Packing for a long-term trip is a whole different animal than getting ready for a one-week vacation. When you’re traveling months on end, everything in your backpack has to earn its keep, and I can tell you from personal experience that the lighter your pack, the better.
Looking back on our adventure, there were some items in our bag that we could have done without. For instance, we never used the majority of our first-aid kit supplies or lightweight travel sheets. Even though we got a few things wrong when it came to packing up our Osprey Packs, we also brought along some things that ended up being incredibly useful in our day-to-day life.
Below I’ve complied a list of the five travel accessories that made all the difference during our big adventure and that I highly recommend to other travelers.
1. Reliable water purifier
If you’re traveling to parts of the world where you’ll likely encounter questionable drinking water, a water purifier is essential. One of the most magical innovations in the water purification world is the SteriPEN. SteriPEN filters use UV light to turn non-potable water into something you can safely drink. We use the SteriPEN Adventure Opti and love how compact and easy to use it is. In 90 seconds this little guy can purify a liter of water and all you have to do is spin it around in your water bottle - no pumping required!
2. Mini power strip
If you’re bringing along more than one chargeable item (like a laptop, cell phone, camera, etc.), a power strip will be extremely useful. In my experience, finding just one available outlet is hard enough, so if you’re in a pinch and only have a short amount of time to charge multiple electronics, a mini power strip will save the day. You'll want to get something that's small but has at least four outlets, like this power strip. We could spend an hour in a small coffee shop and charge both of our laptops and two camera batteries at the same time. Super handy.
3. Travel towel
If you only bring one thing from this list on your trip, let a travel towel be the winner. Some hostels or cheap hotels don’t have towels or charge you to rent them, so having your own will be extremely useful. Travel towels come in various sizes but are lightweight and don’t take up much room. Remember that a good travel towel should be made from microfiber material so that it will dry quickly.
4. Lightweight packing cubes
Packing cubes are the kind of thing you don’t know you need until the first time you have to dig out a shirt from the bottom of your backpack...and consequently, spill the contents of your entire bag onto the floor. Whether your primary use is making everything fit in your bag or keeping things organized, packing cubes will make your daily life so much easier. I recommend Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter organizers. These packing cubes come in every shape and size you can think of, are lightweight, and super durable.
5. The ultimate budgeting app
Okay, technically you don’t have to pack this item in your bag, but it’s a useful travel accessory, nonetheless. Trail Wallet is a free app for iPhone/iPad users made specifically for travelers that allows you to set a daily budget and track expenses. You can organize your spending by category, add different currencies, and view your average daily spending over a certain period of time. This app was so helpful in keeping us on track with our finances and is the number one thing I recommend to long-term travelers on a budget. Download the Trail Wallet app here.
While we didn’t use the following items every single day, they were useful and you may want to consider them as well.
- A combination lock to secure bags or lockers.
- An inflatable neck pillow for long travel days or gross hostel/hotel rooms.
- A sink stopper and clothesline for DIY laundry days.
If you’re in the process of packing for your own world adventure and feeling overwhelmed, I completely understand - it’s hard to know what you will and won’t need. My biggest recommendation is to leave behind as much as possible. You don’t need as much as you think, but if you do end up desperate for something, you’ll likely be able to find it (or something similar) wherever you’re at. Happy adventuring!
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