Backpacking is an experience I believe everyone should do at least once in their life – whether you are preparing for a few months exploring an entire continent, or a fortnight taking on a brand-new country, here are 10 items I think are essential when packing for your trip!
Padlock. It sounds obvious, but is surprisingly easy to forget. When interrailing around Europe, me and my friend arrived at our first stop in Paris to the unfortunate realisation we had forgot to bring one. Staring at an unlocked locker full of our valuables, it felt like the locks on the river Seine were taunting us. We bought one that day, but for a price much larger than if we ordered a few when at home.
Tote bag. For your every day trips, you don’t want to be lugging your backpack around, nor do you want to keep buying and using plastic bags. A tote is great when you need to carry your water, food, and any trinkets you buy on a day to day as well as folding it up small when you don’t need it.
Long-life, healthy snacks! Interrailing is tiring, and with the excitement of exploration, it can be hard to take time to think about and eat nutritional food (especially when on a budget). When I have been travelling, my diet mainly consisted of LIDL bakery items – whilst yummy at first, I wish I bought some nuts or raisins to keep me going throughout the day. Also, more generally, try and remember to eat well! Fruit from supermarkets, salad veg like tomatoes or carrots and loads of water will keep you well whilst travelling.
Micro-fibre towel. They can get a bit gross after a few weeks of use, so make sure they dry properly after you use them, but their compact size makes them incredible for long-term travel. I kept mine in the side of my bag, in the water bottle hold, which I would recommend for easy access!
Portable charger. Without my portable charger, I think I would have gotten lost in every city I had visited. I don’t think you realise how much you rely on your phone until you travel – it has your directions, your money, your recommendations. A portable charger means you can head out for the whole day, not worrying about what you will do once your phone dies.
Swimming costume. Especially if you are travelling in summer, you never know where you will end up! Despite us visiting only cities on our travels, there were surprisingly large amounts of opportunities to swim! Berlin has some great rivers, Budapest has its baths and Copenhagen’s canals always have people jumping in. I would have ended up buying swimwear if I didn’t bring any with me, so I fully recommend it.
Hand sanitiser/wipes. Travelling is a bit gross at times – you are endlessly in public spaces such as museums, trains, or metros, meaning you’re exposed to an abundance of different germs and bacteria. This combined with the fact you probably won’t be sleeping as much nor eating as healthy food as normal means you do have a higher chance of getting sick. At least if you are always sanitising your hands before you eat (and in general), you are lowering those chances.
Pain killers. Outside of the U.K., painkillers are usually quite expensive. Bringing a pack or two will save you money, and you will thank your past self when you have them at a quick access.
Plastic bag for dirty laundry. I didn’t think of this until I was on my travels, and it helped so much – I hate the idea of mixing my dirty and clean laundry, so this meant I could separate them and keep track of what I had left (and what I would have to wash in a hostel sink that night…).
Plug adaptors. When at train stations or airports, plug adaptors are super expensive, so ordering a few before saves you a good amount of money. I would recommend bringing more than one just in case anything breaks!
These are just a few of the things I found useful when interrailing, but there are also items you will not realise you need until you are travelling. It is a personal adventure, and everyone adapts to these new environments differently. The most important thing to remember is you should always feel comfortable when backpacking, and to do that you have to listen to yourself. Happy travels!
Featured Image: by Amy Gaffney