When traveling light and traveling cheap, what you bring is as important as what you don’t. We all have our “must pack” items and these 6 are not the necessarily at the top of everyone’s list or even the most essential. They’re my personal recommendations and go a long way in making my trips more enjoyable. They’re all compact and lightweight, why not give them a try?
1. Sleep sack… If you’re on a budget, you’ll likely encounter some less than pristine hostels or guest houses along the way. A cotton or silk sleep sack can put and extra layer between you and that nasty sheet or stained mattress (yuck!) or even just give you some personal space when trying to sleep in a bunk on an overnight train. Buy a silk one if you can afford it. The silk weighs less than cotton and dries much quicker when wet.
2. Earplugs…a good night’s sleep is essential to most travelers’ sanity. Not always easy to come by when sleeping in crowded hostel, on overnight transport or if your room faces a noisy city street. Also helps block out the (ahem) sounds coming from some other bunk in your hostel room. I always pack several pairs and keep some in my day bag to use on long flights.
3. Money belt…using a money belt or hidden neck wallet is a no brainer for budget traveling backpackers and should be a part of your money hiding/securing strategy. I don’t recommend stashing all your funds in the money belt. However, worn properly, under your clothing, it will deter most thieves and is also a good place to keep a photocopy of your passport. By “under your clothing”, I mean touching your bare skin and below your waist. You’ll definitely notice if someone gropes you in that area.
4. Sarong….ah the sarong! Is it a skirt or a scarf? A towel or a sheet? Possibly the most multi-purpose piece of rectangular cotton cloth in the universe, enough said. Comes in a multitude of colours and patterns to suit all tastes. Buy one, or more, very cheap, in most markets in the developing world.
5. Compact headlamp…a light source that can be operated hands free is far more useful than a regular flashlight. Use to rummage through your pack in the dark and light your way down a dark path. Doubles as a reading light as well. Power cuts are common in many developing countries, so keep your headlamp someplace easy to find like in your day bag. Essential if you plan on doing any trekking and sleeping outdoors in remote areas. Don’t forget spare batteries and bulbs.
6. Multi-vitamin…ok tough traveler, I know you NEVER get sick. But, it’s very easy to get run down between the jet-lag, change in diet, or just the drastic change in routine. Budget travel, or any travel for that matter, puts you in contact with all kinds of new viruses and bacteria. Getting sick while traveling is never fun. It doesn’t hurt to give your immune system a little boost with a good multi-vitamin.
Do you have any travel accessories or gear you would never leave home without? Share your tips and comments below.