Packing checklist: Wardrobe essentials

You’ve packed your toiletries and health essentials, now it’s time for the biggie – your clothes. How many pairs of socks should you take? Is ten bikinis for two weeks to much? What about a jumper in case you get cold at night? Here’s how I manage to pack for every weather eventuality and not go over on luggage weight restrictions.

My first rule of thumb: come up with a shortlist of clothing items you think will be practical and you’d like to take. Then cut it in half. Of course, some elements of this list will change according to what type of trip you’re taking and depending on the activities you’re planning, but as a starting point, these should form the bare bones of your holiday packing list.

Clothes and shoes

  • 1 pair of shoes comfortable enough to walk all day in
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 jumper or sweatshirt
  • 1 hoodie to travel in – so you can cover your face, cut out light and reduce noise when you want a bit of sleep on a long-haul flight
  • 1 pair of jeans – two if I’m going somewhere cold
  • Gym gear – leggings and a t-shirt, doubles up as pjs
  • 5 t-shirts – vary according to how long you’re on holiday for
  • 4 vest tops
  • 4 dresses – from beach dresses to more formal attire. Boys, add a collared shirt and extra trousers or shorts.
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 mix-and-match bikinis
  • 5 pairs of underwear – girls two bras

Optional extras

  • Water boots – for rocky beaches and snorkeling
  • A full-length skirt or long trousers – for visiting religious sites or places where women are expected to cover their knees
  • A raincoat or poncho – if you’re not guaranteed sunshine, or visiting tropical countries where daily rain showers are common

Backpacking equipment

If you’re planning a longer trip than the usual summer holiday then you might want to consider some of these useful bits of backpacking equipment that will help you get a good night’s sleep, a decent shower and avoid boredom on long bus and train journeys:

  • Sleeping bag liner
  • World travel adapter
  • Headlamp
  • Micro-towel
  • Kindle
  • iPod shuffle
  • Laptop

Tips on how to make packing your luggage less stressful:

  1. Roll, stuff and squish – roll up your clothes, stuff your underwear into your shoes and squish shoes down the edges
  2. Pack the essentials first – it’s unlikely I’ll need many floor length gowns or mini skirts for temple trekking
  3. Don’t stress when you inevitably forget something – as long ass it’s not your passport, there are shops everywhere and a forgotten toothbrush can be easily replaced
  4. Leave some room for souvenirs – it’s easy to fill your backpack or suitcase to the brim, but you’re bound to want to bring a few mementos home
  5. Don’t forget paper and pen – a notebook for writing down what you eat, see, spend and plan to do is really handy, especially in A5 pocket-size. You can also use it to make track of everything you pack to make sure you don’t go overboard

Still not sure what you should pack and what can stay at home? Check out more travel tips and packing guides.

5 responses to “Packing checklist: Wardrobe essentials

  1. I always travel with a pashmina or Palestinian scarf. They’re great for adding a (surprising) layer of warmth and for throwing over your head when sleeping on an overnight train/bus, etc.
    You can also get vacuum/compression packs to put clothing into so that they take up a minimal amount of space.
    Happy travelling!


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