Are you excited for your first solo trip, but have no idea what to pack and what to leave at home? I know that the task of preparing for your first backpacking adventure can feel overwhelming (trust me, I’ve been there). That’s why I’m here with the ultimate women travel essentials packing list to help ease your worries and ensure you have everything you need for a memorable trip.
Whether planning a week in Europe or traveling for an unlimited amount of time in Latin America, it’s crucial to pack smart and light without forgetting any essentials.
Gear and Equipment
Choosing the right backpack for you is a procedure on its own as everybody has different needs and wants out of a bag. Size, comfort, and compartments are a few of the things to keep in mind when choosing your perfect backpack. I suggest this 55lt backpack that opens up like a suitcase and has a removable daypack.
Having a good daypack that is comfortable to wear all day, and still fits and protects all my belongings is super important. Especially if you’re like me and you’re someone who travels with a camera and laptop. The North Face Recon daypack has been my ride or die for this, with a padded laptop department and lots of organization compartments.
Listed in the top 10 of my backpacking essentials, a bumbag is an underrated travel must have to keep your phone, wallet, and passport stored and easily accessible while on the road. I honestly didn’t leave my hostel without this on my 3-month backpacking trip.
Packing Cubes are game-changing and I can’t imagine packing my bag without these anymore. They’ll keep your backpack organized while traveling, so you don’t have to search your whole bag for that one specific shirt. My tip is to get a few smaller ones instead of 2/3 big ones so you’re able to puzzle a bit easier while packing.
5. Money Belt
While traveling in certain areas of the world, a money belt under your clothes can come in handy to keep your most valuable belongings safe. Personally, I’ve only used this once as I haven’t felt that unsafe to do so, but it’s a good thing to bring with you in case you need it. For example, on night buses there might be a chance of pickpocketing.
6. Tote bag
Tote bags are super handy to bring to the beach, shopping, or doing groceries. They’re very lightweight and barely take up any space in your bag so bring at least one or two with you.
The kind of clothes you’re bringing with you depends a lot on the weather conditions in the country you’re planning to visit. My top tip is to bring a lot of layers and make sure that most of your clothes match easily with each other.
Whether you’re traveling for 3 weeks or 3 months, you’re going to have to do laundry along the way. For that reason, I would suggest bringing clothes that get you through 10(ish) days. This allows you to pack as light as possible, which you’ll thank yourself for during your travels.
- 4x Tops
- 4x T-shirts
- 1/2x Long-sleeve shirt
- 1x Blouse
- 4x Shorts
- 2x Long thin pants
- 2x Long-leggings
- 1x Jeans
- 2x Dresses
- 2x Fancy outfits for special occasions
- Underwear + Socks
- 1x Sport outfit
- 1x Hoodie
- 1x Fleece vest
- 3x Bathing suit
- 1x Windproof Raincoat
- 1x Jacket (if necessary)
- 1x Sarong
- Trainers or Hiking shoes
- 1x Sunglasses
- 1x Hat
Of course, when traveling to cold destinations, you might want to swap some items. For example, the tops and shorts for longer clothes and 1 bathing suit will do. Some items you want to include anyway, like flip-flops for showering in hostels.
Toiletries Essentials & Checklist
Choose a toiletry bag that you can hang up with a small hook on a door or wall. This has been so convenient as many showers in hostels don’t have much storage space for your stuff. Ever since changing to one of these, I never want to use a normal one anymore for traveling!
I recommend bringing full-sized if you’re traveling long-term and only bring travel sizes if traveling with hand luggage or on shorter trips. However, for some exclusive items you may want to use only every now and then, a travel-size container is a solution!
Light, small, and fast-drying. Microfiber towels are a must for every traveler, especially those traveling with a backpack and want to travel as light as possible. I always bring one big towel for the beach and two smaller ones for showering. These are honestly a necessity on your packing list for first-time solo travelers.
- Toothbrush + Toothpaste
- Shampoo + Conditioner + Shower gel
- Reef-friendly Sunscreen SPF50
- Mosquito spray DEET
- Day- and night creme
- Contacts/glasses (optional)
- Lip balm
- Make-up + remover
- (Reusable) Cotton pads
- Hair ties
- Feminine hygiene products or DivaCup
- Birth Control
- Nail scissors + tweezers
- Soap to hand-wash clothes
- Small EHBO set
- Necessary medicines
- Malaria pills (optional)
Try to leave as much as possible back at home. You honestly don’t want to fill up your toiletry bag with vitamin C serums and 5 shades of lipstick. 😉
Talking about make-up, along the way you’ll notice pretty quickly that it doesn’t really matter how you look. I only brought mascara, concealer, and bronzer for nights out, and you definitely don’t need more than that.
Another important thing is to bring a backup of your necessary medicines or contacts and spread them over both your bags. This way, you’ll always have a backup in case you lose one of your bags.
- Phone + charger
- Camera + charger: If you’re like me and you want to capture every beautiful moment while traveling I highly recommend investing in a good camera. My Sony A6600 has been my baby and it’s so powerful in this price range.
- Power bank: part of the top 10 first-time backpackers essentials, a power bank will keep your devices charged up while going on an overnight volcano hike, a 4-day jungle trek, or on a long travel day.
- Noise-Canceling Headphones: one that I started using not so long ago, but has been a game changer. I’ve traveled with normal ear pods during my trip but I wish I had noise-canceling ones to mute my surroundings and read my book in peace or nap better on the plane or a long bus.
- Universal Adapter: this one has USB outlets too which is super convenient to charge multiple things at the same time.
- AirTag: super handy to track your backpack or put on your passport.
- Flashlight + batteries
- Drone/GoPro/Instax (optional)
- Laptop (optional)
Other Extras to Pack
- Sleep mask + Earplugs: a necessity while staying in hostels!
- (Travel) Journal: the Friendship Journal from SÈN is an epic way to remember all the amazing people you’ve met on your travels! Fun tip: I love to add boarding passes/tickets or whatever in my journal as a memory!
- Padlocks: bring 3, one for your dorm locker, one for your daypack and one extra.
- Carabiners: never knew they would come so in handy on my travels, but it allows you to connect your jacket, cap, bag, or whatever on your bag.
- Raincover: to protect your backpack from the rain and can also function as a flight bag.
- Laundry Bag
- Reusable Zip lock bags
- Waterproof Phone Case
- Playing cards (optional)
- Passport (+ visa – optional)
- Bank Cards & Credit Card
- Wise Travel Card
- International Drivers License: not all countries require this but good to have with you in case you’re planning to rent a car or scooter.
- Vaccinations booklet
- Copy of passport and cards.
- Travel Insurance
Tip: make a photo or scan important documents and put them in the cloud or e-mail them to yourself. This way you’ll always at least have a copy of your most important documents when losing something.
Always check your government website and see if you need any required forms for specific countries or a visa.
Eco-friendly Women Travel Essentials
1. Soap Bars
Soap bars have changed the game for me while traveling. No longer big and bulky, leaking shampoo bottles in my toiletry bag or airport liquid limits. Not only are the soap bars super convenient to travel with, but they’re also plastic-free so way more eco-friendly than bottles.
I have mine from a Dutch company called Happy Soaps but you can buy them everywhere.
2. Reusable Water Bottle
If you’re not yet using a reusable water bottle, it’s time to do so. It’s so easy to reduce your daily plastic use by switching to a reusable one!
If you’re in a country where tap water isn’t as safe to drink, opt for one with a filter like the Lifestraw ones. LARQ also has really nice bottles, but are more on the pricey side. I used my insulated Dopper one without a filter during my time in Latin America and always asked the staff of my hostel where I could fill up my bottle safely.
3. Foldable Food Containers + Cutlery
Having food containers and cutlery with you always comes in handy, especially during long travel days on the bus to bring your lunch or dinner. Foldable ones are perfect to throw somewhere in your luggage, together with a tiny pocket of cutlery.
4. Reusable Cotton Pads
I use them almost every day to remove makeup or simply wash my face. Cotton pads are super cheap and often essential in women’s toiletry bags. To avoid so much pointless waste, a much more sustainable option is to get yourself these reusable cotton pads. They come with a small laundry bag so super easy to wash them.
Packing Tips for Solo Female Travelers
#1 Travel as lightly as possible
As a solo traveler, you want to be as mobile as possible. Therefore, packing light is important and will save you a lot of hustle while on the road. Your 15kg backpack may not seem that heavy and inconvenient at first, but once you need to walk 30 minutes to your hostel in 30 degrees, it will feel a lot different. Try to keep your big backpack around 10kg.
#2 Wear the bulky clothes
On your travel days, make sure to wear your bulky clothes and hiking shoes, so you have more space and less weight to carry.
#3 Find a backpack suitable for you
There’s nothing as annoying as neck or back pain after only an hour of wearing your backpack. Be strict to yourself when deciding on which bag to buy/bring. The bag needs to be comfortable and adjustable to your body as there may be moments when you have to walk around a hot European city on a summer day with your bag on your back.
#4 Use packing cubes to organize your bag
Trust me, you don’t want to travel without them anymore. Use a few smaller ones as they’re easier to puzzle within your bag. I’ve had 3 bigger ones and I struggled to fit them all together nicely in my backpack.
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#5 Roll op your clothes
Packing cubes are number one to pack smarter and rolling up your clothes inside those cubes will make it even better. This way you save so much more space than folding and they don’t wrinkle as quickly.
#6 Pick clothes that match with each other
Make sure that most of your items match easily, so you don’t have to bring so many clothes. You can create more outfits + safe space in your backpack, win-win. 😉
#7 Use a packing list
Using a packing list makes sure you don’t forget important items or the opposite, bring too much. Make sure to keep reading to grab your gift. 😉
Conlusion + Gift 🎁
With this solo female travel packing list, you’ll know for sure that you haven’t forgotten anything so you are ready to embark on your epic adventure with peace of mind. Always want to keep an easy version of this packing list with you at all times? Download your FREE packing list here and adjust it to your own needs!
Happy travels friends! 🎁