves
1 surf shirt
1 long jeans
2 long thin trousers ⊖
1 long wide skirt
2 shorts
1 sport legging
1 sport shorts
2 bikinis
1 extra bikini top
1 bathing suit
2 sports bras
8 times underwear
2 bras
1 pair of thick socks
6 pairs of ankle socks ⊖
2 sunglasses ⊕
2 pairs of headbands
1 cap


face sunscreen
refillable shampoo 100ml
refillable conditioner 100ml
refillable facewash 100ml
deodorant 100ml
nail ⊖
nail polish remover sheets ⊖
nail clippers
facial creme 50ml
dry shampoo 50ml
perfume testers ⊖
sewing kit
electric toothbrush
2 mini tubes of toothpaste 50ml

Other stuff

1 sheet sleeping bag
1 quick-drying towel
1 quick-drying face hand towel
1 hammam cloth
1 pillowcase ⊖
3 laundry bags
1 water-resistant bag
universal stop & clothesline
3 ziplock bags
water-resistant phone case
2 games
3 fruit bars
power bank
travel adapter


1 pair of Converse sneakers ⊖
1 pair of lightweight walking shoes
1 pair of sports shoes
1 pair of flip-flops

First aid bag

dettol sterilon
malaria pills
gauze & bandage
travel sickness pills
saline solutions


printed tickets
international driving license
vaccination booklet
iPad (later laptop)
extra telephone ⊕
charging cables
passport photos
sleeping mask
dopper (refillable bottle)
inflatable pillow

What camera gear did we take on a world trip?

All camera gear and Go Pro stuff was in Ries his bag. We were using a Go Pro 4 Hero black, Go Pro Karma stabilizer, Fuji Film XT-10, three lenses (Fujifilm XF 55-200 mm, 18-55 mm and the 10-24 mm) and a Sirui Tripod model Traveller Carbon. [UPDATE January 2019: nowadays we upgraded our camera to a Fuji Film XT2 which is amazing!].

Click here to see exactly what is in our camera bag and why we have chosen certain equipment:

Tips and tricks: what’s in our camera bag while travelling?

What will I leave home next time?

  • Eight tops: I had too many nice (dress up) tops with me and too few normal t-shirts. During our first week in Japan I immediately bought 3 basic t-shirts. Anyway, I could have left at least 3 nice tops at home.
  • Two long thin trousers: I absolutely needed one of them.
  • Six pairs of small socks: Three pairs of socks would have been fine. I almost never wore socks.
  • Nail polish & nail polish remover sheets: I may have used nail polish just once. In addition, it is quite dangerous to carry nail polish and yes, the jar broke in our toiletry bag.
  • Perfume teasers: Same as the above. I never actually wore perfume.
  • Pillow cover: I never used this one. The idea behind it was that if I would need to sleep on a dirty pillow, I would have my own pillowcase. Never encountered a dirty pillow (or my hygiene standard just went down while travelling).
  • Lockable bags: Never used.
  • Water-resistant phone case: Uhm… I just did not take my phone into the water.
  • Converse sneakers: I really had too many shoes with me. Next time I will only pack walking shoes (if we go hiking), sports shoes and slippers. More than enough!
  • Inflatable pillow: Before leaving I was completely sure I needed this special travel pillow from Bever. Never used it…

What should not be missing in your backpack?

  • Super light winter jacket: Even though I did not wear this jacket very much, it was really indispensable! Especially in cold Japan and sometimes in places in New Zealand. It does not occupy much space because you can push all the air out. Certainly, something that I take with me next time (provided we go to places where it can be cold).
  • Fleece sweater: I wore my red fleece sweater a lot, you can see it in almost every travel picture. But a good sweater to keep you warm during hikes, cold evenings or early mornings is really great.
  • Two pairs of sunglasses: I did not take one, but two sunglasses with me, and even that wasn’t enough. Ries lost all two sunglasses, so we had to buy new sunglasses along the way.
  • Toiletry bag: I can highly recommend the toiletry bag we used. It has a hook with which you can hang it in hostels somewhere and then roll it out. We have this toiletry bag from Decathlon (€ 12.99). Oh, and by the way, we used just one toiletry bag, so both mine and Ries’ stuff was in here. So little stuff don’t you think?
  • Electric toothbrush: It might sound crazy but we took our electric toothbrush. This allowed us (if we had electricity) to brush our teeth very well. I am not a fan of manual toothbrushes.
  • Hand wash leaves, universal stopper and a clothesline: You don’t always have a washing machine at your disposal when travelling. We have done many times laundry by hand after which we let it dry in our hostel room. Always went well, except that time in Japan when it was very cold and the laundry didn’t dry …
  • Okugest: This is a homoeopathic medicine that helps with nausea, bloating or diarrhoea. We took a pill almost every day to prevent food poisoning (which we are quite sensitive to). I do not know if it really works, but I do know that we have not had real food poisoning in those four months!
  • Extra cellphone: This was so handy! In almost every country we visited, we bought a prepaid SIM card that we put in this extra phone, to be relatively cheap online.

What did I miss while travelling and did I buy along the way?

Actually, I did not miss that much. We bought some souvenirs during the trip, clothes and I exchanged my iPad for a MacBook Air. The same thing I did with my old little backpack, which was already more than 15 years old so I bought a new bag. In addition, we bought an extra water-resistant bag because it was so handy, water shoes, and some basic t-shirts. I must honestly admit that my friends Nicole and Susie when we were halfway down our trip, met us in Bali and brought a new dress, pants and underwear for me from home. So I missed even less. They also took some of our unnecessary stuff and souvenirs back to the Netherlands, very useful!

Even though my backpack was not full (I took only 13 kilos), I still think I will take less next time. Because honestly, when you are travelling, you need so little! And next to that, if you really miss something, then there are also stores abroad.

Do you have any good tips for what should not be missing in my backpack? Let us know via a comment!

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* There are affiliate links in this article. Read more about my use of affiliate links here.


  1. by Luly Rose on 31 August 2021  18:28 Reply

    It’s really tough to decide what you don’t want to take that what you want to take on a backpacking trip. Your article has made it very easy to avoid unnecessary stuff while travelling on a backpacking trip. I also agree with your point that it is not important to carry any jewellery or valuables while on a backpacking trip. Thank you.

  2. by Laura on 26 October 2022  04:58 Reply

    Hi Charlotte
    I read this after I started my round the world trip but wish I had read it before! Listing what you took is far more realistic than some of the lists I have seen and your comments on what you missed or didn’t need are so good. I have too much with me and ina suitcase. There will be some awkward suitcase moments I’m sure like when it won’t fit on a train or I have to carry up loads of stairs or can’t find something! I found your blog as I’m in Nepal - such useful things to read here too! Thank you

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 1 November 2022  08:43 Reply

      Hi Laura,
      Ooo that is so kind to say!! I wish you had too though since it does sound like a bit too much packing :(. Oh well, don't worry, this just asks for another trip around the world and then you can pack lighter! Also don't forget, from most countries it is easy to send some luggage back home via the postal office. We did this after hiking in Nepal with all the warm winter clothing and sleeping gear. After Nepal we visited Kuala Lumpur and it was easy to send big boxes with luggage back home. Perhaps this helps you too?
      Kind regards

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