A girly-girl’s guide to backpacking


So here I am, three days out from my first solo backpacking trip, and in typical overachiever style have decided to add a blog to my ever-growing list of things to do. As a self-confessed girly-girl, who’s woken up the last two nights in a cold sweat after having a nightmare about my hairstylist 1) giving me dreadlocks and 2) turning my hair green, I thought what better to write than an anti-backpacking blog. A two fingers up to all those people (my mum) that say ‘Oh but once you’re there you won’t care about shaving your legs!’ and ‘Do you really need to take four different types of hair conditioner?’


Spoiler alert: Yes. I do.


I’ve started off with my packing list for my upcoming two month stint in Costa Rica. Obviously it contains some of the boring essentials (hello, walking boots) but I’ve upgraded lots of mine to something a bit more stylish, and added a few extras you won’t find in your Lonely Planet guide. I’ve also added Amazon links to the best stuff that I found.


Carry on


Nowadays you can take a small suitcase on the plane. I’ve opted for a rucksack that I can carry around day to day, but here’s what I’ve put in it.


  1. 1 full outfit from my packing list (in case my luggage gets delayed/lost)
  2. Snacks (most airlines let you carry your own food if it’s sealed. Save money on overpriced airport junk, and take your favourite comfort foods to keep you going)
  3. Phone (duh)
  4. Phone charger
  5. Headphones
  6. Power Bank (surprisingly, not always easy to find a socket in an airport)
  7. Blanket (cuddle up on the plane/on layovers)
  8. Book (Phillip Pullman- La Belle Sauvage, if you’re interested)
  9. Notebook/pens
  10. Wet wipes
  11. Moisturiser
  12. Lip balm
  13. Toothbrush/toothpaste
  14. Deodorant
  15. Local phrasebook
  16. Selfie stick
  17. Water bottle (preferably with a filter)
  18. Money belt




The bulk of your packing, with the potential to be a complete waste of space if you pack the wrong thing, not enough things, or things you will only wear once. This is obviously dependant on personal style, but this should broadly cover you in terms of practicality and day-to-night style in a tropical country. I’ve picked pieces that all mix and match, and will layer well if it gets a little chilly. Wear the heaviest items (jeans, hoody, trainers) on the plane to save weight and keep you warm.


  1. 1 x gym leggings
  2. 1 x sports bra
  3. 1 x gym top (pack more gym stuff if that’s your hobby. It’s always comfy to lounge around in though)
  4. 1 x light hoody
  5. 1 x light jumper
  6. 1 x denim shorts
  7. 1 x jeans
  8. 1 x fabric shorts
  9. 1 x mid-length fabric skirt
  10. 2 x neutral colour vests/camis
  11. 1 x sun dress
  12. 1 x blouse/loose shirt
  13. 2 x crop tops
  14. 1 x kimono coverup




Again- heavy, and a complete pain in the a** if you pack too many. I think you need 4 pairs. And this is coming from the girl who owns over 50.


  1. Walking boots (ugly? Yes. Essential? Also yes. Buy some cool-looking leather ones that make you look like Lara Croft. And make sure they FIT.)
  2. Sandals (I’ve gone for Birkenstocks. Comfy, and understated style)
  3. Posh trainers (Vans/Nike Janoskis are ideal for me. Choose accordingly. You need something comfy and closed toe, that’s less ungainly than a walking boot)
  4. Flip flops (self-explanatory. Beach, showers, lounging)




  1. 5 x bikini
  2. 7 x knickers (cotton!)
  3. 2 x nude bra
  4. 4 x walking socks
  5. 3 x bamboo/cotton socks
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Hat (for when you inevitably burn your face. Or when you want to avoid attention on public transport)
  8. Handbag (I’ve gone with a cloth reusable bag from a trendy high street store)
  9. Rain jacket




Don’t feel like you need all of this. For all you social media addicts/oversharers like me though- you’ll probably want to.


  1. Dry bags (Enough to fit all of your electronics. Number one because if you don’t stash all of the below in it, if you get caught in more than light drizzle then this list is worthless anyway)
  2. Camera (I’ve got a Sony A5000 . Near DSLR photo quality with interchangeable lenses, without the bulk)
  3. Tripod (blurry shots won’t pull in the likes on the ‘gram)
  4. Camera case (keep it safe!)
  5. Memory card (obvious reasons. Get 64GB plus)
  6. Adaptor
  7. Headtorch (don’t get caught out by spider webs on moonlit walks back from the beach!)
  8. Spare batteries
  9. GoPro (optional, but always nice!


Personal care


Travelling does NOT mean you have to sacrifice your personal hygiene. Or stand ards. Sure, I’ve minimised my routine, but I intend to come back feeling (and looking) fresh as a daisy.


  1. Soap (I’ve gone with LUSH Outback mate. Cleans and repels mosquitos)
  2. Solid shampoo (Also LUSH. Space saving, and the most miraculous thing that’s ever happened to my hair)
  3. Conditioner bar (Again, LUSH. Doubles as shaving foam for super soft legs)
  4. Hair treatment (Aussie Three Minute Miracle. After all that sun, sea and sand, your hair deserves a break)
  5. Coconut oil (rub through the ends before swimming)
  6. Hair serum (tame flyaways. Humidity and hair do NOT mix)
  7. Facial cleanser (LUSH Aquamarina)
  8. Face mask (LUSH Fomo jelly mask)
  9. Aloe Pura Aloe Vera gel (excellent after-sun, and the first step in my facial moisturising routine)
  10. Facial moisturiser (step two- I use LUSH Enzymion)
  11. Deodorant (mens is better)
  12. Small perfume
  13. Suncream
  14. Straighteners
  15. Brush
  16. Bobby pins/bobbles/whatever you use
  17. Towel (one of those microfibre travel ones. Feel terrible, but so much tinier it’s worth it)
  18. Small mirror (not everywhere you stay will have a socket next to a mirror- better safe than sorry)
  19. Drawstring makeup organisers (an absolute godsend and stop my makeup bag becoming a huge dusty mess)
  20. Razors
  21. Insect repellent- 50% DEET or more
  22. Toothbrush/toothpaste
  23. First Aid kit (include ibuprofen, multivitamins,blister plasters, hand sanitiser, anti-diarrhoea capsules, anything else you won’t want to have to walk to the local pharmacy for in a rush)




I’ve whittled down my collection to only what I really, really need. It’s enough to do a full face glam look if you’re going out, but narrowed down to just my favourites.


  1. Primer (NYX Angel Veil)
  2. Powder (No7 Perfect Light Loose powder)
  3. Foundation (Illamasqua Skin Base)
  4. Concealer (No7 Match Made)
  5. Contour palette (NYX Cream Contour)
  6. Blush (No7 Powder blush)
  7. Highlighter (NYX Born to Glow)
  8. Eyebrow gel (Rimmel Brow This Way)
  9. Eyeshadow palette (MAC Dusky Rose X9)
  10. Liquid eyeliner (Rimmel Glam Eyes Waterproof)
  11. Mascara (Lancome Hypnose Drama Waterproof)
  12. White eyeliner pencil (makes your eyes pop even when wearing minimal makeup)
  13. Brush set
  14. Micellar water
  15. Cotton pads




  1. Passport
  2. Copies of passport (give one to your mum. Keep several on you to give as I.D if asked)
  3. Plane ticket (!!!)(make sure you also have a copy on your phone. Probably give a copy to your mum again)
  4. Bus ticket (if you’re getting a coach to the airport like me)
  5. Bank card
  6. Cash/however else you prefer to carry money
  7. Map




  1. Duct tape (useful for everything)
  2. Mosquito net (malaria isn’t sexy)
  3. Sleeping bag liner (in case you’re dubious about the cleanliness of your room. Or if you’re just too warm to sleep under a duvet)
  4. Sewing kit
  5. Compression bags (cannot advocate these enough. Made the difference between getting my stuff in a backpack, or carrying it by donkey)


And there you have it. A list of (mostly) everything I’m going to be taking to Costa Rica. Don’t panic too much about packing- as long as you have the essentials, most of the other stuff can be picked up locally if you do forget anything vital. I should probably add a disclaimer at this point- I obviously haven’t trekked around the country for two months with this on my back- yet- so I can’t definitively say this is an exhaustive list. Neither can I 100% guarantee that I won’t come back a fully-fledged hippy who advocates burning incense to hide the smell of putrid unwashed feet. What can I say though- I very much doubt it.


11 Responses

  1. Good Luck Rhi, I’m already excited to read more of these. You’ve got a wicked sense of humour!! Love and have the best time x likewise if you’re having a hard time, you can message me x

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