Ultimate Backpacking Essentials


After three months backpacking Japan and Europe, I’ve been able to really refine down the items I use most often while on the move to an essential few. Yet every time I’m about to set off again it’s a last minute rush to get things together and I always promise myself I’ll be more organised next time. So this time, I’m actually writing it all down (for my benefit as much as yours). So what are my ‘go wherever, whenever’ travel essentials? Please, let me explain…


The Ultimate Backpacking Essentials:

1. Passport & Visas

Does it even need to be said? Of course make sure you have these essentials or you won’t be going very far at all.

2. Copy of Passport, Visa & Travel Insurance Policy

Keeping a copy of your essential documents means if the worst happens it is at least easier to get replacement travel documents. Photocopies are always good, but you could even store a copy somewhere accessible to you online.

3. Boarding Passes/Tickets

You snapped up the cheap airfares now keep it that way! Make sure you have your boarding passes printed before arriving at the airport, or download your airlines travel app, as many budget airlines will charge to print your boarding passes at the airport.

4. Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs

These will be your favourite friend when all you want is a good nights sleep and your roommates have different priorities.

5. Blackout Sleeping Mask

For those that like to party til dawn, sleep til dusk.

6. Padlock

To keep your valuables secure in transit and in the hostel. You may want a couple of these.

7. Phone, Camera, Laptop + Chargers

Travelling today is high tech, so unless you’re after a wilderness retreat, you won’t want to be without your Instagram, travel app, messaging machines (and their chargers).

8. Ear Phones

Watching your favourite travel vlogger at 3am when you’re jet lagged is no problem if you’ve remembered your earphones – subscribe here 😉

9. Micro-Fibre Towel

They feel a bit funky, but micro-fibre is the way to go when backpacking. Not only do they dry super fast, but they take up less room in your pack too. Win!

10. Universal Plug Adaptor

Avoid arriving at your next hostel without the right plug adaptor. Go on and invest in a universal plug adaptor to keep those super travel enabling mobile devices happy.

11. Pre-downloaded Maps/Offline Directions

I like to use the Here App (download for AndroidApple) when I travel as you can download the map for an entire city, country or continent beforehand and use GPS to navigate around upon arrival. This comes in super handy for getting to your accommodation on arrival at your destination. Otherwise, a print out with directions to your hostel is always good too.

12. Prescription Medication

If you need to take any prescription medication overseas it’s also wise to have the prescription with you. Countries have different laws about medications, so check before you depart and make sure you have enough to last for the trip.

13. First Aid Kit

Just your essentials, plasters for those blisters you’ll get pounding the pavement, travel sickness pills, antiseptic cream and maybe some mosquito repellent depending on your destination.

14. Drink bottle

Make a small effort to tread lightly on your travels by carrying a reusable drink bottle. You’ll be needing water all the time, so you’ll end up saving a bit of money too by not having to buy bottled water. Just remember to check the tap water is safe to drink!

15. Small notebook + Pen

Occasionally our mobile devices or the wifi signal do fail us and that’s why I always carry a small notebook and pen with me to write down important addresses or numbers and most of all to use at immigration to fill out those entry and bio-security cards.

Six to Eight Weeks Before Departure…

You want to make sure you’re covered for any unexpected scenarios by purchasing your Travel Insurance Policy. I always have insurance when I travel and whenever I’m buying insurance I make sure I’m well covered for medical costs including air lift home, as well as some incidental ‘I had my visa stolen on the beach in Barcelona’ coverage. You laugh, I laughed at my boyfriend too…

Get in on this early as you can then be covered if your plans get soiled before you even leave home. Depending on your requirements, you might also want to look at getting a frequent traveller policy which can cover you for multiple trips in a year and may be cheaper overall.

Check for Vaccinations you may not have had, or may need a booster for, that are recommended for your destination. Do this early since some vaccinations require multiple shots over a period of weeks, or just need time prior to travel for the vaccination to become effective.


Now you’ve got the essentials, good luck trying to fit in all the fun stuff… just remember, 21 kgs feels a lot heavier when you’re exhausted, hungover and lost in Budapest!



Heading to Europe for the Winter? Check out what I’d still pack for winter in Europe one year on…



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Nikki launched WorldFanFair to record and share her travel experiences. Currently based in London, dipping in and out of Europe one step at a time.

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