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Guided Packing List for Solo Traveling

Let’s start with this question: How often do you say “Just in case” when packing? It can be daunting to pack for a solo trip, partly because you need to think of everything  you might need (and I really mean everything) and partly because it can seem like a lot when you’re actually trying to pack light. The sooner you get the hang of the basics, the essential tricks, and the workarounds the more confident you are of being equipped and ready to take on the unknown. I tackle the packing with excitement and I’m equally thrilled to share this Guided Packing List - a bunch of questions that will bring clarity, tips and tricks to ease your travel anxiety, and a laundry list of things you can opt to pack. Remember, there is no wrong or right, just smart. Pick what works for you for a holiday that always supports what you might need.


Mind map for travel planning and packing
An accurate depiction of my mind before packing, ugh.

How are you traveling? If you’re flying to your Solo Travel destination, then you know the rules. 15kgs in check-in and 7kgs in cabin luggage. Split these up evenly in terms of the weight to distribute and maximum the given limit. I prefer to keep my books, toiletries, electronics, and personal effects in my cabin luggage and pack up clothes, shoes, and the rest in the check-in luggage. I also throw in a medium-sized empty backpack (for day-wise explorations in my destination) and a fanny pack (for treks, inter-destination commutes, and morning walks). If you’re traveling by a bus / train: just remember there’s no strict rule on the weight but you’d be personally moving all the bags around. Don’t take more than two: a small suitcase + backpack or 2 medium backpacks. 

Where are you going? The next thing on this Guided Packing List, is wholly dependent on your destination. Factor in the geography and the weather, mountains, beaches or flat-land, and of course where you’ll be staying and how you’ll be moving around in your Solo Travel destination. Here’s an easy recall check-list that can save you time and ingeniously keep you ready for anything!

travel packing list based on weather
Click to download your guided packing list

What kind of traveler are you? I ask this because some travel to see the world, some to make new friends, some to find themselves and some to do all of the above. Knowing how much time you’d spend with yourself allows you to pack things for your ‘me time’. I never travel without my 3 books, 2 travel journals, a polaroid camera, and my bag of mountain teas. It is part of my daily routine which I continue with on my trips. Other things in this category can include: travel-friendly exercise gear, sketch books & colors, music speakers and earphones, WiFi dongle, Firestick, could be anything!

How can you make your packing smarter? I always like a little wiggle room (15% empty space) because A: used clothes tend to occupy more space and B: I like to bring back souvenirs or local finds from my destinations. That said, here are a few things you can follow when packing for Solo Traveling.

  • Heavier clothes at the bottom: this helps your lighter clothes avoid wrinkles 

  • Packing cubes: super helpful for compartmentalization and easy access of items 

  • 5-4-3-2-1 packing method: for a week-long trip, pack 5 tops, 4 pants, 3 accessories (shawls, shrugs, hats, belts, etc), 2 shoes, and 1 special outfit (swimsuit, dinner dress, trekking set, etc) 

  • Rolling and folding: while Instagram is full of packing methods and systems, remember the basics if you want to adopt these. Lighter garments, roll. Thicker garments, fold. 

  • Uneven spaces: trolley suitcases usually have one side where the handle creates divides. Use these smartly to keep smaller cubes, toiletry pouches, first-aid kits, and electronic items

What else can help you? 

You’re mostly good to go! A few other things on my Guided Packing List include a bunch of decisions based on your preferences and habits. 

  • When you’re carrying hard cash, make sure to split these up into different suitcases / bags apart from your wallet so that if you lose one thing, you still have a workaround with the other. 

  • Carry jewelry and precious items in a small pouch that is personally on you at all times.

  • Split your electronic items in a separate bag, even if it's in your cabin luggage so that you can easily pull just one bag out for the security check.

  • Carry offline and online versions of your ID proof, hotel accommodations, travel bookings, and any other documentation. 

Note: Remember to spot a bank, pharmacy, supermarket in and around your accommodations so that you can buy anything else you might want.  I’m always trying to be more efficient but that doesn’t mean my suitcase is just a boring, throw-in of essential things. After all, you’re spending time with yourself and that means carrying things that don’t always make sense to others.  It’s always changing just like you. In fact, when I can bring back alcohol I leave more wiggle room, when I am heading to the mountains I carry a seed collecting pouch, and the beaches require my ankle charms. Packing is a reflection of who you are as a traveler so don’t be shy to create your own Guided Packing List!

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