It’s the same scenario every time. The day I’m due to take off somewhere, I’m running around the house trying to remember everything I need to bring – referring to a just-downloaded packing app for assistance, hoping I don’t forget to bring anything essential. Thanks to years of travelling overseas – I’ve pretty much got the less-common basics covered. Here are a few life-saving essentials that have made my times on the road a little easier.
1. Small Power Board
The year I discovered this trick, my life became a great deal easier. As a photographer who works while travelling, I’ve often found myself battling with other travellers for communal power. These days I just plug a 4-plug power board into a travel adaptor and I can keep working on my laptop, plus charge my camera and phone at the same time. Pack a couple of twist ties for any top-bunk situations that might see you needing to hang your power board and you’ve pretty much created your own portable power-station. It might seem a little over-board for those not carrying an abundance of electronics – but for those travelling for work, carrying Go-Pro’s, multiple cameras and phones… It’s a huge time saver.
2. Small Med Kit
I’ve been lucky enough to never have needed the alcohol swabs and bandages I’ve included in my tiny med-kit – but on multiple occasions I’ve completely used up my supplies of Ibuprofen and sleep-aids. Include Band-Aids and second skin blister plasters for instant hero status when that poor soul who hiked in new boots asks around for help.
3. Sewing Kit
Mines in my med kit. A few small needles, a small wheel of thread and a few safety pins can help you out in some pretty annoying situations. When I had a strap break on a very old pack – a guy I met helped me quick-fix it with the sewing kit I never thought I’d need.
4. Copies of Your Passport and Itinerary
Some of you are thinking, “I don’t need an itinerary, I’m just going with the flow” – that’s fine – but c’mon, at least send something vague to your poor mother. I might be an adult – but I’ve still got a mom who needs a hard copy and digital copy of my plans so she can keep track. The easiest solution? Upload digital copies to a shared Dropbox or Facebook album – that way you have access whenever you need it, and so does mom. Keep a couple of spares folded up in the front of your checked-in luggage too. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but you never know.
5. Spare Pillowcase
People who have stayed in hectic hostels around the world will understand this one, no explanation needed. Sometimes you just need your own pillowcase. Also, freshly washed and tucked away – it’s a nice reminder of home. Don’t have a pillow at all? Just put the pillowcase on your backpack. There, now it’s a pillow. *Comfort not guaranteed.
6. Washing Powder
Some hostels sell it, some don’t. The wilderness definitely doesn’t sell it – and it’s easy to pack in a zip-lock bag. Plus it comes inclusive of strange looks from custom officers. I don’t recommend packing detergent into your carry on. You can guarantee a few weird questions if you do.
The number of times I have needed a headlamp. It’s got to be the handiest thing. Packing at 4am trying to use your iPhone as a light without waking your fellow hostel roomies is not fun. For camping, it’s pretty much the best thing ever.
8. Compression Sacks and Vacuum Bags
Good for packing bulky winter gear on a “1 check-in item only” budget. When visiting places that span 4 seasons in a matter of weeks, these things are invaluable.
9. Microfiber Travel Towel
No one wants to pack a full size towel. These come in handy all the time and roll up real tight. Although most hostels (and some campsites) provide towels for hire, sometimes it’s handy to have one packed away for wilderness spots or the spontaneous glacier swim.
10. USB/ External Hard Drive
Handy for backing up and storing photos on the go when Wi-Fi is dodgy – and even better for quickly trading photos, movies and music with fellow travellers.
I’m sure there are plenty of essentials out there that I’ve left off this list. The more I explore the more I meet new people with really handy ideas that make me wonder why I didn’t think of that in the first place. Hopefully these things will make overseas adventures, just that little bit smoother.
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