Two Months in a Backpack

6 min read

How to pack for 2 months of travel in only one backpack.

This summer, I will be taking the quintessential millennial post-graduation pilgrimage to Southeast Asia for about two months. I wanted to optimize my travel experience as much as possible and this involves traveling with no luggage other than a backpack. I’ve spent a lot of time these past months procrastinating on school responsibilities by planning out this trip and along the way have learned a few things about efficient and intentional travel which I’d like to share.

What to Pack

The best advice I have seen for packing for a trip such as this is to take a look at every item and ask What is the worst case scenario if I didn’t bring this? — If the answer to this question leads you to believe that it’s not an essential item (especially if it is heavy/large or is highly unlikely to be used), then simply don’t bring it and know that you will figure it out if needed. That being said, here is what I plan on bringing.

The backpack I will be using is the Tortuga Setout 45L, which is large and functional enough to carry all of my belongings but small enough to fit as a carry-on for flights. For shorter day trips from hostels, I plan to use the Tortuga Daypack, which is easily compressible.

Clothes

This will depend heavily on where exactly you are traveling to, what time of the year, and what activities you plan on doing, but this is my list for a tropical summer climate.

Toiletries

Electronics

Misc.

Misc. Things to Consider

Visas

Many countries will require you to have a travel visa to visit (while some allow you to stay for a given period but need a visa for longer periods) depending on the issuing country of your passport. This is a great tool you can use to find out what the visa requirements are for your given passport.

Vaccines

This great guide by WebMD is pretty comprehensive. Consult online resources, make an appointment with your general practitioner at least one month before your travel date, and then get the recommended vaccines and preventative medication.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is pretty important to have in the unfortunate event that something happens to you, your plans, or your belongings during the trip. Based on my research, World Nomads seems to be the standard and most trusted option.

Internet

Having internet access is pretty important if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar, and you may not always find wifi. One option is to get a SIM card for every region you’re going to, but this may not be the best option if you…

  1. Don’t have an unlocked phone (me)
  2. Are traveling to many different regions and don’t want to deal with the hassle of purchasing several SIM cards (me)
  3. Might use multiple devices (also me)

Instead, what I am using instead is a portable wifi hotspot by Skyroam Solis. There are other options out there, but this one was relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and reliable. I used it for a week in Italy, and it got the job done.

General Travel Hacks

Pack efficiently — any space saved is useful. This includes using packing cubes to organize everything and opting to roll smaller articles of clothing.

Don’t overplan — buy the longer flights beforehand to save money, but for many places like Southeast Asia and Europe, you can travel regionally cheaply and on a whim. The last thing you want is to be beholden to an itinerary that you will likely want to change after learning more from people you meet along the way.

If you want to rent a motorbike or car in a foreign country, get an International Driving License! It’s cheap and easy to get in the USA at any AAA office.

If you are staying in hostels (which I heavily recommend to those wanting an inexpensive and social experience), invest in a sleeping mask and earplugs. Your well-rested future self will thank me.

To avoid hassle, make sure all prescription medication has your name on the container and is in a ziplock bag.

Download Google Maps and language translations for where you will be visiting before you get there, in case you cannot find signal/wifi in a pinch.