This Georgia packing list for women and men considers all seasons and regions – plus what you should bring for special activities such as hiking.
What to pack for a trip to Georgia and the Caucasus is a point of confusion for many travellers.
Georgia’s location (kinda Asia, kinda Europe) and terrain (high-altitude mountains plus low, steamy valleys and semi-deserts) makes the climate here unique and highly variable.
Having now travelled through most of Georgia and experienced all four seasons, I think I’m in a good position to offer advice about what to bring. The Georgia packing list I’ve come up with is designed for men and women, covers all seasons, and also considers specialty items you need for activities such as visiting the sulfur baths in Tbilisi or hiking in the Caucasus mountains.
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What kind of luggage to take to Georgia
Travelling as light as possible in Georgia and the Caucasus is always a good idea. If you’re flying into Tbilisi or Kutaisi with a budget airline such as WizzAir, there’s a good chance you’ll have carry-on luggage only.
Love stylish simplicity? Check out my top 24 minimalist backpacks for travel.
When you’re moving around using ground transport, you want something compact enough to squeeze under your seat or sit in the aisle of a marshrutka van.
We did both our 3-month (winter/spring) and 4-week (summer) trips around the Caucasus with carry-on only. If you can manage it, I recommend you do the same.
Related: 10 tips for packing like a minimalist.
- Backpack | Tbilisi is quite hilly, and roads and sidewalks across the country generally aren’t very well maintained. A lot of places still don’t have ramps or escalators, even in the bigger cities. This makes a backpack the most practical option. On my first trip to Georgia, I used a 45 litre backpack similar to this one. Ross has since inherited it and took it on our latest visit.
- Small suitcase | A couple of years ago, I switched out my backpack for a small rolling suitcase to give my neck and shoulders a break (I suffer from migraines). I’ve put my 55cm Samsonite Spinner through the ringer (dragging it through snow, across rocks, etc.!) and it’s still going strong. It’s spacious, but small enough to carry on to Ryan Air and WizzAir (I know, I did it).
- Day pack | In addition to your main bag, you should bring a smaller bag to use as a day pack. If you plan on hiking (more on that later), a foldable day pack like this one would be ideal. I use an Anello rucksack to carry my laptop and camera in.
- Waterproof luggage cover | Not only is a luggage cover handy for the rain, it will also protect your bag from muck while you’re in transit. Marshrutka vans aren’t always clean (that’s putting it mildly!) – I’ve often had to stow my bag on top of an oily tyre or under a pile of suspicious-looking boxes. This spandex cover scrunches up into a ball when you’re not using it.
- Luggage tag | If you are checking in luggage (and even if you’re not), it’s a good idea to tag your bags. We split this set of silicone tags between the two of us and bring a few extras in case we lose one along the way.
- Luggage locks | If your bag has lots of outside pockets, wire locks like these can be looped around multiple zippers.
- Packing cubes | I use two cubes with my small suitcase – a big one that fits all my clothes rolled up, plus a smaller one for underwear and socks. This set comes with a free laundry bag.
- Canvas pouches | I use a set of small canvas pouches like these ones to keep electronics and my laptop cord organised. They weigh nothing and are incredibly handy to have.
- Transparent toiletries bag | I used to travel with two toiletries bags: A zip-lock for liquids, and a regular bag for everything else. Now I just put everything into one transparent pouch, which makes airport security a lot easier (and I no longer waste so much plastic). This clear bag is TSA-approved and fits a lot.
Georgia packing list essentials
- Power adapter | Power sockets in Georgia (and in Armenia/Azerbaijan) are type C/F with a 220 V voltage and 50 Hz frequency (standard across Europe, the UK, Asia and Australia). If you’re coming from outside of Europe, bring a universal adapter with USB ports with you.
- Headphones + splitter | Long car/van journeys and overnight trains are part and parcel of the Caucasus travel experience. A headphone splitter comes in really handy for sharing audio with your travel buddy.
- Water bottle | Tap water in potable in Tbilisi and most mountain regions are supplied with high-quality spring water. I love my 500mL insulated S’well water bottle. My partner carries a blender bottle like this one for making protein shakes on the go.
- Light cotton scarf or a buff | One thing I never, ever travel without is a lightweight cotton scarf like this one. I use mine for sun-protection, as a sleeping mask, as an air filter – you name it. A scarf comes in particularly handy in Georgia, where women need to cover their hair to enter Orthodox churches and mosques (more on that in the next section). For men, a buff will do. My partner swears by his.
- Hat | If you’re travelling to Georgia in summer, spring or autumn, you’ll definitely need a hat. This fold-up wide brim hat is rated to UPF 50.
- Rain jacket | Georgia is notorious for random downpours, especially in summer. It’s a good idea to carry a pack-down raincoat like this one.
What to wear in Georgia (women & men)
Everyone has their own core packing list. I’m not going to tell you how many pairs of knickers or how many t-shirts you need to bring – I’m sure you can figure that out for yourself!
Instead, I’m offering a series of clothes packing tips specific to Georgia’s climate, dress code, and the laundry situation.
Understanding the dress code in Georgia
Georgia is pretty liberal when it comes to fashion. There are no hard and fast rules or a formal ‘Georgia dress code’ – but there are a couple of things to keep in mind when deciding what you’re going to wear in Tbilisi and beyond.
General city wear
My personal philosophy is to dress as locals do. This is both to be respectful, and to try and not stand out too much as a tourist. Overall, religion (Eastern Orthodoxy) has a strong presence in Georgian society and a huge influence over culture and social norms. For this reason, things tend to err on the conservative side.
In bigger cities such as Tbilisi and Kutaisi, women (especially younger generations) dress the same as in any European capital. Sleeveless tops and fitted-dresses are standard. Jeans are commonly worn in summer and winter, while older women usually wear ankle-length skirts.
It’s not typical to see very short shorts or skirts worn outside of beach areas in summer (in Batumi, it’s totally normal). It’s acceptable – but you might get some unwanted attention.
What to wear in rural areas
In smaller cities such as Gori, villages, and more remote mountainous areas, a more conservative style of dress is the norm. For women, this means no short pants or skirts (sleeveless tops are fine).
In Pankisi Valley, for example, it’s not appropriate to wear shorts at all (even for men). This is a unique case, but it does go to show that dress codes are relevant in some areas.
Darker colours and neutrals are more common in rural areas, so keep this is mind if blending into the crowd is a priority.
Visiting churches & monasteries
Some Orthodox sanctuaries including Alaverdi, Bodbe Monastery in Sighnaghi and Gergeti Trinity Church will not allow you to enter inside if you’re wearing shorts. This applies to both men and women. Having said that, most monasteries (but not all) provide free wrap-around ‘apron’ skirts at the front door.
Some less touristic churches will not allow men to use the apron skirts, so unless you’re wearing long pants, you’ll need to stay outside. This is rare, though.
In addition, women are required to cover their hair when entering an Orthodox church or a mosque. Again, headscarves are usually supplied up at the door. I prefer to cover my hair with my own scarf for hygiene reasons – another reason I always carry a light cotton version with me.
Guesthouses & hostels
I want to add that most family run guesthouses and hostels in Georgia have common spaces. In the case of the former, you might be sharing a living area and kitchen with your host family. When deciding what to pack for relaxing and sleeping in, just remember that it should be something you don’t mind other people seeing you in.
Leggings for women or tracksuit pants for men are ideal. Personally, I always pack a few quick-dry exercise shirts for this exact purpose.
Most guesthouses and many hostels provide guests with rubber slippers, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own.
What to wear in Georgia in summer
- Light & loose | For women, long, light and loose pants will protect you from the sun and mosquitoes. I usually travel with one pair of full-length pants and one pair of three-quarter pants. Men should also opt for one pair of light, long pants or convertible pants as well as shorts.
- Quick-dry | Tumble dryers are not at all common in Georgia (I’ve never seen one); instead, everything is line-dried. Thus clothes made from natural fibres and fabrics that dry quickly are preferable. It’s notoriously difficult to find a laundromat in Tbilisi (hot tip, there’s one here), however most guesthouses provide a laundry service.
- Sensible shoes | Tbilisi is hilly with cobbled streets in the Old Town area. I highly recommend bringing your ‘sensible shoes’ for the city, since you’ll probably be doing a lot of walking. Tevas or similar are perfect for women.
- Dressing up | It’s good to have one ‘fancy’ outfit for wearing out to Tbilisi’s wine bars and nice restaurants. I’m a huge fan of the Kosan Go Travel Dress.
What to wear in Georgia during winter
If you’re planning a winter trip (November through to March), make sure your Georgia packing list includes these items at a minimum. There are lots of second-hand shops in Tbilisi if you find you need some extra layers.
- Waterproof shoes | Waterproof shoes with a proper grip are necessary in winter, even in Tbilisi. For women, a pair of lightweight boots like these is ideal.
- Base layers | When I was last in Tbilisi in winter, I wore a thermal undershirt and long-johns under my jeans. Bring a couple of sets to limit your washing days.
- Shell jacket | I recently invested in North Face Thermoball and I’m a total convert. It’s a more ethical alternative to down, and it packs up super small. Available for both women and men.
- Warm clothes for sleeping & relaxing | Many homes in Georgia are un-insulated so remember to bring warm clothes for bed and wearing around the house.
- Wool scarf | A proper scarf like this one (or this one for men) makes all the difference on a windy Tbilisi day.
- Other woollies | Warm socks, gloves, and a beanie are also recommended.
What to pack if you’re trekking in Georgia
- Hiking shoes | Open-toed hiking shoes or even good quality sneakers will do for shorter hikes, such as Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity. For anything more, you should bring proper hiking boots.
- Warm gear | It’s freezing in the mountains in winter, and it still gets chilly overnight in the summer months. Make sure you pack a lightweight fleece.
- Waterproof cover for your day pack | Transforms your day bag into an all-weather pack. We use this brand.
- Power bank or solar charger | Electricity can be scarce when you’re staying in smaller villages. I’ve never used a solar charger, but this one comes recommended.
Pro tip: Tents, sleeping bags, mats and other gear can be hired from some national park offices in Georgia. Proper hiking clothing and shoes are expensive to buy in Georgia, so it’s best to bring your own from home. Steripens and other filtration devices are not usually required – most trekking areas have access to clean mountain spring water.
What to pack for overnight train travel
- Biodegradable wet wipes | A must-have for the train ride and handy for travel in general. Try this convenient travel pack.
- Roll-up travel pillow | 1000 times better than an airplane pillow! I’ve brought my MyPillow on every trip I’ve taken since 2015. Also great if you have a sensitive neck or struggle with changing hotel pillows every night.
- Silk sleeping bag liner | These are super light-weight and always come in handy for overnight trips and at hostels. I carry mine everywhere.
For more gear recommendations, see my list of 25 train travel essentials.
What to pack for the Tbilisi sulfur baths
- Swimmers | Ladies – to avoid an awkward situation in the sulfur baths, it’s handy to have a bikini with you. Even in winter. Unless of course you’re comfortable with going nude. Men can get away with wearing a pair of undies.
- Towel | You can hire a towel for a couple of dollars at the bathhouse, but if you don’t want to pay or you prefer to use your own, a lightweight pestemal will do the trick.
- Wet bag | Essential for carrying home your wet swimmers. When you’re not at the baths, use this one as a laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes separate.
Toiletries to pack for Georgia
In addition to your regular items, considering bringing the following.
- Solid shampoo bar | Keep it local with this organic version from Armenian brand Nairian, plus a GoTubb for easy storage.
- Bug spray | Mosquitoes are common in Tbilisi and rural areas during summer. These DEET wipes are perfect for travel.
- Hand sanitiser | If you use it, it’s not popular nor cheap to buy in Georgia. Here’s an organic version.
Pro tip: If you’re travelling with prescription medication, remember to keep it in its original packaging and carry a letter from your doctor if possible. Georgian immigration can be quite strict on this point.
Handy things to pack for Georgia
- Travel corkscrew + wine stopper | This is the birthplace of vino after all.
- Wine bottle protectors | Great if you want to bring a few bottles home in your checked luggage.
- Travel clothesline | No tumble dryers, remember?
- Tide To Go pen | I always carry one for emergencies.
- USB stick | For printing off visas or boarding passes.
- Memory card case | For storing camera memory cards or mobile phone sim cards when you’re not using them. Here’s how to buy a Georgian sim card in Tbilisi.
- Sealer clip & a few reusable silicone bags | Handy for keeping food fresh and storing snacks like churchkhela.
- Over-the-door hook | I always carry my own just in case there’s no obvious place to hang my bath towel (pretty common in Georgia).
My photography gear
I use the same camera gear for every trip. At some point I’ll put together a proper run down of my set up – but for now, here is a quick summary.
- Camera | I swear by the Micro Four Thirds system for travel photography and I doubt I’ll ever stray. I currently shoot with an Olympus OM-D E-M10. The 2014 model is getting a bit old, but it’s still going strong! I’m hoping to upgrade my camera next year.
- Lenses | I travel with three lenses. This 25mm prime lens is on my camera 90% of the time. I also use a 45mm prime for low-light, portraits, markets, and anywhere else I want to be discrete. A wide lens like the 9mm-18mm I use is essential for capturing those gorgeous Caucasus mountains.
- Lens hood | I use this one on my 25mm lens.
- Micro SD cards | Bring a few more of these than you think you’ll need – Georgia is very photogenic!
- Lens cleaning pen | This one is ideal for travel.
My portable office setup
I work from the road so a portable office setup is essential. Here’s what mine looks like.
- Laptop stand | I love my ultra-slim, lightweight stand from Nexstand. It’s also great for propping the computer up in bed when you’re watching a movie!
- Keyboard | This Bluetooth keyboard is re-chargeable and weighs less than 200g.
- Mouse | A Bluetooth mouse completes the set.
- External hard drive | I carry two external hard drives with me when I travel so I always have a backup of my backup. Seagate is my preferred brand.
Here are some of the websites and services I use when I’m planning a trip to Georgia and the Caucasus. Remember to check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.
– Find affordable flights to Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).
– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Georgia and apply for an expedited visa online.
– Pre-book a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel or from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi.
– Buy your tickets for the Tbilisi to Baku or Yerevan sleeper train online in advance through my partners at Geotrend (get a discount when you use the code in this post).
– Find the best Georgia hotel deals on Booking.com, book a Georgia hostel, or find a unique Airbnb (use this link to sign up and get $55 AUD off your first Airbnb booking).
– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Georgia.
– Compare mobile providers and pick up a local Georgian sim card.
– Pre-order the new Lonely Planet Caucasus guidebook (coming out in June 2020).