Updated: Jun 30, 2022
As I've mentioned in a few of my articles, I argue that all you really need to travel is your passport, some way to pay for things (presumably) and whatever clothes you're wearing.. (see The True Minimalist).
That being said, you probably don't want to walk around naked while your clothes are washing/drying, so maybe it's a passport, cash and two sets of clothes... crazy talk I know; but with things like the No Bag Challenge, it's 100% doable and, in my opinion, a great way to travel - with a few tweaks to make life a little easier.
So what are the bare essentials? In my semi-professional opinion, just these eight (ish) things..
A generic hiking backpack (18-25L)
Two to three sets of multi-function, quick-drying clothes*
A generic pair of hiking shoes
A sink stopper or portable wash bag (or two)
A toiletry bag (or Ziploc bags work too)
Universal travel adapter + power cables
Phone, wallet, passport, etc.
Headphones, portable charger, sandals, dry-sack (optional)
I'd argue that this is all you really need to travel - if you're sticking to warmer climates.
The list seems small, doesn't it? That's because you truly don't need much to go anywhere in the world.. okay "anywhere" might be a bit of a stretch.. but if you're careful with where you go and when you go, you can easily get by with just the things on this list (or less).
It's so easy to overpack for "what if" situations, and a much better question to ask is..
"What's the worst that could happen if I don't bring this thing?"
And usually, the answer is... you replace it. So yes, you can hop on a plane right now and go anywhere you want - and assuming you have some money in your bank account, you'll survive just fine.
Will you be comfortable? Maybe not at first, but it would take half a day to get back to some sense of normalcy, and the freedom that comes with knowing how free you are, is priceless.
As stated in the title, this is an opinion piece, and I don't expect my packing list to match up with yours (or anyone's) - but if you're curious how I pack so little, check out the The Minimalist Method (M²) and the How-To Guides for details.
Read Next: The Minimalist Method