After the three detailed packing lists have been ticked off, it is now time to get down to the essentials, which causes headaches for many: What do I pack to wear and what do I still have to do before I leave the house? Don’t worry, I got you! Here I have summarized the most important things in a compact way, of course, with the reminder, that you should adapt your clothing to the climate at your travel destination:
- Bikinis/swimming trunks – depending on your travel destination, it’s better to pack a few more bikinis, as they’re not very heavy and don’t take up much space in your luggage
- Boardshorts – optional if you e.g. go surfing
- Lycra Shirt – optional, if you like snorkeling this can save you from nasty sunburn on your back
- Bras – 1-2 pieces should be enough as you often wear the bikini top. Strapless bandau tops and bras are also very comfortable and practical.
- Flip Flops – I recommend taking at least 2 pairs with you, as you will definitely use one pair for the sandy beach or places that are not so clean. The other pair is more for indoors or in the shower. My favorite flip flops are Havaianas Slim. Years ago I overheard two surf instructors in Australia having a conversation about how these flip flops are indestructible and the best. I can totally confirm that. My first pair still looks very good, even though I walked in them all the time and bought them 9(!!!) years ago. For comparison, my Roxy Flip Flops from Byron Bay, which were also relatively high quality, wore out after 2 months. Havaianas Slim are by the way very small, I wear one size larger than usual. Edit: It is in fact possible to destroy Havaianas, but there was definitely a lot of brute force involved and after 9 years I find the durability of those Flip Flops more than respectable.
- Sandals – I don’t like sandals per se because I think most of them are ugly. Flip flops are pretty, but especially at the beginning of summer, it’s easy to get blisters between your toes until you get used to wear them. So it’s better to pack a pair of sandals if you can’t walk in flip flops anymore.
- Belt (optional)
- Jacket – I recommend a light Softshell-Jacket. These are light, can be stowed very compactly in your luggage and, in combination with a hoodie, keeps you relatively warm even in colder areas. But PLEASE (!!!) don’t dress like 95% of German tourists. Completely in Jack Wolfskin and Co., with the obligatory zip pants, as if they wanted to climb the Himalayas. German tourists can ALWAYS be spotted by the excessive and tasteless use of outdoor clothing.
- Jeans – 2 pairs of jeans usually travel with me. I usually wear one on the way to the airport, the other is a spare. To be honest, in warm regions, you often carry them with you unused.
- Hoodie – 1-2 hoodies, optional one with a zipper, for wearing as a jacket. The onion principle was unbeatable, especially on my last trip to the airport. I left home, when it was below zero degrees Celsius, with a shirt, a hoodie, a zip hoodie and a soft shell jacket over it, so I wouldn’t freeze to death on my way and at the train station. The layers became fewer and fewer, getting closer to the airport and now the hoodies lies unused in my room, because I’m writing these lines at the moment when it’s a “cozy” 29 degrees Celsius and temperature never sinks below 26 degrees at night…
- Leggings – I’m talking about your most comfortable, softest leggings for the flight and not your sports pants. We’ll get to sports stuff in a moment. I wore the leggings under my jeans because of the cold until I got to the airport. Otherwise you can just start your travels in leggings. Generally, it’s smart to take at least one pair of long, comfortable pants with you, especially for long-haul flights and means of transport with air conditioning.
- Sleepwear- optional depending on your habits. 1-2 tight tops and shorts are enough for me if I sleep in a dorm. It’s nicer to literally not shove your bootie in the face of your roommates all the time, which in my case usually is only covered by my undies for sleeping. Because, you know, “no pants are the best pants” 😀
- Shorts – here you can pack a few more shorts for warmer destinations. You might sweat a lot in it and you don’t do laundry that often. In countries with high humidity, I like to wear sports shorts, because they dry quickly and are absolutely suitable for everyday use.
- Skirts (long and/ or short) – Hear me out! Until now I was convinced that if you pack light and practical, you do not need skirts, whether short or long. But in the meantime I changed my mind, because it is quite practical and more comfortable to quickly put on a short or long skirt instead of tight-fitting shorts. As an alternative, I have a few dresses with me, but these are sometimes rather impractical or a bit too much for the occasion. Also, a long skirt is a perfect addition when it’s a bit cooler at night and the weather is somewhere between shorts and pants.
- Dresses – As just described, it is up to you if you want to take a few dresses with you. I opted for a few very lightweight, long and short dresses because they don’t take up much space, and are practical in many ways. One of my short dresses is my “beach dress” that I put on over my bikini. With this dress, I don’t really care if salt water, sunscreen, or sand ends up on it. In addition, I have a few fancier summer dresses with me (short and long), because every now and then it’s quite nice not to feel like a totally ragged backpacker and dress up a bit, especially if you go out for a fancier meal or have a date night 🙂
- T-Shirt(s) – I usually only have 1 breathable functional shirt with me because I prefer to wear tank tops without sleeves. But especially in countries where you visit religious sites or temples, it is often necessary to cover your shoulders.
- Tank Tops – I also like to pack more of them so that you have enough spare items
- Sneakers – at least one pair of sneakers is a must! For years I have relied on my Nike Flex running shoes, which unfortunately are no longer available for purchase. They are incredibly comfortable and because they are running shoes you can spend hours exploring your travel destination. So do yourself a favor and pack at least one pair that not only looks pretty, but won’t cause you any pain while exploring cities or hiking. I still packed my old Nike Flex for activities in the dirt or water. My new sneakers are the Nike Revolution 5, also running shoes, very light and comfortable.
- Underwear – you can solve this topic for yourself, but I have been using light, seamless microfibre underwear for years, especially when backpacking. Dries fast, doesn’t show and is super light in every way. Also, better pack more of them, because it’s really annoying when you still have enough clean clothes, but you suddenly run out of undies.
- Cloth/ Scarf – for those who have problems with the air conditioning or are prone to a sore throat. A Multifunctional Cloth can also be converted into a sleeping mask.
- Sarong – as already mentioned with the T-shirt, you should have a sarong with you in certain countries, e.g. for visting a temple. It happened to me once in Thailand that my Fiji chiffon sarong was too see-through for a temple and I couldn’t get in. Annoying, especially since I’m still convinced my sexy knees were NOT showing through the double-folded sarong. But fine. The truly friendly gentleman at the entrance had a different opinion and I respected that. My last sarong fail was recently when I realized I forgot my sarong halfway to the Golden Mount. Fortunately, they sold them at the entrance for little money. Therefore, I got a new, not so ugly Bangkok souvenir.
- Plastic Bag – I ALWAYS have a large plastic bag in my luggage for my dirty laundry. This makes it easier to separate the dirty from the clean laundry and also to carry it to the laundry service.
- Zip-lock freezer bags – the most practical little helpers in all situations. Learn from my shampoo incident and put all liquids in extra bags…
- Microfiber Towels – nowadays they provide you a large towel in almost every small hostel, but as a beach towel or blanket for the park, a microfiber towel is unbeatable. They dry very quickly and are extremely compact to store. On my first long trip I had 2 large towels with me. One for the beach and one for showering. In retrospect Microfiber towels – nowadays you can even get a large towel in almost every small hostel, but as a beach towel or blanket for the park, a microfiber towel is unbeatable. They dry very quickly and are extremely compact to store. On my first trip I had 2 large towels with me, one for the beach and one for showering. In retrospect, if you want to save space in your backback only one towel is usually enough, as you could use your sarong for the beach.
I hope I did not forget anything. The list obviously relates more to warmer destinations. For your ski or Iceland vacation you should of course adapt them accordingly 😉
Sportswear and Equipment
- Sports Towel – many gyms offer towels, but if you exercise outside of the gym, you should take a second, large and 1-2 small microfiber towels with you.
- Sports Bras – after my last trip I can definitely recommend to take more of them. Most sports bras now look really great in combination with jeans shorts or sports shorts. So you have a perfect, extremely comfortable and practical 2-in-1 garment.
- LLeggings – depending on the type of sport and the climate at your travel destination, you should have long trousers with you. But leggings are also a good choice for a hike instead of jeans. Been there, done that… Tongariro Crossing in jeans is possible, but not recommended 😀
- Sports tops – in addition to the sports bras, it is better to pack a few more tops, as they can also be worn in everyday life or during other activities.
- Sports shorts – it’s better to pack more, because you can also use them for other occasions
- Athletic shoes – I’ve been convinced of the Nike Metcons for years. The perfect shoes for functional fitness and crossfit. Thanks to the flat, stable sole, they are very well suited for functional exercises and strength training, but also for warming up on the treadmill or for HIIT workouts like my beloved Strong Nation workout. Thanks to the reinforced heel, you don’t twist your ankle, but you still have enough flexibility in the sole that sprints and explosive movements are possible.
- Sports socks – since I wear flip flops 99% of the time in warm countries, I only pack 1-2 pairs of normal socks for travel days. More important are quick-drying sports socks, which you can also wear for hiking or longer trips to the city.
- Yoga mat – I love my BMat Strong in Ocean Green for home and after the long-term test I am completely convinced of it. It’s thick enough for my knees, has excellent grip and is made from non-toxic natural rubber. In addition, the color is also really pretty and compared to the very hyped Manduka mats it is a bit cheaper. However, since the Strong mat is the sturdiest, thickest and heaviest, I recently bought the BMat Traveler as travel mat. It is very thin, can be folded or rolled, but still weighs an impressive 1.2 kg and takes up a bit of space. So far I’ve tested it twice at Yoga and Strong and I’m still convinced of the great quality and functionality. After a detailed test I will write more about it here.
- TRX Sling Trainer – it’s up to you whether you want to buy the original from TRX or, like me, the €10 Aldi version. Cheap sling trainers can tear, but I have no problems or concerns with the Aldi one because the products are always of reasonable quality. If you don’t have a gym at your travel destination, you can train your back with a TRX band very well. You can read about my experience with the band during the lockdown here soon.
- Resistance Bands – there are numerous variants and sets to buy. To keep working on my pull-ups, I travel with a medium-heavy band. Otherwise, I don’t train much with bands myself, although it’s a very good and effective workout if you do it right. But as with everything, this form of training is a matter of taste.
- Schnorkel Set – actually you can rent a snorkel set at every vacation spot or you get it when you book a snorkeling trip, but I really don’t want to know how many uncleaned snorkels I have already had in my mouth… a tasty thought… therefore, a big shoutout to Australia, where the masks and snorkels were put in a large tub with disinfectant to be cleaned after each snorkeling session. This time I bought my own set and I’m curious how good it is and how often I’ll acutally use it.
- Drybag – now indispensable, especially when you are on a boat or on a trip in a wet area. Your technology and valuables always stay nice and dry. For me the 10 liter variant is completely sufficient. You can also use the drybag as a daypack or beach bag.
- Drawstring Bag – in my youth, about 100 years ago, that good piece was just called a gym bag. But nowadays it’s called drawstring bag or hipster bag… But joking aside. As already mentioned, I recently bought a gym bag in Thailand, because I don’t have a sufficiently large handbag and I can also use the bag for the beach and for shopping. So far a totally worth purchase!
Important – don’t forget!!!
- Passport – you should photograph or scan all important documents in advance and put them in a cloud that you can access at any time. A photo on your cell phone doesn’t hurt either.
- Identity Card (save on mobile phone and cloud)
- Driver’s License (save to mobile phone and cloud)
- International Driver’s License (save on mobile phone and cloud) – the international driver’s license is only valid in combination with your EU driver’s license. So you have to take both with you.
- Visa (save on mobile phone and cloud) – in many countries no visa is required for shorter stays (check the regulations in advance). If you have a visa, print it out just to be sure, so you don’t have any problems upon arrival.
- Boarding Pass – it is best to check in online with your airline, then you have the boarding pass in your wallet on your smartphone. Unfortunately, this is currently not possible from Germany with Thai Airways, so I had to print out the booking confirmation in the old-school way, check in at the airport and finally got my boarding pass there.
- Purse – you can optionally take an additional small purse with you if you are out and about without cards and ID (on the beach, for example).
- Vaccination certificates (save on the mobile phone and the cloud) – check the regulations at your travel destination
- Credit Cards
- Masks (if necessary)
Checklist Travel Prep
- Charge devices in advance (smartphone, tablet, headphones,…)
- Do the last laundry
- Run and/ or empty the dishwasher
- Prepare entertainment for travel (take/ load books, Netflix films onto the tablet)
- Explain care of plants, pets & apartment in advance
- Deposit the key with the person you trust/neighbor
- Place additional keys (e.g. car keys) ready for a person of trust in the event of an emergency
- Check trains and flights for delays and cancellations in good time
Checklist before leaving the apartment
- Water the flowers for the last time
- Bring out garbage
- Optionally turn off the water
- Turn the fridge down/ turn it off – depending on the duration of the trip
- Turn down the heating
- Turn off the TV and unplug electrical appliances
- Close doors & windows
- Draw curtains
- Pack a mask for public transport
That’s it! I hope the four lists will help you plan your next trip. If I have forgotten something and you have other good packing and travel tips, please leave a comment below the article.