I’ve come a long way since my first backpacking trip aged 17. Back then, I packed all the wrong stuff – I mean bright white t-shirts for jungle trekking?! Really?! Needless to say, they didn’t come home bright white!
But 15 years later (oh god that’s depressing) I think I’ve finally got my backpacking packing list sussed. There are several backpacking essentials I would never leave home without again like my trusty packing cubes and a decent powerbank! I figured since sharing is caring, I’d share with you a few of my backpacking essentials that always make it onto my packing list!
Here are my backpacker essentials for your packing list…
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If you’re sleeping in hostels or even in a budget hotel, you’ll want to have a sleeping bag liner just in case! Picture the scene; you arrive at a hostel late at night and nab the last bed. The sheets are a less than satisfactory colour & look like they need a boil wash! You will be able to whip out your sleeping liner and slumber in peace knowing hygiene has been taken care of! They are also useful for hot nights when you want something to sleep in but don’t want to swelter under the thick blankets provided. They come in cotton and silk. The silk liners are more pricey but are lighter and compress into a smaller space saving you space in your backpack.
Trying to block out the screaming child on a flight? Or bunking in a dormitory with someone who snores louder than Shrek?! Some decent should definitely be one of your backpacking essentials. Let the snoozing resume…
I love these. The article title may give this away! Packing cubes are a total backpacking essential if you want to keep your backpack organised and your sanity intact! They should definitely make it onto your packing list! When you’re moving hostels and hotels ever other night, you need to have a well-organised backpack system where everything has its place and you know how to find it in a hurry. Enter, packing cubes.
Whilst I was in South America, packing cubes came in especially handy as I could split my winter and summer clothes and not have to fumble through piles of Peruvian jumpers to reach my bikini at the bottom of my backpack! Get enough of them and they can also come in handy for laundry bags, shoe bags and a way to keep your electronics and various wires organised!
I’m naturally a bit of a messy person (Ok I finally admit it Mum) but with packing cubes, I was the tidiest backpacker in the hostel. Maybe I’m not doing so bad at adulting after all?!
On my last big backpacking trip, I decided to take a solar charger instead of a power bank since I was doing a lot of camping. Total utter waste of money. I was never stationary long enough to charge it so it became entirely redundant.
Instead, now I carry a powerful with me. A few hours charge will allow me to charge my phone up to 7 times. I can even charge 2 items at once so I never have to decide what’s more important – my smartphone or my GoPro?!
Okay so these are not as luxurious as your hotel fluffy white towels but a will be your best friend when you travel. Lighter than an average towel, less space consuming and they dry super quick so you can pack it up the following morning when you hit the road! Make sure you go for an antibacterial one to avoid a smelly backpack!
If you are planning to stay in any dormitories or do any camping, a is an absolute necessity. Useful for late nights when everyone else is snoozing and you need to find your PJs or for packing up early in the morning before your roommates wake up. I take my headlamp every time I travel now even if I’m sharing with friends. It’s just respectful, isn’t it?!
It goes without saying that this is an absolute must if you are camping – you really don’t want to step on a snake or enter the wrong tent by mistake, do you?!
I love my . I rarely get time to read when I’m at home. Between working as a doctor 4 days a week and writing this blog the other 3, there’s little time left over for luxuries such as reading! But when I travel, I always carry a kindle loaded up with plenty of reading material for those long journeys. I actually kind of enjoy a long journey as it gives me an excuse to read! Click here for more boredom-busting ideas for long journeys.
The best thing about a Kindle, other than its absolutely ridiculous long battery life, is that you can take as many books as you want without them weighing you down. I’m a fussy reader. I’ve lost count of the times a book promises to be brilliant but I can’t push past the first 10 pages. With the Kindle, problem solved. Ditch the 1st book and move onto the next! You may also want to consider a kindle cover to protect it, I love this , and also a for reading at night.
Most hostels have lockers for your luggage but you will usually need to provide your own . Choose one with a code rather than a key – it’s way too easy to lose a key on your travels! Padlocks are great for deterring thieves when you are away from your luggage but be cautious using them on your day bag as it can draw attention to you. Like a neon arrow pointing out your valuables! For transferring between hotels and airports, consider using . They are more discreet and you can cut through them with a penknife when you get your luggage safely to your next base.
Don’t underestimate how much you need this! There is nothing worse than suffering hundreds of mozzie bites – it’s just miserable. Choose an insect repellant with DEET and consider and anklets. In the evenings, wear long floaty clothes to protect yourself whilst the pesky mozzies are out in force.
Being a bit stingy I resisted buying a for ages, instead of buying specific country adapters along the way. True they are cheap as chips but it really was a time waster. With a worldwide adapter, I know I don’t have to waste time after arriving somewhere hunting a plug down! Choose one which has 2 USB points as well to make charging all your accessories a breeze!
Even if buying bottled water in plastic bottles is super cheap, it’s not exactly the most sustainable or green way of travelling. It’s also always a hassle making sure you always have enough bottled water with you. I remember one horrific occasion where I was solo backpacking and got food poisoning in Peru. I was too sick to leave my hotel room to get more water but I was horribly dehydrated. Reaching the shop nearby felt like climbing Everest. Some would have solved that problem!
Useful for washing clothes in the sink. Get some and save money on your laundry!
Yes, really! To save on time and money, do your own laundry with ease when you use the . This travel washing machine collapses down to the size of your palm but makes washing clothes by hand a breeze. Especially useful if you suffer from dermatitis as washing powder is likely to cause your skin to flare up.
If travel photography is important to you, you’ll want a foolproof plan for keeping your photos safe. Consider getting a portable hard drive to store your travel photos on the move. After all, the more places you store your photos, the less chance you’ll lose them for good. Photos to me are far more precious than possessions. I’d actually be more gutted about losing my memory card than I would be the actual camera. Okay, this might not be the case when I get around to upgrading to the which is on my lust list!
I love this because you can plug in more than one camera device at the same time and you can share photos direct from the memory card so no computer required. It also works as a hotspot which allows you to share wifi with your friends so if you are at a hotel which charges for wifi, you can split the cost between you! Clever huh?!
This has been my best friend over the years and I’m still using the same one I bought about 7 years ago! It’s definitely one of my backpacker essentials! A is a lightweight bag which rolls up to keep your possessions completely waterproof. I go on a lot of sailing and kayaking trips and this allows me to keep my most important possessions on me in the knowledge that they are safe and dry. When you’re not using it for protecting your belongings when you travel, it can also double up as a laundry bag!
So there we have it, 15 travel essentials (including my beloved packing cubes) which will always make it into my backpack! What’s in your backpack that you couldn’t travel without? We are all always learning so please let me know if you think there is something missing off this packing list!
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