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Gap year kit list

What to pack & why
The kit list that follows is comprehensive and covers most eventualities and destinations. It is up to you to select the items you really need.

Every traveller will tell you to “pack light” or “take only half of what you think you need as you can buy most things en route and cheaper too”. They’re right. Listen to them!


Travel pack – a backpack with a zip that runs all the way round the edge. Easy to pack. Often has wheels.


Top Loader – a traditional backpack. More watertight and better for trekking and expeditions because they balance well. 

  • Try it on with weight inside. 
  • 65 litres is big enough. 
  • Ensure they are well worn in before you travel.
  • Wheelie bags are great until you hit stairs or sand.
  • Have a day pack or shoulder bag for everyday essentials


  • Waterproofs
  • Lightweight loose-fitting clothes (hot climates)
  • Layers and padded jacket (cold climates)
  • Long sleeved tops (sun/insect protection & religious sites)
  • Trousers/shorts or convertibles.
  • Hat-preferably covers ears and neck
  • Highcut boots – for trekking.
  • Midcut boot – enough general off road
  • Casual shoes – day to day comfort
  • Adventure sandals – hot days & rain-showers
  • Flip flops – for chilling out not trekking
  • Swimwear


  • Credit card(s)
  • Emergency numbers
  • Immunisation record
  • Insurance details
  • Cash
  • Passport
  • Tickets
  • Travel visa
  • Money belt
  • Padlock 
  • Personal/door/luggage alarm
More items
Health & wellbeing

  • Contraception
  • Medical Kit: see the page on Health.
  • Tampons or pads
  • Toiletries
  • Towel (lightweight)
  • Washing line
  • Hand-gel
  • Earplugs
  • Glasses/contact lenses-prescription
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen/lip-balm
  • Water purifier


  • Mosquito net
  • Pillow/case
  • Sleeping bag/liner
  • Dry bag


  • Smart phone: (see blog on mobile roaming)
  • Batteries/Solar charger & adapters
  • Waterproof camera or casing for iphone
  • Storage disk or spare cards (or save to cloud)
  • Travel apps
  • Headphones

Low tech

  • Pen/cil & Notebook
  • Cup
  • Spork
  • Swim goggles
  • Gaffer tape
  • Guidebook or App
  • Lighter/matches
  • Pocketknife-check-in on flights
  • Headtorch
  • Water bottle

“Travel with some slack in your backpack”