Travelling around with a backpack can often be cumbersome so it’s important to pack as light as possible.
That being said, you also need to make sure you have the essentials and this can vary depending on the season. The bulk of my recent 4 month trip in Europe was spent during the summer months so I was able to save space and weight by leaving out heavy items like coats or jackets. Here is what I took with me…
I took a smart phone, headphones and camera. Although you might prefer to ditch technology all together when travelling, the ability to look up maps and translate foreign languages becomes incredibly helpful when lost. There are a range of apps now specifically for travellers which are super useful! Headphones are great for listening to music and zoning out on long bus rides.
Clothes generally take up the most room in your backpack, so take as little as possible. It’s better to where the same shirt a few days in a row then pack one for each day of the week (Same goes for pants). No one really cares how you look, and you can usually do a load of washing every couple of days. I took 3 t-shirts, a long-sleeve shirt, a jumper, a pair of shorts, board shorts and a few pairs of socks and underwear (washing socks and underwear with you in the shower is a helpful tip so you never run out). Taking a thin towel or sarong is super useful for drying yourself, using as picnic mat or a blanket!
There are a number of small items which can come in handy at surprising times and don’t take up much space in your bag. Playing cards, a pen and pencil, small exercise book are great to have during periods when you are sitting around and waiting for buses, trains or hitch-hiking. The exercise book can also double as a filing folder to keep documents safe. Rubber bands always come into use for re-sealing bags of unfinished food or keeping items together/condensed. A Travel clothesline or a piece of string is useful for drying washing on the go (either in your room or tying clothes to your backpack). Keeping a photo-copy of passports is handy in the unfortunate event of theft.
Camping is often a much cheaper (and nicer) option than staying in hostels or guesthouses so I carry a small hiking tent, sleeping mat and bag. You can use your clothes as a pillow. This can add an extra couple of kilograms to your pack but is usually worth it (If you’re travelling with a partner or friends you can divide the stuff up between you). I also have a small butane gas burner. It’s virtually weightless and butane canisters are easy to find. Being able to cook simple meals for yourself will save you a lot of money!