There are many products out there that are marketed towards travelers. Light and small items are designed for the sole purpose of traveling – miniature shampoos, a small pack of makeup, 2in1 cosmetics. These can be useful practicalities but stacking them up simply takes up space. After a while, you will not even bother with shampoo and throw away the small bottles that didn’t last very long anyway. You will definitely throw away any attempts at wearing makeup. Real necessities become apparent, and you will wish you did not fill your bag to the brim with unnecessary items. Read ahead to find out some of the simplest yet most essential items to pack for traveling. 

A book

A book can actually dilute a stressful situation. Missed train? Delayed flight? No worries – seize the waiting time and use these wasted minutes to read. A book is your companion on a long journey. It also provides the perfect way to enjoy a city. Sitting outside in a new place and reading; this moderate activity can give you a strong feeling of the place. Instead of rushing around sightseeing, you are immersed in the scene and the moment. Reading a book, you become part of the local picture rather than behaving like a frantic tourist.

In general, there are so many books and such little time. When traveling, the time of slowness and relaxation can become extended. Reading is allowed to become a priority. Without work and responsibilities, investing the whole day in a good book is entirely reasonable. A book can be read anywhere – a beach in the sun, a hostel room on a rainy day, a long distance night bus. Not only flexible, reading as an activity is a simple form of entertainment and exceptionally rewarding. Rather than distancing you from reality, a good book helps to draw connections to life lessons applicable to your own immediate experience. In the exceptional times of traveling, reading can keep your mind sharp and allow you to experience moments on a deeper level.

Don’t worry about bringing more than one – most hostels offer book swap shelves. A book also makes a great gift for a passing friend to remember you by. Many people have the same idea so you are sure to find someone in a hostel looking for an exchange. Wondering what to pack for traveling? Catch up on that long list of novels you never get round to reading – pack a book.

A camera

A fair debate is whether a camera is actually worth it while traveling. This one is a matter of choice. SLR cameras can capture your travel moments in impressive and memorable ways. A lot of them are quite heavy and take up a lot of room in your bag. They can be clunky and awkward to carry around. After a while, it feels nicer to wander around camera-free. Not only do you feel more flexible but worry less about damage or theft. Another option is the surprisingly good iPhone camera. It might not take as high-quality photos as SLR cameras, but if you want to take quick and easily accessible pictures, a smartphone camera is certainly less invasive.

Another option – don’t bring a camera at all. Some travelers say that the fewer photos they take, the more they record their experiences in words or art. More creative forms of documenting travel moments can help your journey feel more independent and personal to you. It is a depressing sight to see hundreds of tourists taking the same photo as you. Especially if it is a sight that struck you in a fundamental way – a beauty that you took to be your own. For some people, releasing the pressure to photograph constantly their lives offers freedom. Perhaps without a camera, you can experience a moment and completely enjoy it without needing the perfect picture. Packing for traveling? Maybe bring a camera – this one is up to you…

Hiking boots

Without exception, traveling is full of walking. Whether you are on a hiking holiday or a city break, you will need good shoes. To wholly appreciate a place requires stepping outside and simply wandering around. Trust us on this one – you don’t want to ruin a trip through the pain of bad shoes. If not hiking boots invest in something comfortable and practical. Plus, traveling is always more fun when you are ready for anything. Say yes to any activity in any weather. Don’t let your shoes let you down. 


Another personal choice – some would rather leave their iPod at home while others can’t imagine traveling without music. Music really can enhance a great moment. Especially on transport journeys, a song is excellent background sound for your thoughts and compliments beautiful scenery passing the window. For others, music is distracting. Beware of becoming cut off from immediate experience. Exploring a new place with your headphones in, a traveler can seem antisocial and ignorant to a fresh experience. Like anything, it is a balance. Either way, when packing for traveling, I would include an iPod anyway. If only for those times when you need to switch off and relax on your own.  

Water bottle

Save the world – buy a water bottle. Water is great to have around while traveling. In any situation, keeping hydrated is simply a good idea. Realize this before leaving and avoid buying countless plastic bottles along the way. If anything, this will save you a lot of money. Most places in Europe have safe drinking water and free water fountains in towns.


In between exciting places, traveling can get pretty boring. On long journeys with only a laptop and a pen for entertainment, you are forced to write some of your greatest work. The perfect way to record your travel experience, writing gives you the freedom to apply your style and include your preferred content. Don’t want to forget a very particular moment? Write it down. Afraid to forget the name of the town you visited? Write it down. Want to capture a thought that has floated in your mind all day? Write it down! There are no rules in a notebook; it is a blank space for you, and you only. If you are an artist, draw it instead. This creative documentation not only adds a personal flair to your trip, but you can also create the perfect memorabilia to look back on when you return home. 

Still thinking about what else you need to pack for traveling? My advice is to keep it simple. Backpacks are full of hidden pockets that store more than you expect. It might be tempting to fill these before you leave. But personally, I would rather start with these empty and have the space to collect items on the way – shells, tickets, local jewelry. Don’t distract yourself from the original purpose of travel – bring what you need, not what you want. The rest will sort itself out. After all, the beauty of traveling is in the simplicity of a single bag on your back.

Do you agree, disagree or have any other suggestions of what to pack for traveling? Leave a comment and let us know!


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