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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, from the weather to the type of destinations each one varies. 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, especially as a digital nomad, these could well be essentials for your trip. Also, be sure to consider downloading some of the best travel apps or best 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.
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.
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 waiters 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 travels, 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.
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 longterm. 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.
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 a 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.
When it comes to night-trains, hostels or home-stays, you might want to keep your footwear on when inside so 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 into the destination. They are relatively compact and cheap to pick up at local stores.
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 electric 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.
Extra phone charging cable
I promise you 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 traveling in a group, someone will likely be able to lend you one, but as a solo traveller, this is a packing essential in my eyes.
Got any other suggestions I need to cram in my backpack to make life easier on the road? You know where the comment box is