Backpacking is a lot of fun. It’s a chance to explore and see the world in all its glory. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a veteran in the backpacking community, there’s always a new experience on the horizon.
One of the most important parts of backpacking is knowing what to take with you in the first place. There are certain things that you cannot be without and there are others that you are better off leaving at home.
It’s better to travel light so you get the most from your experience while not having to carry your whole life around with you at the same time.
So with this in mind, here are the 5 things I always carry with me while backpacking.
1. Reusable Water Bottle
First things first, a reusable water bottle should be the first item in your backpack. As you travel and explore, you will lose a lot more water than you might think – particularly if you’re going off grid and walking around for most hours of the day.
It’s vital to stay hydrated so your body can function at optimal performance. If you don’t stay hydrated, you will feel tired and become susceptible to getting ill. For someone that wants to spend their day going out, the last thing you want is to have your trip ruined because of poor hydration.
Another reason to have a reusable water bottle is to protect the environment. As a backpacker, it’s tempting to leave plastic water bottles behind. In some places, there may not be any facilities to throw away your waste, resulting in you leaving the bottle behind. For obvious reasons, this is not good.
One of the best water bottles on the market right now is the Kool8 bottle. It’s sleek, stylish and will keep your water cool all day long. Every sip will quench your thirst and taste great too.
2. Antibacterial Hand Gel
The next thing I always carry with me while backpacking is antibacterial hand gel. Who knows what you’ll touch while you’re travelling so it’s always good to have something on you to keep you feeling clean. Even just the odd squirt here and there goes a long way.
Again, it comes back to hygiene. The last thing you need is coming down with a sick bug because you haven’t kept your hands clean. It’s such an easy thing to avoid with some cleaning gel.
Of course, you must not use the gel as a permanent substitute for washing your hands with soap and water, but during times when you are out and about, it’s just what you need. For example, if you come across some tasty-looking street food but there’s no hand washing facility in sight, simply grab the antibacterial hand gel from your bag and you’re good to go.
3. Important Documents (And Somewhere Safe To Store Them)
Another thing I always carry with me while backpacking is my important documents. If you haven’t got them on you at all times, there’s a chance they could get stolen, or you misplace them and you don’t have a clue where they could be.
The documents I’m talking about are my passport, travel tickets, travel insurance and healthcare cards. These are the essentials and I go nowhere without them.
However, I don’t just keep them in my pockets or a loose section of my backpack. No way, that makes it far too easy for someone to pickpocket me. Instead, I take a fanny pack and wear it under my shirt. While they are deemed to be quite fashionable nowadays, they make it obvious to everyone where your valuables are. By keeping the bag under your shirt, you don’t put them on display, but they remain safe on your person.
It’s always a good idea to print off backup copies of your documents too, just in case you do lose them.
4. Survival Tool
Ok, this item is not so much in the sense that you’re going all Bear Grylls and stranded on an island (unless that’s your plan of course). The survival tool is just something that I have to ensure that I can tackle any challenge that comes my way.
The tool I use in particular, I found it on Gift Wits. it’s an 18 in 1 too that fits in your pocket easily so when you need it, you can grab just grab it and use it straight away.
The tools included in this item are a knife to defend yourself or cut things like food or branches, a bottle opener (a true essential), a rope cutter if you are climbing as part of your travel and 15 other very useful applications.
I don’t remember the last time I went backpacking without this item and I don’t think I ever will do so again.
5. Mobile Phone, Charger And Adapter
While these are three things, I combined them into this single item as they are all part of the overall goal: to have a working mobile phone.
You cannot go backpacking without your smartphone anymore. Whether it’s to translate a foreign language or to take a picture of a memory of a lifetime, there’s always a situation where it’s required.
Before you travel, check with your service provider to see if the place you’re going is covered in your tariff. If it isn’t, you’ll probably have to sign up to a new one for that trip or risk facing huge fees when you get back.
Alternatively, if your phone is unlocked to all networks, you could buy a local prepaid SIM card while you’re over there and be charged at the local rate.
But all this becomes irrelevant anyway if you haven’t got a charger. Make sure you have a universal adapter so it doesn’t matter where you go. This one is a great example as it’s cheap and thanks to its 5 different input plugs, it can be used worldwide.