When you pack for an extended trip it can be a bit overwhelming. You don’t want to forget anything, but you also don’t want to carry around a 70 pound backpack. To help, I’ve made a list of the top 30 travel accessories I bring with me when traveling. Aside from specific clothing and toiletry items (which can vary a lot depending on the person and the destination), here are some things you should consider packing to make your next backpacking trip easier and more comfortable.
Bags/Organizers to Pack
First let’s start with the basics. How are you going to keep everything in your pack organized? There’s nothing worse than having to dump out your entire bag to try to find something stuck way at the bottom. And trust me, after a few days of constantly unpacking and repacking you’re going to get pretty sick of it. I try to make sure everything I pack goes in some sort of organizer so nothing is just floating around in my backpack.
Packing cubes: Oh packing cubes, how did I ever survive without you? Who could have thought that these square little zippered bags could be so helpful? Well they are. I usually use 2-3 depending on what I’m packing for and use them primarily for my clothes. One for tops, one for bottoms, and a smaller one for undies and swimwear. However you decide to divide it up doesn’t really matter but try to keep similar items in the same bag. It will save you a ton of time, I swear.
Toiletries: A bag for your toothbrush, shower stuff, and personal care is a must. You’re going to be using things from your toiletry case at least 2 or more times a day so it’s important to get one that works for you. I’m partial to the hanging bags that fold up to keep it off hostel sinks/floors/etc.
Shoes: Not totally necessary, and a couple of plastic bags would probably do the trick, but I like to have my shoes separated from the rest of the stuff in my pack so they don’t get everything dirty. You can get washable shoe shaped bags for this, or like I said, just use a trusty old grocery bag.
Waterproof: There are so many kinds of water proof bags out there, but the kind you use really depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. I have a small, clear waterproof zip top bag for my phone that I use when it’s raining or I’m at the beach. I also have a medium sized dry pack for larger items like my purse, a book, or clothing. It works great to keep my wet swimsuit and towel separate from the rest of my things if they haven’t had time to dry too. Lastly, don’t forget to have some sort of rain cover for your backpack so you don’t end up lugging around a soggy sack full of wet clothes.
Laundry: Again, a plastic bag would work just fine here, but you should definitely try to keep your dirty clothes separate somehow.
Day pack: You’re definitely going to want a day pack for your essentials when you set out for sightseeing and exploring. In mine I usually have my wallet, a copy of my passport, camera, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, some tissues, hand sanitizer, and a notebook and pen. You’re also going to want to put your important items in your day pack and keep them with you on long bus rides or flights. Never leave these things to be put under the bus/plane.
Mesh bags: This is where the rest of your miscellaneous items will go to *hopefully* keep them sorted. Here I keep my cables, small sewing kit, electronics, and pretty much anything else I’m going to pack. Just 2 or 3 organizing bags should get the job done.
Now that we’ve got the different kinds bags out of the way that will help keep your backpack nice and organized, here are some things you’re going to want to put in those bags.
Sleep sack: there are some mixed reviews about using sleep sacks, but I still always pack mine. It’s made of silk so it takes up hardly any space at all. I don’t often use it at hostels, but when your options are limited it’s better to have one. It also comes in handy on cold overnight bus rides.
Inflatable pillow, eye mask, ear plugs: All help to give you the best sleep possible in hostels with snorers, and unpredictable overnight transportation. I can’t even tell you how many night buses I’ve been on with action movies playing all through the night at ungodly volumes. An eye mask, ear plugs, and comfy pillow are always good tools to have in your travel arsenal.
Mosquito net: Depends on where you’re going but odds are if it’s even remotely warm there’s going to be at least a few mosquitos. I use mine just so I don’t have to wake up every hour to that horrible buzzing in my ear.
Camera and/or phone: You’re definitely going to want to take pictures and you’ll probably need WiFi at some point to get directions or find a place to stay.
Headlamp: Even if you don’t plan on exploring caves or going on night adventures, a headlamp will still come in handy. Plus, your fellow hostel-goers will thank you for not turning on the overhead lamp when you gather your things to catch your 5am bus.
Battery pack: Because nothing sucks more than your camera dying right in the middle of your day of sightseeing.
Adapters: Get a universal one or research the places you’ll be going. Sometimes it’s not as easy as it should be to find an adapter once you’ve already arrived.
Flash drive: Don’t forget to back up your photos every once in a while. Having your camera stolen stings a lot more when it’s full of 2 months’ worth of photos.
Sink stopper, clothes line: Many places will have laundromats or laundry service, but it’s still a good idea to bring some basic items so you can wash a few items in the sink if you’re in a pinch.
Travel towels: Travel towels are great because they are compact, dry super fast, and usually don’t get mildew-y. They can also be quite helpful when drying your recently washed clothes. Lay your wet clothes on the towel and roll it up tight. Then squeeze, twist, etc. to try to absorb all the moisture you can. Your clothes will dry much faster after doing so.
Locks: Hostels will almost always provide lockers, but not locks. Make sure to bring your own. I prefer those with combinations over keys, because let’s be honest, that tiny key will get lost.
Passport photocopy: Never carry around your actual passport unless you have to. Usually a photocopy is enough if someone asks to see it.
Money belt: Again, a very controversial item. I pretty much only use my money belt when taking large sums of money out of the ATM or to hold my passport and cash on bus rides. I wouldn’t use it as my daily money holder because there’s not really any subtle way to reach under your shirt every time you want to buy something.
Coin purse: I think a coin purse is definitely the way to go. It can hold enough cash for the day, which is really all you need since you shouldn’t be carrying tons of money on you anyway. It doesn’t draw a lot of attention and you can easily slip it into your front pocket.
Insurance: If your insurance doesn’t cover travel, make sure you get some protection before your trip. Aside from health-related ailments, some travel insurance even covers stolen items or cancelled flights. Make sure to do some research and find the best one for you.
Small first aid kit: Band-Aids, moleskin, Neosporin. You know, the basics.
Bug repellent: Depends where you are going, but being attacked by bugs is never fun. It can also be difficult to find stuff that works or even bug spray at all in many countries, so stock up before you leave home.
Sunscreen: Even if you don’t think you’ll get burnt where you’re going, bring some anyway. You’ll undoubtedly be spending more time outside than usual, and altitudes and UV indexes can make you much more susceptible to getting burnt. Bring sunscreen from home as it can be crazy expensive in some places since it’s mostly a tourist product.
Variety of OTC stuff: TUMS, Imodium, Airborne, Dramamine, Ibuprofen, Melatonin, anything you think you might need. I’m usually a walking pharmacy when I travel, especially because most of the medicine that I know works for me is difficult to find abroad. When you’re not feeling well the last thing you want to do is experiment with an unfamiliar product.
So there you have it! 30 travel accessories that make my trips abroad much less stressful – that way I can focus on the fun parts of the adventure. Did I forget something? What things do you never leave home without? Leave a comment below!