12 Random Things You Should Pack for Long-Term Travel

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Updated: 2nd June 2020

When it comes to packing for a trip, there are a million and one checklists out there, and they will all vary depending on where you’re going, the climate, and the top of vacation you’re on. But, when you are heading off on a long-term adventure or backpacking, you might need some different gear than your typical holiday.

It’s been a while since I’ve been on an extended backpacking trip, but just back from China, I was reminded of all the random things I used to stuff in my backpack that would make my travels more comfortable. So, if you plan to take an extended break soon, these could well be essentials for your trip. Also, be sure to consider downloading some of the best travel apps or language learning apps before you head off.

Multi-outlet extension cable

As someone with multiple cameras, computers and tech gear, a multi-outlet extension cable is super important for me.

Not only does it mitigate the need to have multiple international plug adaptors, but it means in hotel rooms with limited sockets, hostel dorms or even when on the go at a train station, I can maximise my time by charging multiple devices at once. After a long day travelling, you don’t want to waste time changing the items on charge every couple of hours, so with one of these, you can plug in overnight and wake up with all your devices charged.

Packing for Travel

Head Torch

Head torches aren’t just for posey Instagram photos. Whether you are camping, sharing a dorm or taking a night bus/train, they are way better than a standard torch.

Not only can they take up a tiny space in your backpack, but they also leave your hands free when heading to that outside toilet in remote Borneo or trying to hike home after the sun has set.

Waiters friend

As comical as YouTube videos of people opening up bottles of wine with shoes or a lighter flame are, save yourself the hassle by packing a waiter’s friend. Small, compact and easy to use for opening bottles of wine and beers, I traded in my extensive pen-knife for one of these when I stopped camping so much. You’ll also be the star of the group when no one else can get into the all-need liquor after a long hike.

Water / Coffee bottle

If you are heading somewhere where you will likely need to treat water before drinking it, then a Life Straw bottle might be your best bet. For most other travellers, getting an aluminium flask is a lot better than a water-only bottle as it will be able to keep your morning coffee hot and your afternoon water cool. Don’t overpack by bringing both along when one can do the job.

Packing for travel

Extra large zip-lock bag

I’ve never really got the deal with packing cubes that so many bloggers go on about, but a large, zip-lock plastic bag is ideal when travelling long-term. I use mine to put all my dirty laundry in so it keeps the rest of my clothes clean, and then I can either just drop it straight into a laundry place or empty it into the machine when I arrive. They are also very durable, so you can shape them easily into your backpack without losing space.

Bio-degradable laundry soap bar

You’ll not always have access to do laundry, or indeed time. So, if you are making a trip with lots of one-night stops, then the chances to get laundry done are limited.

Likewise, you might just want to wash the same item over and over again to minimise what you have to pack and carry on hikes. Bio-degradable laundry soap bars are ideal as you can wash items in waterways/buckets if needed without causing damage to the environment on your travels. Perhaps an even better bonus is that being one of the many solid toiletries available these days, they are ideal if you are flying with hand luggage only.

Instant camera

As a photographer, I love being able to gift photos to the people I meet on the way. Whether it’s your tour guide, a home host or simply someone you’ve just met on the journey, being able to leave an instant photo as a gift is something I appreciate.

Likewise, if, for whatever reason, your camera batteries do die, you have a unique way to capture those memories still. I use the FujiFilm Instax as I find the film rolls aren’t too expensive.

India Travel Photography

Indoor flip-flops

When it comes to night buses, hostels or homestays, you might want to keep your footwear on when inside. Packing a pair of flip-flops (not slippers), especially for this purpose, is handy so they are always clean when visiting bathrooms, etc.

Car power plug adaptor

If you take a lot of road trips or head off on long camping adventures as I do, having a mains plug adaptor in the car is handy. Not only is it useful for road trips, but if you have a long night bus, all vehicles pretty much have a cigarette lighter socket, so a friendly driver might let you plug in for a while so you can get your maps app to work when you arrive at the destination. They are relatively compact and cheap to pick up.

Solar USB charger pack

Likewise, if you are in a hot country and will be spending a lot of time outside, then pick up a solar USB charging pack rather than just a standard one. They don’t really cost anything extra, and then you can use natural resources rather than electricity to top up while exploring. I specifically got a backpack with a mesh pocket so I can just slot them in during the day and know they are still charging when I am walking around.

Oman Wahiba Sands

Extra phone charging cable

There is nothing more annoying than your phone cable breaking (why is this a regular for me, Apple?) when you are in the middle of nowhere and can’t find the right cable. I found this, especially in Asia, where brands such as Oppo are more popular. Bring a backup cable with you so if the first one fails, you don’t lose your pocket camera and access to all the trip info you might have saved on your device. If you are travelling in a group, someone will likely be able to lend you one, but as a solo traveller, this is a packing essential.

3 replies
  1. wadood says:

    I roll all my clothes and can fit much more into a suitcase that way. I am not a backpack person as they end up hurting my back, but I have been able to go one trip in my carry on this way. When I moved abroad I brought 5 suitcases and a carry-on. I got rid of tons of stuff. I remember I took 10 bags of clothes and shoes to the charity shop. I haven’t tried packing cubes yet, but I keep thinking I will. Great tips!

  2. Olivia says:

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