Packing Tips for Slow Travelers

Slow travel is about being flexible and open to various situations that may or may not happen, not scheduling certainty. If it rains you might change your mind about an outdoor activity and if you meet a friendly local who invites you to a festival in his grandfather’s village, you want to be ready to change plan and take up this opportunity.

Spontaneity generally means the lighter you pack the better. Also be a responsible travel and be sure to:

  • Take away with you what you brought. Leave no rubbish.
  • Don’t bring what you can buy locally. Spend thoughtfully in the community whose culture you are enjoying.

Although there are no rule and no checklists, here are some packing tips for slow travelers.

Maps & Guidebooks

Download some maps and guidebooks onto your phone or tablet so that you can use them offline when you are on location. You can probably pick up paper maps along the way and leave your devices in your accommodation during the day.

If you decide to bring a hardcopy of a guide book take advantage of book exchanges or perhaps even leave it behind as a courtesy in your accommodation for other travelers to use in future.


Most of the time the locals will look cooler and more comfortable in their clothing than the resort gear you packed. Leave a little room in your luggage and budget for clothes shopping- you`ve got the time to wander the shops or impulse buy when slow travelling, and clothing is a very practical souvenir.

Take the basics; plenty of spare underwear, and basics like plain t-shirts, shorts and jeans in fabrics that don`t need ironing or special laundry care.

Toiletries & Medicines

Take advantage of a single base ‘home away from home’ and bring all your usual shampoo, creams and soaps from home. Spread them in your holiday bathroom as you would at home. You can also pack that fluffy bath robe and those favorite slippers too because you are not squeezing stuff into a backpack daily and you`ve already saved space in other ways.

Pack a medicine case of all the things you use and the brands you would prefer to use in case of a minor emergency. If you get sick or have an accident, it is better to be working with products you understand and not rushing to a foreign pharmacy.

Communication & Electrical Devices

A great idea is to have a phone that is not tied into a company in your home country so you can put in a new chip in your vacation country and be connected to the new people you meet without worrying about international charges. It doesn`t have to be expensive- in fact a cheaper travel phone is probably better as it won’t attract thieves and is one less thing to worry about.

Chances are your accommodation will have Wi-Fi and if it doesn`t there is sure to be a café around, so bring your tablet or iPad, but leave your laptop and work devices at home.

As well as guide book you may also want to download some novels onto your tablet to read and save weight in your hand luggage.


Your aim is not to have your head in an iPad or PlayStation but to be engaging in the real world. Sometimes it takes discipline to turn off the cyber world but it`s worth it. Families might want to pack old fashion board games like Monopoly, Scrabble or just a pack of playing cards.

Think about writing on old fashion pen and paper travel diary. Perhaps you can take up old or new hobbies like drawing, knitting or doing puzzles in the evening.

Don`t forget your camera, but don`t spend the whole holiday looking through the camera lens. You don`t need a picture to remember a feeling if it`s strong enough.

Gear for Adventure

When planning to hike, cycle, fish, scuba dive or any other outdoor activity research what you can hire and what you need to bring. Most of this kind of gear is highly synthetic and toxic to the nature you are communing with so you don`t want to bring anything that you might leave behind.

If you do bring it, think about having it sent to your accommodation and home again by courier.

Snacks & Food

For day excursions into nature consider snacks and drinks and their plastic packaging. Here is where you should bring a refillable bottle or lunch box rather than toss out plastic bottles and plastic wrapping (or have to carry them back to the city). Great snacks are things like bananas and mandarins that come in their own natural biodegradable wrapping.

Types of Luggage

When slow traveling there is one big haul and one big unpack when you arrive rather than daily stuffing in and pulling out of backpacks as per traditional action packed holidays. It might be time to say goodbye to the old backpack and hello to a nice roll-wheel suitcase, but that all depends on how you want to work your holiday.

Don`t forget a day bag and/ or overnight back, such as a small backpack. Bring comfortable and sensible daypacks for your daily excursions, and don`t forget the usual locks. Try not to bring anything that cries out too loudly with its style and branding ‘tourists’.

Another alternative for slow travelers and a good idea for families with lots of kids stuff is to have luggage sent by courier to your accommodation and to catch the train or plane very lightly. These days with bargain airlines charging extra for luggage it is also a cost effective way.

© 2017: The Slow Travelers Thailand