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Top 10 Backpacking Essentials

This top 10 is all about making sure you have the backpacking essentials that you will need as a minimum to travel.

Most of these backpacking essentials will be pretty obvious but you may as well check just so you can confirm how awesome you are to already know them. Who knows there may be a couple you haven’t picked up just yet..
Picture of a passport

Backpacking Essentials – Your Passport

Obvious right?!?

We all know we need our passport to enable us to book a flight, get in and out of a country, grab that elusive stamp your friends haven’t got yet but having your passport is not always enough.

WTF I hear you say…

When you are looking to book your tip and even before then, make sure you have plenty of time on the passport before the expiry date.

Some countries will make it difficult or even refuse to let you in if you are nearing that all depressing expiry date. Have a look into this before you book to avoid potential disappointment.

If you renew your passport early more than likely the remaining time will be added to the new one and while it may cost you a bit of your play money it could save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

What if you wanted to stay for a while when you got there and hadn’t planned to?!?

Just something to keep in mind guys!

Backpacking Essentials – Driving Licence

backpacking essentials - driving licence
Ok, so technically this is only “essential” if you want to drive when you are away.

If you don’t drive then forget this one but if you do, even if you don’t plan to drive then you should really take it just in case.

Some countries are more fussy than others when it comes to driving, some need a permit, some don’t, do a bit of research before you leave to ensure you have what you need before you go.

Some insurance policies will cover you to take your own car to dive abroad (for example UK to Europe) some wont.

I always take my licence as you never know when circumstance change and you have no choice but to drive, its not much to carry so just do it!

Backpacking Essentials – Insurance

This is another one of those Backpacking Essentials that seems obvious but you will be surprised by the number of people who decide against this.

Yeah you are technically paying for something you hope you will never need and yes it can be expensive if you are backpacking for some time but most policies really do have your back if there is a problem.

Not forgetting the usual cover for lost, stolen and broken goods, injury and repatriation (getting you home if you are unable to yourself due to serious injury) you can get policies that cover you for lost keys, lost passport, lost bank cards, lost driving licences etc.

If you are planning to be away for a while this has to be essential, emergency money, quick reissue of passports etc has to be worth the money.

Check out this link to our post on insurance for more info

Backpacking Essentials – Technology

backpacking essentials - Technology
I have gone for Tech as one of our backpacking essentials as we are all going to take some form of tech with us these days, I could have been lazy and made this last multiple headers but hey, I don’t want to cheat you guys! lol!

So tech will mean different things for different people but essentially it is to do with your ability to entertain yourself, keep in touch with others and record your journey.

So tunes – Ipod, phone, tablet, podcasts, relevant apps
Entertainment – movies, games, tablet, laptop, phone, handheld consoles
Keeping in touch – laptop, tablet, phone, email, social media,
Recording your journey – camera, phone, tablet, selfie stick, go-pro, memory card

Hey if you forget some of this it is not the end of the world as you can pick it up along the way and anyways most people don’t fancy carrying a laptop these days, bulky and heavy

Backpacking Essentials – keepsakes

backpacking essentials - keepsake box
Well aren’t we getting a bit sentimental?!? It may not be everybody’s thing but many of us like to keep something to remind us of home..

It could be photos of family or friend, it could be that special bear you have had for years, it could be something that inspires you or a gentle reminder of something that nearly went wrong but you learned a life lesson from.

Some travellers have even taken a trip just to complete someone else dream in their memory when the worst has happened and they have passed too soon.

What ever it is it is something you will want to keep safe so that you can retrieve it from your backpack when you really need it.

Could something have gone wrong, could you be a little down or lonely, could you be missing home? This could be just the thing to inspire you to take stock and make those hard decisions just at the right time..

For this reason we thing it is a backpacking essential; would you agree?!?

Backpacking Essentials – A Padlock

backpacking essentials - padlock

We some people claim that a padlock is unnecessary, that if you lock your backpack when you go travelling it suggested that there is something to steal.

You know what, these people may have a point. These days it isn’t hugely common for someones bag to be raided while going through an airport but you never know.

I quite like the idea of having a padlock for my valuables in my hand luggage but only on the pocket rather than the whole bag. It can be a pain when going through customs etc but not really an inconvenience when you think about what could happen.

This isn’t really the reason I suggest that a padlock is a backpacking essential either. In my experience it is really hand to have a padlock when you arrive at a hostel and need to pop your stuff away somewhere safe when you are out and about doing the backpacking thing.

Whether you are away for a day tour or out for a meal it is well worth protecting your valuables, add to that the better likely hood of an insurance claim being authorised if you have taken extra steps to protect your things and for me this is a backpacking essential.

Just make sure you have a spare key just in case! ha ha

Backpacking Essentials – Money/bank card

autralian dollars

Well duh!

We all know this is essential, this is how you travel. Without money or access to a bank or credit card you are on the way home (if you can afford it)

Money comes in many different currencies, in different forms (bank draft, cash, cheque, transfer, card, contact-less)

It may be beneficial for you to carry basic currency for each country you are going to visit but not essential as you can withdraw at an ATM or pay by card but handy never the less as it may not be as easy to come across funds as you think.

That said I prefer to carry a card and use that despite the challenges you may face working out the best way to spend your money what with all the charges you can incur.

An example of this is when I was recently in Spain, the ATM’s are getting sneaky, you can either accept the poor conversion rate the ATM offers for local currency or you can take a chance on the better rate your own bank charges as they also add a fee. Either way you will be paying just to access your own money which is a bit of a joke.

If you pay on card you will still end up with a charge.

In my view, if you are going to stay in one place for a while it may be worth getting a local account and doing a 1 off transfer to it from home to minimise the amount of fees you will be charged. Handy if you are intending to work there a while too.

Backpacking Essential – A Visa

Yep another obvious one.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can turn up at a country and pick up the VISA when you get there, some do.

Check out where you are going and firstly see if you need a VISA as you many not, if you do get it organised.

Not only will this save you having to sort it out after a long flight when you really haven’t got any strength left, it will help ensure you have no hidden fees or extra hassles when you get to the boarder and give you peace of mind.

I really enjoyed getting my VISA’s sorted as it gives you a reality check that you are actually going somewhere amazing, food for thought… where can I go next…hummmm

Backpacking Essentials – Tickets

backpacking essentials - tickets
You know you need these, don’t forget them, nothing worse than getting to the airport after a long transfer to realise you haven’t got your ticket!

It could be a real push to get back and pick them up and get back in time, certainly gonna cost you and sometimes impossible.

If you don’t have your ticket you are going to have to pay a premium which can be a real kick in the teeth.

It can be really advantageous to pre-book packages and tours before you arrive in a country with some attractions impossible to book if you don’t do so. f you pre-book you can save you messing about with multiple tour operators only to think you are getting a deal on the spur of the moment only to find you overpaid.

If you do pre-book your tours again, don’t forget to take the email or ticket as that can be a pin too.

I think you get the point…

We have some awesome deals within our travelshop, if you are looking to pre-book something get in touch for a great deal. (discounts may be available for groups)

backpacking essentials - Journals

Backpacking Essentials – Your Journal

You know what, this is all about your legacy to yourself.

On my first trip I wrote in my journals nearly every day I travelled, I have been going back over some of it and you would be amazed at how much you forget. (If you are anything like me that is)

It was a life changing experience, something I will never forget and a trip that inspired me to build this website.

Looking back on your journals may be something you enjoy later in life when you have a chance to stop and reflect or they can be really handy if you need to remember how or where you did something so that you can do it again or recommend to a friend.

Mine contain ticket stubs, stickers, receipts and other bits, I doubt I would have kept half of it if I didnt have my journals with me.

Sometimes when you get home you feel like you have been in a dream as nothing changes for the people you leave behind when you go on a world trip.

A journal is personal to you, a reminder of something amazing you have done but it may be something you want to share with your family or children when the time is right so you can relive your dreams.

For me this really is one of those backpacking essentials, a treasure trove of memories all in one place and ready to discover.

Final Thoughts

So that is it for this post.

I know that most of you will think this is a no-brainer and others will probably have other Backpacking Essentials that you would list but this was mine and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

If you have any thoughts or ideas it would be great to hear from you, don’t forget to share your own essentials if you have some you feel I missed off!

You may be at the planning stage of you trip or ready to get packing, check out the links below for more great tips and advice:

Planning and Organising your trip
Where to go Backpacking
Packing and Security

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