Backpacking - Tropical Travel Essentials

I feel like I'm somewhat of an expert in this area.  I grew up in the tropics (Papua New Guinea) and I've spent a lot of my life traveling internationally, living out of a backpack.  Yesterday Lonnie (my hubby), Dylan (my almost 11 year old), and Lonnie's dad left for a 6 week trip to Indonesia.  

Ever since Dyl was a toddler, Lon has promised him this trip.  He used to tell him that when he was fast enough to outrun a Komodo Dragon, he would take him.  Lon's dad just retired this Summer, so it seemed like the perfect time for this manly adventure.  

So, as a helped them pack, I thought it might be helpful to share some of our go-to, must-have, essentials for traveling in the tropics.  When I say backpacking, I'm referring to staying in accommodations such as tents, hostels and guesthouses of the 3rd world variety, not clean or neat hotels.  These items make my life a little easier when I'm overseas in a hot, humid climate.  

I'm all for a real backpacking backpack, but this North Face Duffel is a great alternative if you aren't needing to hike with all your gear long distances.  This bag is water proof and perfect for rainy climates.  It even has straps for carrying it on your back.

I love a sheet sleeping bag liner.  They are great for questionable hostel beds.  You can sleep comfortably in the sheet and not worry about touching anything else.  This Cocoon is 100% cotton, but I love 100% ones as well.

If you are traveling for a long period of time, you are going to need to do laundry.  Laundry mats are not easy to find overseas, so I do a lot of sink washing.  A solid laundry detergent won't spill in your bag and you'll have not trouble getting it on a plain.

And speaking of laundry, there is no better underwear to travel with then Ex Officio underwear (there are of course ones for woman as well).  You can wash them at night and they will be dry by the morning.

I'm a redhead, so sunscreen is a MUST.  I love solid version like this Neutrogena one.  Again, the less liquids you pack the better, and this one is great for sensitive skin types.

A dry bag is awesome if you are going to be on boats or the rainforest at all.  I carry a small one like this one from REI to put my camera and valuables in.

When you are living out of a backpack, organization is key.  I love ditty bags and sorters like this mesh set from Ikea.  It's nice to not have to dig through your whole bag to find one specific thing.

Lush is a great source for all toiletries that are solid.  We love their solid lotion bars and this shampoo and conditioner.  

If you are heading to the tropics, I hope that involves tropical reefs.  We love snorkeling and diving, this waterproof digital camera is a fun travel camera.  Not only can you take pictures underwater, but you don't have to worry about dirt, sweat and dust.


  1. Ive seen a lot of packing moodboards but never one so... good! This is so informative and I can honestly say that I haven't seen over 50% of these products! Solid shampoo?!?! What? I must have it all! We haven't traveled out of the country yet but I will so be using this! Thanks!

    1. Yay, I'm glad it was helpful. You NEED to travel. Once you catch the travel bug, you can never get rid of it. :)

  2. Jeran, We are all OK but can't find wifi and Hotmail and Gmail are blocking me because I'm accessing from Indonesia. Two nights here in Northwest Bali and then heading to Ubud where we'll pay more for a place with good wifi. Java was rough but good, we at least have a fan and shower back here in Bali. Love you and miss you, Lonnie.

    1. Seriously, this is the only way we can communicate? Well, the contractor never showed up or called. Can I please get his number?

  3. By the way, all of those products are working great. Dylan is having fun with the camera, we should be able to get some good underwater shots once we get somewhere with good reefs. Sleeping bag liner is paying off and the mesh bags are working well.


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