How to pack for an adventure vacation

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adventure traveler
Layer up and embrace all things lightweight
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Pack for an adventure vacation of a lifetime with these travel tips

When adventure calls, the only thing to do is answer, but you canít do so empty handed. Careful packing will ensure youíre off to safe, exciting times. With so many places to explore, youíll need to consider several factors.

The items youíll need most will largely depend upon the time of year, where youíre going and what you intend to do once you get there.  Heading off to a great unknown compared to a cruise or resort vacation requires a few vital items. Most likely, youíll be camping or basically roughing it and at some point hauling your own things.


First thing youíll notice when learning to pack for an adventure vacation - the lack of wheels. Leave that nice suitcase with wheels at home. Even if youíre not camping, youíre probably heading to places off the beaten track with lots of steps and nobody offering to help you with your bags.

You must be able to strap your things on your back and carry them up stairs, around train stations and maybe even on a trail. Adventure travel groups often recommend that travelers use frameless backpacks with padlocks as these are lighter to carry and less bulky to store. Ideally, the pack should be weatherproof and have a number of small pockets or compartments so you can access water and other must-haves without digging through the whole bag.

Mini daypacks are handy extras for shorter excursions where youíll only need snacks, water and maybe extra socks.

Clothing and footwear

Pack for an adventure vacation with durable, lightweight clothes that wick moisture and wash easily. Avoid packing heavy, bulky sweaters. Plan to layer! On cold nights, an inner layer and an outer layer of wool or fleece will keep you snug.

Footwear should be waterproof and able to provide you with good ankle support. A common mistake travelers make is to buy new boots for a trip without first breaking them in. This will result in painful blisters and sometimes even lost toe nails. 

A comfy pair of sandals will be much appreciated in the morning and evenings for moving around camp areas. They let your feet breathe and rest.

Protect yourself from the sun and stay much cooler with a sun blocking hat or cap. Going to the mountains? Opt for wool or fleece hat with a brim thatíll cover your ears. Bring insulated outer layers and/or rainwear.

Sleeping bag and tent

If youíre traveling with a company, call ahead to find out exactly what youíre expected to bring. Many tour companies provide bedding. If youíre traveling alone, bring a sleeping bag with a side zip Ė this allows you to open it on warm nights. Choose a lightweight, waterproof tent and practice putting it up before setting off.

Travel docs

When going abroad, youíll need to carry a number of documents, including your passport, visa (if necessary), an itinerary, photo ID and your immunizations health card. Make a photocopy of the first page of your passport and carry that separately as a safeguard in case the passport gets lost.


Outdoor adventure activities require some preparation. Itís always wise to carry a money belt with a small amount of the local currency for emergencies. Other essentials to pack for an adventure vacation include:

Water bottles
First aid kit
Toiletry kit
Lip balm
Bug spray
Iodine tablets (to disinfect water)
Maps/ field guides
Flashlight or headlamp
Extra batteries

While not essential, you wonít regret bringing the following:

Reading material
Travel pillow and sheet liner for sleeping bag
Quick-dry towel
Antiseptic wipes

This is probably a longer list than you were expecting. Thatís why itís important to choose lightweight items. Utilize compartments and pack in a way thatíll allow you to get what you need and carry on effectively. 

Happy trails!

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