Minimalist Living on the Road: My Backpacking Essentials

Well my lovelies, the time has finally come to start packing up my backpack and triple checking my to do list ready for next weeks great departure!

One of the most exciting things about packing up an ambitiously small 46L backpack for a year of travels is that it highlights just how little you need to get by in life. Once you realise that you have to lug all these belongings on your back almost every where you go, you soon get ruthless to what makes the cut in your final packing list!

What’s been the most interesting about my final backpack contents is just how flexible I’ve had to be with my own ethical interests, in order to weigh up practicality, durability and, naturally, cost. But I’ve tried to stay as balanced as possible, and suspect that as I go on I’ll slowly go without less in my bag in order to keep my arms from falling off!

So whilst not everything I’m packing is 100% ethical, vegan, Fairtrade etc, they will help to serve me in living as minimalist and zero waste for as long as possible. You will also see that a lot of the items below have also been gifted to me by my lovely friends, family and colleagues, so I haven’t spent much money on my final contents!

My Packing List for 1 year of Backpacking

Packing list for one year backpacking


First up is the backpack itself. I searched for hours for a vegan or eco specific backpack, sadly with no avail. Does a magical product like that even exist? If it does, it hasn’t made good friends with Google yet!

So, instead, I went for something which is comfortable, durable and has a million different pockets. My 46L Osprey Kyte has only been road tested across the UK so far, but has firmly become my new bestie. It’s big enough to carry everything you need, without being so big it lures you into packing or buying more than the essentials. If packed correctly, it’s also light enough to take on as hand luggage on planes, trains and buses, so limits the risk of loss or theft.

womens osprey 46L backpack

Home Comforts

Next up are a few home comforts to make life on the road as easy as possible. These items include:

  • Travel Mosquito net (gift)
  • Travel Microfibre towel (gift)
  • Silk eye mask (gift)
  • Silk sleeping bag liner
  • Yogapaws – so no need to bring my mat! (gift)

1 year backpacking essentials

  • Earplugs
  • World plug adapter
  • Portable sink plug (gift..its the orange disk!)
  • Selection of sealable, reusable pots – containing hair clips, hairbands, jewellery etc

1 year backpacking essentials

Health and Safety

  • First Aid Kit (gift) – Including pain killers, blister plasters, dressing, plasters, safety pins, Savlon and hydration sachets.
  • Imodium diarrhea relief
  • Multivitamin energy and immunity sachets. I know I always advocate eating your way to health and avoiding supplements, but this may not be possible on the road, so I’ll be carrying a pack of these to mix in with water when I need a boost.

1 year backpacking essentials


I plan to take a very small amount of shoes to keep my pack light. As I’m visiting hot countries I’ll live mostly in my flip flops and sandals; though I’ll wear my walking shoes when moving from place to place with my backpack.

1 year backpacking shoes essentials

Random Essentials

  • Reusble water bottle with filter. This won’t necessarily work in all countries so I am looking into either a travel steripen or a Water To Go bottle. If you’ve tried these or any other products before and have thoughts let me know!
  • Loose scarf for covering shoulders and hair at certain temples
  • Notepad and pen for blog ideas!
  • Prescription glasses
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Headphones
  • Chargers and USB cables

1 year backpacking essentials

1 year backpacking essentials

Travel Toiletries

My toiletries bag is where I’ve had to be a little loose on my ethics to be frugal and practical. One of my travel buddies is already out in Nepal and has found so far that, while her electricals have remained safe from theft, her toiletries seem to be hot property for other travellers to nab!1 year backpacking toiletries essentials

I’ve decided to not be too precious and to pick products which are tried, tested and won’t make me cry if I lose them! These include:

  • Foldable toothbrush (gift)
  • Floss and Toothpaste
  • Compact deodorant (though I love Lush’s deo bar, it gets broken and messy very easy and I know I can reply on Sure during VERY hot weather)
  • Seaweed gel moisturiser (very versatile and lightweight for hot countries. Also works as an alternative to aloe gel when sunburnt!)
  • Dry Shampoo spray
  • Travel laundry liquid (gift)
  • x2 sun lotions (factors 50 for face and 30 for body) just to kick me off for the first few weeks in India.
  • x2 Lush shampoo bars (can also be used for body and clothes) and x1 Lush conditioner bar
  • A selection of Weleda Travel Body Washes (donated from Weleda!)
  • Roll on Tea Tree and a roll on mixed essentials oils (for perfume alternative)


I know I said in my post about Packing Solutions for the Green Traveler that I planned to use cotton tote bags as zero waste packing cubes for inside my backpack, but then…well…I actually tried to pack with them! I saw the error of my ways when I had several odd shaped, bulky reusable bags in my backpack and realised there was a reason packing cubes were so popular; they are efficient and practical!1 year backpacking essentials

So I invested in 3 Slim Ebags packing cubes and, to be honest, I haven’t looked back. These 3 lightweight sacks fit in ALL of my clothes and underwear, and fit snugly in my backpack; making it super quick and easy to find things on the go.

In my cubes I’ve packed:

  • x2 lightweight dresses (including this stunning lightweight eco dress sent courtesy of Royal Robbins – review to come soon!)
  • x2 lightweight trousers
  • x2 loose long sleeve shirts
  • X1 pair of Yoga leggings and x2 pairs of plain leggings
  • x1 pair of shorts
  • x1 long loose skirt
  • x2 T Shirts
  • x3 vest tops
  • x1 cardigan
  • x1 bikini
  • x1 large sarong (great for wearing as a skirt, shawl or as a curtain on Indian trains)
  • X6 pairs of underwear and x2 pairs of trekking socks
  • x1 waterproof coat


I’ve opted for a small, lightweight messenger bag to carry my important belongings close to me, and a money belt for passport and money. photo (1)Contents in bag include:

  • Kindle
  • Camera
  • Phone (I’m taking an old bashed up iPhone for wifi access only)
  • Tiger Balm
  • Compact powder with mirror
  • Antibacterial gel
  • Mini bag with discreet strap for nights out or for extra security under clothes

A few extra bits and bobs I’m packing which are not listed above include:

  • My Mooncup
  • An all in one flashlight and emergency whistle (gift)
  • Folder of essentials docs – including Passport, rail passes, insurance docs and visa confirmations
  • Emergency mascara and eyeliner

Well, I think that’s everything!! I don’t need to worry too much if I have forgotten something, as there are obviously shops where I’m going.

As my lovely friend Bekki (who I’ll be joining in India ) says: “If you’ve forgotten it, lost it, miss it, need it, they have it.”

7 thoughts on “Minimalist Living on the Road: My Backpacking Essentials”

  1. I have the 65L version of your bag! I love it 🙂
    It is hard packing for these sorts of things when you have ethical interests and preferences but then you need to realise that you will be carrying everything and it weighs up!
    Good luck on your trip.


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