Tuesday, 17 May 2011

10 items you should not travel without

Deciding on what to take along when you go backpacking can be really difficult. You’ll find yourself sitting in front of a pile of clothes that you really want to take with you but can’t fit into your backpack. No matter how much you decide to take along, make sure you’ve got room for these 10 items you should not leave home without!

1.) Passport
When you travel outside of your home country, you have to take your passport along. Make sure you’ve got all the visas you need for your trip and always know where your passport is! Your passport has to be valid for the entire length of your trip.

2.) Pocket knife
Although you’re not supposed to carry a pocket knife in your hand luggage when you fly, it makes sense to take one along on your travels. You might feel safer with it. Every pocket knife has tweezers, a toothpick and a bottle-opener built into it, so it’s perfect!

3.) Toothbrush
Personal hygiene is extremely important, and a toothbrush does not take up a lot of space. You can even use it when you run out of toothpaste.

4.) Toilet paper
How often do you go to public restrooms only to find that there’s no paper left? Take a roll of tissue paper around with you, just in case.

5.) Cotton sleep sheet
Basically, this is a thin cotton sleeping bag. It does not take up a lot of space and is light weight. It can serve as a sleeping bag or extra sheet, as well as a blanket. Besides, you never know who slept in that dorm bed before you.

6.) Hand sanitizer
Take it from me – there is never any soap when you need it! A drop of hand sanitizer is enough to kill 99.9% of all germs, so a small bottle should last you for a while. It’s also useful when you can’t get your campfire started – hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and therefore burns quite well. Tip for the ladies: when starting a campfire, you might also try burning tampons.

7.) Sarong
This is the most practical and useful thing you can take along on your travels! You can use sarongs as skirts, dresses, beach towels, scarves, blankets, sleep sheets, roll them up as a pillow or use it to cover up bare shoulders when you step into churches or temples. I’m sure you can think of even more uses for it, so take one along.

8.) Torch
Whether you decide to camp or stay in a dorm room, a torch always comes in handy. Your camp site might not have lights everywhere, and finding your way to the showers and toilets after dark can be tricky, especially when you have to navigate around other tents as well as rain-tarp ropes. And switching on the main light in your dorm at night will wake up all your fellow travellers.

9.) Comfortable shoes
Let’s face it: blisters on your feet are the last thing you need. Consider where you are going – you do not want to run through cobblestone streets in high heels. Chucks should do the trick just fine and you can go hiking in them or stroll through the big city. Alternatively, pack Flip Flops, as you can wear them nearly everywhere.

10.) Camera
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get some great holiday photos. It does not have to be a very good and high-tech camera, throw-away cameras or point-and-shoots are fine for snapshots. Make your friends jealous and show them what a blast you had on your travels.

These essential items all fit into the corners and side pockets of your backpack, and they don’t take up a lot of space. Some of these items may be really obvious like the passport, others might sound a bit ridiculous to you, but you’d be amazed how often you find yourself in situations in which you really need them but don’t have them because you didn’t bring them along. So have them handy when you travel– it’s better to be safe than sorry!


  1. I'd also suggest a notepad. Perfect for when you need to communicate to a local who cannot speak your language.
    I've used them to ask simple messages like
    'train?' 'bus?' or for directions.
    It often beat trying to pantomime what you need or are looking for.

  2. About the pocket knife, yeah.. You cannot take it in an airplane. It's interesting for backpackers travelling by bus, or hitchhiking, on foot... I had a fork in my backpack once, and the security lady really gave an inquisitive look.

  3. Well, you can take a pocket knife, as long as it is in your checked luggage when you fly. It's forbidden to carry it in hand luggage. But it's just a handy thing to carry around, you never know when you might need it.

  4. Aloha Conny,

    The smallest, lightest and absolutely-a-life-saver- item (gee, I sound like the local salesman trying to sell a vacuum cleaner!) in my backpack is a pair of earplugs.

    I used them to sleep on a crowded ferry in Sumatra, for snoring dorm roommates in Africa and to avoid being woken up by the 5AM call to prayer in Morocco.

    Safe Travels,