15 Items That Every Backpacker Needs

You would think that with the amount of times that I have packed and unpacked my suitcase over the past year, that I would be a pro at knowing what to take and what to leave behind. Wrong. I am serial over packer, always thinking about the ‘what ifs and the just in case’ situations. In saying that, over time I have come to know what is a definite must have when embarking on an overseas trip or just those items that will make your life a bit easier.

  1. Travel Insurance. I was horrified by the amount of people that I talked to when away who did not bother with this. Most of the time you will be lucky and won’t need to use it but in those times that you do, you will be incredibly grateful. On my last trip to Europe I needed to make 4 claims, which amounted to thousands of dollars. Covermore, (my chosen insurance company) were amazing and after the $100 excess, they covered all of my bills. Please don’t be one of those people that resort to creating a Go Fund Me once you have an accident and realise that you can’t cover your own medical bills.
  2. Zip lock bags. These are perfect for everything, from packing sandwiches so you can save yourself from buying lunch, to keeping dinner leftovers if you use the hostel kitchen. They are also great for keeping together makeup and toiletry supplies, recharging cords or batteries. Just try to reuse them when possible to avoid creating extra waste.
  3. Salt and pepper sachets and disposable cutlery. I am very guilty of stealing dozens of these from fast food shops because in so many communal kitchens that I have used, seasoning was nowhere to be found. I even have packed a couple of stock cubes to help flavour vegetable soups that I made in bulk when I was staying in a location for a few days. Cutlery came in handy if I was in a remote location and needed to make food with some groceries.
  4. Backup chargers, travel adapters and a spare lock. The amount of times that I have left these behind in a location is ridiculous. Most of these times I didn’t realise that they were gone until I went to use them, so the back up was a lifesaver (especially if I arrived in a new place at night and couldn’t get to a shop).
  5. Baby wipes, hand sanitiser and tissues. People and places can be gross and if you are backpacking, you are guaranteed to stay in some questionable locations. Baby wipes are also your best friend when you don’t have access to a shower.
  6. Single use washing powder packets. Now, tbh I spent a great deal of time washing my clothes in the sink or shower because I was too poor to pay for the $6 hostel washing machine plus the cost of buying the powder. I know you can easily buy washing powder from the shop but it just made it so much easier at times knowing that I already had it on hand. If you are like me and are a fan of the sink washing, packing a small bottle of detergent will do a much better job than hand soap..
  7. Sunscreen. If you have fair skin (or even if you don’t) you are bound to get burnt when you are walking around all day, especially in a hot climate. Think back to what your mum said and don’t forget to put on your sunscreen.
  8. Tea and coffee sachets. Honestly, coffee bags are one of the best items that I pack on my trips because who can afford to travel and buy multiple coffees each day??? I am guilty of having a massive tea and coffee collection, I would show you but my family would probably be too embarrassed by the large amount that I have taken from past hotel visits. Think back to that Ross scene in ‘Friends’ where he takes everything from the hotel. Now, don’t be a Ross but instead take what you need, after all you did pay for it!
  9. Hair ties. People with long hair will know the struggle. You will wear them and you will loose them. Pack an entire new packet because I guarantee that they won’t come back home with you.
  10. Small tins of food. I always take a few tins of baked beans with me which I use in the first couple days of an overseas trip, just in case I don’t make it to a shop in time. Sometimes you don’t feel like going out, sometimes you can’t afford it, so they are great to have on standby.
  11. Panadol and band aids. Yes, you can buy these everywhere but sometimes you are nowhere near a shop and in the middle of the night when you have a killer headache, there is no way you are getting your hands on any. I also paid about $8 for a small packet of painkillers in Iceland and doing that hurt more than my head did. Cold and flu medicine and some daily vitamins are great as well because your immune system will be lowered when you are always on the go.
  12. Sanitary items. For those that bleed, you will know how unpredictable and inconvenient that can be. Pack extra to be on the safe side or in those times where you have to help someone else out.
  13. Hydrodol or Hydralyte. You may have the hangover from hell or you are dehydrated from being sick. These don’t take up any room in your bag and it’s nice to have when your lying on the bathroom floor after a few too many drinks.
  14. Travel packing pouches. I use these to save room in my suitcase and to stay organised. You are able to compress all your items much more effectively to make some more room and a spare pouch is also good for keeping together your dirty clothes.
  15. Your passport. Don’t be that person who loses it (like I have almost done on 3 occasions). Try and be a bit of an adult and always make sure that it is in a safe place and always have it with you when you are travelling to a new location. Take a photo of it, along with your credit cards and identification, so you have some documentation if you do happen to lose it.

I am by no means an expert packer but hopefully some of these items will help you out! If you have some things that you can’t live without when travelling, let me know in the comments!