This packing list is designed with the female traveler in mind. It contains all of the basics you need for a safe and fun adventure. With this packing list I don’t get into too many specifics about number of tops or pants to bring, because each destination requires different necessities. For instance, hiking to Machu Picchu will require very different footwear compared to traipsing through Europe’s most beautiful cities. That being said I do have packing lists for hiking to Machu Picchu, for the Galapagos islands, and for Ireland in any season.

But no matter where in the world I go, there are certain items that I won’t leave home without. The items below make me feel prepared, safe, and happy while I’m far from home. Many of them also decrease my carbon footprint on the world, which is fairly high as a traveler. What’s in your backpack?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a tiny bit of income if you decide to make a purchase or booking.

The Gear

The ultimate first question – backpack or suitcase. I’m a huge proponent of using a backpack because it helps me limit the amount I bring and it keeps my hands free to use. Although, I also understand it sucks to carry everything on your back, so a suitcase may be more your style. Since working for an airline I keep seeing the Away luggage and people seem to love it. So I may give that a whirl soon! Whether you choose backpack or suitcase, smaller is better. And packing cubes are a must!


Osprey Farpoint 50L (or similar)

My go to travel backpack that I used for 10 months straight! I really like the comfortable waist strap that helps alleviate weight on my shoulders.

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rain cover

Osprey Raincover

This comes in so handy when trying to keep your stuff dry. When it isn’t in use, it packs down really small and fits inside shoes!

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Eagle Creek Packing Cubes

I try to convert everyone to using packing cubes. You can really maximize your space with these bad boys!

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The Clothing

You do not need to go out and buy a new wardrobe for travel. I repeat, do not buy a new travel wardrobe. Pack the items you’ll need for the activities you plan to pursue on the road. You likely already have what you need if participate in them at home. Like I said, I’m not going to go into details with the types of clothing to pack with this packing list. However, there are a few items that really made a difference in keeping me extra comfortable.

ex officio underwear

Ex Officio Underwear

The best I’ve worn!

It stays where it’s supposed to, breathes well, and is still cute. It’s a bit expensive, but well worth the cost. It comes in a variety of colors and styles too!

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darn tough socks

Darn Tough Hiking Socks

These kept my feet happy and blister free on my Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. The only time I got blisters is when I wore a different brand for half a day. I quickly switched back to these.

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A Scarf

I always pack a scarf even if it’s the middle of summer. Why? It can be used to keep the sun off of my shoulders, as a picnic blanket, or a beach towel. And in the winter, well it’s a scarf to keep me warm!

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The Footwear

I packed THE WORST shoes for my first trip to Ireland and ended up with a very severe case of shin splints. It happens to be the one and only time I’ve ever had shin splints. They are awful. Since then I’ve found shoes that make my feet happy and are cute!

sorel boots

Sorel Rain Boots

I bought these Sorel boots on a whim and they were the best whim I’ve had. They’re sturdy, supportive, stylish, and waterproof (couldn’t think of an “s” word for that). Perfect for Europe!

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keen hiking boots

Keen Hiking Boots

Ok, so these aren’t cute, but if you’re looking for a sturdy and waterproof hiking boot, these Keen’s are where it’s at. I can’t do below the ankle hiking boots and I love the support these give.

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Nike free sneakers

Nike Frees

Trendy and cute Nike’s were the cause of my shin splints in Ireland. But I decided to try again with not so cute, but subtle Nike Frees. My feet and shins were happy all throughout South American and Europe. I even used them as water shoes.

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Birkenstock sandals

Birkenstock Sandals (or similar)

Slipping on these Birkenstocks after a long day of hiking or walking is like heaven. They took a full day to break in causing blisters and cuts on the Galapagos islands (not the best time to break them in). But since that day they are absolutely perfect.

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Flip Flops

Shower flip flops are a must for the hostels! Keep your feet healthy with these Havaianas.

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The Toiletries

There are some things that will make traveling easier on us ladies. The game changer for those 10+ hour bus rides for me was the Diva Cup. I try to get everyone to use one 🙂 I also tried to limit my liquids to South America and bought a bunch of bar soaps and conditioners from Lush, they got stolen about a month in and I realized I could get shampoo and conditioner from the corner store. So buy your toiletries when you land!

Diva Cup

Diva Cup

Once I got over the “gross” factor I never went back to tampons/pads. That makes it over two years of doing better for my body and the environment!

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Dr. Bronner's Soap

Dr. Bronner’s Soap

the best multi functional travel soap. You can use it as body wash, shampoo, and laundry detergent. Nothing beats multifunctional items when you’re on the road!

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Dry Shampoo

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Sun Bum Sunscreen

Sun Bum Sunscreen

Protect your skin and the ocean. Sun Bum is a reef safe sunscreen (some versions are not reef safe). Hop in the ocean without bothering the sea animals you came to snorkel with! I used it religiously in the Galapagos.

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mosquito repellent wipes

Mosquito Repellent Wipes

I’m one of the very few people who hasn’t been bitten by a mosquito. I’ve legit been standing next to someone getting eaten alive and I wasn’t being bothered. But I still brought these just in case South American mosquitos were different. They weren’t so I gave these to those who needed it. They said it worked well.

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The Photography Gear

Because you’re going to want to remember this time, whether you’re in the photo or not! Most smart phones these days come with pretty good cameras so if you’re taking photos just for the hell of it, then that will do. If you’re looking to get creative with your travel photos and develop your skills, these are good starting tools to use. I’ve written a post about how to take epic travel selfies if you’re interested too!

Canon Rebel Camera

Canon Rebel (or similar)

I travel with a Canon Rebel. It was a Christmas gift and while it’s a bit bulky to pack I really enjoy it. It’s been a great starter camera for me!

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Canon Rebel Lense Kit

Travel Lens Kit Bundle

I ruined my lenses in the sand. So I had to get new ones and I’m loving the challenge of the fixed portrait lens and how the wide angle FINALLY gets everything I want in the landscape! Plus I love a good bundle.

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Manfrotto Tripod

Manfrotto Tripod

To take epic travel selfies, you’ll need a tripod. This one fits well in both my large backpack on travel days and my daypack for day adventures. It’s super simple to setup and very sturdy given how light weight it is.

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Fotopro tripod

Fotopro Tripod

Not feeling the size of the Manfrotto? No worries, this Fotopro table top tripod does the trick. Its rubber legs wrap around just about anything and it comes with attachments for a DSLR, GoPro, and smartphone. 

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External Hard Drive

External Hard Drive

If you’re anything like me, you’ll take a billion photos and then wonder why your computer is running out of hard drive space! I invested in this external hard drive and love how much space it gives me for my photos and other important documents! It keeps it password protected too just in case it goes missing.

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The Health & Fitness Gear

Before I left for travel, I had lost 25lbs over the course of a few years. It’s safe to say I gained it all back thanks to my daily quota of gelato. However, I could’ve gained a lot more had I not been diligent about working out at least twice per week. I used bands, my body weight, and online programs to keep me fresh. I also did a lot of yoga. But, all that sweat doesn’t counteract the sweet… I’m reminded.

wellness formula vitamins

Wellness Formula Vtiamin

Traveling is stressful and can cause our immune system to freak out. I take the lower dose of this supplement regularly and then I increase around travel days or when I start to feel under the weather. It tastes nasty and the pills are huge but it’s worth it! It also comes in liquid formula.

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steri pen

Steri Pen

It does the best at cleaning dirty water so you can drink water from anywhere. And decrease your usage of plastic water bottles!

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hydro flask

Hydro Flask (or similar)

Keep your water cold or your tea warm in a Hydro Flask. I used a carabiner to clip it on to my backpack as it is a little bulky. But it is so durable (I dropped it a lot). Plus, it’ll reduce your plastic bottle usage.

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Do Terra Oil

On Guard Essential Oil Sanitizer

I just discovered this essential oil hand sanitizer at one of the yoga studios where I sub. It doesn’t make my hands super dry and it smells really good! It’s also TSA approved size.

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Bamboo Cutlery

On the road there are more meals eaten out or on the go and plastic utensils usually accompany the meal. So to help reduce my carbon footprint in the tiniest way – I keep reusable bamboo cutlery with me at all times. I even use it when I’m at home!

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resistance band

A Variety of Resistance Bands

I’m a big proponent of resistance bands. Both the long ones with handles (great for upper body) and the short loops (great for lower body). They pack well, are lightweight, multifunctional, and can be used anywhere to keep your body strong.

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travel yoga mat

Travel Yoga Mat

My biggest regret is not traveling with a yoga mat. There is something about rolling out my mat that just puts me in the right mindset for practice. I am currently on the hunt for a good travel yoga mat, but I’m recommending the Gaiam at the moment because many of my students use this in class. Stay tuned for my top pick.

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Manduka Yoga strap

Yoga Strap

It’s small, takes up almost no space, and is excellent for stretching your legs after a full day of exploring.

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The Safety Stuff

Safety is never far from our minds as women in this world. But it becomes an even stronger concern when we venture out and begin traveling the world solo. These items I keep with me for every trip and they help me feel confident and safe while traveling solo. 

TSA Approved Locks

I always travel with at least two TSA approved locks. I use one for my backpack and one to lock the locker in the hostel.

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Door Stop

Door Stop

This door stop is certainly not practical in a hostel dorm room setting, but for an Airbnb, Couchsurfing or hotel stay – I love it. It doesn’t just act as a door stop – but also as an alarm so it wakes you up if someone tries to intrude!

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And there you have it – everything you will need for an epic solo travel adventure. For more specifics on how many of each item to bring – it really depends on how long and where you’re going. But remember that less is more.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about packing to bring home the point that you really don’t need much when traveling:

“When preparing to travel, lay out all of your clothes and all of your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money” – Susan Heller 

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packing list for women
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Packing List