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The Gap Year Travel Packing Checklist

Planning your gap year travels is an amazing, exciting build-up to the event itself. The level of organization necessary to plan for a year can be overwhelming; but plotting the schedule of all you want to see and do takes some of the stress out.

So, we’ve decided to make the drudgery of the packing part a little easier for you. It’s incredibly tempting to try to stuff everything you’ll ever need into your 16L backpack, but carefully-considered packing will take a huge load off so you can travel with ease.

These tips from pro-travelers will help you pack well, get it out of the way and allow you to enjoy the rest of the ride. Print and tick off as you go to keep track of your preparations!


  • The first step is to pick your bag wisely! Whether you’re roughing it with a backpack or think that a heavy-duty suitcase will be better for you, consider these tips before purchasing your portable wardrobe for the year:
  • Rucksacks are best for hostel stays and budget backpacking adventures – it’s frankly impossible to lug a wheelie suitcase on a trek to Machu Picchu. Decide how many liters you need – 16L will hold around a week’s worth of clothes.
  • Hard-shell luggage will protect your belongings and can come in super-large sizes. These are good if you plan to stay and work in the same place for long periods. Check out websites reviewing the best luggage brands to find the one for you.
  • You can even get special travel rucksacks with wheels so that you have the choice to take the weight off your back if you wish.
  • Whichever kind you go for, choose one with plenty of compartments to ensure clothes, shoes, and toiletries don’t meet.

Essential Toiletries

  • Sun cream (and aloe vera gel for inevitable burns).
  • Plasters for scrapes and scratches.
  • Paracetamol for hangovers.
  • Baby wipes and a pocket pack of tissues for everywhere you go – you don’t know what kind of foreign toilet situations you may encounter…
  • Hand sanitizer.


  • Roll rather than fold; especially if you are filling a rucksack.
  • Take TWO TOPS for every ONE PAIR OF BOTTOMS! Avoid over-packing with this sensible tip which plays on the rule that you are more likely to wear bottoms more times than tops.
  • As you’re likely to be going to a hot country, you only need one jumper for evenings.
  • Wear your bulkiest garments on the flight, so that they don’t take up all your precious baggage allowance… but prepare to strip off coats, jumpers and jeans as soon as you land in 35-degree heat (pack an empty tote bag at the top of your luggage to carry them in!)


  • Limit yourself to three pairs of shoes – gulp. If you’re off to sunny climes, a pair of sandals, some hiking trainers, and one pair of go-with-everything evening shoes will more than suffice.
  • Don’t forget to utilize the space inside your shoes when packing. Stuff them with perfume bottles, cameras, jewelry… whatever you can fit in there to help fill every available space. They’re great protective receptacles for breakables.


  • The rule of thumb has always been to never take anything you’d be upset to lose. This includes expensive gadgets and sentimental items like jewelry passed down from your nana.
  • If you are taking these things: make sure they have durable, protective cases, and that you keep them close at all times, away from thieves and pickpockets.
  • Regularly upload photos from your phone and camera to the cloud or email them to yourself, to save your travel memories should your gadgets go missing.
  • Always use the safes provided in hotels and hostels.
  • Take safety precautions by using things like money belts and hidden pockets to keep cash and other important items out of sight when out and about.
  • During travel, keep laptops/tablets/cameras/phones etc. in your carry-on luggage and don’t let it out of your sight.

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