What clothes to pack for backpacking

Very soon I am off to backpack Thailand for 5 weeks with two of my best friends. One of the questions I’ve been asked, SO many times, when I come back from travelling is “how do you live out of a backpack on holiday?” My friend Tanya has been one of those people so Tan I hope this helps!

This post explains how I pack. It’s not universal and many people will probably disagree but over the years this has come to be the best method for me and my packing of my 70cl backpack! With limited space in a backpack, and even more limited urge to carry it, I try to pack as lightly as possible. In all of the places I have been I have had access to hotel/hostel laundries and launderette services so this has never been a problem. So I pack light and this, of course, allows me some space to buy a few pieces on holiday!

Ideally you want to pack things that complement one another. I never really make outfits but find you pack less if things are somewhat complementary. Don’t take anything that you find too tight, too big, too itchy, too
silky, or too “meh” – if you have problems wearing it normally you
definitely are not going to want to wear it when you’re hot, sticky and
uncomfortable and not looking your best! You probably won’t have access to an iron and if you’re anything like me you’d rather get some extra sleep than wake up to iron!

For a trip of roughly a month in a hot country I pack:

3 pairs of shorts
My staple is usually one pair of short denims for functionality, a slightly smarter form-fitting pair, and a loose casual cotton pair for throwing on over a bikini at the beach. Here are some that I am loving at the moment:

Lifestyle Enthusiast - Miss Selfridge Mid Wash Patched Denim Shorts
Miss Selfridge Mid Wash Patched Denim Shorts, £32 (link here)


Ralph Lauren Camo Shorts with Embroidered Dogs
Ralph Lauren Camo shorts with embroidered dogs, £90 (link here)


Lifestyle Enthusiast - Asos Cullottes Shorts in Coral
ASOS Cullottes Shorts in Coral, £12 (link here)
Lifestyle Enthusiast - River Island Chambray Cut Work Shorts
River Island Chambray Cutwork Shorts, £20 (link here)

1 or 2 skirts
It’s worth noting that when sightseeing you are often expected to cover your knees in areas which require more modesty. For this reason I usually take a maxi skirt with me. and then a mini which can be worn elsewhere. Perhaps something like these…

Lifestyle Enthusiast - Zara TRF Long Flowing Skirt in Ivory
Zara TRF Long flowing skirt in Ivory, £26 (link here)


Lifestyle Enthusiast - Asos Skater Skirt in Floral
ASOS Skater skirt in Floral, £16 (link here)

5 tops
I tend to take block coloured plain tops in complementary colours. This year I may take along a few prints too though. I also recommend taking something that covers your arms for when air conditioned buses get too cool! Really loving these:


Lifestyle Enthusiast - Missguided Oriana Swimsuit in Mint
Missguided Oriana Bardot Bodysuit in Mint, £11, (link here)


Lifestyle Enthusiast - Nasty Gal Tropic Rush Crop Top in Floral
Nasty Gal Tropic Rush Crop Top in Floral, £25, (link here)
Lifestyle Enthusiast - Boohoo Amelie Dip Dye Crochet Top
Boohoo Amelie Dip Dye Crochet Top, £18, (link here)
Lifestyle Enthusiast - Asos Crop with long sleeves by Ecru
ASOS Crop with Long Sleeve in Ecru, was £15 now £9 (link here)


1 or 2 dresses
I always end up buying a dress when I’m away so this probably shouldn’t be on my packing list but generally I like to take along a maxidress and a minidress. I could not possibly adore this dress more!!! Number one on my wishlist:

Lifestyle Enthusiast - Fresh Cut Dress in Chambray bu Nasty Gal
Fresh Cut Dress in Chambray by Nasty Gal, £37, (link here)

1 pair of comfy trousers
My pick are my mum’s vintage palazzo trousers. They are unbelievably comfortable and backpacker shabby-chic! Similar shape here:

Lifestyle Enthusiast - Asos Sheer Pants
ASOS Trousers in Sheer print, £28 (link here)

1 or 2 bathing suits (or 3… or 4… or 5)
 I always struggle to pick between mine and end up throwing in loads and loads of bikinis but yes pack your favourite bikinis or swimsuits – fortunately they can be rolled up small so don’t take up much space! My brand of choice is Freya, available in department stores and on ASOS. I won’t be buying new ones this season but I recommend Freya for quality bikinis in a range of sizes, and New Look for cheaper options!

2 pairs of shoes
Comfortable shoes and absolutely essential when travelling. The last thing you want is sore feet from tottering in heels or ill-fitting shoes. I swear by a comfy pair of flip-flops (I have the gold Havaianas – link) and a  pair of pretty beaded sandals! If you will be needing hiking boots I really really recommend breaking into them before you leave for your trip! In terms of packing, I tend to find it easiest to put my shoes in the outside compartment of my backpack at the front so they are easy to access and don’t touch my clothes!

Plenty of underwear and socks
I really hope these don’t need explaining!

A warm jumper
You’d be surprised how cold some coaches crank up that air conditioning to, and I always need one on flights!

It’s usually too hot for full pyjamas so I recommend dinky shorts and a baggy tshirt!

A Sarong
A sarong is not just perfect to throw on at the beach, it’s lightweight and thin, takes hardly any space, can be rolled into a makeshift scarf in cold A/C coaches, used as an extra bed sheets in questionable sleeping spaces, works as a beach towel, a neck pillow, and simply as designed to pretty up swimwear! They are also handy for using as a cover-up! I have loads which I have bought on beaches when travelling and I recommend just getting one whilst away.

What are your travel essentials? How do you pick between items? If you have any tips please do pop them in the comments below! 🙂