There are numerous items that one can fill their backpack with depending upon the destination that they have in mind but regardless of where you intend on going; there are a number of items that will always benefit you. Of course, the exact choice of travel essentials also varies from person to person but for me, the following ten items are requirements for me to even consider putting on my backpack and heading on the road.
Kindle – Even if you are not a big reader before you set off on a big trip, you would be surprised by just how cool books are when you no longer have access to a television that you actually enjoy/understand. The ideal tool is of course the kindle but just about any e-book reader will do the trick. Despite being smaller and lighter than the average paperback, you can carry with you a virtual library of all your favorite authors and there is nothing that can make a long journey go quicker.
Source – danielhjort
Earplugs – If you plan on staying in hostels, a one dollar pair of earplugs may just give you more pleasure than the flashiest of travel gadget. Even forgetting for a moment the tendency for young backpackers to fall into bed at three in the morning, if you put ten people into a room for a night, statistics say you will have at least one that enjoys snoring like some sort of wild animal. Without ear plugs, you will not sleep. Without ear plugs, you will curse the inventor of shared accommodation.
Anything Wi-fi Enabled – I despise internet cafes while traveling not just for their shocking cost per hour but for the previous hour that you had to spend looking for one. Provided you have some sort of wi-fi grabbing gadget however, for just the price of a cup of coffee, you can surf to your hearts content everywhere from McDonalds to that strange Irish Bar that exists in every city on earth. Whether it be a smart phone, a netbook or that previously mentioned Kindle, don’t go traveling without free wi-fi.
Travel Mug – One of the many things that I love about hostels is the fact that the majority of them provide not only a free breakfast each morning but also free coffee twenty four hours a day. One of my travel essentials is therefore a travel mug that I can fill up each morning before heading out site seeing. While this may seem like a small saving, when you multiply your cups of Starbucks by seven days a week, it certainly adds up. Many also come complete with a lockable top allowing you to carry your coffee in your bag rather than your hand.
A Cheap Camera – Regardless of how into photography you are before your trip, backpacking tends to bring out the photographer in everyone. Not only is a camera essential for site seeing, it is also the only way you have of recording the people that you meet. When choosing a camera for a long trip, I always recommend people not to spend too much. Generally when traveling, the least expensive items that you have on you, the better. A one hundred dollar camera is ideal for traveling while a one thousand dollar camera is ideal for you to worry about losing.
A Fast Drying Towel – Fast drying towels do exactly what their name implies and are incredibly useful for backpackers for two reasons. The first is that they are significantly lighter than the regular variety of towels and the second is that you no longer have to leave your hostel every morning with your wet towel in a plastic bag after taking a shower. One word of warning however, I have had two of these useful items accidentally stolen by other backpackers.
A Strong Padlock – If you intend on staying at hostels on a regular basis, a strong padlock is essential. Not only do many hostels charge you to purchase or rent a padlock in order to effectively use their lockers, the padlocks that they do provide are typically pretty flimsy. Remember that your padlock is the one thing standing between your possessions and a dishonest hostel guest, therefore this is not an area to skimp in. Personally I find the non key variety to be the best as losing the key is not only a hassle, I unfortunately know from experience that it can be rather embarrassing.
A Money Belt – After an unfortunate incident many years ago, I now never travel without a money belt containing both my passport, credit cards and cash. While the hostel locker is generally the safest place to keep such items while checked in, when traveling from city to city, pockets and passports simply do not mix. While there are many backpackers out there that do not bother with money belts, it is a mistake that many, including myself, go on to regret. It is also worth noting that money belts are only effective when kept hidden and should therefore only be used for cash that you will not immediately be spending.
An Airplane Pillow – For less than ten dollars and a few extra grams in your backpack, any long journey that you have to sit through is made significantly easier. While some people are fantastic at sleeping on moving vehicles of all kinds, I generally have a lot of trouble. However with a trusty airplane pillow to lean, I can sleep on planes, trains and occasionally even ridiculously cramped bus rides.
A Few Local Words – I’ve never been one for languages and have found myself living in countries for over a year and still not having a clue what people are saying around me but the basics of the local language is not something you should arrive in a country without. Simple phrases such as “hello” and “thank you” take a few minutes to learn but allow you to arrive in a new land without looking like a complete tourist.