Welcome to the backpacker lifestyle! This type of living and traveling includes a low-cost way of independent travel without bulky suitcases—it’s just you and freedom all the way. But, getting ready for such an adventure is not easy, especially if you’re a first-timer. Here’s what every backpacker will need on their trip:
Get a good backpack
Don’t even start planning your trip without a good backpack. Unfortunately, these are not cheap, but they are durable so if you pick the right backpack, it will serve you for many years. When buying your perfect backpack, consider the size, quality, comfort and purpose.
Most of the weight in your backpack belongs to clothing so don’t bring too much. It doesn’t matter if you’re preparing for a three-week or three-month trip, you will probably do laundry on the way. When it comes to clothing, you will need a few shirts and pants, underwear, quality socks and some good hiking shoes. If you’re traveling somewhere cold, it’s best to think in terms of layers. Big coats are much less practical than a few layers of thermal clothing pieces
If you don’t have much backpacking experience, get a good money belt so your first trip doesn’t get ruined by getting pickpocketed. Another great addition to your money belt is a quality cardholder wallet that will allow you to have all your cards in one, easily-accessible spot. No more rummaging through your wallet for the right card—all of them will be neatly sorted!
Liquid weighs a ton, so don’t bring too many toiletries (you can usually restock on the way). In general, you will need shampoo and body wash in travel-sized containers, toothpaste and toothbrush, shaving necessities and some deodorant. And don’t forget to pack plenty of sunscreen and chapstick. You will be spending a lot of time outside so don’t risk any painful sunburns and chapped lips.
Normal towels take an entire day to dry, so don’t let that stop you from having a comfortable trip. Instead of a traditional towel, grab a quick-dry towel that soaks up all the liquid yet dries in a few hours.
No matter if you’re tracking on an un-lit road, navigating nature or just trying to navigate a dark room in your hostel, you will need a practical flashlight. These usually fit in your pocket or even rest on a keychain so you don’t have to worry about space.
These are great for separating your dirty and wet clothes from your fresh laundry, but you can use them for many other things like storing food, liquids and dirty shoes.
Trips longer than a week usually require doing laundry, so stock up on the following necessities
- Sing topper for washing clothes on the go
- Laundry soap, something travel-sized if possible
- Flexible travel clothesline for air-drying your laundry. The braided kind doesn’t even require clothespins.
- Stain remover pen that will work wonders on stains—these take up minimal space.
If you’re planning to stray off the beaten road, make sure to have a way to get drinkable water. You can achieve that with a filter bottle that allows you to drink water from streams, lakes, puddles or taps no matter where you are. In many countries, water is scarce and expensive, so this is a great investment if you’re traveling on a budget. Plus, it’s green! If you know you’ll always have access to clean water, grab a reusable water bottle or opt for a soft bottle that can be rolled up when empty.
Backpacking is a great way to unplug, but you still need to have a way to connect to the world. So make sure to pack a good portable battery for your electronics. Instagram and Google Maps will quickly eat up all your battery! Another thing you must pack is an outlet plug adapter, especially if you’re traveling in Europe where many countries use different plugs. Next, you might greatly benefit from a digital camera so you can immortalize your adventure and come back with some amazing photos.
Your first backpacking trip will change your life for sure, or at least change the way you travel. While you might lack some comforts, if you pack like this, you will have everything you need for a smooth backpacking trip.