Travel Tips

15 PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR EVERY TRAVELLER

The Things I NEVER Travel Without

Disclaimer; I’m a self-professed over-packer.

I’m not gonna write you a packing list (yet… never say never) because:

  1. There’s already a million on the internet
  2. We’d definitely be here all day

So I’ll leave it up to you how many pairs of jeans you take. You can use your judgement as to whether to take 5 or 6 tee shirts. Undies? Hey, up to you if you wanna try the forwards-backwards-inside out method. I mean, I personally always have at least 10 pairs.

No, this list is those things every backpacker should have in their pack (or suitcase; I won’t discriminate). Those handy things that make travelling easier, that keep your pack tidy and help you stay connected with the world. Trust me; these are things I never leave home without. Dive straight in to discover my top 15 packing essentials.

15 Packing Essentials I Never Leave Home Without

1. Reusable Drink Bottle

Want to try and be a more sustainable traveller? One of the easiest ways to cut back on your single use plastic consumption is to make sure to always pack a reusable drink bottle.

I have a Chilly’s drink bottle which I absolutely love that comes on every trip with me. Not only is it stylish and practical (it can keep water cold for up to 24 hours), it’s greatly helped me reduce my plastic usage on the road. 

But what if you’re travelling somewhere where the water isn’t safe to drink? Consider investing in a SteriPen or LifeStraw. Though each product functions in a slightly different way their purpose is essentially to filter water for you, making it safe to drink. Great for you, and great for the planet. While they can be a little expensive on a backpackers budget in the long run they could end up saving you money. This is definitely a product I’ll be investing in for my next long-term trip through developing countries.

Read More: 10 Ways To Be A More Sustainable Traveller in 2020

2. Packing Cubes

Ok, I’m gonna sound like a total nerd here. But seriously, I was fizzing when I discovered the game-changing travel accessory that is packing cubes.

Packing cubes are essentially small bags designed to organise your suitcase or pack. They generally come in small, medium and large sizes and are available from a variety of retailers. (I use packing cubes from Kiwi/Australian company Kathmandu). 

I use my packing cubes to separate out similar items in my pack. So, a small packing cube for undies, bras, socks and pyjamas. One gets used for shorts, skirts and bottoms. Another might be used for tops and jumpers. You get the picture. I kinda feel like packing cubes represent my nerdy organised brain, and I kinda love it.

3. Jandals/Flip Flops

If you’re a backpacker one thing you absolutely must pack is a pair of jandals. For those not fluent in kiwi, I mean flip flops. Thongs. Sandal-esque shoes that protect your feet from grimy hostel bathroom floors.

While I try not to pack too many pairs of shoes, flip flops are light and easy to tuck into a corner of your pack. They’re great to take to the beach, good for short walks in hot climates and yup; you should defs be wearing them in the shower if you’re hostelling. I mean, nobody wants foot fungus, right?

4. Travel Adaptor

You have a lot of tech, I have a lot of tech. We need that tech to keep us connected, find our way (shout out to Google Maps) and make travel easier. And to keep that tech running on the road, you need to pack a travel adaptor.

Make sure you research what adaptors you’ll need in the country you’re visiting. If you have multiple things that need charging consider packing a small multi-board so you can plug more things in. For a backpacking trip that’ll take you to multiple countries you could purchase a universal adapter

5. Portable Charger

While we’re on the subject of tech and staying connected on the road, let’s talk about portable chargers.

I use Google Maps a lot while travelling so my phone battery inevitably ends up draining pretty quickly. Plus, I have an iPhone, and let’s be honest, that doesn’t help. To avoid getting lost while travelling (the thought of my phone dying while I’m trying to navigate literally gives me anxiety) make sure to pack a portable charger.

6. Microfibre Towel

Depending on where you are in the world, I’ll admit, most hostels do have towels. Sure, sometimes you do have to hire them, but they’re there.

Still, one thing I always make sure to pack while travelling is a microfibre towel. If you’re staying in a hostel without towels, or you’re on a micro-budget and don’t want to hire one, these towels can definitely come in handy. Plus, microfibre towels are also great to take to the beach while travelling.

The benefit of microfiber towels for travellers is that they’re small, compact and highly absorbent, meaning they don’t take up much room in your pack and they dry quickly.

I use one from Kathmandu, though many travel and outdoors retailers also sell microfibre towels. 

7. Scarf/Shawl

While travelling it’s always important to respect local customs and dress codes. Whether you’re at a temple in Thailand or cathedral in Italy you’ll need to make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. 

For female travellers one thing I highly recommend packing is a light scarf or shawl for just those occasions. You want something that can fit in your day pack and that’ll go with various outfits #travelfashion. Something you can easily whip out at a temple to cover your shoulders, or even tie as a loose sarong over a pair of shorts. 

The other benefit of having a scarf handy is you can use it as an extra layer or blanket for those long bus rides. What is it about long bus trips and arctic air conditioning? 

8. Camera

For me, one of my favourite parts of travel is being able to capture memories and tell stories through photos. Sure, I’m a #travelblogger so photos kinda come with the territory, but I also like having photos just for me. As well as posting to the ‘gram I collate my photos into an album using BookWright for memories I’ll treasure forever.

I used to use my iPhone to take photos, but you can get a lot higher quality images and play around more with your travel photography by investing in a camera. It doesn’t need to be a big, bulky DSLR either. I use a Sony A6000 and this mirrorless camera is perfect for travel photography. It’s lightweight, compact and affordable, and with a few good lenses can really up your photography game. 

You can find the Sony A6000 on Amazon here.

9. Kindle

Travel is exciting. But let’s face it, it can also be long, tiring and sometimes boring. Sure, it’s all about the journey and all that. But when the journey is a 38-hour flight home from Athens, you need something to distract you. 

As well as downloading a few episodes (or a series) of Netflix to my phone, I always travel with my kindle. Kindles are great for storing guidebooks, and as a voracious reader I can easily distract myself with a good novel. They’re light and compact, and the battery lasts for ages, making it the perfect travel accessory for those tight on space.

BTW, anyone got any good book recommendations?

8 Travel Books Every Female Traveller Should Read

10. Combination Padlock

In all my travels around the world I’ve never run into a situation where I’ve gotten into trouble or felt really unsafe. Still, I’m ever security-conscious, especially when travelling solo, and there are a few security measures I’ll always follow to keep myself (and my belongings) safe.

As well as following the usual advice, like not walking alone in dodgy areas after dark or letting someone know where you’re going, I’ll pack a combination padlock to keep my belongings secure. When I’m out and about or on the road I’ll use a padlock to lock my bags, successfully deterring wandering fingers. In hostels I use my padlock to secure my locker. 

Sometimes I feel a little paranoid, but hey, I like my stuff.

11. Sunscreen

Slip, slop, slap and wrap, kids! Is that just an NZ thing? I feel like it’s just an NZ thing.

While everyone has their own skincare regimes varying from moisturisers and face wash to toners and primers, there’s one thing every traveller should have in their pack; sunscreen. 

While travelling you’ll likely spend more time outside than you would at home, exploring temples, relaxing on beaches or going on hikes. And quite often (unless you’re in Scotland), there’s sun in the sky. Honestly, the sun is almost a foreign concept to me now. Packing some sunscreen – and applying it liberally – will protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

For more sustainable travel consider buying a reef-safe sunblock. Especially important if you’ll be swimming in the ocean, reef-safe sunscreens don’t contain the toxic chemicals that inevitably end up in the ocean when you go for a swim.

12. Ear Plugs & Eye Mask

If you know me, you’ll know I need my sleep. Seriously; any less than 8 hours a night and I’m a major grouch. 

While travelling, and especially while staying in hostels, I can find it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Being in a strange place, not having my pillows from home and jet lag are inevitably factors in disrupted sleep. Still, when in a hostel dorm the major sleep-deprivation culprits are people. People being noisy, and people turning the damn lights on at 3am for no damn reason. I like my sleep, ok.

While it’s not foolproof, I generally find I get a much better sleep in hostel dorms if I wear an eye mask, and sometimes ear plugs too. Both are also good for trying to sleep on long haul flights, and both are things I always take with me while travelling.

13. Travel Diary

I don’t keep a diary everyday. (Though you should see 12-year old Amy’s diary. The. Drama.) But when I travel, I always keep a journal. I find that while things feel fresh at the time and you feel like you’ll never forget that curry you had at that restaurant in Chiang Mai, names and details quickly fade.

Keeping a travel journal allows me to jot down things as they happen (or at least in the evening from my bunk bed). Writing down the names of restaurants, or beaches, or quirky art galleries allows me to find them again later. 

I can pass on my recommendations to people, or write about it here, on the blog. I always love reliving the memories too, when I open a journal several years later and am transported back to that particular trip.

14. Travel Laundry Detergent

While the hours I’ve spent in foreign laundromats are strangely memorable, I’d still rather spend my time exploring than hanging out by the washing machine. I’m weird that way, I know.

To cut down on trips to the laundromat and limit my washing to once a week, I like to take a travel size bottle of laundry detergent. Travel detergent is often super concentrated so you only need a few drops, meaning it should last for a couple of months. I usually wash my underwear and bras and maybe a tee shirt in my hostel sink every few days, then save up for a big wash when I need to. Trust me, it’s a game changer.

15. Reusable Face Wipes

A few years ago I converted from your run-of-the-mill supermarket face wipes to something a little more travel-friendly and sustainable. Today, reusable face wipes are something I take with me on every trip. 

I used to use Face Halo makeup removers but have now switched to the Afterspa Makeup Remover. Instead of using wipes or products, you just need your makeup remover towel and water. That’s it. And it actually works really well. While I was skeptical about whether it would actually remove all my makeup, especially eye makeup, I always feel like it does a great job. And hey, anything to help me practice more sustainable travel, and save room in my pack.

So while this isn’t a packing list, it’s hopefully a good place for you to start. I’m a notorious over-packer, but if I had to narrow it down, this is what I would pack. These really are my packing essentials, and I wouldn’t leave the house without them.

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15 Packing Essentials For Every Traveller
15 Packing Essentials For Every Traveller

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