Packing essentials

There are some things you just need to bring on a trip, such as a reliable suitcase or backpack and a camera. Others are not a necessity but make your life a whole lot easier! Packing for a any trip can be a daunting task and the following items made my 7 months in Europe much simpler and I am so glad I brought these things with me or I’ve included them in retrospect, having wish I had!

Packing cubes
This is the number one item I wish I had gotten much earlier in my trip than I did. Surprisingly, they are quite hard to find around Europe. You can fit A LOT of clothing in one of these and I have a couple of them so that I can easily pick out where my underwear/socks are at in relation to my actual clothing.
Nothing worse than having a perfectly packed bag and then realising what you want is actually at the bottom. Packing cubes remove this annoyance!
You can find them online from Kathmandu* here. This one pictured is $17 AUD but they come in a variety of sizes and prices.
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Image: kathmandu.com.au 
Pillow
If you’re going to be on many buses, trains and planes these beauties add that little bit of extra comfort. My last one didn’t survive the journey home so I got this new one from Kathmandu a couple months ago and can’t wait to try it out!
It’s convertible so that you can use it two different ways, as a normal-ish pillow or a travel one. RRP $40 AUD, if you join their loyalty program for $10 you get discounts on almost every product and for this you’d pay $24 AUD instead (I joined in the UK where it’s free to do so). I’m sure you could find this design/style of pillow in more than a few places though!
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Nail clippers
This is the item everyone seems to forget. Can’t tell you the amount of times someone asked to borrow some. Pack them!
Headphones
I travel with a normal set of in earphones like the ones you get with your phone and also my Bose noise cancelling ones. I have the QC15’s but I’m not sure these are around anymore since I got them at least a couple years ago.
The QC25’s are a better/more improved design and I’d go for them if I was buying some today. They are definitely a huge chunk out of the savings account retailing currently at 399 AUD but I don’t regret getting them in the least, many an unbearable travel journey was saved by this amazing invention which cancels out the noise around you pretty much 100%.
Either buy them duty free or just before you leave the country so you can at least claim the tax back on them, saving some dollars.
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International SIM and phone
When taking your phone overseas I would recommend taking an older one or if you’re bringing your current model it should be unlocked so that you can’t get charged any roaming fees of any kind.
I used an international SIM card which I got free with my travel insurance. It was so convenient, in every country I went to it would automatically join the local network and I was able to call and text my family and friends whenever. The best part is you preload your SIM with money and can keep track of how much credit you have online. Most times a text would only be around 30-50 cents AUD – so very affordable.
If you’re in Australia, Woolworths has one for $29 which includes $10 AUD of credit, otherwise I’m sure major retailers in most countries would have a similar one on offer or you can get them online.
Universal power adaptor
If you don’t have one, it’s worth the purchase. Only one power adapter will get you by in almost every country saving much needed space in your bag! I got mine when I was a travel agent at a trade show but most retailers sell them and some even have USB charging too. They’re available from most large electronic retailers and online. You shouldn’t have to pay more than around 25 AUD for one.
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Earplugs
Depending on the snorer that’s sharing your room they may not prove 100% effective but at least they’ll buffer the noise! Usually found at the hardware store or even supermarket for a few dollars for a multipack.
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Luggage locks
Bring at least two, one for your bag of course but another for hostel room lockers since quite often they won’t be provided! You can get them from any good camping/travel shop usually.
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Travel towel
I quite like my microfibre one, while it doesn’t have the same satisfaction level as a normal towel it dries so quickly and takes up little space. I got mine awhile ago but I’m fairly sure it’s this one here for 40 AUD from Mainpeak.
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Sleeping bag liner
I’m not much of a camper and was staying in either hostels or hotels mostly through out Europe so I had no need for a sleeping bag. What I would recommend though is still bringing a sleeping bag liner for those more questionable looking accommodation choices.
I even used it simply when it was a little chilly for some extra warmth. Mine was from Mainpeak, RRP $65 AUD.
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Umbrella and/or waterproof jacket
I didn’t pack an umbrella, what a mistake. Despite travelling predominately in summer time I think it rained at least once in almost every country I went to anyway.
When I came home I discovered this jacket which folds in on itself for easy and compact storage. Will definitely be taking it with me next trip! RRP $150 AUD, like most things at Kathmandu it’s worth waiting until it was on sale and as a loyalty member too I got it instead for $60 AUD.
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Backpack cover
On the subject of rain, I wish I had thought about bringing a rain cover for my pack because if you’ve ever been caught in a downpour while looking for your hostel, you too have experienced that wonderful musky smell which lingers on it until its dry. Not to mention anything that’s not in a plastic bag will also be pleasantly damp.
This is mine from Kathmandu. RRP $40 AUD. I decided on the bright yellow as it was the best value at the sale time for $10 AUD.
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Sunscreen/hat/ insect repellent
This stuff can be pretty pricey overseas depending on where you’re travelling and if you’re going into hot weather or tropical climates are a necessity.
For girls, while big floppy hats look so much nicer they are almost impossible to keep nice while travelling. I’d recommend bring a baseball cap which you can also just attach to your bag if you’re not using it while you’re out.
Sunscreen and insect repellent are self explanatory!
Multipurpose scarf or sarong
More for the ladies probably but a huge scarf like this one I got a million years ago at Target was amazing. I used it to cover up either shoulders or knees when going into churches (or temples if you’re in Asia).
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My trusty scarf in action at the Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Water bottle
During the day if you’re not taking a backpack with you when you’re sight seeing carrying a water bottle is annoying. Getting a water bottle like this one is pretty handy, you can simply clip it onto your backpack or bag.
Especially when flying you can take it empty through security and fill it up on the other side (provided you’re in a county where you can drink water from the tap). The only problem is mine is a bit on the small side – I’d get a larger one next time.
This one is no longer sold by Kathmandu as far as I can see but you can easily find these anywhere of course!
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Things I don’t think are necessary to pack
Money belts
Argh I can’t express how pointless I think these are. Nothing screams tourist more than when I would see someone attempt to pay for something by reaching under their shirt for their money belt. NO!
I carried a small amount of cash in a normal (decent sized but not overly huge) handbag that had a strap across my body where I could keep my hand over it and in my line of vision. I’d have one type of card for back up on me too. Otherwise, my other cards would be either in my luggage or in my locker back at my accommodation.
It was possibly a great deal of good luck too but I’m glad to say that I wasn’t robbed once in my entire 7 months away and not a single money belt was used.
Door stops
I did consider this before leaving as it’s recommended by a few travel bloggers but if I was ever alone in a hotel or hostel room I’d just chuck a chair or my entire backpack in front of the door to provide a similar function.
Portable washing lines and travel detergent
When you’re doing hand washing to tie you over until laundry day there’s usually only a few items and somewhere to hang your clothes from in a hostel (whether it’s your actual bunk bed or provided racks) isn’t normally too hard to find.
Dryers are also pretty much everywhere in most Western countries when you’re doing a massive load of washing and in many parts of Asia there are very affordable laundry services available too where all you need to do is simply collect your things a day or two later.
Oh and travel wash/detergent is a scam, just use some shower gel or shampoo.
I hope this post has been at least a little helpful when creating your own packing lists!
*There’s more than one product here from Kathmandu, I would mention if I was in partnership with them but I’m definitely not- they just recently had a massive sale so I stocked up!
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