Long term travel, budget backpacker lifestyles and limited luggage allowances have created a generation of savvy travellers who know how to make every kilo count. So what are the essentials you mustn’t leave without?
1. Ipad/ tablet
This amazing item will give you every thing you need from maps, email, messaging, skype, travel guides, books, music, currency converter and much much more. In fact I went 6 months without a phone because of how efficient my ipad was as a method of communication.
Optional: A travel charger will allow you to charge your appliances so that you’re not stuck on a 16 hour bus in Peru with no phone/email/music/Ereader etc
2. Enough clothes for all weathers
Shorts, flip flops, T-shirts, hoodie and a light raincoat. Most places you can pick up cute little dresses for nights out and also cheap tshirts. In fact in Asia you can choose your material and design and have a dress made specially for you. Might be something to consider if you have a special event or wedding to go to when you return home from your trip.
3. Take a photocopy of your passport with you for emergency purposes.
I wouldn’t recommend bringing it with you during your daily excursions in case it gets lost or stolen. If you are in a country and a dodgy police officer asks you to see your passport, ask to be brought to the local station where you will be happy to show your passport there. Do not show it to anyone on the street.
4. A book
Although I recommend the ipad as you can store so many books on it without the weight, the battery will inevitably die, perhaps on a 3 day rainforest walk. Whenever it is, it is handy to have one book with you, to enjoy on the beach or on your boat cruise on the Amazon River. Many hostels have a book exchange so when you have finished it you can swap it for another one. A girl, I shared a room with in Hawaii, gave me a book and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to give it to my mum so it came with me through a few more countries before I gave it to her in Malta. I believe it is in Berlin now… What travel stories it has I’m sure 😉
5. Travel sized liquids
No one wants massive bottles of hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion etc weighing down their bags to I’d recommend investing in the small bottles. They are relatively expensive but you can fill up last years empty bottles before you leave home.
6. Universal adapter
I have bought several expensive ones in the airport and for some reason they always break. I think it’s from the different voltages. But if you plan on travelling to a few countries rather than having to buy a few, a universal one is far more sensible.
7. Travel towel
These are lightweight tiny towels that do they same job as a bit fluffy towel and dry super quick so it can go back in your bag if you are leaving tomorrow.
Instead of bringing a big beach towel, you can buy one there and it doubles as your souvenir or, as I do, pack a lightweight sarong. Perfect for those beach days and weighs nothing. Winning!
8. A first aid kit
This should include antiseptic wipes, band aids, burn cream and maybe some painkillers and motilium, which you can’t get everywhere.
Don’t make the same mistake I did which was go into Boots in Ireland and spend a fortune buying some of everything, then arriving in Bangkok two days later and coming across a Boots there ( and it was cheaper grrr!)
9. A camera
Most of us have camera phones but if you don’t, you need to bring a camera with you. Travels are about making memories but I can assure you, when you return home, there’s nothing you’ll love more than reliving those moments looking at the photos you took of crazy nights out, beautiful sunsets and breathtaking landscapes.(leave the selfies to your phone)
10. Earplugs and eye mask ( usually get these free on long haul flights with socks as well). Also a blow up travel pillow is so handy for any method of travel. Yes they’ll give you one on the plane but I always use the one I brought as well. To save money, a lot of people use over night travel on buses and trains to save money on accommodation so these pillow will be your best friend in these situation.I always bring socks in my hand luggage and a hoodie because as flights get cold and a nice pair of fluffy socks makes the experience a lot more comfy 🙂
I have often succumbed to peoples advice and bought luggage locks. Once I even bought them at the airport on my way to South America (after checking in my bag) so they went into my hand luggage… and stayed there for the duration of my trip. I never use them. Some might criticise that but I have never had anything taken from my bags and I have stayed in countless hotels, hostels, floating houses, tree houses you name it. I think most people who travel all have the same values and respect one another.
Don’t bring your hair dryer. Nearly all hostels have them and if you’re like me you’ll be travelling to warm countries and can let your hair dry naturally. If you bring a travel hair dryer (I used to during my early travel days!) notice that they will generally have a way to change the voltage which you will need to do if you arrive in a new country and notice there is no strength in it anymore. Definitely, don’t bring your hair straighter. I brought mine to south East Asia where it was dropped on the first week and never worked again… My punishment for bringing it lol!
And here are some other tips
Roll your clothes you get a lot more to fit in.
Always pack another small bag inside your suitcase which you will use on your daily excursions while travelling. Or maybe you’ll just use it to bring all your new stuff that you bought home 😉
In some countries or undeveloped areas, laundrettes may not be at hand so it is sometimes beneficial to bring a clothes line, special packets of hand washing powder and a universal sink plug. I’m not hugely into budget travelling like cooking in the hostel kitchen and hand washing but many travellers I met swear by it.In Asia it is very cheap to give your clothes to local washing service however don’t expect all your clothes to return and your whites will more than likely be yellow! In most good hostels there will washing facilities though especially in Australia.$4 to wash and $4-6 to dry.
For stuff like bikinis and underwear, which take up a surprising amount of space, I pack these in a ziplock bag and then squish the air out!
For a few euro you can buy a luggage weighing scales which can save you arriving at the airport overweight which can be a costly mistake to make.
If you are going to a country where you don’t speak the language, a copy of the hotel name and address written down will help you if you get lost, either when you first arrive or even after you’ve been out for the day. I learned this the hard way after getting lost (with a map) for 7 hours in Beijing, as I only knew the name of the hostel in English and no one there could understand me!!! It’s different in a European country where you can try to phonetically sound out the place you are looking for but when it looked like this ¥%*# I had no hope! ( since then I have learned 20 words in mandarin… Just in case!!)
If you arrive via the airport you can usually pick up free city maps which is handy to have with you and will sometimes have vouchers for local attractions.
Sorry of my travel tips are a bit girlie… But I am a girl after all 🙂