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8 Backpacking travel essentials for pro globetrotters

Packing up your life into carry-on size luggage can be a difficult task – that’s exactly why so many of us forget some of the most basic travel essentials when we’re getting ready to fly.

Travel Essentials
Travel Essentials
Travel Essentials

Travel gear comes in all different shapes, sizes and functions ranging from Aeropress coffee makers (more on those in just a sec) to full-blown travel beds and everything else in between.

However, if you’re looking to live out of your backpack for a week, a month or even a year, chances are that you’re not going to want to cart around a whole host of unnecessary gear. However, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s no sense in taking less than you need either – and with so much stuff required to fit in such a small bag, deciding what to take can become quite the headache.

For the most part, you’ll be absolutely fine regardless what you’ve packed in your rucksack, after all, there are shops dotted around the world – you don’t have to rely on Amazon Prime. But, to put your mind to rest and to keep packing light in mind, we’ve got a list of 8 of the top travel essentials that all, well most, backpackers tend to forget to pack!

1. Worldwide portable adapter

First thing’s first, you’ve got to have a source of power and that usually means that you’re going to need some kind of adapter.

Hyleton travel adapter

You’d be surprised just how many backpackers turn up to their first hotel or hostel with a near-dead phone battery before realising they don’t have a way to charge it.

That’s where the Hyleton travel adapter comes in. Other brands are available, but we’ve tested a pair of these throughout Europe and South East Asia and are yet to find any problems at all. It’s a surefire way to keep your devices powered up whether you’re in the UK, Europe, South East Asia, Australia, America – you get the idea.

What we love most about the Hyleton adapter is the USB slots found on the underside of the unit – great for charging all of your USB products (phone, tablet, headphones etc.) whilst you’re using the main plug. Incredibly useful when time is limited on that final last-minute pre-travel charge.

2. AeroPress Coffee Maker

Not essential for everyone, but it’s definitely essential for us – the AeroPress Coffee Maker.

Aeropress coffee mug

There’s not much better in the morning than a truly great cup of coffee and when you’re on the road for weeks at a time, finding coffee in new places isn’t always that easy. This is where the AeroPress really comes into its own – it’s not just a travel essential, it’s a day saver.

Naturally, taking a coffee-maker travelling can take up a good chunk of space, but with the collapsible structure compressing to just 5.3” x 3.9” x 3.9”, you’ll barely even know it’s there. Great for saving space in your backpack and giving yourself a boost when you need it most (i.e when you’ve not slept for 40 hours and need to navigate Tokyo).

3. Portable charger 

Next up on the list, one of the best investments a backpacker can make to their pile of travel essentials – a portable charger.

Anker Powerbank

You’ll notice a theme when it comes to backpacking and electronics – and that’s the fact that you never want to be without power when you need it most.

Lost in Vietnam, trying to find your hostel and have just 3% power left to use Google Maps? Not a problem when you’ve got a portable charger that you can pull out for some emergency juice. The Anker Powercore 20100 is as good as any and with almost 7 full charges available (for an iPhone 8) before more power is required, it’s a gadget that’s got your back!

4. Packing cubes

If you’ve read anything about packing a backpack before a big trip you’ll have undoubtedly heard of the term “packing cubes” – these aren’t just nice to have, they are one of the most important travel essentials.

Osprey packing cubes

Rummaging through your backpack to try and find a clean pair of socks isn’t enjoyable regardless of how fancy your pack is, but it’s a task that becomes so much easier when there’s a dedicated underwear cube.

It may sound a little silly and I took some convincing myself, but once you’ve used a packing cube, you’ll never go back. What I will say, however, is to avoid the cheaper options that you’ll find on Amazon and go for one of the well-known brands. I started out with a set of Amazon Basics packing cubes that disintegrated with use and have now comfortably settled on a great set of Osprey cubes.

5. External hard drive

If you’re a keen, aspiring or beginner photographer, bringing an external hard drive on your trip is a real travel essential.

LACIA Harddrive

An external hard drive is not only great for keeping your laptop running smoothly, it’s a great place to keep your pictures safe when you’re away.

There’s nothing worse than corrupt photos and with backups stored both online and on an external hard drive, you can relax in the knowledge that you’re precious Insta-snaps are safe in one place or another. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry and the LaCie Rugged Mini is one of the toughest out there – great for throwing into a backpack.

6. Mini first aid kit

Travel essentials don’t get much more useful than this – the mini first aid kit complete with everything you need for an unexpected accident.

First aid kit

With a total of 92 pieces, including blister pads, bandages, safety pins, medical scissors, tweezers and even an emergency blanket, you can be prepared for just about anything that comes your way. 

It’s not the most glamorous of travel essentials, but it’s definitely one of the most useful and if you find yourself in need of just one of the 92 items found in the mini kit, it’ll be more than worth it!

7. Jungle Formula Insect Repellent

“Have you heard of Jungle Formula?”, “What you need is Jungle Formula”, “Jungle Formula is the best” – these are just some of the comments received when idly chatting about bug spray.

Jungle Formula bug spray

That’s one thing I never realised that would be a travel essential, but has quickly made it’s way up my list as a great addition to any backpack.

Any bug spray is a good addition, but if you’re looking for the king – it’s Jungle Formula that sits on top of the podium. If you’ve not got any packed, get some ordered and you’ll thank me later!

8. Foam earplugs

Wanting to get to sleep in the middle of a party hostel? You’ll have some task ahead of you, unless you’ve got some earplugs to help.

Super-soft foam earplugs

Foam earplugs are a super underrated travel hack and something that every backpacker should take with them.

Sleep is so important, especially if I don’t have an AeroPress to save my morning, so I always like to have a pair of earplugs on hand to block out any unwanted sound. Thumping music, busy traffic and crying babies on planes are all a thing of the past thanks to these little foamy bad-boys.

Granted, they take some getting used to, but once they begin to feel natural, they’ll rank as one of your preferred travel essentials.

Our top travel essentials

There you have it, our top 8 travel essentials that every backpacker forgets in 2020 – let us know what you think and if we’ve missed any of your essentials in the comments below!

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