So you want some packing tips.
Don’t really have many good ones, to be honest. But I can tell you what I like to carry.
My backpack has all the usual stuff in it – underpants, toothbrush, pet giraffe – but I also carry a few things that might not be so obvious.
If you’ve been wondering what travel gear to take on your next expedition, or if you’re just curious as to what stuff I use, I’ve listed all the items of interest below. I’ll also update this list regularly as my backpack evolves (it always does!).
I’ve had this pack for around three years now. It’s 70 litres and I travel quite light so I always have spare room. The wheels are pretty banged up, mostly because I’ve been slamming them down stairs and on gravel roads etc, but they’re still alive. It’s a hybrid, meaning it has backpack straps as well as wheels. The straps aren’t the most comfortable, but I’ve only had to use them two or three times since I’ve had it. There are cheaper bags out there but this one has served me well. You can check it out at one of the online Kathmandu stores (all ship internationally):
I don’t have the space or the patience to carry one of those huge cameras. The RX-100 is one of the most powerful pocket sized cameras available and comes in 4 tiers. I use the second tier (M2) and that still has all sorts of fancy stuff I don’t know how to use. One handy feature is the wifi, meaning you can send photos straight to your phone and Instagram them. You can also connect it to your phone and use your phone as a remote. Plus it takes real good photos if you know what you’re doing. Fits in your pocket too. You can check it out here.
You’ve probably guessed I’m not a “spend $1,000 on a phone kind of guy”, but I still need something fast enough to work from and a camera good enough to take super handsome selfies with. I’ve been using the Nexus 5, and when that died I upgraded to the 5X. It’s really fast and capable, released under Google and about 60% cheaper than an iPhone. Screen size also makes it big enough to double as my Kindle (with Kindle app). Check it out here.
I’ve been Asus loyal with my laptops over the years. I bought the UX306 in early 2017 due to a much needed upgrade. It is super fast and light, looks beautiful and costs around a thousand bucks. If you’re a digi nomad on the move, this things a perfect fit. I love it. Check it out here.
If you’re super vain like every travel blogger and enjoy taking photos of yourself, this might be one of your favourite gadgets. Attach your phone or camera (both clip and screw options), set the timer, go and pose. The legs are bendy so you can maneuvre them however you need to, or even wrap them around a tree branch or railing. Just long enough to use as a selfie stick too. Comes with a Bluetooth remote so you don’t have to keep setting the timer and running back to your pose. This gadget is how I took photos like this and this. It’s pretty cool. You can buy them on Amazon here.
I use this adapter which keeps me plugged in wherever I am in the world. It has two USB ports plus the regular plug meaning you can charge three things at once (usually just means all your dorm buddies will end up charging their crap on it). Lots of fancy adapters out there but they all do the same thing – this one’s cheap and hasn’t died on me (yet). You can grab one here.
I use this on both my phone and laptop everywhere I go. Especially while travelling, you connect to a lot of dodgy free wifis, many of which will have sub-par security. A VPN ensures your connection is secure – particularly important if accessing banking information, Paypal, credit cards, or the admin section of your blog 😀 I use the VPN by Private Internet Access which is excellent value, allows multiple connections at once (phone and laptop), and works well. Click here to check out their plans, or you can read more about why VPNs are important in my blog post here.
Health and body
These bands are awesome. They weigh nothing, fit in your back pocket, and will give you a full body workout anywhere in the world, even in an airport or hotel lobby. I have the baby level (yellow) but they come in lots of different resistance levels so even if you’re mega jacked they’ll have something that works for you. Also works as a giant rubber band, if you ever need one (it happens). You can click here to check out all the different types.
Travel is particularly grueling at times, which is why backpackers tend to get sick often on the road. I also suffered from this revolving “backpacker flu” until I starting making a special effort to keep bulletproof health while travelling. Onnit products are one of my favourite things in my backpack. I drink this EGN green shake every morning (sometimes two) to keep my diet on point and get a clean serving of greens each day. Also seems to keep my guts healthy. Diet is usually one of the first things to fall apart during trips so this always keeps me in check. You can read more about Onnit’s EGN shake here.
I travel with a few supplements but this one is my favourite. As a health freak I would always try to find or cook meals with lots of ginger, garlic, lemon and turmeric which just became silly after a while – I was even carrying all these ingredients in my backpack at one point. This supplement is a combination of the most immune-supportive foods (ginger root, lemon peel, mushroom, astragalus, turmeric etc), all organic and in pill form. Super convenient. I pop two each day to keep my immunity high on long trips. You can read more about the ingredients and how it works here.
Spirulina and Chlorella are two forms of green algae that are potent, nutrient-rich and immune supporting. I take it daily as a further source of healthy greens. You can read more about it here. This is the final weapon in my “stay healthy” stack and I love it – sickness while travelling is very rarely a problem for me anymore, even on the most demanding winter journeys.
I travel with a small bottle of this, it’s super versatile. You can use it as a natural antiseptic or put a couple of drops in your laundry to make it smell nicer. I also rub it on the inside of my shoes and it seems to kill everything and stop them from smelling, even after they’ve been soaked from a long hike and left moulding in your backpack for a weekend. Just make sure you pack it air-tight, because the aroma is strong and will seep into your other stuff. You can buy it here.
This stuff is legendary. It’s a wound gel which is designed to keep your wounds moist so they heal faster. The Manuka Honey is a unique honey endemic to New Zealand, which has all sorts of nerdy medical benefits (you can Google it), but basically it prevents scarring, prevents infection and speeds up the healing time. I’ve used it for burns and staph infections and it works like magic.
If you’re from New Zealand or Australia you can just get it from your local pharmacy, otherwise you can check it out here.
For you exercise junkies. I carry a massage ball (actually just a regular baseball) to do my Mobility WOD each morning and iron out tight muscles in my back and legs at night. It’s also cool for just, you know, throwing around the dorm and dinging all the walls, playing cricket in the hostel lounge – stuff like that.
I got this thing about four years ago and I still travel with it everywhere today. You can use it as a scarf, a bandana, a hair tie, a face mask, even a do-rag for when you put on skunky motorcycle helmets. Takes up zero space and super versatile. They look pretty cool too. You can grab one here.
I used to avoid travelling with a towel for about four years because they took up too much space and would never dry fast enough. I have now added a microfibre towel to my packing list, which dries quickly and takes up no more space than a t-shirt. Not all hostels provide towels so it comes in handy every now and then. Pretty versatile too (scarf, blanket). Click here to grab one on Amazon.
I use this to make my EGN shake each day, and also as a water bottle, as a food container when I’m on the move, and just as a regular cup. I like travelling with things that are versatile and this works as a container for pretty much anything. Most of you will have one lying around the house so it’s as easy as throwing it in the bag!
NZ One Dollar Coins
I carry these to give to people as thank you’s and souvenirs as they are cooler than a box of chocolates (and cheaper too :D). You can carry whatever you like from your home country, but make sure you bring quite a few (I always run out).
US Cash (~$200)
Always carry some USD in cash. This has saved mine and so many other travellers’ asses. You never know when you might find yourself without your cards, without ATMs, without banks, or without any local currency. USD will be accepted almost anywhere so always keep a couple hundred on you for emergencies.
Always carry at least a couple of locks. Coded locks are better because you don’t have to worry about losing the key (or someone finding it). I travel with two because you usually end up losing one, or having to lock more than one thing (a locker and a bag, for example).
Those are the items that are perhaps less obvious to the casual traveller. Of course I also carry all the usual stuff (pants, toothbrush, socks) but I won’t bother listing it all as I’m sure you can sort those things out yourselves.
I usually fill out about 12-15kg of my 70L pack. Pack things that are light and versatile and you should have no trouble doing the same.
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