When going through your packing list for an extended trip away from home, it’s easy to over-think things. And even worse, it’s easy to over-pack. The best advice is to pack light! Almost everything you need you can pick up on the road, and sometimes for just a fraction of the cost of what you would pay for a similar item in your home country. But that being said, there are certain things that might skip your thought process which we consider to be travel essentials. So here is a list of travel essentials that should always have a home in your backpack!
1) Duct Tape
The miracle tape with a million and one uses! Use it to fix rips in your clothes. Bandage up your feet if you get blisters. Tape a bunch of loose items in your bag together so you don’t lose them. Repair a tear in that mosquito net over your bed in the $7 a night bungalow on the beach. Strap your drunken, snoring hostel roommate to their bunk bed for a good old laugh. The possibilities are endless! And if you feel a whole roll of duct tape is both cumbersome and consumes too much space, then simply wrap a couple of metres of it around a pen!
I couldn’t begin to fathom the amount of times I have used my Leatherman while we have been gallivanting around the globe. From fixing zippers to cutting up fruit and sawing off firewood and of course repairing our motorcycles! This magnificent tool has always been in a readily accessible pocket of my backpack. I still cannot believe I haven’t lost it over the years, and I would be devastated if I ever did!
3) Toilet Paper
It seems a little strange to pack a roll of toilet paper, but you’ll be amazed at how rare it is to come across in public bathrooms in third world countries. You may be forced to use the much-feared bum-gun! Sometimes there is a sweet old lady sitting out the front smiling and handing out a few squares for when you enter. The thing is she expects payment once you exit feeling much more relieved. Save the awkward transaction by carrying your own! Also can be used to pack out your shoes if your feet are sliding around in them.
4) Sleeping Bag Liner
Backpacking with a sleeping bag is one of the age-old debates, filled with staunch followers on both sides of the fence. But one thing that is usually pretty universally agreed upon is the importance of a sleeping bag liner. They come in either silk or cotton (we recommend silk) and weigh next to nothing. They pack down to the size of a child’s fist and can make the difference between a comfortable night’s sleep and a shivering, painful nightmare which results in your body being bombarded by those most hated of all cheap accommodation companions – bed bugs! Use them!
Not just for rock climbers, these extremely useful accessories can be used to hang an assortment of objects off and around your backpack and room. Sounds a bit obvious, but it can be great to have an easy place to clip your boots to the outside of your bag. Or somewhere for your daypack to hang off your front without you constantly having to have your arms through the straps.
Now, I‘m not talking about a whole spool of nylon rope to moor your backpack to a bus seat. I mean a few metres of small diameter rope which you can string between two fittings in your hostel room to hang wet clothes off, or tie loose objects together. And if you get bored, you can sit there and learn knots. Because let’s face it, knowing how to tie knots is an essential skill that every person should have!
7) Safety Pins
What would you use safety pins for? You can use them to fix holes in your clothes when you can’t be bothered sewing them. Shorten your waistband on your pants when you’ve lost weight on the road and don’t want to spend money on a new pair. Or throw in a new facial piercing when you’re in Myanmar and want to fit in with the punk rock scene!
8) Zip Ties
If you’ve never used zip ties before, you’re living life wrong. Makeshift padlocks for your backpack. Put a new handle on broken zippers. Create daisy chains where you need them. We’ve used so many of them over the past few months. They are always coming in handy for something. Just don’t forget to have your multi-tool handy to remove them!
9) Plastic And Ziplock Bags
Clothes will get wet. Sunscreen will explode in your bag. Carrying 12 mangoes can get awkward. But store them in a plastic bag, and eliminate the hassle! We store all our liquids in ziplock bags to give added protection from unwanted messes in our backpacks. Don’t throw away the plastic bags that everyone gives you at little convenience stores – reusing and recycling is awesome!
10) Ear Plugs
Some people are heavy sleepers, others aren’t. Sometimes even the slightest noise from a small insect can keep you up for hours. So imagine what it’s like with a snoring roommate, chanting coming from the mosque next door druandnken backpackers singing Wonderwall outside your dorm! Throw in these small, foam disposable plugs and sleep the night away, awaking the next day refreshed and ready to climb mountains!