While being on the road for almost a year, my backpack has changed a few times. I’ve bought a few new things, and sent home some other things.
At least I noticed that I don’t need to have everything with me the whole time. It really depends on where you are going, if you are changing between different climates and temperatures. Most things you can buy along the way if you really need it, then you don’t have to carry it around the first time and it’s probably cheaper too.
I’ve been in warm and cold big cities, hot beaches with surf and scuba dive, high and cold mountain tops… And I’m glad I had something (not everything!) for every occasion with me. While traveling in hot summer climate, I really thought it was a waste of place to bring my fleece jacket everywhere – but I really needed it on the cold cold night bus journeys.
But maybe I wouldn’t have needed to bring a sleeping bag with me, because I only used it like 3 times during 8 months. It would probably have been better (lighter and less space) to just rent one when I needed it. I also brought my rain jacket with me, but I sent it back after 2 months because I hadn’t used it even once, and it was literally just a waste of space. Instead I bought a thin plastic rain poncho for 2 USD which was even better because I could have it over my backpack too, haha. Just something to keep in mind! Anyhow!
Here are some items I’ve used a lot and would never travel without, things I’m like “omg I’m so glad I brought this with me!” haha.
Macbook Air 13” – perfect travel computer, light and good enough for editing pictures and videos, writing blog entries, watching film and tv-series ;) A little to small hard-disk for storage, but it depends on how long time you are traveling. I know I couldn’t have been without a computer at least, but a lot of people travel without!
USB-memories – for storage. I prefer USB memories to hard disks because I feel it’s less chance to break and also I don’t like to have everything in just one place. Generally for electronics the prices are getting lower and lower, but in under-developed countries it’s still the same prices as we had maybe 5 years ago. (for example in Sweden a 16 gb USB memory costs the same today as a 8 gb USB memory costed a couple of years ago). So depending on where you are going, it might be cheaper or the same price in your own country!
A waterproof camera – Panasonic Lumix FT3 Waterproof and Shockproof Digital Camera – at first I didn’t like this camera so much because everything is pretty much automatic, but I got to LOVE it. It has great quality, great futures and great colors, you barely need to edit them. Love that it’s shockproof (2 meters) and waterproof up to 12 meters (40 feet) and has a GPS! Then you know at what height or depth you are in. Perfect for adventure tours, hiking, climbing, snorkeling, beach, rain!
A foldable waterproof daypack – Sea to summit Ultra Sil Dry Day Pack – Perfect to bring with you, doesn’t occupy much space in the backpack but so useful. Not too comfortable when it’s heave, because of the thin strips, but it’s perfect as a daypack – also it’s waterproof so it’s perfect for surfing, snorkeling and scuba dive-trips, but also for the beach or when it’s raining. I’ve used it so much!
Flipflops – I bought mine for like 4 USD in Mexico and it’s the most used item I have. Sometimes you just don’t want to have the supercomfy and ugly teva-sandals or trekkingshoes, just easy flip flops to wear the beach, around the city, or just in the house or to the shower
Travel towel – I prefer the normal towers, but compared to the space it would occupy – not worth it! Also I use the towel as a “protector” from insight around my bed when I’m in hostels. (hate knowing people are watching me while sleeping haha)
Spork – Light my fire – after 4 months it broke, so bring a couple of them! I used mine so much, sometimes if you bring your own meal/snacks on the bus ride, to the tour or to your room, and you really need a spoon or a fork for it. Perfect!!!
A multi-tool – Leatherman. I’ve used mine so much!! To cut up apples, open cans, open sodas, filing my nails, tighten loose screws, cut threads for the bracelets.. etc!
A couple of meters of thin rope – To hang up washed clothes to dry, but also to hang my travel towel around my bed. Sometimes to tie something to my backpack. Very good to have!
Head lamp – had a normal flash light in the beginning but bought a head torch for the Inca Trail. You usually need a flashlight and your hands free at the same time – like when packing or searching for something in the dark hostel room or hiking at night/early morning with hiking poles.
Packing cells – I just love them to organize my backpack. If I’m looking for something, I just have to take out the packing cells and open the one I know where my item is in. I always see other backpackers stuff laying around everywhere on their bed or on the floor, super chaotic unorganized. I like to have my stuff ready to go. I have one small for underwear and swimwear, a 2 L one for warm clothes/socks/union suit (which I never have to open in warmer countries), another 2 L one for my tops and t-shirts, and one 6L for pants, shorts, dresses, skirts and my fleece jacket.
Pad Lock – You will definitively need one or two. I have a cable lock pad – perfect for locking the backpack in plenty of spaces and also into a chair or a pole in the bus or the train. I also have a regular one for hostel lockers etc and for my daypack.
Foldable tooth brush – Takes less space and get’s less dirty! Works perfectly fine too!
A few clothing items I’ve used way to much and which is totally worth to have with you wherever you go –
A light cardigan/long-sleeved shirt – even in the hottest countries it sometimes get a little bit chilly. Also good to have a little protection against mosquitoes or direct sunlight. Sometimes you also need to cover your shoulders to enter a church.
Union suit – for cold nights and chilly bus rides. I used it as a pyjamas while sleeping in tents or in rooms where it was under 10*C inside at night. Not just an extra layer, but also perfect in the morning when you don’t want to put on freezing cold clothes direct on your body – just put the clothes on top of the union suit. Also on the damn cold super air-conditioned night buses between cities – would have died without it! And I even used it in the tropic jungle – it got a little chilly to sleep outside in the hammock!
Cap – When the sun is high and burning it really helps – especially to not be blinded by the sun but also to cool your head/hair a little bit. Also good to cover up your greasy and dirty hair when you haven’t been able to take a shower in a couple of days. And to have under your winter hat in sunny winter days.
Really light dress – For all occasions. Good to have to the beach above your bikini on your way there and from there, or when you are at home or at the hostel – takes 1 sec to put it on and it’s really comfy and light. And also if you want to dress up a little bit in the city you can just add a belt or a necklace to it.
Leggings – Good to prevent mosquitoes, ticks and other insect bites at night and if it’s a little chilly and still want to have a skirt, or if it’s cold you can have them under your pants. Would never travel without leggings!
Tampons – I actually brought a reeeally big pack with me (like 100) and I’m glad I did, because first of all, they don’t sell it every country/city, and at least in south America, where it’s not to common – it’s more expensive then in Sweden! And only boxes of 8 or something.
I hope this helps someone out there! (?)