How to fit your whole life into one or two backpacks? 😊

2년 전

First of all, you have to ask yourself what kind of traveller you are:

Do you like hiking and camping? Or maybe you are a hostel lover? Are you going to hitchhike or take buses, planes?

The next questions should be:

Where are you going? Sunny, hot south or cloudy, colder north?

Those are the key questions you have to ask yourself (and answer them), before trying to pack for the longest trip of your life. Don’t worry, we are going to give you some tips 😊

We've been travelling across North, Central and South America for 8 months now and we have experienced all weather conditions, but we were prepared quite well and didn’t suffer (too much 😊), so here is some advice, which you might find useful.

First of all, when you pack things, remember to roll them. This will allow you to pack more and it’s simply easier to fit everything inside your backpack. Remember, the heaviest clothes like fleece, long trousers, rain jacket and sleeping bag to place on the bottom of the backpack. This will make long walks easier and more comfortable.

Please keep in mind, that this is just an example and you might not need all of the stuff we decided to carry on our backs.

So, here’s list of things we have:

Two backpacks. The first one, we call it the main one, where you’ll carry all your clothes etc. and the second one, handbag to have it on you all the time with light and/or fragile things.


Monika crossing from Costarica to Panama

What to pack into the main luggage:

  • Underwear – it’s very important to have at least 6-7 pairs of panties. Sometimes it’s hard to do washing on the road, so it’s better to be prepared, they are light and don’t take much space
  • Socks – same as above
  • T-Shirts/shirts - good to have at least 4 t-shirts and two shirts for sunny days
  • Rain jacket, gloves, scarf and beanie - this is very important! Rain and wind can catch you anytime and anywhere, so it’s better to be prepared, especially when you plan some high mountain hikes
  • Fleece/pullover - something warm, because even in South America there are parts in high mountains where the temperature drops to or even below zero
  • Long and short trousers – we have two pairs each, as above, when it’s hot is hot, but it’s better to have something extra for colder days and nights
  • Thermal underwear – long sleeve, good as a base layer when you are going to hike in high mountains and to have it on when it’s cold and you sleep in your sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag – smaller = better, remember you’ll carry everything on your back and don’t know for how long. I have my filled with goose down, Monika’s has a synthetic filling. Of course, all depends on your budget. Here you can find comparison for 2018
  • Hammock with mosquito net – very light set approx. 1kg all together, which you can use to chill during a sunny day and sleep outdoor when it’s warm night. When you want to try some adventure and take economy class on the boat through Amazon river you have to have your own hammock, because you won’t find any cabins there and bugs will eat you alive😊

Our hammock on Mexican beach

  • Comfortable shoes – we have 3 different pairs of shoes. Trekking, sandals and snickers. Consider it during planning your trip. Each kg counts and it’s better to don’t carry useless stuff
  • Hat – this can be lifesaving during summer time in tropical climate, please don’t forget to take one!
  • Towel – we have quick drying ones, they are small, handy and absorbs water very well
  • Sun blocker – for outdoor activities, it’s as important as a hat
  • Rain cover for the backpack – to keep everything dry inside when it’s raining cats and dogs
  • Repellent - to keep bugs and mosquitos away (wish that could be so easy 😊) and after bite anti itch cream (ideal for allergy sufferer)
  • Soap – small and easy to carry, better than a shower gel and way cheaper
  • Scissors, plastic tape, flashlight – quite obvious, small things which are really useful when you are away from civilization
  • Tissues/toilet paper – very often you’ll need them, especially in public toilets, trust me. We call them paper of life, guess why 😉
  • Plastic cutlery – light and allows you to eat directly from the can or spread cheese on a slice of bread, while sitting on the pavement waiting for a car to get you out of nowhere
  • Medicine – painkillers, anti-diarrhoea pills, sticking plaster, calcium (helps with allergic reactions), iodine and everything you think can be useful for you. In Europe or in USA lots of medicines are easy to buy, but at the end of world this can be very difficult and expensive
  • Needle and thread – to stitch your socks, shirts etc.
  • Women stuff – menstrual cup etc.
  • Extra things – like notepad, umbrella, float swimming ring (Monika has her pink adorable donut ring😊)

That’s pretty much everything we have, split between us, so it’s easier. If you are going to travel alone, think twice about what you might need.

Here’s what you can find into our handbags:

  • Sports camera – We are using Xiaomi yi, pretty good quality for this money
  • Hard drive – to back up photos from phones and camera. We use Adata 710M 1TB
  • Small tablet/pc – On board is 8 inch Chuwi, not the fastest one but the lightest and perfect for writing and backing up data
  • Kindle – can’t imagine long hours in a bus without reading
  • Little gas oven – sometimes we love to stay outdoor for a night or so and is light and perfect to heat a can of beans or boil the water to make a delicious tea or coffee. Remember, gas containers are prohibited on planes, so you’ll need to buy one at your destination country
  • Plastic mugs – to drink your delicious tea and coffee
  • Aluminium pot – to boil the water for your delicious tea and coffee 😊
  • Sunglasses – sun and wind protection
  • Snacks - for long journeys on buses and planes
  • Headphones – sometimes airlines in economy class will not provide them for free. From the other hand, you can always separate yourself from crying baby, lifesaving thing
  • Power bank – good to have at least 5000 MaH just as an emergency, you might be surprised but not every bus and plane has a USB socket to charge your mobile
  • Adapter – different countries, different sockets, good to have a universal one

Some of our stuff

You will not find a tent on our list, because if we want to sleep outside we use our hammocks and we don’t hitchhike that much. If you think you might need it, just take it. Apparently, if you want to go for a few days trekking you can always rent one on the spot and save kilograms on your back.

We think that's basically it, but as we've mentioned earlier, this is just a suggestion to help you organize everything.

Before you go anywhere remember to get proper insurance! There are plenty of insurance companies offering great deals, but please check them and select one which suits you best taking under consideration the type of your travel. Remember that you don’t need ski insurance, if you are going to a desert and jungle areas and this sort of reasoning will save you some money, which you might need later for lunch.

Please don’t forget to get vaccinated! Check with your doctor what is required in the part of the world you are going to travel to.

Here’s tip about yellow fever vaccination. If your itinerary will go through Bogota in Colombia you can get vaccinated for free at the airport and you’ll get a certificate (yellow book), which is required to enter some countries. We got checked flying from Peru to Mexico City, but we got vaccinated two months earlier in Colombia, so we flew without any issues.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, we are waiting for your comments and we are happy to explain any doubts 😊

M & D

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Super useful! :) How many kilograms do you have on your backs?


Depends, when we fly we pack as much is possible into my than is around 12-13kg, but normally around 9 the heaviest one.

Really great tips for packing! Thank you for sharing your list of items.


Really great tips for
Packing! Thank you for sharing
Your list of items.

                 - lymepoet

I'm a bot. I detect haiku.

That is some solid advice! Packing light really is the key to travelling with a backpack, I like to think that I am quite good at it if it wasn't for my 4kg camera equipment!
I had a xiaomi yi action cam a while ago, turns out the case isn't so waterproof if you open it one the beach and sand gets in.. :(


Oh so sad to hear it. Mine case seems still waterproof, but never opened it on a beach. We take pictures only with mobiles, but in the futer we might invest some money and get a small compact camera. Weight is one thing, the other one is that in poor countries this might be dangerous to hang out with expensive camera hanging on your side. As you might have seen, we don't follow crowded tourists paths. Thanks!


Opening it on a beach was a pretty stupid thing to do :D For most people a smartphone is enough for taking photos, but especially when travelling, buying a proper camera is worth considering. I really enjoy photography, so I travel with an expensive DSLR and you are right - I also like to travel off-the-beaten-track and my camera is always something to worry about, especially when travelling in poorer countries where my camera equipment is worth a local yearly wage.. I carry my camera with me all the time in a nondescript bag and so far I have been alright, I think areas with little tourism are often safer since there are no criminals targeting tourists. Maybe consider buying a compact camera, they are a huge step up from smartphones but can still be hidden in a small pocket

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Whoa that seems to be a lot of stuffs but packed into light backpacks! You can even carry a hammock too 😱


The key is to get proper items and pack it right way. Rolling clothes save lot of space in backpacks. Very often I carry trekking shoes on side of backpack instead of inside. For flights we always wear them. Hammock we wahe is size of big McDonald's coffee cup.

Ok, Im not going to quote some sentences to prove I've read it but I really did :D btw what do u mean by little gas oven? Like a gas bomb? Can't u just put it to the one u call main one? I guess that goes to the luggage space of plane or? Or they don't allow it there in the whole plane? Btw where r u from guys? Cuz Monika written with K looks kinda Slovakian (I'm from Slovakia) :D

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This's the oven with adapter to connect "gas bombs" which are more common than bottle to screw it directly to oven. In main backpack there's not much room left for anything and those I carry inside the little aluminium pot. We are from Poland, so we're neighbours :) you can't carry just gas containers because they're flammable, like matches, lighters etc. This is just a piece of metal :)

Wow, epic list and very insightful as to how people can go travelling around the world for so long at a time. I have done 7 weeks away as the longest trip away but definitely rolled everything up, so helpful and yes, 7 days worth of clothes was enough (even less would have been ok).

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us and hope that it inspires many people to go travelling for a while now they know how it's done!

Congratulations very informative post!!


Thank you, for your feedback :)


You're welcome enjoy your travelling!!!

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