Travelling is definitely one of the most character-building experiences out there - especially if you're going solo. The freedom to change destination on the spot is a true adrenaline-inducing luxury that you need to prepare for. With our guide you'll know what to pack when you go travelling in no time.Read more Men's Style Guide features.
Backpacking isn’t a new way to travel, but it has become a lot more common over the past ten years or so. It allows you to choose your own itinerary, visit multiple destinations and you can decide to stay as long or as little as you like. Most importantly, it allows you to see the world on a budget. The beauty of travelling is that you'll meet tons of people along the way. What if a bunch of Australians manage to persuade you to lie on the beach for a week and you have nothing to wear? We simply won't let that happen to you. Under no circumstance, country or continent you shall fail.
So you’ve booked your flight and maybe even your first few nights at a hotel or hostel, but now the hard bit is here...it’s time to get your gear ready. To avoid any mishaps, we've put together this really quick guide on what to pack when you go travelling. As long as you have these bare necessities, you'll be good to go for at least a month. Everything else is a luxury in the life of a backpacker.
Before we have a look at what you should take with you, let's start from the basics. It's not just about what you bring, but also where you put it. It’s fair to say that no travel trip would happen without a trusty backpack. The size you choose will all depend on how much stuff you want to bring and how long you're planning on staying out. If you're a light traveller, this bag will suit your every need. It will be easy to carry with you at all times, allowing you to bring a fair bit of stuff and still leave you a bit of room for a bit of memento collecting along the way.
Underwear is one of the most important things you’ll need when travelling, no one's a fan of someone with poor hygiene. You don’t have to bring enough to last you your whole trip, you’ll find plenty of places to wash your clothes on your travels. We recommend packing at least three pairs of some trusty Calvins along with three pairs of some decent sports socks to withstand any hikes or drunkard stumbles back to your hostel you may embark on.
Avoid taking cotton socks with you or at least use cotton socks with a good percentage of synthetic materials. Considering that you'll be working with a limited space with your backpack, cotton socks absorb moisture and can unfortunately smell quite badly. With all the walking you'll be doing, having damp socks or clothing in your luggage will inevitably make the rest of your clothing stink regardless of your attempts to relegate your smelly socks to the most remote areas of your backpack.
Light wool socks have natural anti-bacterial features. You'd be surprised at how well they can work during the summer and you can definitely use them more than once. Six pieces of underwear and socks will do you just fine, it's the perfect amount that will allow you to get your laundry sorted when you get to your next hostel.
We really wouldn't suggest taking any of your best shirts with you, it's bound to be too hot and dirty for that most of the time. Having said that, a lightweight denim shirt won't go a miss for when you're trekking through jungles or when you pass out on the beach at night.
We would recommend you bring at least three T-shirts or vests. Even if you're not one to be showing off the gym progress, vests are invaluable in high humidity. They'll keep you cool in extreme heat but will also dry easily. When you’re planning a long trip, clothes that can be washed and dried easily are ideal.
Pick one pair of jeans to take with and, if you have room, one pair of chinos that are comfortable and hardwearing. Any workwear is gonna be able to withstand most things you put it through. It's important that the trousers are comfortable and have pockets, so you can keep valuables close.
Shorts aren’t recommended in some countries, so do a bit of research about where you are travelling to. If this isn’t a problem then pack at least two pairs of shorts. You're probably gonna need some swimming shorts at some stage too so make sure you've got them in there. If you’ve a got the right pair these can be doubled up as a third pair of shorts. Obviously a pair of swim shorts from yours truly will do the job here.
A fleece or hoodie is vital, even those visiting the hottest countries can feel the cold temperatures at night. Don’t be fooled by the daytime sun, and pack this fleeced hoodie. Finally, the last thing you want are blisters or sores on the soles of your feet so a quality pair of trainers are a must. If you're expecting to do quite a lot of activities like hiking and excursions, then a pair of Timberland boots are always gonna serve you well.
Backpacking entails a lot of walking and wondering around. After all, isn't that the whole point of going off on an adventure? What you need to do ASAP is getting yourself a pair of trustworthy trainers of your choosing. If you're travelling for over a month you better have some alternatives lined up. It's definitely worth considering having a variety of footwear options.
Ideally you should wash your clothes when you reach your hostel when getting to the different stops of your journey. However, sometimes things can get in the way of doing your laundry. Some of those obstacles might even be your own laziness. Travelling is fun and all but also very tiring. General housekeeping is probably the last thing you want to do and we get it. Sometimes, hostel facilities might well be that obstacle.
If the washing machines happen to be out of order, don't go all Middle Ages and refrain from taking your laundry to the nearest river. Just like dry shampoo has revolutionised standard hygienic practices, the same rules can be applied to clothing. Denim for example can take ages to dry if you're in a particularly humid country. Be the savviest traveller around and invest in these garment care essentials. They'll be a lifesaver and will give you the freedom your trotting around deserves without leaving a trail of unpleasant smell as you go from country to country.
Even though I've just said that there are easy ways to get around washing your clothes, it's not an excuse to tour the world like a hobo. Make sure you take a travel kit with you that includes everything from shampooing to toothpaste and a face towel. Just because you're backpacking, it doesn't mean that you can't put functionality and style together. You can easily create a low-maintenance grooming routine to suit your travelling needs.
The Art of Packing
If you've decided to travel for more than two weeks across different countries, you'll definitely need fit a variety of clothing in a relatively small space. Fear not, this is the ultimate video on how to put all that junk in your trunk in the most efficient of ways. It's going to be hard, you're going to have to make some cuts with some pretty serious selection policies but you'll make it.
Whenever you feel like you can't bring yourself to leave out that jumper your grandmother made for you 12 years ago, remember that you're gonna have to carry all that stuff with you in airports, hostels and potentially overnight buses and boats. Be ruthless.
If you're getting ready for the perfect Eurotrip, there's a variety of weather conditions and potential locations that faith might present you with. If you're more of a city guy, some of the best places to visit in Europe are its capitals. Apart from huge capital cities like London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and so on, most European capitals are quite tiny and you'll be able to cover the entirety of their city centres by simply talking one of the amazing free walking tours that you can find in every main city. You'll definitely be able to feel like a local after only spending a few days in cities like Prague, Budapest, Ljubljana and many other Eastern European capitals.
Backpacking in Europe
Backpacking can be quite demanding. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that you always have to carry it on your shoulders at all times. If you usually travel with a suitcase, backpacks will change your life. Europe is a vast continent so if you're planning on seeing as much of it as possible, you should be prepared to face any sort of climate. Regardless of what area of Europe you've decided to explore, these are the key elements that you'll most definitely need in your journey.
If you're a big fan of Christmas markets, snow sports, forests and incredible wildlife, Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden and Finland and Baltic countries like Lativia, Estonia and Lithuania are a backpacker's paradise. That said, get ready to invest in some warm and thermal pieces of clothing for your wardrobe. If you're planning to visit Iceland for example (and you should), temperatures in winter go as low as - 30 ºC. Chilling by the fireplace at your hostel or comfy Airbnb is all good and well but you're there to explore. That's is crucial that you invest in some solid outerwear to take with you.
The North Face have an extensive range of technical yet aesthetically pleasing coats and jackets. You'll be warm and stylish but if you happen to freeze in the mountain peaks of Norway, you'll be the most dashing ice sculpture out there. You'll have to become a master of layering in order to survive. For that reason, you'll need to pack at least two reliable sweaters. When it comes to more technical gear like mountain boots, you'll be able to rent some in most locations you'll be visiting. However, it doesn't hurt to come prepared with a solid pair of Timberland boots.
Central European countries have the most middle-of-the-road weathers throughout most of the year with peaks of extreme temperatures during the heights of winter and summer. To put it simply: prepare for every possible scenario with a few reliable elements.
No matter what time of the year you decide to visit countries like Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia and so on, you should have a few solid spring/summer options to build upon in case it gets colder. Ideally, all you'll have to do is pop on a lightweight nylon jacket that you can easily put away in your bag. The last thing you want is having an unbalanced arsenal of clothing.
Mediterranean and Adriatic countries are simply amazing and also amongst some of the most stylish in the world. You really don't want to look like a fool when walking down the street in Italy. Southern Europe is beautiful any time of the year. However, we all know that it's at its best during the summer.
If you've spent the winter travelling across Northern and Central Europe you definitely deserve some sun. These are the summer essentials you'll need in the South of Europe: at least four button-up shirts, basic black and white t-shirts and your favourite pair of jeans. If you're only travelling in the summer, you can leave your sweaters at home and use that extra space to get yourself some tokens of your trip you'll probably never look at once you're back. Keep an eye on those impulse purchases.
Don't forget to have a practical yet confidence-boosting outfit if you happen to visit Bucharest, the capital of Romania. It can easily boast an incredible and ever-rising nightlife. The best DJs in the world regularly play there and you're guaranteed to have some of the best nights of your life without the ridiculous prices that we have to deal with in London.
If you're all about skiing and snowboarding, Bulgaria has one of the best winters in Eastern Europe and has become a paradise for pro snowboarders and amateurs alike. Bansko has become one of the hottest locations in the Balkans. There are plenty of amazing ski resorts and chalets if you want to spend a few days with a bit more comfort without having to worry about the extortionate prices of the Alps. Opt for a versatile winter wardrobe with sweaters, relaxed fit denim, flannel shirts and don't forget to pack a warm - potentially fleeced - hoodie.
Speaking of the Balkans, I can't stress enough how beautiful this part of Europe is. Too often people focus too much on countries like Italy, France and Spain and end up forgetting what the rest of Europe has to offer. The cultural heritage of the Balkan region is extremely rich and if you're passionate about history I recommend you spend a few days in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's a totally magical and charming place where Western Europe and the Orient meet.
If you're visiting the Balkans and Eastern Europe in the summer, make sure that you pack your best lightweight outfits. Bring your favourite t-shirts and shorts with you'll be able to survive the hot temperatures in countries like Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro. If you're a big fan of Game of Thrones, make sure you stop by Dubrovnik, Croatia. That's where most of the show is shot and it's also a perfect place for you to sport your best summer leisure outfit. All you need is simple shirts and t-shirts and a trusty pair of chino shorts.
Travel to Asia
Asia is definitely one of the most popular destinations for backpackers. How could you resist the charm of the Far East? Exploring this part of the world isn't something you can decide to do overnight. I mean, you can but the chances of that going well are very slim. Travelling to Asia requires a lot of planning when it comes to logistics but it doesn't end there. Packing for Asia takes skills and we want to make sure that The Idle Man has what it takes.
Backpacking in Asia
When backpacking in Asia you need to make sure that you pack a reliable water resistant rain jacket. You'll definitely want to explore the jungles of Laos, Cambodia or the Malaysian Borneo even. For that, you'll need to be equipped to perfection. If you want to go full Indiana Jones, you can't compromise when it comes to clothing.
You want to be able to fully enjoy the experience and if following your most adventurous instincts means that you may or may not end up in a swamp, so be it. Once again, avoid wearing cotton - it's just a nightmare for that level of humidity. For the same reasons, opt for a pair of speedos instead of your usual underwear. Staying dry will be your mission.
Travelling in Southeast Asia
Immersing yourself with the local culture and experimenting are what you really want to get out of travelling. It's always great to come home to your friends with fun anecdotes. However, make sure you keep your adventurous drive and subsequent edgy storytelling within the limits of legality. The latest news from style, life, arts, and culture and everything in between. Whether it's a new brand arriving into our style, our latest drops and editorials. You will never miss a beat with us.