Over the years I’ve learned what things to pack that can be useful and what things to keep at home. It’s funny because the things that I’d never expect to come in handy, are now things that I wouldn’t leave on a trip without. Here’s just some of them:
A flashlight or headlamp has been one of those things I always throw in my backpack because I always think it will come in handy. I don’t even know what possessed me to do this the first time I ever did, but I haven’t regretted it since. I’ve used in when the power has gone out (which in some places happens a lot), I’ve used it in the bathroom when I couldn’t figure out how the European light switches worked in Amsterdam, and it even comes in handy in hostels when you don’t want to be that person who turns on the overhead light.
Sarong/Beach Cover Up
A beach coverup/sarong always comes in handy. Why? You can use it as a beach towel, you can use it as a scarf, you can use it as a cover up when entering churches or religious buildings, and you can even use it as a blanket. When I was in Southeast Asia, when I lost my sarong it was devastating because it was the thing I used the most out of everything I packed.
Water Bottle Holder
When you’re traveling somewhere with unsafe drinking water, you are more than likely always going to be carrying around bottled water with you, and sometimes you won’t have a bag to throw it into. Get an over the shoulder water bottle holder and you will be set. You’ll never have to dig in your bag to stay hydrated, and you won’t be stuck carrying it around while trying to juggle your camera, and everything else.
Many places you travel to have limited outlets, and at the end of a long day of traveling you’ll more than likely have multiple things to charge. Bring a power bar/strip to make sure you can charge all your cameras, phones, and other electronics at once. (P.S. Don’t forget a convertor for countries with different outlets)
A bandana can come in handy to use as a hat when it’s sunny, or even soak in water and use it around your neck to keep you cool in hot weather.
Bring a package of wet wipes that you can use to wash your face on the go, cool you down when you’re hot, and/or wash your hands when you don’t have access to a sink. Moist towelettes are also great for wiping down things that are dirty or unsanitary. A multi-purpose item that you won’t regret throwing in your purse (or bag).
Emptying out your carry-on bag to bring on overnight trips or to the beach can be annoying. Bring a reusable grocery bag, or easy fold up nylon backpack. It’ll hardly take up any room and you’ll use it a lot. Nobody wants to have to bring a big backpack out everywhere they go, and you’re not going to want to try and find a place to put/store all your regular contents from your backpack everyday.
Bring ziploc bags of various sizes. I like the big ones to use for dirty, smelly clothes, and the small ones can come in handy to throw money in for the beach, or even a few cosmetics
you may need while out for a day/night. These are also great if you need to throw wet clothes or towels in your bag while traveling between destinations.
A portable chargers/extra battery pack can come in handy when you are in a place with limited outlets, or your battery dies on your phone right while you’re trying to navigate yourself to your hotel. Make sure to keep the charger charged up as well, and keep it on you as an “in case of emergency” battery boost.
I bought one of these while I was in Southeast Asia and it was the best purchase I made. A dry pack is great for keeping your valuables dry when it is raining, or you’re at the beach. Usually you don’t want to leave your valuables on the beach when you go in the water, so having a dry pack is a great way to keep them with you and not having to worry about getting them wet, or sandy.
Mini Febreeze or Dryer Sheets
Backpacking for long periods of time, your clothes are going to get stinky, and you may not always have a chance to do laundry. Pack a mini fabric Febreeze or dryer sheets to put in with your smelly clothes (or at least briefly mask the scent). You don’t want your stinky clothes to stink up the rest of your bag, and sometimes you may have to suck it up and wear them till you can do laundry. This at least makes them bearable.
Fold Up Water Bottle
These are only convenient in places that you have easy access to safe drinking water (like Europe or North America). Carrying a big, clunky water bottle takes up a lot of room. These fold up water bottles don’t take up any room and you can fit them just about anywhere, or easily clip them on your backpack or purse.
A recent favourite of mine. Coconut oil is a multi-use thing to pack. You can use it in your hair to make it softer, on your body and face as moisturizer, on your chapped lips, or even it can be used on sunburns or bug bites. A great multi-purpose item to keep in your cosmetic case and help you eliminate multiple bottles.