If you’re travelling overseas and far from sight and sound of a comfy hotel, there are a number of useful items that will improve your comfort and safety and will not take up very much space in an already full rucksack. Here are ten of the most popular backpacking essentials.
1. Money belt
The last line of defence against the unwelcome attention of criminals, this is virtually impossible to pick as it sits inside your waistband and can be worn even while sleeping. Even if your luggage gains unwarranted attention, your money belt will contain all of the essentials for your journey – passport, money, tickets and all of the other things that you can’t really afford to lose.
2. Travel towel
Travelling in humid climates means that a traditional is probably not the best choice; being made of heavy loop-stitch cotton it will absorb water like a sponge and stay wet, becoming rather ripe after a few days. Micro-fibre towels are available in a variety of sizes and dry out quickly without harbouring nasty smells.
3. Travel locks
Combination locks are best as they don’t require inconvenient keys, which get lost during long journeys. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks keep unwanted fingers out but still allow inspection by approved airport agencies that hold a master combination. For long journeys you might wish to consider a cable lock to tie your bag to a bed frame or door hinge.
4. First Aid Kit
The complexity of a first aid kit will depend on the remoteness of your destination, and any special contingencies. A first aid kit for a trip to the developing world will typically include sterile needles and cannula, but should at least include water purification tablets or a filter.
5. Luggage Tags
You can now order these in batches, pre-printed for maximum convenience. Use them to replace tags that go missing in transit.
6. Address labels
Order a selection in a large, easily-legible font, so you can pass them out quickly to friends and acquaintances, add them to envelopes and postcards, and apply them to luggage if your labels become detached. They are also handy for identifying your property in hostels. You can get a pack of 140 for £2.99 from Vistaprint.
7. Mosquito net and hanger
Insect-borne disease is a real problem for travellers and anti-malarial precautions should include a mosquito net and a hanger to keep it away from your body at night. The best ones are treated with DEET for optimum insect resistance.
8. Silk sleeping bag
The comfort and coolness of a silk sleeping bag liner is a great improvement on the starchy sheets supplied by hostels, and is a great option for hot climates.
9. Voltage convertor and plug adaptors
Many modern appliances are dual voltage and will work on both 100 and 220 volt systems, which are found all over the world. However some appliances will require a voltage convertor.
10. Map and compass
The reassurance of a GPS will never replace the ability to read and interpret a map, which continues to function in the dark, without electricity, and even if it gets wet. Flat compasses take up very little space and can be laid onto the map surface to help map-to-ground navigation.
11. Noise cancelling headphones
Wherever you’re travelling, you’re inevitably going to run into the ‘screaming baby when you’re most tired scenario’. Buying a good pair of DJ headphones or noise cancelling headphones is a great investment for those long plane and bus journeys where you’re craving a bit of peace and quiet.
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