25 BACKPACKING ESSENTIALS YOU'LL NEED
FOR YOUR TRIP
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Backpacking is a way you can experience life to its rawest and fullest, being able to experience the wonders of the world first hand is one of the most humbling experiences you could undertake and also... it's a lot of fun.
While you're backpacking you'll quickly realise how important your pack is. It holds everything you own for those weeks and months and there are some backpacking essentials you'll definitely want in there to make your life a whole lot easier. Whether you're a beginner backpacker, fresh out of high school or going completely solo for the first time, this checklist of items will save you a lot of hassle when you're on the road, so make sure you're prepared and ready to start your adventure the right way!
As someone who has backpacked for many years, I know what works and what is just excess weight in your pack that you frankly... just don't need. These backpacking essentials are a MUST for you and your trips, you'll thank me!
25 BACKPACKING ESSENTIALS YOU'LL NEED FOR YOUR TRIP
Normal cotton towels are large and bulky and will definitely take up a large portion of valuable space in your pack if you bring one. Instead, invest in a travel towel which can easily be compacted into a much smaller size. You can either opt for a microfibre towel or a 'Turkish towel'.
A microfibre towel is a staple for most backpackers. They are made from synthetic, quick drying material that is incredibly absorbent and can be folded up super small, which is the best for backpacking! Something like this one from amazon is perfect. It packs up nice and small, has its own little zip up carrier so you can easily pack it away and you can choose from a range of sizes and colours!
A Turkish towel is typically bigger, however they are also very absorbent, light and can fold down smaller than a regular bath towel - although not as small as a microfibre towel. They can substitute for a multitude of uses including as a sarong, picnic blanket and they are perfect for beach towels because of their size and they don't pick up sand nearly as much as regular towels.
I prefer Turkish towels particularly for warmer climates and trips, especially if I know I'll be hitting up the beach often. This Turkish towel from amazon is my choice and I recommend it to all of my friends!
A portable charger is essential when you're travelling, I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have access to maps, my phone camera or data if my phone died on me while I was out for the day and just having the reassurance of it being charged is super important to me when I'm travelling solo.
This is my all time favourite portable charger from Amazon. It does around 2 full charges with two ports, it has an LED screen to let you know how much battery it has left, AND it even doubles as a torch! I use this charger for every trip and absolutely love it, you can slip it into your pocket while you walk around and off you go.
Lip balm is something I can't leave the house without, and I can guarantee I will always have at least one tube on me at all times. When travelling I usually bring 2 - 3 tubes, just in case I lose one (it's an obsession, I know), but regardless I think having lip balm is always essential for everyone, no one likes dry lips!
My all time go to is Lucas' Pawpaw ointment, which you can buy here. It's iconically Australian and just an all round amazing lip balm to own. It is also great for pretty much everything else including gravel rash, chaffing, sun burn, cracked skin, cuts, insect bites and so on.
This is the ULTIMATE backpacking essential. Being on a trip and having your stuff stolen isn't fun, so make sure you pack a padlock before setting off. I have this set of two (just in case I lose one) from Go Travel, and I love them!
Firstly, a code padlock is so much more logical than a key padlock, no one wants to look after a tiny key for the whole trip. Secondly, these padlocks have bendy locks instead of metal, making them so much easier to use and hook around.
Sometimes a big bulky adapter is too much, which is why I invested in an EU charger. This is so handy and not only can I use it across Europe, but many African and Asian countries sockets are also compatible with the two prong plugs (make sure you double check the sockets of the countries you plan on visiting). This one from Amazon is affordable, light weight and has two ports, so you can double charge your electronics - an absolute must for me!
If you're planning on travelling across a number of countries that use a variety of different socket shapes or you need to charge something like a laptop or camera gear, then an international charger will be perfect for you. Having one of these covers all of your basis including everywhere you plan on visiting and also what sockets you use at home.
They are a little bulky to pack, so make sure you really need it before investing in one! Here is an international adapter from Amazon that has really great reviews.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
METAL WATER BOTTLE
Investing in a metal water bottle will not only have the environment thanking you, but also your wallet - buying plastic bottle quickly adds up. There are two I would recommend, the first is Chilly's, a very popular brand that is leak proof, BPA free and insulates drinks really well, they also come in a range of different colours and sizes.
It's a little more expensive, but it's a great investment for your trips, plus would be great if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors doing activities like hiking, beach days, camping and so on.
FOLDABLE WATER BOTTLE
Here is an AMAZING alternative for people who want something a little smaller and lighter, a foldable water bottle. If you don't plan on taking a huge bag with you while you're travelling or you plan on doing a lot of physical activities like cycling, hiking or even just walking around a lot, having something that collapses down when you're not using is perfect.
This foldable water bottle from Hydramate compacts down to next to nothing, while still being able to hold 750ml. It also can be clipped on to whatever you like from your belt loop to the top of your backpack!
WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS
Depending on where you are going and what you are doing, packing some water purification tablets might be necessary. Make sure to double check the countries you plan on travelling to and whether their tap water is safe to drink, or, if you're planning on going camping, hiking or off the beaten path, check if you'll have regular access to water.
I used water purification tablets while hiking through the Himalayas and they were great for making sure the water was safe to drink. I have also been caught out drinking bad water, and let me tell you, being up all night vomiting isn't fun! These water purification tablets from Amazon come in a pack of 50 and work really well, they are perfect to slip into your day pack and off you go!
A money belt is ideal if you plan on travelling to countries in Asia, Africa, South America and even some big cities in Europe where pick pocketing is high. A money belt is something you wear under your clothing to help keep your valuables safe. You could store anything from money, your passport or your phone and it just helps with the reassurance that no one has access to your things while you've got your back turned - I also like money belts because it keeps your hands free!
This money belt from MYCARBON is great because it doesn't chafe against your skin when you walk, it's light and small, plus has enough compartments to fit everything that you need inside!
Flip flops/slides are essential if you plan on staying in a hostel, even if the dead of winter. No one wants to be walking around barefoot on the hostel bathroom floors, so some cheap water proof shoes that you can chuck on while you wander around will be much needed!
I personally prefer slides and I use them to casually wander around in, too. Here are a really affordable pair from Amazon, they are great to just chuck on and go, plus they come in lots of different colours!
A hand sanitiser was important before, but now with COVID it is an essential you pretty much can't leave the house without, especially if you plan on going on public transport and public areas! Obviously there is a endless range of hand sanitiser you can choose from, and it's whatever works best for you.
Personally I prefer spray hand sanitiser as it doesn't dry out your skin as much and it dries a lot faster - there is nothing worse than soggy hands that you have to flap dry. Here is a pack of 6 from Nivea, I would recommend putting 1 - 2 in your bag just in case!
A set of travel cutlery is perfect for anyone who plans on spending a lot of time outdoors, either camping, hiking or even just having picnics. I personally don't like the feel of wooden cutlery in my mouth and metal is too clunky in my pack. A small set like this would be perfect, plus it's made from wheat straw material so it's eco friendly and light to carry around. You also want something that has its own container, so you don't lose any of the pieces and you can keep all of them together when they are dirty after use!
When I first started travelling I used to swear against a neck pillow, now, I couldn't travel without one - especially on long haul flights. There is nothing worse than a stiff neck and as I've gotten older I definitely feel it a lot more. You don't need anything too fancy, just something that's soft and firm enough to hold your neck up while you rest.
Here is an affordable memory foam neck pillow from Amazon, it's are such an essential! Then, when you're not using it you can just tuck it into the top of your backpack/the handle on the outside of your bag.
No matter if you're chilling at the pool, the beach, or even the garden at your hostel, having a speaker is great for those relaxing days or getting ready for a big night out, plus people will flock to you if you've got some good music playing!
You don't want anything too big and heavy in your pack, so something like this JBL Clip 3 is perfect because it's small, portable and also waterproof! Obviously don't forget to lock it away with your trusty padlock when you're not using it.
Sunburn can easily ruin your trip and slathering on aloe vera every few hours can become tedious, so make sure you pack some sunscreen when you're heading to hot/tropical countries! I usually apply some in the morning, especially on my face, then reapply throughout the day if I'm wandering around in the sunshine a lot or having a beach day.
This SPF30 sunscreen from Hawaiian Tropic is my personal favourite for many reasons. Firstly, it smells AMAZING, like a tropical paradise. It also dries quickly, isn't sticky and is super moisturising, which is great if you're out in the sun a lot or swimming in the ocean!
FIRST AID KIT
'You never need a First Aid kit until you need one' - this couldn't be more true. While it's very unlikely anything serious will happen to you on your trip, it definitely never hurt to have a little First Aid kit on you anyway. I am incredibly accident prone and I am CONSTANTLY tripping over, grazing myself, accidentally cutting my hands and feel on silly things and having something as simple as bandaids or a bandage and antiseptic can make the difference.
This mini First Aid kit is PERFECT, it's very affordable, not bulky at all and has the basic essentials you need for any day to day incidences that might occur.
When you're backpacking you'll definitely be doing a lot of walking, which can start to take a toll on your feet. I'm the type of person who gets blisters on pretty much every trip with every different shoe I wear, it's so frustrating! That's why I always recommend you pack some blister plasters, because hobbling around is not fun, trust me I know!
These ones are great because they stick onto your skin really well and pretty much dissolves the blister, while preventing other blisters from popping up too!
Baby wipes can be used for pretty much anything and it's such a great addition to add to the bag before you leave. Whether you're halfway through a long haul flight, need to wipe your hands from something sticky or wanting to wipe the sweat after a hefty hike, having a pack on you is super handy.
Most baby wipes are really bad for the environment and either end up in the oceans or landfill, which is why I would encourage you to buy some biodegradable ones like the ones linked here. They are made of bamboo so will break down very quickly, compared to usual baby wipes which are made from plastic!
ROLL ON DEODORANT
Deodorant is an obvious essential on any trip, however I would encourage you to make the switch from spray on deodorant to roll on, at least for your time travelling. I used to always get caught out at the airport with cans of spray on, which would be taken off me and I would instantly have to buy another one.
This is my personal favourite deodorant from Dove, it's coconut and jasmine, making the smell so light and fresh! It's so easy to chuck in my day bag/camera bag while I'm on day trips and I can just pop it into a plastic bag when I go through security at the airport.
Packing cubes are a GAME CHANGER when it comes to living out of a backpack. I'm an incredibly disorganised person naturally, and as the weeks go on my pack tends to get messier and messier, which makes it so much more of a hassle to handle all of my clothes and toiletries. Packing cubes make life so much easier as you can pack things away into whatever system works best for you, I typically prefer doing them in 'tops', 'bottom's, 'socks and undies' and 'shoes' - this way I can keep everything neatly where it needs to be and just grab the packing cube that I know has what I need in it.
This pack of 6 packing cubes are perfect because you get a range of different sizes, they are structured nicely with breathable material and they also come in a range of colours including pink, grey, blue and orange! It also includes a laundry bag, which is much needed to keep your other clothes from smelling.
TOILETRY BAG AND REFILLABLE BOTTLES
Toiletries can very quickly weigh down your bag and take up an enormous amount of space. Be selective when you're packing toiletries and try to keep it to the bare minimum, which for me would include - shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash/cleanser, toner and make up remover. I never bring full size products for 2 reasons, firstly if it's over 100ml it can't come through airport security with me and as I said, it weighs down your bag a LOT.
I would recommend investing in a set like this one from Amazon. This works perfectly for backpacking as you can transfer your favourite products into smaller, travel friendly sized containers that you can use and refill as you go! It is also a lot more eco friendly and money savvy than continuously buying mini travel sized products and throwing them away after use. And don't forget it's perfect for going through airport security!
REFILLABLE TRAVEL PERFUME BOTTLES
Much like the travel toiletries, having a travel sized perfume bottle is ideal for your backpacking trips. Carrying around a full sized perfume can become bulky and annoying, and you DEFINITELY don't want the glass bottle to smash, in or out of your bag.
These little travel sized perfume containers are the perfect backpacking companion, you can easily transfer your perfume you use at home into the tube, it's leak proof and you can even pack a couple so you can have different fragrances on the go, without worrying about your bag being ridiculously heavy!
PASSPORT AND DOCUMENT HOLDER
Having backups of all your important documents is essential when you're backpacking, because in the case you lose your phone, passport, insurance information or bank card, then you have a starting point. I always make a point to photocopy important documents and have a paper copy (plus email backup) with me in the event of a worse case scenario!
A passport holder just helps keep everything important in order and in place, then you can easily slip it away into the top of your bag in case of emergencies. Here is an inexpensive one from Amazon that has plenty of compartments for your documents, cash, passport, pen and even your phone, it's waterproof and also very lightweight! You can also choose from a range of colours including navy, grey, purple and fuchsia.
TRAVEL JEWELLERY HOLDER
If you're a jewellery fan like me you'll know the struggles of trying to keep all your jewellery in check, while also making sure they don't get ridiculously tangled while you're not wearing them. Having a travel jewellery holder helps keep everything in one place, neat and organised, perfect for when you just want to grab something and go!
This jewellery holder from Vlando is great for backpacking as it rolls up nice and small with three different compartments, perfect to just throw in your bag!
LIGHTNING TO SD CARD READER
If you're someone who travels with any sort of camera, including a DSLR or GoPro, you NEED one of these. Apple sells Lightning to SD card readers, which means you can plug your SD card directly into your phone and upload your photos straight away, without having to mess around with a laptop or questionable camera wifi.
I have been using one of these since 2018 and it's honestly a game changer, especially when I want to quickly edit something straight away or I'm not bringing my laptop on a trip. I honestly couldn't rave about this more, it's an essential for anyone who is a photographer or just likes taking photos while you're away!