The Ultimate Female Packing List
Updated April 2020, The Ultimate Female Packing List was originally written in June 2017
Sorry boys, this is the ultimate female packing list. Although if you just cross a few things listed here off you wonderful male travelers out there can use it too.
Over the years what I pack for my travels has morphed and evolved. As I have gotten older, the things that help me along the way have grown old with me. When I was younger, for example, I had no need for lotions and age-defying serums. However, now when I am on my travels, products similar to invisicrepe body balm are precious to me. I see it as another suncream or weather protector. Any product that helps my skin to be smoother, less wrinkly and basically just makes me look younger is coming with me. So what I’m trying to say is, I try to pack essentials – but they have definitely changed as I have. I typically try to pack as light as possible* but seeing that I’ve gone photographer/blogger I’ve had to allot more space for items pertaining to that area. What I’m mostly going to talk about here is what I pack for travel in general. My very first big international trip was in 2010 to backpack around Europe and all I packed with me was my backpack, 2 tees, 1 tank, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of leggings, 1 skirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 hoodie, 1 rain jacket, 2 pairs of socks, the shoes on my feet and undies I had on, my iPhone and a Nikon Cool Pix camera. That was it! How I wish I could go back to packing like that!
*Except that time I went to Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, Argentina and Chile on one trip. That was a nightmare to pack for as I hit every climatic zone known to humankind, and I love my winter gear and refused to ditch it. I had nearly 100lbs (45kg) worth of shit with me.
My #1 piece of advice for packing: Pack as little as possible. If there’s something you didn’t pack and wind up needing it and you’re going somewhere that there are other humans, you will likely be able to find clothing, common medications, and other items fairly easily.
The Ultimate Female Packing List
What I recommend to women pack and some optional items too!
You gotta have somewhere to put all your stuff right? BTW, I am not a fan of suitcases!
- 1 65L Backpack– I always bring my trusty Osprey backpack. I use the Osprey Ariel 65 L currently. I would love to go smaller in size, but find 65L to be the perfect size for my travels that include mountaineering and long trekking adventures.
- 1 Backpack Raincover– Never know what kind of weather you’ll get while traveling. A rain cover is a must.
- 1 Backpack Travel Cover– Protect your backpack while in transport.
- 1-2 Dry Bags– Keep all your electronics safe when you’re traveling over water (or near it)! They also can double as compression bags to cut down on wasted space. Neat huh?
Pack as few as possible and remember you can always pick up odds and ends when you get there.
- 2 pairs of Leggings– A friend asked me the other day what my jeans size was and I said legging, I’m terrified to try to wedge my ass into jeans. Leggings are versatile.
- (optional) 1 pair of Shorts– If I’m not going somewhere warm, or only visiting conservative countries these guys don’t make it in my bag.
- (optional) 1 pair of harem pants– If I’m traveling to a conservative country. Comfy and take up little space.
- 1 Pair of undies– This may be TMI, but I’ll say it here: I don’t usually wear underwear. They’re a waste of space. I only wear them when wearing a skirt. If you are an avid undies wearer I would suggest bringing a few pairs.
- 1-2 T-shirts– I will opt for baggy longer tunic style shirts if I’m traveling in conservative countries.
- 1-2 Tank tops
- 1 Long sleeve shirt– Great for conservative countries and cooler places.
- 1 Regular bra
- 1 Workout bra
- 1 Dress– I normally wear a maxi dress on the plane. Best ever.
- 1-2 Swimsuits– varies depending on where I’m going. I normally go with high neck crop style tops.
- 2 Pairs regular socks
- (optional) 2 Pairs of hiking socks
Not totally necessary, but all things I use almost daily.
- 1 pair of Sunglasses– You usually can pick up cheap pairs anywhere, but I do love to have at least one nice pair on me.
- 1 pair of Eyeglasses– I have this annoying astigmatism and contacts don’t work for me.
- 1 Headband– To keep my annoying hair outta my face.
- 1 Sarong– It can be a dress, a towel or a scarf! Handy to have in your purse when visiting more conservative countries and nipping in to check out religious sites. Can easily be bought on arrival.
- 1 Secret Pocket Scarf– Tammi makes amazingly cute scarves with secret pockets that she sells on Etsy. I love mine. Great alternative to a purse.
- 1 Sewing kit– To mend torn clothing and can be used to place stitches if injured and in a pinch.
Worth having if you love outdoor adventures.
- 1 Rain jacket– A thin one that can be rolled and takes next to no space.
- 1 Hat– I hate my hair sometimes and my head gets cold sometimes, unless I’m in the tropics.
- (optional) 1 Winter jacket– Only if I’m going somewhere cold i.e.: Antarctica.
- (optional) 1 Pair of rain pants– Only if going somewhere really wet and cold. You can wear layers underneath and they second as snow pants in a pinch!
- (optional) 1 Pair of gloves– Only if going some where cold.
I normally just pack my trusty hiking boots and Crocs flats.
- 1 pair of Hiking Boots– I tend to do a lot of hiking when traveling. I love my La Sportivas wholeheartedly.
- 1 pair of Ballet style Crocs– They’re cute, I can wear them in the water, wear them to a nice outing in a dress. I can’t thank my friend Corin enough for showing me these!
- (optional) 1 Pair of hiking sandals– if planning to visit the tropics.
- (optional) 1 Pair of muck or snow boots– For cold trips.
- Vaccine card
- RFID card sleeves– Keep your debit and credit card numbers from being skimmed by thieves.
- PacSafe antitheft Purse
- Debit/Credit Cards
- Copy of Passport
- Prints of necessary bookings/tickets
- Cash Money
- (optional) Guidebook &/or maps– I use Bradt Guides and Lonely Planet a bit if I’m going to use a guidebook, or check out Lonely Planet’s digital chapters, only $4.95 per chapter!
- (optional) Dummy wallet with canceled cards in it- Hand it over in the event you’re being robbed.
I cannot recommend Lush products enough and they’re all liquid free! #carryonlife.
- 1 shampoo Bar– These shampoo bars last me months.
- 1 Solid Conditioner– Will last me about 3 months.
- 1 Soap Bar
- 1 Coalface Facial Wash Bar
- 1 Greench Deodorant Powder– This bottle will last you forever. I still haven’t finished mine off after a whole year.
- 1 Toothy Tabs– Kinda weird at first but you get used to them.
- 1-2 massage bars– They can be used as a lotion.
- 1 razor handle- and 1 razor cartridge per month of travel.
- 1 Toothbrush
- 2 Containers of floss
- 1 Small bottle of bug spray
- 1 Small bottle of hand sanitizer
- 1-2 Bottles of chemical-free Sunscreen
- 1 Jar of Tiger Balm
- 1 Package of wet wipes- Hello ‘whore bath’.
- 1 Diva Cup– Say goodbye to tampon shopping.
- 1 chapstick
- 1 Small box of Bandaids
- 1 Small first aid kit
- 2-4 Hair ties
- A few bobby pins
- 1 Brush/comb
- 1 Small container of coconut oil– You can use it for just about anything.
- 1 small tube of superglue– can fix things with it or use to seal small cuts.
- (optional) Scrubba Washbag– Packable washing machine.
- (optional) 2-4 Rolls of travel toilet paper– can easily be purchased once you’re there.
- (optional) 1 small container of Qtips– can be easily picked up when you arrive.
- (optional) 1 Small bottle of perfume
My make up kit will vary depending on where I’m going and what my plans entail.
- 1 Bottle of mascara
- 1 Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner– This stuff is AMAZING!
- 1 Eyebrow kit– I have blonde eyebrows and dark brown hair and I am very self-conscious about that.
- (optional) 1 Bottle tinted moisturizer
- (optional) 1 neutral colored eyeshadow
Can easily be picked up once you arrive, but this is what’s normally found in my kit.
If you take any Rx meds, bring them and enough with you.
- Broad-spectrum antibiotic
- Bacitracin– A heavy-duty form of Neosporin
- (optional) Antimalarial– If visiting places where Malaria is present. Know which prophylaxis you may need. Check out this handy chart from the CDC for more info.
- (optional) Fluconazole
- (optional) Ginko Biloba– allegedly helps with altitude sickness.
- (optional) Melatonin– if you have trouble sleeping.
All optional, but I do camp a lot on my travels. A website that I like to shop is Backcountry.
- 1 MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent– A lightweight tent is amazing for travel and backpacking.
- 1 Small Travel/Camp Pillow For camping or for sleeping on planes and trains.
- 1 Sleeping bag- Make sure to pack the right sleeping bag for anticipated night temperatures.
- 1 Hydroflask water bottle– I love these water bottles that are insulated so they keep your drinks cold (or hot) and they actually work!
- 1 Hydration reservoir– A lightweight tent is amazing for travel and backpacking.
- 1 Small Camp Stove
- 1 Lighter
- 1 Travel Towel
- 1 Headlamp
- 1 Katadyn Water Filter– I travel to a lot of remote areas where water comes from a stream. This water filter is a trusty piece that I always carry with me.
Much of this is totally optional. I’d love to take a trip and leave ALL of this shit at home.
- 1 Smartphone– Handy for everything. Although sometimes I just turn it off and leave it off
- 1 Delorme Inreach Explorer+– This is my favorite gadget by far! GPS, SOS beacon, and text messenger all in one!
- 1 Phone charger
- Extra batteries for EVERYTHING– I have a tendency to wander to remote places sans electricity.
- 1 Solar charger
- 1 External Battery
- (optional) 1 Laptop and charger
- 1 External Hard drive
- 1 Travel Adapter Power Strip– 1 part adapter, 1 part power strip. The best of both worlds rolled into one.
- 1 Combination lock– handy to lock up luggage in hostel lockers.
- Ziplock bags– These bag boys have a zillion uses. From holding stuff to a ghetto rain cover for your camera.
Trust me, this is all a post in itself! There is a lot to my kit, but guess what? It all fits in one small backpack. Check out what travel photography gear I carry.
Want To Share Your Women’s Packing Tips & Advice?
Share your women’s packing tips or ask your female packing questions in the comments sections below!