The content of your backpack or suitcase highly depends on the kind of trip you are making – is it a backpacking trip round the world, holiday family in a far-away country, a laze on a beach, or an active hiking and climbing trip?
The good news: in these days, you can most likely buy the basic necessities even in the heart of Amazons. The bad news: if you pack too much, you will most likely have to throw away part of your things to be able to carry it all and the souvenirs that you buy.
This article focuses on the basic and general items that you have to consider when packing.
Documents. Passport, paper tickets, print-outs of e-tickets, insurance certificate, vaccination certificate (if traveling to or from yellow fever areas), copy of your passport that is kept separately, credit cards, cash, list of phone numbers to call in case of emergency.
Suitcase/backpack. Consider taking hang luggage only, especially if you intend to walk carrying your things along, and/or if you fly with airlines that charge for extra luggage. Traveling light is an enjoyable experience, it teaches you to do with less, and releases you from the worries about moving around. It is easy to buy the necessities in the place (unless you are on a special trip). If you are really against a convenient, mid-size hikers backpack, take a convenient small suitcase with reliable wheels. Again, this does not apply to shoppers. Take a hand back or a small backpack for day trips.
Camera. Consider taking a cheap and small one, especially if you are going to travel in developing countries. Do not forget the charger and/or batteries.
Mobile phone. Opt for a cheap, old mobile that can be used with any network.
Hygiene items. The minimum: deodorant, toothbrush, pack your shampoo and all-purpose lotion in100 ml bottles and buy a travel size toothpaste tube. Shampoo can also be used to shower and to wash your cloth. If you travel in summer, sunscreen is essential. If you run out of those on a long trip, you can always buy more. You probably also want to take your shaving amenities. For girls: take mascara and a lipstick if your trip is not limited to the jungle. Do not forget condoms – in some places, they might be difficult to get.
Guidebook. Lonely Planed or Rough Guides are probably the best options for independent travelers.
Netbook. A small notebook can be extremely convenient, especially if you are on a long trip, and you wish to blog your memories, email to your friends (many hostels offer free wireless Internet), lookup places to visit, and get any information. Consider buying an extra battery.
Book. Take something to kill time in airports, trains, buses, lazy days on a beach… in some hostels, you can exchange your old book to another used book. You can also do an exchange with other travelers.
Clothes. A couple pairs of extra socks and under-ware, a few t-shirts, a dress (for girls), long and short pants (depending on climate), one sweater (in summer), or a couple in winter, waterproof jacket, hat and gloves (for colder climates and higher altitudes), sun hat, flip-flops, extra shoes (optional), swimming attire.
Small extras. Sunglasses; a pen and a notebook; a plug adapter; a thin towel or scarf that can be used to sit on in a park, to wrap in when it’s cold, to dry yourself when you are not offered a towel, to cover your head when the sun is too strong, to make a beach dress out of it, etc; one-time-use cutlery that you can grab on a plain; basic medicine (plasters, pills from headache and stomach sickness, malaria pills if you travel to the area of malaria risk, and your regular medications), but not too much – if you seriously get ill, visit a doctor first; a picture of your family that you can show to your new friends; a small snack for the airport.
Souvenirs. For people that you are going to meet on the road.
Don’t forget your good mood, and place for souveniers to take back home. Bon voyage!