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In the Netherlands, we have a specific word that indicates the fun you have before your trip even starts. We call it ‘voorpret’, which roughly translates to ‘before fun’. That’s exactly what we feel when we start packing our backpacks for a new adventure!

Still, it can be a hassle to make sure you pack the right things and that you aren’t carrying around too much weight. That’s why we put together this complete packinglist for your next backpacking adventure, including easy tips and tricks on how to pack in a sustainable way. 

First things first: finding a suitable backpack

When you’re going for your first backpacking trip, getting yourself a good backpack should be a priority. You need a backpack that fits your body, is easy to use and fits everything you want to bring. We bought the Forclaz 50 liters backpack (grey) from Decathlon years ago and it still works fine. Decathlon offers decent quality outdoor gear for a budget price. If you have some more money to spend, check out sustainable brands like Patagonia or Fjällräven Kanken for your backpack. 

You might also want to invest in some rain protection for your backpack, although this is sometimes already included in the price of your backpack. If you really want to make sure your bag is protected, you can get yourself a flightbag as well. You put your backpack in this flightbag whenever it’s out of your sight and lock it with a TSA Lock. Sure, if people really want to find out what’s inside your backpack they will, but it does offer you some extra protection. 

Minimizing plastic waste

Your sustainable packing list

Now it’s time to fill up your backpack, and make sure you’re ready to go. These are the things we’ve found essential during our backpacking trips, but of course, you can always personalize this list:

Travelling documents:

  • Passport + a copy
  • Visa 
  • A couple of passport photographs
  • Health insurance card + a copy
  • Optional: an international drivers license + a copy

TIP: Make digital copies of your important documents and store them in your phone, e-mail account or on the cloud. In that way, you’ll have them with you at all times.

Financial matters:

  • Some cash in the currency of the country you’re travelling to
  • Credit card
  • Debit card

Personal care:

  • Solid and waste-free shampoo, conditioner, body wash and deodorant (for example from Lush)
  • Bamboo toothbrush and natural toothpaste (for example from Truthpaste or made with this recipe)
  • Ocean & coralreef-safe organic sun protection (for example from BeeYou)
  • Plastic-free shaving equipment (for example from Kairn)
  • Menstrual products (for example from Organicup)
  • A first-aid kit and your medication

TIP: Interested in banning plastic waste while travelling? Check out our guide that helps you find good alternatives to single-use products and gives you other tips and tricks to travel plastic-free.  

Minimizing plastic waste


  • Rain protection or a flightbag and a TSA Lock for your backpack
  • Packing cubes (to organize everything you pack) 
  • Camera gear, chargers and SD-cards 
  • A raincoat (for example from Patagonia)
  • World plug and power bank
  • E-reader
  • Lifestraw water bottle
  • Canvas bag or smaller backpack for daytrips
  • Beeswrap for food packaging
  • Reusable cutlery

Minimizing plastic waste
Minimizing plastic waste

What clothes and shoes should you bring on your trip?

It’s good to put some time into thinking about the clothes you should bring. Firstly, check out the local weather conditions in advance so you know what kind of weather you’re up for. Will it be cold or warm? Dry or humid? Stormy or calm? Adjust the clothing you pack accordingly.

Then use the following rule: make five sets of clothing, but make sure you can mix and match between the sets. This will limit the weight of your backpack and makes sure you don’t bring any redundant clothing. In addition, always bring a raincoat with you. That almost always comes in handy!

Hiking shoes

And what shoes should you bring? Generally, you’ll need shoes for three things: (tough) hikes, sightseeing and casual strolls (and maybe showering). Hiking always works best with sturdy hiking boots. But for a day of sightseeing, you’re better off with some good sneakers (such as Converse Allstars, which are lightweight and washable) or sandals (such as Teva’s) that also work for lighter hikes. If you’re going to a sunny destination or if you’re staying in low-budget hostels, a pair of flipflops always comes in handy for a short walk to the beach or showering.

We hope this packing list will help you when you’re preparing for your next backpacking adventure. If you have any questions regarding sustainable packing, please drop a comment in the comment section below!

Sustainable travel