20 Useful tips for packing your backpack: accessories and must haves
For many travellers it is not easy to pack a backpack. Earlier, I wrote a post with general tips for packing lighter (click to open). However, after three backpack trips, I think I increased my packing skills and knowledge about what (not) to bring and think it is time for an update. In two posts, I will inform you with some useful packing tips for your backpack. One post will focus entirely on useful accessory and must haves (this one) and the other one on clothes (next post). Do you know some other good tips? Please share them with me!
Earplugs and sleeping mask
So handy to bring! Earplugs you can either use at festivals, loud concerts, in an airplane, train or for instance to take no notice of noisy roommates. Next to earplugs, I also always bring a sleeping mask with me. This is handy to sleep during the day or for instance when you are camping and the time of darkness is very short (e.g. Scandinavia).
It is handy to travel with a padlock. Some backpacks are hard to lock completely. My backpack consists of six compartments. Believe me, I won’t put six padlocks on my bag. Usually I bring my important belongings with me in my day backpack (passport, camera, chargers, money etc.), but sometimes I also put all my important belonging in one of the compartments of my bag and lock that particular one.
I can definitely recommend you to buy a flight bag. This bag will protect your backpack while travelling. I always put my flight bag around my backpack when use the check-in service of an airline. In case your backpack is not equipped with a rain cover bag, you can also use it as rain protection. Moreover, I often buy a lot of souvenirs during my travels, but do not have enough space in my backpack. In that case, I put my backpack along with the stuff I bought in my flight bag. On this website you can see how a flight bag looks like.
First aid kit
Never travel without any first aid items, but always bring some basic first aid items with you like; bandages, gauze, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors or cotton-tipped applicators. Even though you will not need them during your trip, they might be useful to help others. Once during my backpack hike through the Himalayas of Nepal (click to open), we helped a local guy with injuries. I was glad I was equipped with all the necessary things in order to help him.
It is handy to bring a world plug, so you can use the plug wherever you are travelling to. Do bring enough (extra) batteries, e.g. for your flash light and do not forget your chargers for your camera and phone. Without the use of your phone and camera, the trip will be less fun. I always bring my GoPro and smartphone with me. Sometimes I also bring my professional Canon camera with me (not on every trip, because the size of the camera is relatively big).
Separate your stuff
I always like it to separate things in my backpack. I usually separate my clean clothes, dirty clothes, underwear and socks and other stuff. You can either separate it in plastic bags, but also in handy stuff sacks that are for example available to buy on this website.
Travel guides are extremely handy and often contain good tips for backpackers about cheap restaurants or hostels. However, do not totally rely on your travel guide, because the information in there can be old and false. I am sure the locals will have more up-to-date and maybe new and more exciting information for you, so keep reading, but also question the locals about good spots.
Do not bring any book with you. In every country, you can find plenty of books. Many hostels or hotels do provide reading material, but you can also have a look in a second hand book shop. Buy a cheap book and pass it on after reading. It is way too heavy to bring a book with you on your trip. If you really love reading and want to make sure you can read something you like, bring an e-reader with you.
Phone without Sim card
Do not bring your phone WITH your national sim card. Everywhere you go, you can buy a local sim card. Often this local sim card provides cheaper transaction costs than when you operate with your national sim card.
Do bring some small money with you. The safest way to travel is with your credit card or bank card rather than with a lot of cash, but sometimes you will be in a place without a cash machine. Then this cash money can help you survive.
Bring a little diary. I always write down information about entrance fees, opening hours and other general information about the sights I visit. This information I can use to write articles. However, a diary is also nice for some personal stories.
Little day backpack
I personally like it to bring a little bag with me for all my valuable belongings. I never leave valuable things like my passport, cash, tickets or my phone behind in the hostels. I almost always bring it with me.
You will need photographs more often than you think. Maybe for a hiking permit, diving permit, new visa or for your new lover… I always bring around 10 photographs with me.
Next to the stuff sacks or plastic bags mentioned before, I also bring ziplock bags with me. These bags are great for hand luggage liquids or to put toiletries in, so they will not damage your stuff in case they decide to start leaking.
Empty container or tube
If you are backpacking alone, you might want to leave your backpack or day backpack somewhere behind if you have to do something. To avoid the worst case scenario of being robbed, it is easy and handy to bring an empty bottle or container with you. Think about going to the beach alone and going for a swim. An empty sun tan lotion container or lip balm container are perfect to put your money in.
At first you may not think about it, but toilet paper is really handy to bring with you. I always make sure to pack one roll. I use it for going to the toilet (duhhh), wrapping my souvenirs or to write something on it.
Tape, sewing material and line
Maybe it sounds odd, but yes, I always bring some sewing materials with me. One time, I gained so much weight during travelling, that I had to change the position of my button on my skirt (haha really), but sewing material can also be helpful to repair for instance a hole or crack in your clothes. The tape can be useful to repair cracks in a mosquito net or perhaps of your backpack and the line to hang out your towel or washed clothes.
You might not think about it, but I also always bring a pocketknife with me. It contains a little scissor, sharp knife, little saw, pair of tweezers and other handy things. Definitely handy if you go camping or hiking on your trip.
Do not bring big containers of toiletries that you can buy at your destination (e.g. shampoo, body wash or sun block). I always bring a travel size container of shampoo, body wash and sun block with me. When it is finished, I buy new ones at the destination. For ladies: you might want to bring some tampons, because not in every country they sell them.
Last, but not least, bring a bottle with you that you can refill with water. Bottled water is often available wherever you go, but if you are buying several bottles a day while you are travelling, it will not only costs a lot of money, but will also affect the environment very badly (plastic waste).
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