Everything is essential, just some things more than the others.
Once you opt for a long trip without planned returned date you have to know what essentials you will need and get rid of any unnecessary items. No matter how many lucky charms, favorite pieces of jewelry, favorite T-shirts, shoes you have and would love to bring them with you, keep in mind that they will be just a burden while travelling. You need just necessary items for a simple life and everything that does not have a practical use will just bother you.
Here are some items that I have found essential during trips:
It does not matter if you are heading to the tropics, Europe or Australia, the great chance is that at some point of your trip it will be raining or the strong colder wind will be blowing. In any case you will definitely need the water/windproof jacket. And the good things is, it doesn’t occupy a lot of space in your backpack/suitcase.
Well, maybe you will be traveling mostly in rural areas somewhere in Asia or Africa but since the ATM machines are everywhere you will have a chance at some point of your trip to withdraw some money. It is not so smart to carry big amounts of cash no matter where you are travelling. Anyway, the best thing is to withdraw enough money to cover your basic expenses for the period of time you plan to spend in very rural areas.
Sarong or longer scarf
Either for warming yourself up or using it as a skirt wrapped around you will need it. Make sure to bring at least one. It does not occupy a lot of space in your backpack and you can always just wear it around your neck and not even place it in the backpack.
Light running shoes
Even if you are going to the places where most of the time you will need flip-flops, keep in mind that these are perfect for trekking and cooler weather or when you’re just not into flip flops and/or want closed footwear to keep your feet clean and safe.
If you are heading to the areas with warm climate you will definitely need them. So make sure to bring one pair. They can easily be bought anywhere and local ones are always cheap so no need to worry if those get damaged on the road and to bring more than one pair.
The most practical are quick-drying, light travel types. The material should ideally be such you can wash and dry overnight. Jeans are better option for a cooler climate. Jeans are probably the first item all of us want to pack. However, in over 25 degrees C they are not the best. Also, they are heavier than trousers and not easy to wash and dry.
It is always good to have one pair of socks. Even if you are travelling and flying by plane in flip-flops ACs in planes could be “cruel” and you might need socks!
2-3 pairs are enough. You can easily wash and dry them so no need for more. And they are pretty cheap everywhere so once the old ones you brought are ruined you will everywhere on this planet find cheap new ones. But also make sure to bring additional 2 sleeveless T-shirts. You will need them to wear for sleeping.
Yes you need 2-3 pairs. It doesn’t matter if you are going to a cooler climate, you might always find a swimming pool, lake, river to plunge yourself into. Also, there are places where you have no other option but to take a shower in public bathrooms and I believe for most of you it would be more appropriate to do in bikini/swimsuit than naked.
2 are enough. Choose the light ones instead of denim ones. They are worth having especially if you plan to sleep in hostels as you may use them as something to wear at night.
One-two pairs of leggings are always good solution since they are a lightweight and fast-drying alternative to jeans. And if you by any chance get too cold they can be used as extra insulation for wearing under jeans or trousers.
Let’s say that 10 pieces is enough. You can easily wash and dry them. Once they become old you will buy the new ones.
No need to bring many. 2 packs are enough to have in your backpack and you can find them everywhere on the road.
It does not matter if you are in fight with modern technology and want to get rid of any pieces of it while travelling, your trip will be much easier and believe it or not you will be happier if you have a smart phone. Smart phones nowadays contain the whole world in themselves, your friends, contacts, maps,… they make our lives easier and definitely our trips. However, my advice is: no matter how amazing the last models of smart phones are choose the cheaper ones. You don’t want to lose something that costs fortune and if you have a cheap smart phone you will suffer less if it gets stolen or lost.
All the beauty around you sometimes need to be recorded. You will definitely use the camera to make some photos but also you will probably have a desire to write something you have seen and experienced either in your blog or just as your as your personal diary/story. You can also store all your photos, listen to music and watch movies. However, if you think this is quite a heavy item but you still need it consider bringing a tablet (ipad).
Always good to have it with you! But if you are not into photography too much chose those light holiday cameras that are not expensive, bulky and heavy.
A small flashlight is useful while traveling. If you are going to the countryside of less developed countries you might face an electricity issue and not well lightened roads. Plus flashlights can be carried with ease and always kept easily accessible.
For the book lovers I believe the book is a necessity. And not only for book lovers! It is a nice thing to have too while traveling long distances in a bus, train or plane. But don’t bring more than one. I am almost sure you can trade it for another book anywhere your travel.
Notebook and a pen
You never know when the electrical devices may let you down. Also, it is nice to have something to write down certain addresses, contacts, ideas, etc.
Except your passport which is an absolute necessity, take into consideration bringing your driving license if you want to rent a car or bike. This is always recommended in the Southeast Asian countries since you can not really rely on organized public transportation there.