What's In My Rucksack: Checklist For The First Time Traveller

What's In My Rucksack: Checklist For The First Time Traveller

“Oh my god, I’m forgetting something” - the most potent, anxiety-inducing thought that I can confirm has gone through my brain, literally every time I’ve packed for a trip. I swear I can almost always feel this nagging itch in my head that tells me to scramble through my house for several ‘last-minute-sweeps’ to make sure I take all my essentials. However, if I had to list necessities that I have never forgotten on any trip ever, it would be the following objects that you should be putting on your checklist immediately, especially if you’re a first time traveller!

1. Official Documentation

If you’re rolling your eyes at how obvious this point is, you should know how easy it is to for travellers to casually push the thought of carrying their ID at the back of their minds, telling themselves they’ll remember it and failing to carry it when the time comes. Do NOT postpone carrying your travel documents for the last second - do it first and get it out of the way!


  • Passport

  • Government IDs (AADHAAR/PAN)

  • Visa (this should be arranged weeks before you fly!)

  • Tickets (train/plane/any mode of transportation)

  • Hotel bookings (e-bookings on your phone also count!)

  • Passport sized photos - always keep at least 4 copies

1 first time traveller - passport mr bean

2. Medicines

All it takes is one tiny, but a terrible bout of the common cold to set you back on your trip and completely render all your senses useless on your beautiful vacation. Always be a firm believer of the age-old phrase: a stitch in time saves nine!


  • Motion sickness tablets

  • Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory solution/tablets

  • Painkillers (a regular over the counter paracetamol like Crocin)

  • Anti-allergy tablets (you never know what you’ll come across!)

  • Band-aids, bandages, clean gauze and cotton (for cuts and scrapes)

3. Currency

And that goes for both local and international. Do this as you’re chalking out a budget for your trip, and split the money, into hard cash and payments via credit and debit cards, as and when you’ll need it.

Pro tip: Avoid keeping all your cash in your wallet, and distribute them across your bags as much as possible. This was you can rest easy with the threat of pickpockets in crowded public areas, and access your cash immediately, without having to dig your purse for the same!

Pro tip: Inform your bank in advance about your travel plans, so that they won’t hasten to block your card the second they detect it being used from an unfamiliar destination.

3 first time traveller - currency counting dollars

4. Comfortable Footwear

Which primarily includes either a sturdy pair of sneakers, or even a pair of all-weather compatible walking shoes, that will cover your feet from toe to heel, and will minimise discomfort on nearly all kinds of terrain.

5. Travel Adaptor

The all-too-familiar struggle to charge your phone in hotels, railway stations, airports, or even during commute is too real. Look up the different kind of power sockets that you can find in the countries you’re about to visit, and invest in a handy adaptor for your journey.

5 first time traveller - world adaptor for Apple

6. Tech Care

With over 90% of our travel details and plans on our smart gadgets, it’s no longer a luxury, but an absolutely mandatory packing commandment to carry all your wires, cables, power banks, SD cards, USB drives etc, in one place where you can’t lose them.

7. Sun Protection

Because unfortunately, man-made technology is yet to be as advanced as to put a real-life filter on the harsh rays of the sun so that you can travel without having to worry about tan lines and burnt skin.

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to make sure sunblock is one of those few items that you can leave in your backpack and not bother to unpack until your next expedition!

7 first time traveller - sun protection hillary duff

8. Waterproof covering

May that be for yourself, your rucksack, your phone, your footwear, and even your laptop. Especially if you’re headed to locations where unexpected rains or random periods of a steady drizzle is quite common.

9. One extra complete set of clothes

Being a stickler for a clean set of undies no matter where I go, I don’t consider my rucksack completely packed until I know there’s a full set of clothes - one tee, one pair of pants, a pair of socks, and a set of underwear - apart from the clothes that have been assigned for the trip, exist in the corner of my bag that I can rely on, for a wardrobe emergency.

9 first time traveller - joey tribbiani wearing clothes

10. Protein and nutritional bars

They are my go-to snacks for ALL kind of trips, regardless of the hemisphere I am travelling to, or the weather conditions I will be exposed to. They are bite-sized, easy to carry, not easily perishable, and a literal life-saver for those times that hunger strikes, and you may need to sustain yourself before your next meal comes along!

11. Reusable Water Bottle

If not always be an active participant in being a green citizen, the least that any of us can do for our environment is to avoid adding to the already existing pollutants of the earth. Carrying a water bottle and simply replenishing your water supply whenever you get the chance, should be your way of being eco-friendly on trips.

11 first time traveller - reusable water bottle

Images: Shutterstock, Giphy