8 Essential Backpacking Items You Can't Leave Home Without.

January 1, 2019

I wanted to write an updated list of essential items I have found useful on my travels recently. If you are travelling for an extended period of time or are visiting places that may be away from the beaten track then this list might come in handy. 

Original packing list can be found here 


As you will know I am a budget backpacker, everything I need has to fit inside my 60L Rucksack. I currently haul this bag around (link here)

When I left for my six month trip around the world my luggage weight was bang on 11kg. (I was pleased with that, as a notorious over-packer)

These items will help you out when a situation gets tricky or simply to make your life on the road a bit easier.


1. Zip Lock Bags


Yep that’s right, number one on the list is sandwich bags. I’m talking the clear little baggies you carry your lunch in. I usually buy the freezer bags that come with a reuse-able zip on top. But in all honesty a sandwich bag is a sandwich bag. I find these extremely useful, I use them to compartmentalise certain items in my luggage so things are easy to find. They are waterproof, well rain proof at least and they are very handy if you make and take your own food on day trips out. 



2.  A scarf/small blanket


I have to say this has been the most used item on my list. I use a small, neutral coloured thin scarf for a variety of things. First of all, if you are travelling on a plane or a train, sometimes they will crank up the aircon so high you begin the feel a chill. OK, so we’ve covered the basic use of a scarf. But what about when you are in the tropics and in a car that has leather/plastic covers on the seats and you’re sticking to the back of the seat like self adhesive plasters? Yeah that scarf will literally save your back. 


Or when you are at the beach and didn’t take your beach towel to lay down on?

Also you never know when you might need to squish and roll that scarf up into a DIY pillow because the one at the hostel has lumps and chunks in it.

If you want a very clever travel scarf with a secret pocket check out this





3. Kitchen Scissors


I generally pack the big scissors into my first aid kit, but they will come in handy at some point, trust me. They can be used to cut and open packing, cut up a pizza in a bare kitchen, or even to cut your split ends until you get to a hairdressers. PACK THEM!




4. Food


I always pack a variety of different individually wrapped cereal bars. They can really help you out if you have arrived into a destination late and there is no food places open. Or when you have an extra early start and have no time for breakfast. Also they will save you spending £5.00 on a tube of pringles at the airport. I always try and stock up along the road, being hangry when travelling is not a good combination!


The same goes for food that can be prepared with hot water, I usually pack some instant soups, cup noodles, coffee/hot chocolate sachets and some instant packs of porridge. Also, remember to pack a plastic spork/fork utensil with you to eat said food.




5. A VPN


Yeah I know you can't technically pack an app but if you are travelling to countries that are quite closed off to the western world or that have strict government rules on the internet then pre downloading a VPN can be a lifesaver.

If you’ve ever been to China then you will know that standard Google and Facebook does not work. A VPN unlocks and opens up the internet in places where the government and certain businesses are restrictive. 

Be prepared, I was in Cuba recently and Airbnb a huge American company did not work in the country. By having a VPN we could be sneaky and get reservations made. 

My current VPN platform is TunnelBear.


6. Sink Plug


This may sound like a weird one, but you will be surprised the amount of apartments and hotel rooms that do not have a bath plug. I carry around a "one plug fits all" bath plug and it's come in handy if you want to fill the sink to do some hand wash laundry or even have a bath. For all the size of the thing, it's worth purchasing. Trust me, plugging up a full sink with a sponge does not work. 

My one can be found here



7. Laundry Line


If you are backpacking, undoubtedly you will have to do some hand-washing of your delicates or your travel towel in the sink. (Side note:IKEA have a super cheap, good quality travel towel)

I carry a suction cup laundry line, it can hang up anywhere and is very useful for drying your clothes in a hotel room.  The rope is braided so it eliminates the need for carrying clothes pegs. 

My current one can be found here





8.  Zap it! Mosquito bite clicker.


I've recently spent time in the tropics and I've accumulated an extensive collection of insect bites. To the point a Dalmatian dog would rival my spots.  Bites can be an irritation and scratching them like a maniac can lead to infection.  My mother in law bought us this wee contraption, it's a wee mechanical device that delivers an electrical discharge which soothes the inflammation of a bite. Sounds intense but the tiny electric shock is nothing compared to the incessant itching. The main thing here is... it works! The Zap it! doesn't require batteries, which is also a great benefit! 

Maybe it's placebo effect, but I find that it stops the irritation of a mosquito bite! 

Purchase yours here


I'd also recommend taking a packet of anti-histamine tablets in case you have a bad reaction to something. 



These are my 8 essential items that I can't leave home without on a long trip, if you have something you HAVE to have on your travels - comment down below. 
























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