Backpacking checklist

September 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

If you plan on backpacking for an extended amount of time like me you will need to get a few things in order before you go.


Budget- {what will it cost to backpack (daily budgets)+ travel expenses +fixed bills+ money needed to get back on my feet once I return} x time gone =total budget


Packing- what do I really need? Are there more travel oriented items than others? Where are you going and whats the climate there? What type of photography(insert own activity here) will you be focusing on?


These are the things I had to sit down and decide, I will go over each in detail. Again all of this are based on MY desires and MY lifestyle. I encourage you to do your own research that fits YOU best to make the most of of your travels. This list is based a traveling photographers needs/desires that will have a higher % of space taken up my gear and less room for clothes



After doing much research it seems your daily budget can range from over $100 to less than $20 depending on the country you are in and how you prefer to sleep. Asian countries (japan and china excluded) tend to be much less expensive than european countries. Sleeping options from the most expensive to least are hotels, airbnbs, hostels, woofing, and couch surfing. Free options are WOOFing (workers on organic farms where you get free stay in exchange for a few hours of work on the farm/house/etc) or couch surfing ( a place where you can sign up to view and/or list your place for someone to crash at—I have heard mixed reviews here, everything from cool people that have extra space that enjoy the company of others to very lonely people that may expect you to spend time with them hanging out. In my case this is not what I’m looking for and am fortunate to have a budget to allow for hostels/airbnb/hotels.  I have decided on a budget of $100/day which will include food, stay, and some travel. I imagine airbnb or hotel would be a backup if hostels are not an option.  In my experience hostels can be a good way to meet like minded people that usually have good insight on places to visit and/or can be a great travel buddies.  I have met some really cool friends that I still keep in contact today from hostels. I have also budget an additional $500 for travel expenses and misc (activities -the fun stuff!) I’ve learned that a 4 month trip doing everything you want is better than a 6 month trip that you are just getting by not living it up. Remember this is more than likely a once in a lifetime opportunity so DO WHAT YOU REALLY WANT! I have roughly $700 of monthly fixed expenses I just can’t get rid of (car payments, insurance, loans, etc). So my budget is {3k daily expenses (100/day)+$700 set expenses +$500 travel/activities fund+ $9k back on feet fund}x 4 months=$25800 is total budget for everything from start to finish. The only thing I really left out was flight to and from the US, my italy trip was already payed for prior to me deciding to take this trip so I really just need to worry about the return flight. This will leave me roughly $9k saving for me to return to reality with, as you will need $ for rent and bills for roughly 3 months as you get back on your feet. I tried to budget on the higher side of things and really hope to come in under the budget. I plan (and recommend) to return and live with some family to not only get to spend precious time with your loved ones (that you may not ever have a chance to do again) will also give you the opportunity to look for jobs, get your mind back in order, and prepare for the next steps pressure (and $$) free. I hope this gives you an insight to what YOU may need when budgeting your journey.



This was a really tough one for me.  The big issues are weight and portability. While you want to make sure you have everything you may need, more than likely you will face some tough decisions on leaving behind certain luxuries that you have come to love. After doing a ton of research on what to bring. I settled on a 55L travel photographer bag from F-stop, comes with internal frame for weight distribution, spot for 15’ labtop, ICU (internal case unit for photography gear), and tripod holder. The following fits in the bag filled to the brim! 

GEAR- Canon 6d (3 batteries and charger), canon 16-35mm f/4 (good wide angle lens) (probably using this the most) canon 24-105mm f/4 (good small zoom-probably second most used), and sigma art 35mm f/1.4 (this is my low light king great for sweet bokeh and milky way pictures) I decided to leave my tele zoom 70-300mm, 14mm ultra wide angle, 50mm, 85mm, due to weight and packing constraints.  I debated a while on whether to bring a drone ( I usually use a 3DR solo that I love but it has a bag of its own and therefor would make me carry 2 bags instead of 1- deal breaker). So I took my advice and said this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I bought a dji mavic pro (2 batteries)(super compact-size of water bottle) that I could fit in my camera bag.  Mefoto backpacker travel tripod (also small enough to fit in my backpack). Go pro (for those underwater activities and anything else too extreme for my DSLR. Macbook pro 15’(for photo editing)(bought 2nd hand via craigslist specifically for this trip and is considered the best in portable photo/video editing, hint check for battery cycle count before purchasing to give you an idea how much life is let- 1k cycles is about the life), WD 2TB external hard drive for backing up my photos (also have copy on computer, hard drive, and cloud backup just in case life happens). Anker power bank 26,800 mil battery pack, you can never have enough juice for your devices! Anker is by far the best value in portable power banks IMO. All supporting cables/chargers for devices (phone charger, drone battery charger, camera battery charger, laptop charger)

CLOTHING- after much research I have decided to jump on the merino wool train. Merino wool is naturally antibacterial and is super fine material which makes it very comfortable. It is VERY expensive but when space is at the utmost importance you either have to decide how much time can you allot for laundry. I am bringing 3 no smell merino wool boxers, 4 pair socks (3 merino wool), 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of athletic shorts, 1 pair jeans, 3 merino wool t shirts, 1 merino wool long sleeve, 1 athletic shirt (dry fit), patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (excellent warmth and packs down very small), 1 columbia rain/wind jacket(extremely thin), 1 beanie, 1 pair thin gloves, 1 pair sandals, 1 pair Allbirds-super comfy shoes made of, you guessed it, merino wool. 

MISC- I highly recommend AmazonBasics Small Packing Cube Set to keep everything organized- i.e. shirts in one, shorts in another, or clean vs dirty, etc, really helps me stay sane lol. All in one travel international converter-important not to just get adapter- ok for phones but not other things like drones/laptops as it will actually convert it to your correct output levels. Toiletries, try to get everything in a travel size, except toothpaste/deodorant- I opted for no electric shaver, which I normally use, so i may return a little hairy but i guess beards are in so great. 1 book- divine thought (great book for keeping your thoughts positive and shaping the reality you want), single use tide bags (not pods) t=so you can use a little for laundry in the sink when needed. headphones - I really wanted to bring my noise canceling over the ear ones but again space didn’t allow and i figure it was a better idea since i tend to space out with the quiet ones (making me an easier target for thieves). Other things to consider, car registration (mine expires in dec so ill need to renew beforehand)(if you aren’t leasing/financing a car you can register as non operational and save yourself the insurance payment).  International credit card with no foreign use fee- I recommend some type of airmiles card (personally I use southwest card and love it but not the best for using miles on international flights (which I don’t do as much as domestic). It have gotten probably 5 free round trip tickets out of it so far saving over $2500 easy! Have your mail forwarded to family or a trusted friend. Foriegn visas, while most countries are cool with the USA passports but some you will need a temporary passport (easy to get normally but will need it before you get there). For phone service you can pay your USA carrier but will be the more expensive option. You can also have your phone unlocked and change sim cards as you travel to different regions, this will probably be the cheapest option but may leave you without a phone until you get an international sim. The last option is to switch your service to Google Fii, the rates dont change when you travel and no sim card change is necessary. To clarify the data rates don't change, $10/gb in the USA and in over 200 countries. For calling its 20 cents/min and free texting. For me I usually just need data so this works the best. The down side is it only works on select phones, such as Google pixel and the nexus line-up. 


Thats about it! My backpacks weighs in around 40lbs but fits as a carry on flights so theres never a risk of loosing my stuff or paying for checked bags. If possible I recommend to do a short trip (like a trial run) with your gear to see what you really do and don’t need.  


Well today I leave for Italy and then greece with my dad, his wife, a few of their friends, and my brother. This trip will be roughly 2 weeks and will be more a family vacation than anything else.  After that they leave and my really journey begins. :) Details on my next steps coming soon!


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