‘What should I pack?’ seems to be the only question I ask myself every time I travel.
Last winter, I spent three months jumping between various hostels and using multiple forms of transport, quickly learning which items would have been handy to make the journey a little more comfortable.
On that 7 hour flight from Paris to Abu Dhabi, I would have killed for something to block out that crying infant sitting behind me. And when we decided to head to the thermal baths in Budapest and found towels weren’t provided, we were mighty glad we’d brought one along.
Here are 6 items that should be essential for every budget traveller. If you have any more to add to the list, please share in the comments!
I know, I know, an e-reader isn’t the same as turning the pages of a physical book, but hear me out. Books become useless weight once you’ve finished them, and if you’re travelling long-term you’ll likely need to carry more than just one with you.
An e-reader allows you to load multiple books and download more over wifi when you’re ready for something new. I use the Amazon Kindle, which I really love.
2. Microfiber towel
Some hostels don’t provide towels free of charge. An outrage! A microfiber travel towel may be the most useful item for budget travellers – it dries super quickly and takes up very little space in your luggage.
Not only can you use it in penny-pinching hostels but you can take it to the beach, use it as you sit by the pool, or take it on a white water rafting trip… take a leaf from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and take a towel with you wherever you go.
3. Elastic clothes line
This gadget saved us a load of money on laundry while we were backpacking through Europe. We took a small amount of washing powder and washed clothes in the bathroom sink, then hung them on an elastic clothes line by attaching the hooks to almost anything in the room (window handles, light fittings, bed posts, and chairs were unceremoniously used).
This takes up very little space in your luggage and allows you to pack way less clothing. Go ahead, turn your room into a Chinese laundry and save those few extra dollars.
4. Retractable Lock
You may be aware that there is a risk of your luggage being stolen on trains, especially in western Europe. Deter thieves with this retractable lock by attaching your bags to the baggage racks. You can also use it to secure hostel lockers, or lock zips together on your check in bags during flights.
5. Noise cancelling headphones/earphones
When you have dorm mates with a hacking cough (thanks a bunch, random girl in Bratislava for keeping me awake all night) or if you’re trying to block out those ladies having an unnecessarily loud conversation in your train carriage, noise cancelling headphones will be a godsend. Of course, something to plug them in to would also be useful.
6. Universal adapter
It seems obvious, but if you travel frequently to various destinations, having separate adaptors for every plug would be utterly ridiculous! Get yourself a cheap universal adapter. We got one in Thailand for about $10 when our old one broke, which we’ve been using for over 2 years now and it’s never failed us.