Before a backpacking trip, it can be pretty hard to figure out what you need in your backpack. The packing list grows and grows and there’s only one simple backpack that you can fit it all in to contain all the items you think a backpacker can’t live without. Really, take a look at your list and halve the items you think you need. Then halve it again.
As a very well seasoned backpacker, there’s a backpacking list full of items I know I must need and simply cannot live without. All these items below are what I can easily fit (you need to know Tetris remarkably well) into my second bag, the rucksack. Why? Because many a time I need quick access to certain things while I am flying, travelling via bus or train or simply if I need to take a day out anywhere.
1. The Emergency Underwear
That goes without saying. You never know when disaster may strike after eating an innocent piece of food. Last thing you want is to let the ring of fire open when you’re in line for the toilets on the plane and have no emergency underwear.
Sometimes, a journey will be very long. Perhaps, even by 14 hours or more! A sure quick fire way to while away the time is to write your travel blog, watch videos or play a game of Minesweeper. Just remember to fully charge it before you go.
If you’ve forgotten this, then you shouldn’t be a traveller. Place your passport in a side pocket securely and rejoice as passport control stare at you in amazement when you pull it out in record time. Remember to make sure your passport is still more than six months valid.
4. Currency Card
A pre-loading currency card is one of my beloved items. You can find an ATM anywhere (maybe not on a desert island) and with a quick transaction, you can withdraw the local currency without fear of your card details being hacked.
Before I reach my destination after a long journey, I like to refresh myself. Pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes and deodorant and then you’ll smell and look sweetly for anyone awaiting you at the other side. Remember to make sure your liquids are less than 100ml as they will be thrown away at security.
6. A Smile
My other prized asset. A smile costs you nothing and can open doors of opportunity to get what you want. Smile flirtingly at the stewardesses and you may just get extra attention. Smile when you see anyone, you may just make a friend for the journey and perhaps you might just meet your soulmate.
Using headphones can block out unwanted noise from different modes of transport and irritating announcements (I’m looking at you, Ryanair). It’s a great way to zone yourself out and create your own space in a crowded plane. However, just make sure your headphones are connected to a device otherwise you’ll look… well…weird.
Stock your iPod with your favourite songs whether it’s S Club 7 or Bon Jovi. You can create your own travel playlist to rock out or chillax out throughout the journey. Just remember there are other people around you and dancing in the aisles is a big no-no. (Believe me, I’ve tried).
9. Plug Adapters
Plug Adapters are permanently black-marked on my packing list. In the early days of backpacking, I would cry at the ceiling that I simply forgot to get the right plug adapter for that country. Just go into your gadget store and make sure it will work with the sockets of that country. Otherwise, you’ll be a messy snotty heap on the floor because you can’t get updates what happened in your favourite soap opera.
10. Neck Pillow
You’ll either hate it or love it. There’s an art to getting the neck pillow just right so you can sleep in comfort. Try before you buy to see which type suits you. I am perfectly content with my blow up neck pillow that I can economically store in my bag. Unless it’s on the other side of the carriage when I wake up to find it’s deflated.
11. Eye Mask
Sleep sweetly and soundly without any interruption from light flashes or glares as you travel with your eye mask. People think you may be obsessed with your beauty but hey, it’s a great way to arrive at your destination with no drooping eye bags.
You certainly need your wits about you when you are travelling. Sometimes you do have to expect the unexpected. Perhaps there will be a gate change and you have to run like hell to make it.
13. A bottled drink
My trusty steed in my hand. You never know how long the journey is going to take to a destination and the last thing you want is to shell out a fortune on trains and planes for a measly bottle of water. Buy in advance and reap the benefits as you refill your bottle.
14. Cheeky Snacks
Travelling with a backpack is truly hungry work. You can sit back and relax as you gorge on your snacks, storing energy for when you arrive. Remember to get non-noisy, non-smelling foods otherwise your fellow passengers will round on you for emitting your own bad smell after your chicken vindaloo sandwich.
15. A Khmer Scarf
If you have been to Cambodia, I urge you to get a Khmer Scarf. This scarf is multi-use as you can use it as a blanket, towel and guess what, a scarf. It’s light and thin, which is perfect for storage in your rucksack.
16. Woolly Hat
Air-conditioning in all modes of transport are tempermental. Sometimes, it will be colder than a naked penguin at the North Pole. Pack a woolley hat to battle away the elements and you’ll be roasting warmer than a naked penguin in the…desert?
17. Walking Shoes
If you want to scrimp on baggage weight, I recommend you wear your heaviest items on your person. For me, it’s my trusty size 14 walking shoes, which is a must have for my walking and hiking exploits. Kick them off on the journey and should you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, at least your feet will be protected.
There’s nothing quite like sitting back and having your nose in a good book to while the hours away. Game of Thrones or the Hunger Games are good choices but whatever you do, don’t read 50 shades of Grey next to an old lady, she may get a bit frisky with you…
19. Sucking Sweets
Since budget airlines do not give out sucking sweets to help the pressure in your ears, it’s best to have a collection with you as you soar to the sky. If you find yourself without any, you can always ask a new family if you can borrow the baby’s pacifier.
You don’t have to wait until you get to a destination to start being snappy. Your journey is part of your experience and there’s nothing like the satisfaction of taking a picture of a glorious sunset over the clouds on the plane. Selfies with the unsuspecting passenger next to you is a big no no.
What better time than to swot up on your impending destination than learning about all the facts in your guidebook. Whether it’s Lonely Planet or Rough Guides, you can be assured that you know where to find the best drinking hole for beverages.
22. Hair Gel
I always like to look good wherever I am with good reason. Approaching the travel desk to collect your tickets, looking smart, may get you better privileges on your journey as you dazzle the attendant.
23. Empty Clear Plastic Bag
You’ll need this to store your mini-toiletries in one clear bag to get through security. It’s also a great tool to store rubbish from your journey. Or worst, should you need a sick bag. If you do, don’t blow it up and pop it to scare the annoying boy in the seat in front of you…7
Strapped to my wrist, I always want to know what the time is. If you have an alarm setting, it’s a great tool to wake yourself up before you arrive at your destination. Remember, to adjust the time if you’ve arrived in a time zone to help with your jetlag unless you want to look like a character from the Twilight Zone!
As previously said, a jumper will be great to combat the freezing elements from the air-conditioning. However, if you don’t need it, it can double up as your pillow. If you put a sheep in your jumper, you can tell people it’s a woolly jumper!
26. WiFi Connection
As flights, trains and buses are implementing Wi-Fi on their carriages, I just love to rub people’s faces in on social media about where I’m going. Remember to watch out for any terms and conditions. Instagram me your journey perhaps as you take a trip of a lifetime.
27. E-mail Print Outs
Should all your electronics go kaput, it’s worth having a back-up plan just in case. Photocopies of your email confirmations such as e-tickets, airport car rentals, visas, hotel bookings and more should be printed out and kept in a secured pocket.
28. Phone Charger
The phone charger is your holy grail of your connection to the world. Playing candy crush, solitaire or perhaps even travel blogging can use up your phone battery. So find yourself a power point and plug in to ensure you have full power for your journey ahead. That way you can get past level 567 on your candy crush saga.
29. BONUS: The Rucksack!
Well, duh! You need to fit all your items in! You would just look remarkably silly if you turned up with everything in your pockets. Find a trustworthy rucksack recommended by travel bloggers and ensure you have lockable pockets available. Your rucksack will become your best friend.
So have you got all 29 items ready? No? Read it through again and get all the essential items a backpacker can’t live without. If you got them all, then well done. All you need to go next is type in your email in the subscription form on the right and you’ll be getting more invaluable resources for your backpacker journey ahead!