My personal horror before every trip – packing! Always this feeling of having forgotten something, although – if you are honest – 90% of the things can also be bought at your destination. Still, it’s really annoying when you forget your must-have favorites, like the only skin care product that doesn’t make your skin freak out. So here is my personal, ultimate packing list, which I will definitely use again for my next trip. As a little pro tip, I can also recommend the “Packing List Checklist” app for iOS. I’ve been using this for packing for the past year. In it you can create great, reusable lists, add your own items and tick everything off nicely. For me, a to-do list fan, it’s an incredibly nice feeling when the whole list is completely ticked off 😀 In addition to the packing list, the app also has a checklist of everything that needs to be done before the trip. A big plus for me and therefore my current favorite pack app.
Unfortunately, this app is not available for Android. A highly acclaimed alternative that I haven’t tested yet is PackPoint. You can find both apps here:
Packliste Checkliste in the App Store
PackPoint in the Google Play Store
The luggage – backpack, suitcase or both?
Before my first big trip around the world, I was totally unsure whether to buy a suitcase or a backpack. A friend recommended his McKinley backpack (65+10 liters) to me, with which I have developed a questionable emotional relationship over the years. Yes, I love my baby and it has seen many countries and experienced some adventures with me. My longest and most stable relationship in my life, despite some (forced) breaks. But my baby has never let me down, unfortunately you can’t say the same about some people 😉
In retrospect, I am very happy that I decided against a suitcase, because with a backpack you are simply much more flexible, you can really fit everything in it and it can be stowed in any means of transport.
Generally, you should buy a larger backpack so you don’t have to stuff it so much. Nevertheless, the good old rule “less is more” applies here. Pack as lightly as possible, after all you are carrying everything with you and over the course of the trip, especially on longer trips, you will automatically have more luggage. I started my trip around the world with 11 kg and did very well with so little baggage. Of course, it literally packs lighter when flying to a warmer destination. So adjust the clothing on your packing list according to your travel destination.
Unfortunately, my baby is no longer available for purchase, but I have selected 5 alternatives for you that are relatively similar.
Trekking backpacks from 65 liters:
The first two backpacks are also from McKinley and are very similar to my backpack. McKinley is very good value for money as my baby is still holding out even if it’s not always handled gently. I can’t say much about the more expensive, omnipresent Deuter backpacks, except that I’ve had bad experiences with the zipper on a small backpack, although Deuter backpacks are of very high quality. If you prefer a higher-priced model, you might be better off checking out Vaude, a company from Lake Constance that attaches great importance to sustainability.
Basically, when buying a backpack, you should make sure that the zips and material are robust and water-repellent. A plus is an integrated pull-on rain cover, although I’ve never used it. For me it is also absolutely essential that the backpack can be opened at the front, i.e. it works like a suitcase when lying down. Otherwise you will never get to the things in the lower part. My backpack has two side compartments and a separate compartment below, which I no longer want to be without. I throw my shoes in the compartment below and you can stuff an incredible amount of luggage into the side compartments. All my underwear, summer dresses, sunscreen and shampoos always end up in there. If you ever have a shampoo leak, like me back then in New Zealand, you’ll be grateful if it only messes up the small compartment on the side. Well, it was my own fault for not putting the bottle back in the zip-lock bag. Lesson learned, never again…
If your backpack is black or is used by many backpackers, I recommend attaching something conspicuous to it as a marker. For me, it ended up being a cheap neon pink scarf – a real bargain from the $1 store. I guarantee you will find the backpack immediately on the baggage carousel and there will be no mix-ups. When I set off with my brand new backpack, the first backpacker at Frankfurt Airport actually had the same model…
Of course, there are enough travelers who find it difficult to walk around with more than 10 kilos on their backs. For longer distances, this can also be a challenge for sporty people like me. That’s why you might prefer to think about a trolley. Personally, I’m not a fan of hard-shell trolleys, as they are far too inflexible for me and hardly offer any added value. Honestly, how often do you travel with luggage that is fragile??? In the end you wrap everything delicate in the clothes anyway…
Hand luggage – backpack, handbag or trolley
My favorite hand luggage is my Dakine backpack – absolutely unbeatable and definitely my best bag purchase in the last 10 years! On the one hand you can play the donkey like me and shoulder the backpack on your chest if you have your big backpack on your back. On the other hand, an incredible amount of stuff fits into this backpack, the quality is unbelievably good and you could, of course, continue to use the backpack as a daypack at your travel destination. Dakine generally has extremely good luggage. In addition to the backpack, I also own two travel bags and a toiletry bag. We’ll get to that in a moment. I am absolutely satisfied with the quality and can recommend Dakine unreservedly. In addition, Dakine is constantly developing its products and also offers many cool colors and patterns. I still have the older model of the Dakine Campus 33L in dark grey, but the new colors and models look really cool too:
Of course, you can also use a hand luggage trolley as an alternative to a backpack. I actually bought a Rip Curl soft case trolley in New Zealand. Well, what can I say… It was very pretty, on sale (the Swabian in me was convinced…) and my luggage was slowly increasing… However, there is now a catch with the hand luggage trolley. Low-cost airlines in particular make their money by selling additional baggage. That’s why they don’t like passengers only travelling with hand luggage, which is particularly useful for short city trips. Personally, it has never happened to me that my hand luggage was measured or weighed, but at Fiji Airport the nice check-in employee complained a bit about it, but let me get away with it.
My trolley is also no longer for sale, but below you can find an alternative from Travelite, a Samsonite brand that I have had good experiences with (at least as far as my school bag is concerned ;)).
If you are often out on a boat, like snorkeling, diving or stand-up paddling, then I recommend a drybag. I bought my 10 liter bag a few years ago in Thailand, but there are now equivalent alternatives everywhere and when I bought my SUP it even came with a small variant for the lake.
You can also use the drybag as a handbag or beach bag. On my first big trip I made the mistake of not packing a handbag because I thought I would take the Dakine backpack. Of course, that got really annoying after a short time, so I was happy when my roommates in Darwin tidied out and I snatched a handbag for free. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a handbag that is too small. A bottle of water should always fit in if necessary. Since I don’t have a suitable bag at home at the moment, I was only out and about in Bangkok with my mini bag for the last few days and now I got one of these hip gym bags on Koh Tao. Very convenient for shopping at the 7-Eleven and the beach. For men, the good old fanny pack is of course also a good choice as a small handbag.
Of course, what should not be missing is the good old toiletry bag. Again, I only have good things to say about Dakine. After all these years and travels we’ve had together, the bag is still like new. Thanks to the stable construction, nothing gets squeezed, the material is very robust, you can hang it up on a hook and you can store everything in the numerous compartments. That’s why I always pack the toiletry bag as the last item at the top of my big backpack, because nothing happens and it’s super easy to stuff onto clothes.
Last, but not least, I recommend you a great pack helper that I wouldn’t want to be without. Everyone probably misjudges the weight of their luggage when packing. Anyway, I was always surprised that it was less weight than I thought. To be on the safe side, I recommend a cheap luggage scale that you take in your hand and hang your suitcase or backpack on the hook. They are really precise, don’t cost much and are used again and again.
I hope my tips for preparing and choosing your luggage have helped you. The next article will be more about the details, i.e. what you should pack. Below you will also find the bags and packing aids mentioned.