Here’s a list of some of my simple travel essentials that you should never leave home without.
Alarm Clock: I hazard a guess at this being the number one most forgotten item when people set off on their travels. I certainly know it’s mine. You might be out of routine when you’re away, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to get up early sometimes. Be it an early bus ride or a scuba diving lesson, there are some things you just don’t want to miss out on. I love my trusty Casio model as it’s light, cheap and the batteries last forever. It also has a sliding front cover that stops buttons being accidentally pressed when in your bag = handy!
Batteries: A spare set of batteries is never a bad idea, particularly if you’re heading off to some remote destinations.
Cabinzero: Makers of the incredible 44l cabin bag (which comes with a built-in global tracker and 25-year warranty) this wonderful online site for travellers also offers packing cubes for sale and a ton of useful advice for free! See my post about the great Cabinzero Packing Cubes for info about how I was converted!
Combination Padlock: Useful for luggage in transit, tents in parks and lockers in hostels… and you never need to worry about forgetting a key! Make sure you buy something that is study and large enough to fit most things, but not so heavy that you feel you are lugging a paperweight round in your bag. The Newbee range is great ad super light.
Head Torch: If you’ve ever set up a tent in the dark or wanted to read a book in a hostel dorm when everyone else is asleep, you’ll know that this hands-free lighting solution really is the only one to take with you. Fashion statement it is not. But practical? Woah mamma, is it ever! Petzl are the best around, but you can get get economical models like the Energizer Vision LED Headlamp.
Quick-Dry Shorts: I came across these in Nicaragua, when I met a girl cycling from Alaska to Argentina. They are all she wore and they are all I wear now too! Perfect for hiking, swimming, down the beach or up a mountain, they are comfortable, cool and so easy to pull on in the morning, so that’s one less thing you have to think about! I recommend Nike Dri-Fit for keeping you super cool.
Mosquito Net: Both light-weight and compact, you’ll be super happy you’ve bought a mosquito net when the critters start attacking you in the night. I like the LIFESYSTEMS ones as I find them easy to hang and versatile regardless of the size of the bed, mattress or whatever else you might be sleeping on.
This Universal Backpackers King Size Mosquito Net is also fantastic with its Tear Resistant Loop & Snug Fit Bottom. Plus you get a FREE Carry Bag & Hanging Kit with it too!
Phrasebooks: I’ve always gone for the Lonely Planet phrasebooks, as I’m familiar with their layout now, meaning I can find things quickly. With a good range of everyday useful words and phrases, handily sorted into sections, as well as simple grammar pointers, it’s a great way to get started in another language or just to try and be a bit polite. They also have some hilarious translations – just look at the dating pages!
Sarong: Oh how versatile is the humble sarong! There are probably a million uses for this incredible piece of equipment, which is why I would NEVER travel without one – so check out my top reasons to travel with a sarong for some ideas. Also make sure to look at the beautiful collection of designs offered by One World Sarongs – they’re always my first port of call when shopping for a new one!
Silk Sleeping Bag Liner: Whether it’s to keep your sleeping bag clean or to sleep under something thin when it’s too hot for much else, silk sleeping bag liners will keep you cool and dry all night. Sometimes, if I’m looking to pack extra light, it’s all I take. Small, thin and compact., it can be stuffed into any pocket easily.
Sleeping Bag: If you’re taking one,its got to be snugpak. Go for a 2 season in the tropics, 3 season everywhere else – unless you’re going to Antartica!
Swiss Army Knife: Is it a knife, is it a file, is it a bottle opener, is it a screw driver, is it a pair of scissors? Yes, yes, yes and yes. And it’s the sort of thing you’ll never realise is useful until you are in the situation when its required. I lost mine once in the back of an Albanian taxi – gutted! First thing I bought when I was back in civilisation.
Tent: It might mean carrying a bit of extra weight, but knowing you will always have a roof, of some sort, over your head is a great way to travel. It can also save you a lot on accommodation costs, particularly in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I also carried mine through Latin America, including Colombia, which was fantastic. Make sure you pick a tent appropriate for the climate of your destination. I love my trusty Gelert tent and do think it might be the best backpacker tent ever! Read more about choosing a tent in my handy guide.
Travel Cutlery Set: It doesn’t matter whether you plan to go camping or not, a set of eating tools is definitely handy to have for long bus journeys or dirty hostel kitchens. It’s a staple for me, along with an airlock tupperware that can be used as a plate, bowl or cup, allowing me to much happily on the road wherever I am. Get a fold-away set of cutlery that is small and stainless steel – I recommend Kathmandu’s version – so it won’t take up room or rust.
Travel Towels: I’ve gone for cheap ones in the past and believe me, you’ll soon realise they’re not worth it when they stink within a week. Buy something that is microfiber and feels more like a towel than a chamois cloth! They’re ridiculously helpful if you’re trying to conserve space and Sea to Summit offer the best I’ve found.
Universal Sink Plug: A small, but surprisingly useful piece of kit. Handy when you want to wash a pair of undies in a sink and you finally give-in to the science that even thick socks don’t keep the water from going done the plughole!
Water bottle: It will be great to have whether you’re hitting the beach or going hiking. I always opt for a metal one which keeps the chemical nasties out of the drinking water. If you can get one that is properly insulated, then it will also keep your hot tea warm or your refreshing juice cold for hours on end. Simply Simily have an excellent selection that are BPA-free and come with a lifetime warranty.
World Power Adapter: Never risk not being able to charge your camera wherever you are. Skross are a great brand that include USB chargers for apple products in their models too.
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