What You Need to Pack for an Adventure Across the Indonesian Islands

What You Need to Pack for an Adventure Across the Indonesian Islands

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With over 17,000 islands across the nation, Indonesia is a paradise for backpackers looking to get a taste of island life. However, adventuring in an archipelago can present unique challenges, mostly related to the climate and terrain of the islands themselves. Therefore, any explorer worth his salt needs to prepare a packing list with all the essentials to ensure he is ready to tackle any trouble life on the Indonesian archipelago might throw at him.

Whether you’re an experienced backpacker seeking something new to reinvigorate your love of the hobby or a newbie trying to get your first trip right, here is a list of items you’ll need with you to make sure you get the most out of your upcoming Indonesian island adventure. Apart from the essential things like shoes (sandals), activewear, other clothes, toiletry, etc., here we introduce some additional, but very important items. 

Waterproof bag

Travelling between the various islands by boat can kick off each island adventure with a sense of action as the Indonesian ocean breeze hits you head-on; however, if you’re planning to boat to and from each destination, you’ll need equipment that’ll be up to the task.

A waterproof bag can help keep all your items safe in case anything untoward were to happen, even your water-sensitive pieces like electronics and chargers. It can also help if you choose to explore Indonesia in the rainy season.

Waterproof action camera

What’s a backpacking adventure without an action camera to keep track of the sights and sounds you encounter? Of course, much like your bag, you’ll want a camera that can withstand the tests of the tides you’ll meet across your journey.

Plus, with a quality waterproof camera, you’ll be able to dive in and explore Indonesia’s many beautiful coral reefs, such as the USS Liberty Shipwreck and the Batu Bolong Reefs, while taking pictures to share when you eventually return home.

Reef-friendly sunblock

Speaking of reefs, when shopping for sunblock, choosing a product that’s proven harmless to reefs is important to ensure you don’t damage these gorgeous natural structures by accident. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to pick a lotion sunblock overspray or mist sunblock and to check out the active ingredient list. Unfortunately, since the terms ‘reef-friendly’ and ‘reef-safe’ aren’t actually regulated, many products will simply claim to be so while still including harmful ingredients – keep on the lookout!

Indonesian Islands packing

Hiking shoes

The islands of Indonesia host to many mountains which are perfectly fit for hiking, such as Mount Kelimutu and Mount Rinjani. Those who wish to put their bodies to the test and scale these towering protrusions won’t want to forget their hiking shoes when packing. After all, not only are these shoes built for the task of hiking, but their flexibility and durability also make them a good choice for any sort of travel over many different types of terrain, not just the kind of travel over gravel and soil on an incline.

Bug spray

Like many tropical countries the world over, Indonesia is quite densely populated by insects of all kinds, who thrive in the nation’s warm and humid climate. While this is reason enough for more entomophobia travellers to purchase bug spray, Indonesia’s mosquitos, in particular, pose a grave risk to humans, as the Aedes aegypti species is known to carry dengue fever. This dangerous virus has been known to take upwards of 40,000 human lives annually – so, make the right choice and stay safe from dengue.

Portable charger

The portable charger is a must-have for anyone whose lifestyles keep them on the go, and that includes backpackers who are planning long journeys across archipelagos like Indonesia. Especially in less-populated parts of the country where help isn’t readily available, you’ll definitely want to keep a portable charger on you for emergencies. Some portable chargers can even charge using solar power, meaning you can take advantage of the scorching Indonesian sun for some extended battery life.

What You Need to Pack for an Adventure Across the Indonesian Islands
Source: Pexels/ Oliver Sjöström

Universal adapter

A must-have for any international traveller worth his salt, a universal adapter is an extremely handy tool that opens up all sorts of possibilities when it comes to which chargers or devices to bring. It’s particularly useful for those who travel to many destinations, as it can help cut down on costs for different charger heads for different plug point types, as well as remove the need to study which kinds of plug points exist in each country in the first place.

Water bottle with a built-in water filter

Since you’ll be spending most of your time walking on sunny beaches or hot, humid forests, a water bottle is a necessity to keep yourself hydrated and perform at optimum capacity during your travels. When shopping for a water bottle, try to find one with a built-in water filter to make sure the water you’re drinking is safe to ingest. This is particularly useful for adventurers who will spend their time in nature, as this allows you to take your water directly from the flowing rivers that cut through the islands.

Polarised sunglasses

Your skin and your items aren’t the only things that need protecting – you need to protect your eyes too, which is why you need to bring along a pair of polarised sunglasses on your trip. Polarised sunglasses help cut through glare through a chemical filter layered over the lens that blocks light waves from bouncing off of horizontal surfaces. With a climate as hot and tropical as equatorial Indonesia, these sunglasses will help protect your eyesight – no matter how long you spend under the sun.

Cooling towel

This innovative invention can be a great boon on a trip to an environment as warm as Indonesia, as it was made to help even the hottest of travellers cool down using nothing more than water. The towel works by wetting the fabric and then quickly wringing out any excess water: as soon as you do, the towel should be around 20-30 degrees colder than your surrounding temperature. Easy to use and endlessly applicable, it’s a useful tool to have whether you’re under the sun or sweating from a hike.


While this might seem like a no-brainer, it cannot be stressed how important it is to pack an umbrella before flying to Indonesia for your adventure. Indonesia isn’t only a country of scorching afternoons; it also experiences heavy rainfall frequently, especially during the monsoon season. By bringing along an umbrella, you’re setting up protection for yourself for both climates: protected from the sun under the shade and protected from the rain under the umbrella’s cover.

These 11 essential items should provide you with everything you need to make the most out of your next adventure through the many islands of beautiful, culturally-dense Indonesia. Whether you’re planning to let the waves lead your journey, take treks and hikes across the country’s lush and mysterious rainforests, or you’re planning to keep it urban and stay in the big cities, there’s something in Indonesia for everyone.

The challenge set for you as a backpacker is being prepared for it – and finding the thing that will make your trip unique, whether that be chance encounters with the people of Indonesia or losing yourself in the beauty of its flora and fauna. With any luck, your adventures in Indonesia will lead you to exactly where you need to be.

Take a look at this video for more impressions from Indonesia:

Check some travel books about Indonesia:


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This is a guide about 11 useful items you should include in your packing list when you travel around the Indonesian islands. This is a guide about 11 useful items you should include in your packing list when you travel around the Indonesian islands.This is a guide about 11 useful items you should include in your packing list when you travel around the Indonesian islands.

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