Deciding what to pack for long term travel can be a daunting prospect. In most cases, it starts with a Google search, a hand written list and a whole lot of head scratching. Most people expect to forget a few things but as long as you’ve got the basics down, the rest doesn’t really matter, right? Wrong. A bit of forward thinking can save you a whole lot of time and hassle abroad, not to mention embarrassing sign language when it comes to shopping. Here are 10 things that travellers always think they won’t need…until they do.
1. Blister Plasters (and lots of ‘em!)
Those new hiking boots you’ve just bought? They need breaking in. If you’ve done any research at all, it is likely that you will already have a first aid kit complete with plasters but we all know new shoes require something a bit hardcore. Stock up with specialised blister plasters and try out your new purchase before you set off on your trip. Never underestimate the pain of new boots.
2. Hand Sanitiser
If you’re planning on staying healthy on the road then hand sanitiser is a packing essential. Luckily, these are cheap to pick up and will help ward off any nasty germs, therefore keeping you fighting fit.
Top Tip: Keep your hand sanitiser in a sealable plastic bag to prevent inconvenience in case of leakages.
3. Sewing Kit
When Tim and I first backpacked around South East Asia, I mocked him about his portable sewing kit for weeks. It wasn’t me laughing in the end when I was stitching up the hole in the crotch of my elephant pants for the third week in a row. Always make do and mend, all of the money you spend on replacing clothes is less money you have to spend on travel.
4. Extra Passport Photos
It feels a bit cringe to carry photos of yourself around in your wallet (especially when they are as unflattering as passport photos usually are) but it is a complete necessity when it comes to travel. Not surprisingly, photo booths can be hard to come by in some locations and photos are often required in order to obtain visas. Imagine travelling 200 hundred miles to the border only to be turned away because you don’t have a photo of yourself; you would never want to look in the mirror again.
5. Baby Wipes
I absolutely swear by baby wipes. They clean you up after those nights sleeping out, they freshen you up after a sweaty trek and they even relieve your butt after a dodgy bit of street food. Travelling is hard on your body so be kind to your skin when you can.
6. A Bag For Life
How many of us take the plastic Seven Eleven bag when we know we probably have a bag floating about in our hostel room? Do your bit for the environment whilst you travel and keep a bag for life in your backpack at all times. Not only do these now come with cool slogans, but it is even possible to get ones that fold away into the size of a compact mirror. How backpacker friendly is that?!
7. Water Purification Tablets
So this one is more of a worst case scenario instance. If you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing to drink, drop one of these babies into whatever fresh water you can get your hands on, wait a while and bam, you are good to go.
Disclaimer: this obviously applies to a bottle of water, not a whole lake. It’s probably obvious but I don’t want to get sued.
In an ideal world, it is best to invest in a water purifying bottle as these filter out the rubbish for you. Grayl water filters are meant to be particularly good. However, these bottles can often be costly so tablets are a great alternative for those on a budget or a short term trip.
8. Travel Document Copies
This is another one that is helpful in the worst case scenario. You probably won’t need to use your passport or visa copies, but if for some unfortunate reason you find yourself in a spot of bother abroad, having these can save you a hell of a lot of grief when you’re trying to prove who you are.
This is one that I always dismissed as useless. Why on earth would I want to pluck my eyebrows when I’m out travelling the world?! This might be true, but the usefulness of tweezers doesn’t stop at eyebrows. If you notice a hair burrowing southwards, grab those tweezers and pluck. Ingrown hairs are nasty if they get infected.
10. Bottle Opener
Travelling is a social business and a great way to meet people. Okay, so striking up a conversation with a couple of strangers is pretty daunting but never fear, a beer will definitely make that better. If you’re travelling solo and hoping to meet some new people en route, a bottle opener is never a wasted item.
What do you always forget to pack? Is there anything you couldn’t travel without?