On our first trip, we took waaaay too much stuff. We just had no idea what to pack! Now we take good quality, light gear that is essential to our trip (i.e. no more hair straighteners). Here are our top 10 must pack items:
1. Smart phone
While us ‘older’ backpackers often lament how smart phones have changed hostel common rooms for the worse, we won’t leave home without one now. Free wi fi is everywhere now, and having a smart phone makes it so easy to stay in touch with home, research destinations, find yourself on a map and make local calls. They take great photos too – we’ve met many travellers who don’t even pack a camera now.
TRAVELATOR TIP: You must download the MapsMe app – it’s a lifesaver! It is an offline map app, which uses the GPS on you smartphone to show exactly where you are. Fantastic for finding hotels, making sure dodgy taxi drivers don’t rip you off and knowing when to get off that public bus when no one speaks English. Check out our favourite apps here.
2. Sleeping bag liners
Great for hostels or overnight trains where you’re not quite sure if they washed the sheets. Also great for some added warmth on those chilly nights.
3. Sharp knife
Finding a sharp knife in a hostel kitchen is nothing short of a miracle. Pack your own and save yourself the frustration trying to dice tomatoes with the equivalent of a rolling pin.
4. Packing cubes
No more searching for lost undies in the bottom of your backpack! Packing cubes are cheap and great for keeping stuff like underwear, toiletries or medications under control.
5. Lonely Planet books
While almost every intrepid traveller likes the romantic notion of exploring a country with virgin eyes untainted by mass-produced guidebooks, the fact is they are actually really bloody helpful. If you don’t want to lug around the hard copies, download them onto your e reader, tablet or laptop.
6. Merino clothing
Lightweight, warm and non-smelly! Investing in some good quality merino gear is worth the money.
7. Waterproof shoes
As a rule, waterproof shoes are hideously ugly. But it beats having wet feet on a hiking trip, or freezing your toes off in the snow. Buy some good quality merino socks as well to avoid blisters.
8. Dirty clothes bag
It is easy to forget a cloth bag for your dirty clothes, but it’s good to keep them separate. And for the love of God please don’t use a plastic bag – if I get woken up one more time in a hostel room by someone rustling through plastic bags I may get violent.
9. Universal power adapter
It is expensive and annoying changing power adapters in every country, so try to get your hands on a universal adapter.
10. Lucas Pawpaw Ointment
This stuff pretty much fixes everything. Use it for cracked lips, bites, stings, burns, grazes and a myriad of other ailments. Perhaps pack two tubes…