Now before we get into it, I would like to make clear I am in no way a backpacking gypsy woman that has years of nomadic travel experience to share with you…(I know, I know, I’m sorry to disappoint.) But what I do have, is a lil’ experience in packing for my first big trip, and with now being close to 4 months in, a list of items that I am seriously happy about packing.
Depending on how hardcore you are when you travel, these may not apply to you (Bear Grylls types I’m looking at you) but for the everyday backpacker, or even the first time backpacker, these are my personal top 10 things that I genuinely thank myself for packing and I hope you do too!
1. Sleeping bag liner
Now this boys and girls is a serious game changer. This baby has saved me from bed bug filled mattresses, grimey overnight sleeper buses/trains, freezing my tits off in air-conditioned rooms that decide not to provide blankets & endless other situations. Not to mention making you feel a little at home with your own bedding on a grotty bed.
Never heard of it? Basically it’s just a sleeping bag style pouch made from the same material as bed sheets, traditionally used to line your sleeping bag and keep it clean. But this compact piece of cloth has been much more than just that, and it’s now something I wouldn’t go without.
2. “Maps.me” App
Now I had never heard of this until my good friend Rani whom I met in Sri Lanka enlightened my world with it. “Maps.me” is basically just like any typical maps app however the difference is, you don’t need Internet to use it. (What??? Yeah. I know.) Basically you can download the map of the area you are in (anywhere in the world) and then use it when your phone isn’t connected to Internet. Not only does it still track your exact, updated location, you can even chuck in a destination and it will give you the best route and directions. ALL
OFFLINE. Perfect for when you are walking the streets lost in a new city without WiFi! (also saves you mulla on data roaming for those with sim cards!!) Fun fact: A guy trekking in the Himalayas of Nepal claims this app saved his life! As he got lost in an avalanche and the app allowed him to trace his steps back to the track. (So get downloading, This shit could save your life.) 😉
3. A Headband
Ahh the age old “traveller headband.” Not only does a headband immediately give you that “I’ve been backpacking for months & know my shit” look 😉 a headband is a serious multi-use device. Can’t keep that crazy humid hair fuzz out of the way? Chuck on a headband. Can’t get to sleep because of the street lights shining in your window? Throw your headband over your eyes like a sleeping mask. Your Face won’t stop dripping in the heat? Wrap the headband around your wrist as a sweatband (Yes gross, but weirdly useful.) You get the point.
4. A Shawl
This ones for the ladies! Be it a sarong, scarf, pashmina or cardi they have all been an absolute life saver, especially in more conservative countries. I bought myself a pashmina scarf in India for around $10 (probably got ripped off) and it has acted as my blanket, pillowcase, shoulder coverer etc. Depending on the climate you a travelling, a thinner scarf comes in handy aswell! From temples that need you to cover your head, to adding a conservative flair to your tank top if you ever feel uncomfortable with your shoulders on show. It’s a must have item! A sarong also replaces the need for packing an extra towel for the beach, also doubling as a dress/skirt when you get out of the water!
This one might be a standard packing item to some, however I thought I would throw it in anyway as I have got so much use out of mine. From zoning out on long train rides to the comfort of listening to songs that remind you of home. Headphones are a must. Not to mention the ability to do some guilt-free Facebook videowatching without the rest of the hostel wondering what the hell you are watching 😉 Yay for hours spent watching vidoes of cats.
6. Bum bag
Oooooh the classic traveller bum bag. (Or for you Americans out there, fanny pack!) Some call it daggy, some call it gods gift to airport stress…call it what you wish but I’ve been officially converted, and am now a pro-bum bagger. (Not sure if that’s even a thing lol.) Perfect for situations such as airports, sleeper trains or busy city streets where you need to keep your valuables close to your chest. Also very easy access to your money when you need to pay a 10 rupee bus ticket in a local bus squished to the brim with people. If you get a decent looking one, it’s convenient to strap it across your chest on the outside of your clothes for even easier access.
7. Nail clippers/Mini Nail kit
Call me precious or high maintenance if you wish, but I can confidently say I have packed this with 0 regrets. All you travellers that have been in tropical climates know how much faster your nails grow in hot weather! And with longer nails comes much more area for dirt and germs. (Gross yes, but where there is germs there is sickness!) And nobody wants that whilst on holiday! Oh and boys, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you! One of my guy mates in our hostel was desperately asking around for nail clippers… Luckily I could help out!! 😉
8. Elastic Band
I packed this one out of luck, and it saved me from being shoeless for a good couple of days. My strap of my sandal broke, and we were in no area to buy shoes. In a moment of genius, I decided to strap my elastic band around my shoe as a replacement. Need I say more?
Oh! Bonus tip… Take a good pair of shoes for everyday use. When I say good I mean breathable sandal types, support your arch, can slip on and off easily, and will last! I’ve been through too many shitry pairs of thongs this trip to count.
9. Safety pin
From wardrobe malfunctions (Thank-you quality $2 skirt from India) to opening the sim card compartment of my iPhone. A few safety pins in ya bag are too light and too convenient not to pack.
10. Travel Journal
Writing not your thing? I still reckon this is a worthy item to pack. A beautiful customer at the cafe I work at gave me one as a little going away present because when she was my age and travelled the world for a year, she wrote in one which she still has it to this day. How lovely is that? Even if you write in it twice over the whole trip, it’s pretty cool to have your memories & mindset at that time to look back on. Or even just as a notepad to write down lists, places to go, directions etc. when your oh-so-holy iPhone is dead! Unless You Bring a quality portable charger!!! Which is another quality-no-regrets item in itself!
Now I didn’t pack this one, but after having to carry every book I buy, I need one next time I travel long term. A KINDLE! These little tablets of genious are thousands of books all in one, weighing even less than just one book. You can buy any book on the go (with wifi) and then have them all ready to read for times with no internet. Bloody brilliant I tell you.
I hope the lessons i’ve learnt the past few months are of assistance to any of you backpackers out there novice or veteran alike! If you have any stories or must-pack items you want to share please comment below!!