Make your traveling a little bit less hectic.
Being over-prepared is almost always better than being under-prepared, especially in a situation where you’re leaving everything behind to catapult yourself into the unknown. I had done a plethora of research before buying a one-way to Tahiti as to what gadgets would make my traveling a little bit less hectic. Here are my top twelve recommendations for what to bring with you on a backpacking trip:
1. A Portable Charger
Seems obvious, right? Prior to this trip, I never owned a portable charger, because I knew I could always find somewhere to charge my phone, and even if it died, it wasn’t the end of the world. But believe me, you will not only want, but basically need a portable charger on your backpacking adventure. Whether it’s to use your phone as a GPS, take pictures, recharge your GoPro while on a snorkeling tour (my camera died at one of the coolest moments I experienced in French Polynesia, good thing I have a memory in my head!), or even if it’s to use an app to call an Uber or Grab. God forbid you find yourself in a bad situation and need to make a call, why have the panic of having a dead phone? You can buy them for as low as $20 on amazon; save yourself the headache and don’t leave without one.
Tip: Don’t always rely on your phone. ALWAYS write the name / address / phone number of your hotel / hostel on paper, with directions on how to get there. I learned this the hard way in Indonesia when my phone overheated and broke, and I couldn’t remember where my hostel was.
2. Shampoo Bar
A shampoo bar, verses bottle, is not only eco-friendly, but will last you much longer than a bottle, and take up way less space. I noticed the biggest issue with my shampoo bar was that due to heat and not having proper storage, it did become a bit mushy. Lush Cosmetics has many great options, and even offers a cork case to keep your shampoo bar in the proper storage. Save the earth, and save your body from experiencing unnecessary chemicals! On Lush’s website, they range from $10-$25, depending on which ingredients are in it (my favorite is the blue seaweed one!).
3. Portable WiFi Device
Who wants to constantly be that person asking, “Do you have WiFi?” and having a grumpy waiter / service worker stand over your table while typing in the password? I purchased SkyRoam before taking off on my trip; an orange round portable Wifi that works in over 100 countries. For $9 a day, you can have unlimited Wifi that can act as a GPS, a way to facetime your parents / friends / sisters / brothers / pets, and of course, upload all of your awesome travel photos to social media. SkyRoam made my road-trip through New Zealand possible, as it acted as a proper GPS and gave me service in the middle of nowhere. Other options to have unlimited service include a SIM card, but in order to do so, your phone must be unlocked, and it changes your phone number! Both are great options, but if you’re uneasy about starting with a SIM card, give SkyRoam a chance. You can even use my discount code NOMAN10 for 10% off your purchase!
4. A GOOD Backpack
Obviously, if you’re planning on backpacking, you will need… a backpack. Take it from me; I’ve been traveling for six months, and after a ridiculous amount of busses, planes, ferries, bullet trains, etc., you will want to throw your backpack out a window if it’s not comfortable to put on (and you may just want to throw it out a window anyway). I went with Osprey, and while it was a steeper price, they have a lifetime guarantee of replacing your backpack if anything goes wrong. Aside from that, despite how heavy it is (don’t overpack!!), it is as comfortable as ever to carry due to proper cushioning. It even has a separate tube for water for long hikes!
5. A Metal / Bamboo Straw, and Refillable Water Bottle
Something that has truly irked my soul throughout my entire backpacking adventure is waste. You will go through so much waste, and as a responsible traveler, it’s your duty to keep it at a minimum. I brought five metal straws with me with a cleaner, and I keep them in my bag at all times. I also brought a refillable water bottle with me; finding clean water in some places becomes a grueling task, but there’s an app called Tap, which gives you a list of hostels / hotels / restaurants that offer free filtered water refills. And as for the straws, it’s a simple thing; when you’re ordering an iced coffee, smoothie, or fresh juice, before the order is placed, simply say “no straw.” No one gets offended, and you’ve just cut your waste down! Easy as cake, and Mother Earth will thank you!
6. A Tote Bag
If you’re traveling on a budget, which I think is safe to say that most backpackers are, you will be doing some form of grocery shopping at some point. I cooked a lot in New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, because those countries are a little pricier for dining out. A tote bag hardly takes up any space, and in fact is required in some countries; plastic bags are officially banned in Tanzania, and most New Zealand grocery stores did not offer them.
7. Hiking Shoes and / or A Good Snorkeling Mask
Hiking shoes, a good snorkeling mask, or whatever it is that you find yourself doing a lot while you travel; why not invest in a good product? Hiking shoes to me are a must, especially because I was headed to places with notorious good hiking trails (New Zealand, Tanzania, even Japan), but I also had planned to snorkel in places like Australia, French Polynesia, The Maldives, Egypt, and more, so I brought both. What do you plan to do on your trip? Bring your own product; one: for comfort, and two: for accessibility (for example, in the Philippines, a lot of tour companies charge an extra fee to rent snorkeling gear!).
8. A Tablet
You are going to have a lot of long flights, train rides, bus rides, etc. You’re going to get bored. I brought a book of fifty crossword puzzles that I went through within the first month of my trip. While I prefer reading / writing on paper, it takes up a lot of extra space. If you buy a nook, iPad, etc., you’re saving space and providing yourself with entertainment for all of the grueling travel days that lie ahead of you!
9. A Quick-Dry Towel
This is where I failed on my trip. I didn’t bring a towel… at all. I assumed most hostels would provide one, and didn’t even think about needing a beach towel. Don’t be like me. It led to a lot of after-shower drip-drying, and cold boat rides after snorkeling / scuba diving. I eventually bought a sarong from a shop in the Philippines which mimicked as my towel for the remainder of my trip. A normal everyday towel takes up a lot of space which is why I never purchased one, but a quick-dry towel is a much thinner material, and, it’s.. well, quick-dry! You may find yourself in some places for only a day or two, and don’t always expect to have laundry facilities readily available (even if you do, not everywhere in the world has dryers, and who’s to say a day is enough time for a normal towel to properly dry?). This is why a quick-dry towel is hands down your best option for long-term travel.
10. Travel Insurance
This one is perfect, because it doesn’t take up any space at all, but it could not only save you a few headaches, but some money in the long-run! There are tons of options for travel insurance out there, but after doing extensive research, it seems World Nomads is the best option. For six months of a “round-the-world” trip (you have the option to choose which countries you’re going to, or for a steeper price, you can say “round-the-world”), it cost me around $600 for full-coverage. This means… flight delays, bag loss, cancelled trips, sickness, even emergency evacuation (for example, if I’m hiking and I break my leg, and a helicopter needs to fly to get me; travel insurance would cover that helicopter ride). While it seems like it’s a heavy investment, it will be 100% worth it if you need it. I know someone who was hiking Everest Base Camp, and his appendix was about to explode. He was helicoptered out, brought to a Nepalese hospital, had his appendix surgically removed, and didn’t pay a penny thanks to insurance. I’d say it’s worth it.
Get a quote here.
This seems silly, but I can’t sweat it enough (literally). Socks. Socks. Socks. I brought about ten pair, thinking that may be too many…but it wasn’t enough! Think of how much walking, hiking, moving you’ll be doing. Think of how many smelly airports you’ll be passing through. Whether there was room in my bag or not, I wish I brought a million pairs of socks. I found myself hand-washing socks in hostels (not a good way to make friends, for the record) because I didn’t want to pay for a whole load of laundry just for…socks. Bring a fair amount. It’s the only thing I’d recommend over-packing for.
12. Packing Cubes
For my trip, I was literally traveling around the world (starting in Tahiti, ending in Portugal), so I knew I’d be passing through several climates. Thanks to packing bags, I was able to organize pants / shorts, cute Instagram-worthy dresses, swimwear, and sweaters / t-shirts. This made unpacking and repacking for each location lightyears easier. Sometimes, I’d even put everything I’d be wearing for the next location (especially if it was a location with a dress-code: i.e., Cambodian temples, India, Oman, etc.) and would simply take that bag out and leave everything else in my backpack untouched!
I bought these.
These are just few of the many items you should consider taking with you to make your long-term travel easier. There are many other items you’ll want to look in to, especially for ladies: bring tampons or invest in a DivaCup. Whatever you decided to buy, remember to keep it as eco-friendly and compact as possible.
Kaitlyn spent six months backpacking around the world.