9 Backpacking Essentials That Might Save You From a Travel Disaster

There’s a huge list of stuff you should take travelling with you, from clothes and shoes to cameras and phone chargers. Some of this stuff will come in very useful and some of it will probably come home unused. Here are 8 things you’re guaranteed to use (and need!). If you’re as unlucky as me, they might just save you from a complete disaster.

1. First Aid Kit

Okay so this one’s pretty obvious, but believe it or not I know plenty of people who’ve gone travelling without one (and even more people who laughed at my hefty first-aid kit when I went backpacking). So many people questioned it that I began to question myself – had I gone a bit OTT? The answer was no, I probably hadn’t brought enough. When my girlfriend fell off her moped in Thailand we used most of the pack in about 3 hours (turns out we should have just gone straight to the hospital, but that’s a story for another time).


  • Gauze, sterile dressings, plasters and tape (I promise, you’ll use it)
  • Antiseptic wash/wipes/Savlon
  • Tweezers and scissors (literally always useful)
  • Antihistamines, painkillers, Travel-sickness tablets and Imodium (because well, you know why)
  • Insect repellent and Tiger Balm (a literal godsend for mozzie bites)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Safety Pins
  • Latex gloves

2. Money belt

So much better than a bumbag, a money belt is definitely a backpacking essential. Even in the busiest of markets, day or night, you won’t have to worry about the safety of your valuables because no one can even see them. This little beauty hides under your trousers so no one even knows it’s there and it’s big enough to hold your money, cards, passport, keys and even your phone. The cut-proof strap ensures that even if someone did try to steal it, it ain’t coming off easy.

3. Rehydration sachets

These babies are a real lifesaver for when you (inevitably) come down with a bought of Bali Belly/Montezuma’s Revenge/whatever term you use for the infamous traveller’s diarrhoea. When you can’t possibly think about consuming solid food and you’ve made a dozen trips to the bathroom in the space of two hours, this sachet is your best friend. Just dissolve it in water, sip slowly and you’ll get all the electrolytes you need (hopefully quicker than you’re losing them).

4. Passport copy

Hopefully, this is a given, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. If god forbid, you lose your passport or leave it in a hostel locker in Bangkok (I know someone who was unfortunate enough to do this), it’ll come in mighty useful.

5. Carabiner

Handy in so many ways, the humble carabiner might not save you from disaster, but it’ll definitely make your life much easier. Can’t be bothered to carry your water bottle? Carabiner. Bag too full with all your market purchases? Use it to clip shoes and other bulky items to the outside of your bag. Worried about your bag getting stolen in a bar? Clip it to the table leg. Genius.

6. Suncream

I’ve found it’s always a good idea to take some sun cream with you, even if it’s just a little bit. In some countries, particularly South East Asia, sun cream is really quite expensive –and is often of the “whitening” variety – which is definitely not what we Westerners want from our time in the sun.

7. Lock

This little piece of kit will always come in useful for keeping your bags secure, whether it’s locking the backpack itself or keeping your stuff safe in a hostel locker. I always like to lock my bags when travelling too, just to stop potential security snoopers, or any of my stuff being stolen should my bag get into the wrong hands.

8. Waterproof phone/camera bag with a strap

Now, this is one thing I didn’t take travelling with me, but I seriously wish I had. If I had, maybe my GoPro wouldn’t be lying at the bottom of a river in Thailand. Also useful for monsoon season, boat trips or just keeping your phone in a handy and safe around your neck.

9. Rape Alarm 

Here’s to hoping that you’ll never, ever have to use this little piece of kit. But as a girl travelling alone in South East Asia, I felt infinitely safer having one on me. You never know what could happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. There are loads of different brands you can buy, but this is the one I took with me. It’s super small and can hook onto your belt, keys or into your bag – just in case you ever need it.

(PSA: I know its human nature to be curious about things, but save your ears and don’t test it out, it’s seriously painful).

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