As a traveller, carrying everything that you own on your back for weeks or months on end you need to ensure that you pack correctly and only take essential travel items that are useful!
Travel essentials to pack in your backpack or suitcase should be ultralight backpacking gear, quick-dry, foldable and multi-use items that will save you space, time and money!
I wanted to share 18 of my travel essential items that I love and use nearly every day on my travels so you can add them to your travel packing list as I know it’s hard to know where to start when thinking ‘what to pack for a backpacking trip?’. Along with everything else you need to do before you go backpacking too!
Travel Essentials To Pack!
Side note – I purchased all of these products myself for my trip, most of them from Amazon. Therefore I have linked either the exact product or a similar product to Amazon below.
If you buy the item after clicking on my link I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you which helps purchase the drinks I buy when working on my blog in cafes!
1. Quick Dry Travel Towel
Most hostels will charge you for use of their towels and not all budget hotels give you a towel so one of the travel essentials to pack for me is my own towel. Towels do not need to take up a lot of space though and a quick-dry, foldable travel towel is the answer in a Small or Medium size.
2. Pegless Clothes Line
If you end up doing some washing yourself to save some money this will come in handy, even if it’s just for drying underwear. Often there is nowhere to hang your washing but with this portable and pegless clothes line as a travel essentials to pack, you can create a washing line anywhere! Even if you don’t plan to wash your clothes yourself it will still come in handy for drying swimwear or sweaty clothes in your room quickly.
3. Packing Cubes
The best way to keep everything you need in your backpack organised and tidy is by using packing cubes! I never take the big cubes that come in these sets as they’re too big but the smaller ones are life-changing and that’s why they are one of my big travel essentials to pack! They compress your clothes so they take up less space and you can organise your clothes into tops, bottoms, underwear etc and find what you need much quicker than rummaging in your backpack.
4. Hanging Toiletry Bag
Most bathrooms do not have surfaces for you to put your toiletries on or even a shelf for a toiletry bag but there’s usually always a hook somewhere which makes a hanging toiletry bag one of your travel essentials to pack. This bag is a game-changer when it comes to using shared bathrooms and tiny bathrooms with no space, you can still keep all your toiletries in one bag and just hook it to a pipe or rail.
5. 2 in 1 International Adapter and Power Bank
An international charger is a travel essential to pack and so is a power bank these days with how much we use our phones, but remembering to charge a power bank is yet another thing to remember. This 2 in 1 device has 2 USB charging points and 3 international plug sockets.
I use it to charge my phone and camera batteries overnight, in the morning not only are they charged but the power bank is fully charged too so I can use during the day! 2 in 1 Genius and one of the best travel items to save you time and give you one less thing to charge.
6. Wire Organiser
If you’re travelling with a lot of tech like camera’s, a laptop, e-reader etc which seem to be essential backpacking gear these days the wires can get a bit too much. A wire organiser not only keeps them organised but compresses them and will hold your plug sockets too to save space and time.
7. Packable Waterproof Jacket
No matter where you’re going in the world you need to be prepared for rain, however, if you’re going somewhere where its unlikely to rain, you don’t want to bring a huge waterproof jacket and that’s when a foldable one comes in and becomes one of the travel essentials to pack!
Foldable waterproof jackets are not always the best quality but they are good lightweight backpacking gear for the odd shower and don’t take up much room in your backpack.
8. Foldable Puffer Jacket
Another ultralight backpacking essential you need in your backpack even if you go somewhere that’s not known for being cold, aka South East Asia. Most places can still get cold at night or in the morning and you never know when you’ll need a thicker coat. Again there’s no need to pack one which takes up a lot of room.
You can get foldable puffer jackets the same size as foldable waterproof jackets yet they are much thicker.
Still need to get backpackers travel insurance? I am covered by WorldNomad’s and I really recommend them as it has been designed for travellers by travellers. They offer 24/7 emergency assistance, trip cancellation, protection of gear, and a lot more. Plus they’re flexible and simple! Just what us backpackers need! Get a quote here!
9. Insect Bite Pen
If you’re visiting somewhere with mosquitos like Southeast Asia, this pen is a saviour and it quickly becomes a popular travel essential to pack for many travellers once they’ve used it!. After you have been bitten you press the end of the pen onto the bite, the end heats up and stops the itch completely. It’s a chemical-free way of stopping those itchy bites for good!
10. Extra Long Phone Charging Cable
Often hostels and hotels will not have plug sockets close to your bed or someone has nabbed the one close to you. That’s where an extra-long charging cable comes in. I have a 3m one which is so great. I’ve often thought ‘if only I had a longer lead’ and then realised, I do! I packed one!
11. International Adapter
Even with the international charger I recommended above I still think another international adapater is one of the travel essentials to pack for actual plugs. It’s always best to get a full international adapter at both ends so you can use it all over the world and use any plug type in it meaning you only ever need to buy one adapter, so add this to your backpacking gear list.
12. Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
These are travel essentials to pack and must-pack items for stating in hostels, it surprises me how many people do not pack an eye mask and earplugs, even seasoned travellers! They are not only useful in hostels but even when you have your own room if you’re close to a busy street or people are being noisy nearby, or there is light coming into your room. They’re great for the plane, bus and train travel too and they take up zero room!
13. Inflatable Travel Pillow
Travel Pillows are never really comfy but always better than nothing, however carrying a big one around is a total pain and they use up a lot of space, so a foldable blow-up / inflatable travel pillow is the best travel pillow to buy. They’re comfy when they’re in use, small in your backpack bags when they’re not and you can wash them easily.
14. Filtered Water Bottle
Not an item many backpackers travel with yet but I believe filter water bottles will become more and more popular, or at least I hope they do! Not only do they stop you buying and using so so many plastic bottles but they will save you money buying water too. Initially, they seem expensive but generally after 2 months of use they’ve paid for themselves.
Related Post: LifeStraw Go 2 Stage Filtered Bottle Review!
15. E-Reader / Kindle
Reading is such a good way to pass journeys but also most of us say we want to read more but in our busy life at home it’s hard to. When you’re travelling you have much more time to dedicate to reading (if you get off your phone that is). I used to find and buy books as I travelled but I’ve really enjoyed having an e-reader on this trip with me. I can instantly buy a new book from Amazon and even read it in the dark!
Related Post: Best E-Reader / Kindle Travel!
16. Dry Bag
A Dry Bag doubles up as a few things. The most obvious use of a dry bag is for boat trips to keep your camera, phone, purse/wallet etc dry. However, they’re also great for keeping your passport, tech, money etc dry if you’re travelling from place to place and it’s raining!
It’s hard enough trying to keep your bags dry when finding your accommodation in the rain but at least with your important documents and tech in a dry bag in your bag, you don’t need to worry about them getting wet! I have an M size which I think is good, not too big and not too small. Plus when you’re not using it takes up zero space! If you’ll be hiking a lot on your trip a dry bag is an item that should go on your hiking gear list!
17. Menstrual Cup
A must-pack item and an travel essential to pack for female backpackers is a menstrual cup for a number of reasons.
Tampons are quite hard to find in many countries, especially Asia and when you do find them, they’re expensive. Sanitary Towels can be found but they are so bad for the environment. Having a menstrual cup when travelling not only creates less waste, it saves you money and saves space in your toiletry bag because you can get foldable travel menstrual cups like mine. I really recommend adding a menstrual cup to your travel packing list as a female.
18. A Backpack
Lastly, you need a travel backpack to pack all of this in if you are going backpacking! I know people do go on backpacking trips with a suitcase but unless you have real reasons for taking a wheeled case, from my experience it is just not practical! Backpacking Backpacks are heavy yes, but they are much more practical and offer so many benefits over suitcases. I’ve been using the Osprey Farpoint 70L S/M Backpack which I see a lot of travellers use and I recommend it too.
Related Post: What To Look For When Buying A Backpack For Travelling!
There you have it, my practical travel packing list for your backpacking essentials.
Remember you also need to get travel insurance before you go on your trip!
It’s something I know a lot of us forget or think isn’t important but it is! If you still need to purchase travel insurance I’d recommend World Nomads. Firstly you can get insurance even if you’re on your trip right now! Secondly they offer 24/7 emergency assistance, trip cancellation, protection of gear, and a lot more. Plus they’re flexible and simple! Just what we need! Get a quote here!