VOOVit Guest Post:

If you’re heading off on a backpacking trip for the first time, it can be tough to think any further ahead than the first round of drinking games with your brand new hostel mates, interspersed with trips to all those major landmarks you’ve always wanted to get a photo in front of. There are a lot of Travelgram worthy destinations, and backpacking just makes them that much easier to get to.

So you might think, if this is what’s in the cards for you, that you don’t need to worry too much about what to pack when backpacking.  Well, although there are a lot of very laidback aspects to backpacking, it’s still worth thinking carefully about what you might need.

You’re probably going to be away for longer than the usual 1 or 2 weeks, and you could well find yourself in places where you’re unable to buy or even find some things that are essential to your travels.

So to help you out, we’ve come up a list of 15 things that any newbie backpacker should try to ensure they’ve got in their bag. From the practical to the playful, take a look at ‘What to pack backpacking’:



  1. Camera:
  • Having a good, reliable camera with you is an absolute must. You’re off traveling to broaden your mind, meet new people, and make fantastic memories, and you’ll want to ensure you capture as many of these possible. There are plenty of great options out there to suit any price range and, for portability’s sake, it’ll be better to go for a compact, handheld snapper. Remember to pack replacement batteries too, and an extra SD card!
  1. First Aid Kit:
  • It might be something you think would be first on your Mum’s list of essentials, not a teenage wanderer, but it is definitely a good idea to take one with you just in case. There are plenty of more than adequate kits available on the cheap which will include an array of plasters, antiseptics and protective items that should get you through your excursion.
  1. Sleeping Bag:
  • It’s wise not to put too much faith in your accommodation providers if you’re travelling on a shoe string, and one thing that is often questionable is the bedding – it’s a really good idea to take a good quality sleeping bag with you, ‘cos you never know who was sleeping on that bed before you turned up…
  1. MP3 Player:
  • A crucial antidote to the dozen-hour aeroplane, coach or train trips you will doubtless have to endure. With the huge range available now, that are also able to hold films, these are an endless source of entertainment during the quieter moments of your trip. Also a useful substitute for earplugs when the couple in the bunk below you start to make a stir!



  1. Headlamp:
  • An excellent item to have with you at all times, particularly when you’re trying to fish your passport and other travel documents out of your bag at a dimly lit bus stop at 3am.
  1. Wash Bag with a Hook:
  • Again, this one stems from not putting all your faith in accommodation providers. It’s best to keep all your cosmetic items in one place because if you leave something in a hostel bathroom, it probably won’t be there when you go back next time. The hook is always useful instead of having to put the bag on the bathroom’s wet floor.
  1. Sun Protection:
  • Two absolute must-haves for most holidays, not just a backpacking one, are a good pair of shades and plenty of sun tan lotion. Even if you think you’re going somewhere that won’t be too hot, the weather is unpredictable and could easily leave you red-faced in every sense.
  1. Medicine:
  • A few things to add to your first aid kit that may not already be in there – paracetamol or ibuprofen are always a good idea, as the country you’re in might not have a suitable equivalent. The other is slightly cruder, but if anything even more important… Diarrhoea relief, because something is going to disagree with you along the way.



  1. Insect Repellent:
  • Mosquitos… the bane of any traveller’s life! Avoid immense irritation by making sure you’ve got some bug spray tucked away in your backpack – Jungle Formula to a range of solid repellents.
  1. Universal Plug Adaptors:
  • These are available at very little cost and are a life-saver if you’re going to several different countries on your travels. Keep your phone juiced up so you can let your parents know you’re still alive, and keep the camera and mp3 player going for your own fun!
  1. Combination Padlocks:
  • If you’re going on a long trip, do not take padlocks that use a key. You will inevitably end up losing the key and you’ll have to find the nearest DIY shop to get yourself a hacksaw…. Not particularly easy if you’re in the jungle!
  1. Walking Boots or Shoes:
  • Backpacking trips will involve a lot of walking, that’s something you definitely need to know before you set off. Make it easier for your feet by getting a good quality pair of walking boots or shoes – it’s not worth scrimping on these, as you’ll end up trekking in your flip flops.


  1. Money (Including Loose Change) & a Money Belt:
  • It may seem obvious but it’s wise to get enough cash to last for however long you will be in a certain country – having loose change in that currency is also very useful as you may well need to get taxis and coaches you hadn’t planned on. Also, as old-school as it may seem, money belts are actually quite a good idea, especially if you’re going somewhere with a high crime rate.
  1. Corkscrew:
  • Now we did say earlier that boozing and sightseeing isn’t the be all and end all of backpacking, but it’s certainly an important part of it! So make sure you can crack open the beers and wine by getting yourself a classic double reach corkscrew – it’s always a quick way to make friends!
  1. Deck of Cards:
  • One final addition which will be infinitely useful wherever you are. Drinking games are a great icebreaker, so get some cards and learn some good ones before you head off. Learn some regular card games as well for when your gadgets lose charge.

Well, that should be most of your essentials sorted! But before you go, make sure not to forget the really obvious things like your PASSPORT! Book your flights early to save a little extra cash, and check out these amazing hostels you can check in to. Stay safe, enjoy yourselves, and don’t have too many glasses of the local tipple….

‘What to Pack Backpacking’ was written by shipping company VOOVit. VOOVit specializes in shipping excess baggage and small boxes worldwide – visit www.voovit.com to learn more. 


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