11 Backpacking essentials

Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica

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Obviously, a valid passport, a visa and travel Insurance are essential, but what are the other backpacking essentials? These are the 10 items I never backpack without and items that will certainly help you out on your backpacking journey.

1. Good Hiking Shoes and Comfortable walking shoes

If you are adventurous and like to climb mountains like I do, you will need a good pair of hiking shoes. They are the most valuable things that I carry. I also recommend you get yourself comfortable walking shoes. When you are backpacking, you spend so much time on your feet. Keep them comfy. I travel with these shoes. 

2. A comfortable backpack

When backpacking, it is likely that you will move destinations often, and have to carry your luggage long distances to get to and from the bus stop. A comfortable backpack at a comfortable weight will make your travels much more enjoyable. Trust me, trying to backpack with excessive luggage is not fun. I recommend a 50L backpack. 

Backpacking essentials

See my Packing for South America Guide here…

10 Benefits of packing light

3. A good camera and a Go Pro

You don’t want to miss the perfect shot. I travel with a Canon PowerShot SX500 IS, it takes amazing photos but doesn’t take up to much room in my backpack, in comparison to a DSLR. I am in love with this camera and would highly recommend it.  A Go Pro is another backpacking essential, perfect for capturing those action and underwater moments that I cant get on my Canon PowerShot.

4. Travel Adapter and converters

Don’t forget to pack an adapter as it is a must-have when you are travelling to a different country. If you do forget it’s not a big deal, you can purchase them once you arrive but it is much more convenient to be prepared.

5. Padlocks

If you are staying in hostels you will want to carry padlocks to lock up your valuables. Most of the time it is fine, but it is better to be safe and lock up your valuables than sorry.

6. Travel towel and Baby wipes

Some hostels don’t provide towels. Always carry your own so you don’t have any issues.

When backpacking, you might come across situations where you can’t shower for 2-5 days. For example in the Amazon or on a cruise through the San Blas Islands. I ALWAYS carry baby wipes (also known as a shower in a bag). They aren’t as good as a shower, but they certainly help.

7. Plastic and Zip Lock Bags

So convenient for so many things.

8. Pen & Paper

Always comes in handy, especially a pen.

9. IPhone with Google Maps

I think the convenience of this item speaks for itself. My Iphone is set up so I can see my location without wifi. This allows me to keep track of where I am and if I pin point where I am going, I can walk to my destination by following my location on the map.

10. Mini First Aid Kit

I suggest making your own with items you will use, and putting them all in a zip lock bag. I carry Band-Aids, Disinfectant cream, Sunscreen, Bug Spray, Aloe Vera, Pain Killers, Vicks and Cold and Flu tablets. All items I have used. If you want to buy a first aid kit there are many to choose from.

Keep items such as Pawpaw (lip cream), baby wipes, hand sanitizer and deodorant close to you at all times.

11. Travel Water Bottle

A filter water bottle can save you tons of money on bottled water and can help you do your part for the environment. Find out more about the best travel water bottle here.

These are my 10 backpacking essentials, what are yours?

Do you need travel insurance?

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