Making travel possible

Backpacking Essentials and What I Learnt

18/02/2019

 

I called myself a ‘backpacker’ for 6 months whilst travelling the East Coast of Australia back in 2016. Everything I needed, all of the essentials, for half a year, in one backpack…and here’s how.

To start, I will say one thing – keep this in mind at all times – you DO NOT NEED TO PACK AS MUCH AS YOU THINK! You won’t need it all; it’s time to embrace the minimalist lifestyle – learning how to live with essentials and essentials only.

Six months was a pretty long time to live out of a bag. Backpacking usually refers to travelling for a longer period of time than you would just call a ‘holiday’. So whether you’re jetting off for a month, a year, or have on a one-way ticket keep on reading for my ultimate guide to backpacking.

 

Pack light

Have this thought in the front of your mind at all times whilst packing. Only pack what you really need – of course, this depends on the climate – but it is essential that you are brutal whilst deciding what to take away with you.

From personal experience (in a sunny climate), all I really wore was swimwear, a pair of denim shorts, big t-shirts and loose dresses. I had a couple of items of clothing that literally didn’t leave my backpack!

 

Things to pack (that you might not have thought of yet) 

– flip-flops lifesavers – in hostel shared bathrooms, to the beach, running to the shops – amazing

– Padlock some hostels have no lockers – so to be extra safe and padlock your backpack zips shut

– Canvas tote bag comes in handy as a beach bag and when using shared bathrooms – to carry toiletries and wet stuff

– A book transport may take hours sometimes and to read if hostels have no/expensive wifi

– 2x towels one for the beach, one for showers – it’s v unpleasant having a sandy after a shower

– Portable charger if plugs are all in use in a dorm and for any long journeys

– Refillable bottle saves you money and can fill up on the go

– Canvas tote bag no.2 use as a bag for dirty laundry

 

What NOT to pack:

– Pillow and sleeping bag not needed and will only take up space

– Cutlery and plates again, not needed (a spork will do)

– Expensive valuables it’s not worth the risk of losing them 

– Nice shoes  they only get squished and ruined

– Too many toiletries the basics will do, anything else – buy it there

– Jeans didn’t get mine out of my backpack (depends on climate)

– Things you can buy there think before you pack 

 

Get a wheeley backpack

For me, this was a lifesaver – a bit bougee and unnecessary I know, but my god did it make a difference.

I would watch people huffing and puffing whilst hauling their backpacks (many that were the size of a small child) around whilst I would just wheel on past feeling chuffed! Most of them you can actuaully wear as a backpack too if need be.

I’ll list a few cheap ones here: Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3 

 

Compare hostel website prices to booking sites

Hostel World was essential to my backpacking travels, I would recommend the site to all fellow travellers.

Buuuut, make sure to have a quick check on your hostel of choice’s website to compare the prices – I found that most times, the rates were cheaper.

 

Set a budget

…and be prepared to blow it! I am kind of kidding here, but in reality, this is likely to happen.

I tried to set myself a rough weekly budget and tried even harder to stick to it. Believe me, this is a lot easier said than done…things get in the way: accomodation is a lot more expensive than you imagined, you fancy treating yourself to dinner out, an insane tour pops up that you have to book on to, you meet new people and buy too much goon…it happens, but it’s all part of the experience.

 

Get a travel money card

This kind of links to my previous point.

You can order travel cards online, they’re free and you can get them delivered to your door. I used Revolut (get a card here) and a few of my friends got a Monzo card (get a card here).

They a perfect addition to your packing checklist as it allows you to see your spendings instantly and manage what you by.

I found it was useful to have my overall budget for the trip in my bank and then transfer an allowance over to my travel card to act as a weekly budget.

 

The best backpacker travel insurance

When it came to all of the important – serious – aspects of backpacking, I used STA Travel – a travel agent for students and young people.

They search for the best travel insurance plan based on your age, how long you are going for and where you are planning to go. There is then a choice of four prices with varying benefits – ranging from budget to premier plus…it’s easy to use and tailored for people on a budget – PERFECT.

Check it out here!

Make lists

Do this to an extent – I’m not saying to create a step by step guide and follow a daily itinerary! The best thing about travel is spontaneity, not knowing where the following day will take you and stepping into the unknown (cliche I know, but very true).

What I am saying, is to jot down a couple of spots that you don’t want to miss out on. My fave place for doing this, and finding all of the secret gems is Instagram hashtags and location tags or scrolling through travel blogs and noting down all of the locations that they recommend.

 

Just do it

If there’s a trip you’re dying to go on, a once in the lifetime experience, a location that you must visit then just go for it. You can’t take life too seriously once you’re backpacking, it’s no fun that way.

A huge part of travelling is being spontaneous, having the time of your life and not worrying about being broke by the end of it.

My 6 months in Australia was to this day, the best period of my life so far. I arrived back home with only £2 to my name, a tonne of debt, grubby clothes and a backpack that looked a little worse for wear but I wouldn’t change a second and regretted nothing…so just do it!!

 

 

Got any backpacking tips?

Pop them in the comments below and share…would be much appreicated 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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