Planning your trip to the Philippines soon? We know it can be overwhelming. Even if you are an expert backpacker, your list constantly changes in time. In our case, from packing with two (2) main luggage and one (1) carry on, now we're down to 1 of each. Collectively, Josh and I made an extensive packing list guide to make your packing a breeze. We both put our heads together and made up this ultimate guide on what to pack, how to pack it and why to make your Philippines trip amazing.
I (Heyz) was born and raised in the Philippines and grew to love my country in a heartbeat. Josh on the other hand went on an unplanned backpacking trip to the Philippines for a month and ended up staying for two, if not for visa extensions nightmares, he could have stayed longer and carried on traveling around the country.
Why not? The islands are surrounded by pristine beaches and turquoise blue water, this makes us the mecca of underwater and watersports adventures. We also pride ourselves on our lush landscapes and friendliest people in the world.
We worked so hard to put all the information you will ever need in one place. We also made a printable PDF of the checklist because we know you won't remember it all. Let's go.
Table of Contents
Most airlines allow one carry on luggage that is under their respective weight limit (typically around 5 to 10 kilograms only).
However, there are also some airlines that allow two items: one carry on luggage and one personal item (handbag, a backpack, a laptop bag, an umbrella, a briefcase, etc.) Whenever possible we travel light and there actually been times that we do NOT have any check-in baggage at all.
We only bring along one carry on backpack (with all our essentials), and one luggage that contains our clothes in it. This made an advantage avoiding long check-in lines and getting out of the airport quickly without waiting for your checked in luggage to appear in the luggage conveyor.
If carry-on allowance is not on our favor, either one of us will have one checked in luggage and combine our heavy items in there.
These are our combined checklist as digital nomads.
What Should Be in Your Carry-on
Travel Packing Essentials
Electronic Gadgets for Digital Nomads
Things to Pack for Comforts While En-route
What Should Be in Your Personal Luggage
Guide on Choosing The Right Things to Pack for the Philippines
Packing light is packing smart so you can move quicker. For the long commutes on ferries and buses we don’t want you to be tired carrying a lot of luggage and miss an experience of a lifetime on this island paradise. We wish we had this guide when we were just planning our trip. It would have been much easier!
Choosing Your Luggage: Backpack or Suitcase?
Picking a good travel bag is a very essential step to packing for any trip. Backpack or Suitcase, which is better? That is the most common argument on the road. Josh and I have different insights on what’s the best traveling bag. For us, there are no right or wrong answers. It depends on what you are comfortable carrying. Josh wears a backpack while I carry a 4 wheeled suitcase. Don’t get me wrong, I still consider myself a backpacker with a suitcase. And just to let you know, I prefered to carry a backpack before. Even more so in my younger years where I climbed mountain peaks and camped almost every weekend. Then as years pass my preference just changes especially when I learnt that I have scoliosis (my xray shows a letter “S” shape of my spinal cord) and carrying heavy backpacks will worsen it. Different things work for different people, some prefer the suitcase on wheels, some prefer the backpack and some prefer to have a boyfriend who carries your bag for you (I call these people smart, wink wink).This review is just a guide to help you decide on what to bring (if you haven't decided yet). We are also taking into consideration the Philippines travel condition. Lets see the pros and cons. Please read through.
- More often than not, the roads in the Philippines are not always well paved. Backpack is better in these conditions
- Having a backpack strapped to you when traveling reassures you that you won’t be able to easily lose your bag
- You can sleep on your backpack especially on long bus rides
- It frees up both hands/arms to do whatever you have to do when travelling
- More convenient to go up and down stairs
- Suitcases are so much more convenient on even or flat roads.
- Clothes are much easier to find in suitcases
- You will enjoy the sights around you with barely anything weighing you down (a little heavy on the wrist perhaps)
- The things inside your suitcase will not be squeezed or deformed
- You can put heavy things (even ones that don’t fit in) on the top of your luggage with less effort carrying it
Top Recommended Bags
These are some of the pros, cons and recommendations in choosing a luggage based on our own personal experiences. We hope you get the bigger picture and decide which one is best for you.
Choosing Your Travel Clothes
There are two seasons in the Philippines: dry season (November to May) and wet season (June to October). But no matter when or where you visit in the country, the Philippines is going to be hot and humid.
It is advisable to wear loose, lightweight cotton and linens throughout the year. It is best practice to pack light, breathable items that are light-colored to reflect the sun.
Choosing Your Footwear
You bring footwear depending on the activities you are planning to do in the Philippines. If you will be mostly going to the beach or snorkeling, flip flops and waterproof shoes are your “must haves”.
If you plan on going more to the mountains and trekking to viewpoints, trek sandals will do. They are lighter and more breathable than trekking boots. If trek sandals are not your style then trek shoes is best for you.
If you will be walking on flat terrains or around the city, make sure to wear light and comfortable footwear to not tire your body in your day's activity.
Highly Recommended Footwear
Recommendations for the Rest on the Checklist
We’ve thrown in the links of the products we personally use or highly recommend. Below is a list of items you may want to pack, however as we have said before we strongly recommend packing small and light.
If you can fit everything into a small suitcase or backpack then you can save money on your flight by not having to check in the bag at the airport.
Also packing light will save a lot of effort. Carrying 20kg on your back for a long period is not fun. Josh’s backpack weighs 9.5kg and I still think that I have packed too much. Remember if you forget anything (other than the essentials above) you can always buy in the Philippines.
The Ultimate Philippine Travel Packing Checklist
- Travel Must Haves
- Medicine Kit
- Eco Friendly Options
- Outdoor Adventures
- For Him
- For Her
- Nice to Have
- Useful Apps
Travel Must Haves
First Aid / Medicine Kit
You can find pharmacies fairly easily anywhere in the Philippines so we carry a few for emergencies only
Eco Friendly Options
For Camping or Trekking
For Water Adventures
Headwear / Eyewear
Toiletries / Accessories
Headwear / Eyewear
Toiletries / Accessories
Nice to Have
Useful Apps to Download
Finding a Community
10 Steps on How to Pack Your Bags for the Philippines
Step 1: Lay all your things on a bed or floor so you can see them all.
To make sure you don’t miss a single thing when packing.
Step 2: Put your travel essentials (passport, visa, insurance printout, and your major credit card) in a travel passport wallet.
Secure all of this before your trip. make sure to put it in a safe place in your carry on bag.
Step 3: Pack the toiletries into your toiletry organizer and make sure they fit.
If you are putting toiletries in your carry on bag, double-check that the liquids make it to the TSA standards of 100 millilitres per item. If it does not fit then you don’t need it. Usually, you will need a clear bag for carry on toiletries because of airport security reasons. As per TSA ”You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.”
Step 4: Put all your medicines in one small clear pouch/bag.
It will be easier for you to check the contents without taking the whole thing out.
Step 5: Using a packing cube, put your undies and socks altogether.
Leave a pair or two for your carry on bag for easy access in case you need to check in your backpack. Also, sometimes your luggage can get lost in airport check-ins and it may take days for the airline to get it back to you.
Step 6: Put your clothes in pairs in a clear ziplock.
For example, in a ziplock put 1 shirt and 1 shorts or 1 shirt and pants. This will make your life easier, you will not need to think about what to wear every day and especially when you need to change in a hurry in between your travels. Then put it all together in one packing cube
Step 7: Pack your footwear individually in the packing cube.
It is smart to have a separate bag or packing cube for your footwear to avoid getting other items dirty.
Step 8: Put all your electronics (its chargers and accessories) in one packing cube
If you have a dry bag you can make use of it here.
Step 9: Put all the things inside your daypack/backpack/luggage.
The rule is if you will not immediately need it put it at the very bottom of the bag.
Step 10: If you still have room in your bag, check on the checklist “extra”.
If it doesn’t fit, you don’t need it.
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for the Philippines
That’s it! Congratulations. You are all set for the Philippines. We hope you guys find it very helpful. We use the checklist and guidelines ourselves to make sure we don’t miss anything. Again this is just a guide and guides are not there to make your packing more difficult. If you don’t have it and you think you won’t need it then it's fine. You can buy these things while in the country too. The important thing is you just go with the flow and enjoy the adventurous ride. I know we may have missed some things off the list. If you think so too, please leave a comment and we will add that to the updated guide. Have an awesome time in paradise!
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