travel packing list for women

The Complete Travel Packing List For Women

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We’ve written about what we consider to be “backpack essentials” for a trip around the world, but we thought we should put together a travel packing list to show exactly what’s in each of our backpacks. Obviously, there are differences between what Nick packs and what I pack, so this post will be all about what a woman should pack on a journey around the world.

travel packing list

My 60L Mountain Equipment Co-op luggage entry backpack.

However, before you even attempt to start making a travel packing list, you’ll need to choose a backpack and then purchase the essential travel item: packing cubes. These little things are amazing. They keep your clothing squished down (so to take up less room in your bag) and keep everything organized. Priceless.

travel packing list

Mesh packing cubes.

The most important things a woman should pack when travelling are her intuition and Diva Cup (see below for details). However, if you only brought those 2 things, you’d be freezing cold, but at least you’d be having a comfortable period!

In all seriousness, here’s my Travel Packing List For Women embarking on a long trip around the world, from tropical to freezing cold climates:

(Note: I’ve since upgraded my backpack to an Osprey Kestrel 32L, check out my review of it here)

Tops:

1 x thermal, base layer, long sleeve shirt

1 x tight-fitting fleece

1 x lightweight, waterproof, windproof jacket (make sure it can roll up very small)

2 x tight-fitting undershirts/tank tops (great for wearing underneath other shirts when it’s cold, or by themselves when it’s hot )

2 x cotton t-shirts

2 x loose-fitting, flowing, 3/4 sleeve shirts (ideal for travelling in conservative places, wearing to bed or throwing on over a bathing suit)

1 x dressy top for going out at night

2 x bras

1 x bathing suit

travel packing list

A typical looking travel shirt, lightweight, flowing and long’ish sleeves. Worn with hiking pants & shoes.

Bottoms:

1 x thermal base layer pants

1 x black leggings

1 x hiking pants (lightweight, quick drying, with side pockets)

1 x capri pants

1 x loose capri pants (with a draw string top, comfortable)

1 x short’ish skirt

1 x sarong (perfect as a blanket, scarf, skirt, dress or cover-up at the beach. So many uses)

5 x pairs of cotton underwear

1 x pair of warm socks (for cold climates and trekking)

3 x pairs of thin, quick drying regular socks

travel packing list

One of my usual travel outfits: hiking pants, t-shirt with tank top underneath, sunglasses and bandana, perfect!

travel packing list

A beach outfit: skirt, t-shirt sunglasses and flip-flops. Good to go.

Shoes:

1 x pair of flip-flops (just a basic pair, when/if they break, just buy some new ones along the way)

1 x pair of hiking/walking shoes (Merrell and Solomon make sturdy shoes)

Accessories:

1 x bandana (ideal for covering up unwashed hair!)

1 x headband

2 x scarves (these can add some style, cover up your hair in conservative places or be held over your head to make shade while walking through the desert)

1 x travel purse/cloth bag – picked up along the way

1 x pair of sunglasses

1 x toque (for non-Canadians, this is a winter hat or beenie) – bought along the way

1 x pair of mittens/gloves – bought along the way

Hair elastics and bobby pins

Lots of travel bracelets, anklets, rings and necklaces accumulated from different countries

Toiletries:

1 x toothbrush

1 x small tube of toothpaste (buy small tubes rather than carrying a big one)

1 x 2-in-1 bottle of shampoo/conditioner (small-sized ones are available on the road)

1 x bar of soap and soapbox

1 x deodorant (available in all countries)

1 x bottle of sunscreen (available overseas but it can be quite pricey)

1 x small bottle of hand/face lotion

1 x razor and blades

***I don’t choose to carry make-up when travelling. I don’t think there’s any need for it, but if you must, then just bring a tube of mascara and maybe some lip gloss.

travel packing list for women

An outfit for more conservative places: long, loose shirt and pants

Other:

1 x Diva Cup – This little silicone menstrual cup has been a lifesaver each month while travelling. It takes the place of pads and tampons so you don’t need to pack hundreds of tampons or worry about where to buy them. You just insert the cup and you’re covered for 8 or more hours…ideal for long, overnight journeys. A must-have in every woman’s backpack.

1 x fast-drying, anti-microbial towel (many guesthouses won’t have towels)

1 x pillow case (I put it over gross hostel pillows and you can stuff it with comfy clothing to make your own pillow on a bus ride)

1 x bed sheet (Nick and I each carry one. Again, for putting over gross hostel beds, keeping warm on an overnight journey or laying down for a picnic)

travel packing list for women

This is a what a heating coil is!

1 x headlamp

1 x small packet of laundry detergent for hand-washing your clothing

1 x heating coil – We learned about this amazing item only recently. It’s a small coil that plugs into the wall. You place the coil bit into a metal cup of water and within minutes the liquid is at a rolling boil. We’ve boiled eggs in a cup, boiled hot water for instant noodles, oatmeal and drinks!

1 x lightweight, stainless steel travel cup (great for mixing instant oatmeal, having instant coffee, tea or cocktails even!) – bought overseas

travel packing list

Preparing a salad on our lightweight, stainless steel plates.

1 x stainless steel travel plate (ideal for eating messy foods on a bus, train or having a picnic) – bought overseas

1 x multi-use knife (used for multiple things, obviously)

1 x medical kit (click here for our full list of items)

Electronics. I carry a laptop, an external hard drive, an Ipod and a camera.

Large/Heavy Items Purchased Along The Way:

1 x mosquito net – Depending on where you’re going, this may or may not be a must-have. Some countries supply them, but they usually have holes in them or smell rotten. We bought ours when we arrived in South Africa and used it all over the continent & in parts of SE Asia.

travel packing list

Me trying out a sleeping bag in Kathmandu, Nepal.

1 x down filled, -10 degree sleeping bag (used for trekking in the Himalayas, purchased in Nepal)

1 x pair of trekking poles – unless you’re planning to do lots of serious hiking/trekking, you won’t need these. Mine were bought in Nepal for trekking the Himalayas.

Guidebooks. Buy them as you need them, otherwise your bag will be super heavy. Alternatively, download them to your laptop, Kindle or Iphone.

Going Camping or Trekking? Check out our What to Pack for a Trekking & Camping Trip post!

***Notes:

  • *We don’t  (usually) carry a tent, but if you were going somewhere specifically meant for camping, it would be worth bringing a lightweight one.
  • The name of the game is lightweight, fast-drying clothes. Constantly have that in mind while packing.
  • Bring clothes that you can mix & match, that way you’ll feel like you have more outfits. I tend to go for green, brown, beige, gray and black when choosing colours and then maybe add a bright scarf or something to make it look a bit nicer and more feminine.
  • I don’t recommend bringing any hair product, make-up, a blow dryer, a hair straightener or jeans! Denim is heavy and takes forever to dry.
  • I typically leave my good clothing at home so I don’t have to worry about them getting stained, shrinking or deteriorating from taking a laundry beating!
  • You’ll constantly be buying new clothes, leaving old ones behind and ditching the worn-out ones! So if you think you forgot something, you can buy it overseas, don’t worry.
travel packing list

Me in India, definitely not wearing a short skirt anymore!

Ok, I think that wraps up the list of what’s in my backpack. The most important thing is to be mindful of the different cultures and customs in each country you’re visiting.

I may wear a skirt and t-shirt in the Philippines, but I’ll change into long pants, long-sleeved shirt and scarf before arriving in India. Be respectful and you’ll have no unwanted or negative attention coming your way!

Everyone’s travel packing list is different. Everyone has their personal “must-have’s” but this trusty list has worked for me for my 3 years of travelling the world, hopefully it’ll do the same for you.

Guys, check out: The Complete Travel Packing List For Men.

What do you think? What are necessities in your backpack…did I miss anything?!

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About Nick Dariece (Goats On The Road)

Nick & Dariece started this website to encourage others to do what they love. For some it's travel, but happiness comes in many forms. It's all about lifestyle design.

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28 thoughts on “The Complete Travel Packing List For Women

  1. Toni-Lee Furlotte

    Perfect list for all women!… You covered it to a T. May sound a lot, but if you know how to pack compact, it works well. After unpacking and packing a million times like you have, I’m sure you can pack in the dark.

    Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Hello Lina. Thank you for your comment!

      We have 3 sizes of packing cubes, all of which are soft, polyester/mesh:

      h= 5cm l= 35cm and w= 23cm

      h = 5cm l= 25cm and w= 18cm

      h= 5cm l= 19cm and w= 10cm

      We each have one big one, 2 medium sized ones and one small one. I carry a 60L bag and Nick’s bag is 70L.

      The small one is good for underwear & socks and bras. The medium one I put my tops and bottoms and the large one I put my warm clothing and any other odds and ends. The 2 extra medium sized cubes we use for our medical bag & toiletries and “other” ie: headlamps, cups, plates, heating coil, etc.

      I hope this helps you out!

      Cheers for the comment :)
      Goats On The Road recently posted…Our Daily Budget For Every Country We’ve VisitedMy Profile

      Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Hey Jen!

      Thanks for the comment :) You’re right, the Diva Cup is a MUST!

      As for the heating coils…we bought ours overseas in the Middle East, but you should be able to get one at any small appliance store in any country. Just make sure to ask for it because it most likely won’t be out on display. It was $1 when we bought ours!

      Good luck! Cheers & safe travels.
      Goats On The Road recently posted…You Know You’ve Been Travelling A Long Time When…My Profile

      Reply
  2. Curly Traveller

    Very informative article! My days of backpacking are behind me, but I still remember them well. What I would add to the list is: toilet paper, and one or two of those carton folded peeing-for-women things. Don’t know what they are called, but it allows you to pee more easily and less messy when there is no toilet around.
    Unfortunately with my type of hair I cannot do without hair products, because otherwise I would be left with a bunch of dry, frizzed and untangeable hair:-(.

    Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Thanks for the comment! I guess that’s why you’re called the Curly Traveller! You’re absolutely right, some people will need hair product, for me, my hair is straight as can be – it’s air dry and go!

      As for the toilet paper, yes, you definitely need it, but we just buy it along the way. Maybe have a little packet of tissues to start off with.

      I’ve never used a “peeing for women thing” before but it sounds intriguing! I typically just squat and hope for the best. haha. It would be much easier to be a guy sometimes…

      Cheers!
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      Reply
  3. Agness

    Guys, this post just saved my life. I struggle a lot when packing. I’m always over-packed and that annoys me and makes me so tired. I love the idea of packing only 1 pair of trousers and 2 bras :)

    Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      I know right?! There’s no point in having lots of pants, too many bras, etc. For one thing, I always end up buying clothes along the way and throwing out the old ones. You can always buy what you want or need when you’re on the road…it’s not about having variety and looking pretty! It makes the bag too heavy to carry, haha

      Cheers Agness :)
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      Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Thanks Becky.

      I never knew what to pack before our first long trip…If I recall, I was actually going to bring a hair-dryer, a pair of high-heels and way too many outfits. Thankfully Nick put an end to my madness and I left with the basics (and still ended up ditching stuff along the way).

      Cheers!
      Goats On The Road recently posted…The Complete Travel Packing List For MenMy Profile

      Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Hi Kristy, thanks for the comment :)

      I have a North Face HyVent coat. It’s windproof, waterproof and lightweight. It can roll up very small. It also has a hood that can be rolled up and tucked under when not in use. I got it for $50 on sale.

      There are coats that are smaller, but this one has worked well for me, I’ve been dry and warm when I needed to be.

      Cheers!
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      Reply
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  5. Rachel

    I’d highly recommend LUSH solid shampoo bars and solid jungle conditioner. Each bar lasts longer than a month and obviously you save on the weight of the water! Much more environmentally friendly than leaving plastic bottles behind in countries where there is often no recycling facilities.
    Curly traveller- I share your pain!

    Reply
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  7. Amanda Waldron

    Great post! I’m looking for a great pair of hiking pants that also look somewhat fashionable. I like the ones in your picture with the caption, “One of my usual travel outfits: hiking pants, t-shirt with tank top underneath, sunglasses and bandana, perfect!” What brand are these?

    Reply
  8. Tara

    I’m planning on going to Nepal to trek Everest Base Camp next March/April then India after- really hard to know what to pack. You’ve given me some great idea’s though. Any other suggestions for this trip?

    Reply
    1. Goats On The Road Post author

      Hi Tara,

      That sounds like an epic trip!

      You’ll definitely want to have a lightweight, comfortable backpack for trekking. I have recently used and definitely recommend the Osprey Kestrel 32 for trekking/travelling. See my review here:

      http://www.goatsontheroad.com/backpack-review-osprey-kestrel-32/

      You’ll want trekking poles, a warm lightweight sleeping bag, gloves, toque, windproof/waterproof pants and jacket. You can get all of these things in Kathmandu, we did…except for the jacket, we had that with us. You’ll also want a base layer thermal top and pants, as well as a fleece top. Obviously, you’ll need good trekking shoes.

      For India, you’ll want longsleeve or 3/4 length lightweight tops that are long enough to cover your bum! Some sort of loose pants and a scarf as well, all of which you can buy in India or Nepal.

      I hope this helps!

      Cheers and happy travels :)
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      Reply
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