Travelling long term means that you carry pretty much everything that you own on your back in one bag. It’s quite daunting when you’re first trying to distill your entire life into a single backpack and inevitably you’ll realise along the way that there are some items missing that you hadn’t even considered.
What makes it onto your packing list will be different for each person, but there are some things that we think should be in every traveller’s bag.This isn’t a full packing list and obviously there are many essentials that we have left off that you’d be pretty foolish not to take (erm, passport…)
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These are the things that make our lives easier, enrich our travels or both. Here’s our list of 10 items of travel gear that we couldn’t live without.
Lowe Alpine Cholatse 65:75L Backpacks
We spent ages (I’m talking weeks) agonising over what bag to buy before we set off. It’s such a massive decision when you’re going to be carrying all of your worldly possessions in it that you really can’t afford to make the wrong choice.
So after much deliberation, we both settled on the Lowe Alpine Cholatse. And before you say it, yeah we know, we’re proper travel geeks for having matching bags! But honestly, they’re pretty damned good.
The Lowe Alpine Cholatse range of backpacks is fantastic for any length of trip – they’re sturdy, thoughtfully designed and, most importantly, extremely comfortable. These backpacks are both front and top loading and have two main compartments to separate your stuff as well as a spacious “hat”. There are also multiple pockets on the sides and the waist support straps. Everything is fully adjustable to your body meaning that no matter what your frame you can tailor this bag to be completely bespoke to you.
We’ve been all over the world with these backpacks and they still look so fresh that people think we’ve only just started travelling!
Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera
Before we set off, we asked our brother in law, an avid photographer, what camera he thought would be best to take. Without a moment’s hesitation he recommended the Olympus Tough TG-4 as the best camera to stand up to the rigours of travel. (And he then went out and generously bought it for us as a going away gift, we truly have the best family!). Having used it in all conditions we can say that he was totally, 100% correct.
We also have a Nikon D3300 but unless you are a photographer and need a DSLR, they really arent’t the best option for travellers. The Olympus Tough TG-4 is waterproof, freezeproof, crushproof and shockproof so it’s perfect for the outdoors. And takes cracking photos.
We have used it in all weather conditions, taken it into the sea, dropped it numerous times and it’s still as good as new. For a point and shoot you can’t get any better.
UE BOOM 2 Bluetooth Speaker
Like our camera, this speaker is tough! It’s waterproof, shockproof, but more importantly it sounds great. It’s Bluetooth controlled and you can be up to 15m away from it and it will still work. It also has a cool app that you can download to your smartphone to turn it on and off remotely, perfect if you’re a little bit lazy like us.
The UE Boom 2 is pretty lightweight for its size at around 500g, has a 15 hour battery life meaning you can keep the beach party going all night! Go on, be the cool kid for once in your life.
Before using them, we really couldn’t get our head around packing cubes. Why on earth would you want to pack stuff into a series of small bags only to stuff those bags into another big bag?!
If I was to try and explain packing cubes to our old selves, I’d describe them as a chest of drawers that fits in your backpack. At home you wouldn’t dream of having a dressing table with just one compartment and chucking everything in it, it’s the same principle for your bag.
We got fed up with pulling everything out of our bag to try and find one specific thing and then having to repack every item of clothing once we’d done that. With packing cubes it’s easy to separate your stuff, simple to organise it and it saves time as well. Buy as many as you think you need depending on how you structure your stuff, trust us they’re a revelation.
As a book lover I once made a vow to the ghosts of all my favourite authors that I’d never buy a kindle. Travelling made it a necessity to break that vow. It’s pretty impossible to carry the amount of books that I like to read around in a backpack, especially as I tend to read multiple books at the same time. The Kindle was the perfect solution.
We have a Kindle each, one Kindle Fire and one Kindle E-Reader and they both have their advantages. The E-Reader is more like reading an actual book as it has a matte display, is good for reading in the sun and it’s also extremely light and thin. The Kindle Fire doubles up as a tablet so it’s great if you need that functionality as well.
This simple gadget is invaluable, particularly if like us, you need the internet for work, but even if you just use it a lot casually. It’s lightweight, discreet and can be plugged in pretty much anywhere to extend the range of a Wi-Fi router.
We even use this when we’re at home to get Wi-Fi in the garden where the coverage is pretty patchy!
The wifi extender is easy to set up, and as many hostels only offer wifi in public areas, allows you to extend that to pretty much wherever you want!
Worldwide Surge Proof Plug Adaptor
This universal plug adaptor takes all the stress out of travelling with electrics. No matter where you rock up, you can be safe in the knowledge that you have the adaptor to fit the sockets. It also has two USB ports so you can charge 3 devices at the same time, genius!
There really is no need to travel with a sack full of different adaptors any more meaning this will save you space and weight in your bag as well. Be prepared to be prepared, this is really a must-have for any traveller.
We’ve also been in way too many countries with dodgy electricity supplies but which this adaptor you don’t have to worry about any of your electronics batteries being fried in a power surge.
Waterproof Dry Bags
If you’re planning on doing any kind of outdoor or water based activity then these are absolutely essential for keeping all your valuable shizzle dry. We’re talking hiking, camping, skiing, rafting, fishing, canoeing, or even just spending a day on the beach!
You don’t need to be a hardcore survivalist to get good use out of these, you might just be a casual adventurist like us.
They can also double up as a pillow if you want to take a nap on the beach, or even a floatation device if you find yourself up the creek without a paddle in the water. Don’t take unnecessary risks with your stuff, you will regret it.
Yes we know, we’re taking travel geekiness to a. whole. nother. level by having the same trainers as well as matching backpacks. But they’re so damned good…
When we travel, we like to walk as much as possible as it’s the best and cheapest form of transport, and we absolutely love hiking!
We’re massive advocates of travelling with a light pair of running trainers instead of a bulky set of hiking boots and these Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Flash fit the bill perfectly.
Now let’s get technical(ish) – they have fantasticly grippy soles so you won’t be slipping and sliding, comfortable springy heels thanks to a neat bit of padded cushioning and because they’re made from light synthetic fabric they dry quickly if they get wet or sweaty. These factors make them perfect for both everyday use and hiking long distances alike.
Oh and they look cool as well!
OK so we’re bloggers, freelance writers and social media managers which means we spend a lot of time online. But even if you don’t rely on the web for your profession, you may well still want to take a laptop with you when you travel.
We have a laptop each and we believe that they’re the two best laptops on the market for travel.
Our criteria when choosing them was portability, battery life, performance, storage and overall build quality. Both are market leaders in all of these respects (trust us, we did hours of painful, boring research) and they each cater to different budgets as well.
So there you have it! What item surprises you on that list? What essentials do you always pack when you’re going travelling? Or is there anything on here that you completely disagree with? Let us know in the comments below!
Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.