You probably don’t know exactly what you need for traveling until that moment when you actually are missing that item. Each person has different tastes, opinions & “dependencies” regarding what is essential. Here is my biased input on the topic. Note that I like technical & convenient stuff.
Remember that some of the gear is NOT essential for traveling & can be bought while traveling. You could always plan a stop to be in a major city (i.e. Bangkok) to get all you need for your year long trip, read more about this in this article I wrote.
Another note before going further: you might want to check out this article on banking solution for travellers and this other article on travel apps (that I actually use myself).
Whether it’s clothes, electronics or else, I like when something:
- has multiple usages
- is compact/minimal
- does not draw attention – I uglify it otherwise
- helps me save money
Two things you want to keep safe at all time: your documents & your money. While I explained how to be ready regarding banking solution while traveling, your bank card & your cash don’t fear water so much. However, your passport, driving license (if paper), and other documents might do. So get one of these waterproof pouches.
Aloksak is pretty good but can be expensive depending in which country you buy it.
Noaks bag is also a good solution.
Tip: although said waterproof, a small gap left when closing the pouch & that’s it, water will come in. So don’t be fooled by the “can go under 20m” description, if anything happens, I doubt the relevant company will pay for all the troubles caused.
Wanna be able to chuck all your things in something waterproof? Just get a dry bag (amazon.com/dp/B01GZCUCOU/) then. It will protect its content from water spills, sand, mud & more. Mind the quality of the bags differ from one brand to another. For instance, the one you get in Southeast Asia usually have a poor quality (i.e. the closing part), hence the lower price.
Wanna be cool? Get a dry backpack then 😉
Tip: do make sure the dry bag has a shoulder strap. My first one didn’t, which made it pretty useless.
For the geeks: my 10L dry bag could fit a 13 inches laptop, a point-and-shoot camera & a few other things.
Warning: although said waterproof, a small gap left when closing the pouch & that’s it, water will come in. So do learn to close it properly & NEVER put the dry bag under water.
Thermal long sleeve T-shirt
This one is like gold to me. It’s small, discrete, & comfortable. You can wear it to hike up a mountain, or to warm up at night, or simply have it “just in case” when going to place with unpredictable weather. This will save you from many discomforts. You will also save a lot of weight compared to carrying any “regular” warm clothe.
I recommend this for anyone, even if you don’t plan any outdoor adventures.
But make sure you try it before buying. Get something that is the right size for you. This type of clothe should be feel tight, but it should not compress you either.
You can buy this from 10 USD, see this thermal long sleeve t-shirt (amazon.com/dp/B01BWHSI5I/).
Travel “microfiber” towel
You must get one, you will save yourself space, weight & time (dries ultra fast).
You should get the smallest model, especially if you go to hot countries: you will dry in a matter of minutes without any towel anyway.
Something you want to get when you start traveling. A beautiful & extremely useful souvenir 🙂 And yes, even if you’re a man. It can be worn around your waist when visiting temples (i.e. in Bali), it can be used as a scarf (i.e. in a cold night), it can be used to be put on the ground (i.e. on the beach).
You can buy a sarong online from 10 USD (amazon.com/dp/B01NBQOHWK) but yeah… I would wait to be on the road to get one, it’s a very nice souvenir & will cost you much less (maybe 2 USD).
Sleeping bag liner
If you don’t know what is a sleeping bag liner (amazon.com/dp/B013OOTT78/), as said by Wikipedia “Sleeping Bag Liners are lightweight cloth sacks usually fitted inside sleeping bags to provide extra comfort, hygiene and protection“.
I use this in order to be clean: even if I sleep in a random bed, I know the sleeping bag liner I use is mine so it’s clean. It also adds up a bit of heat (1 or 2 degrees C), which is often welcome. Regarding protection, I guess wikipedia means protection against mosquitos & the like.
It’s light, tiny, can be self made (i.e. a double bed sheet sewn) & will make your nights nicer. I do not travel without one anymore 🙂
If you want one that’s a bit warmer, get a sleeping bag liner in fleece.
Multi functional headwear
Also known as “Microfiber face shield” and many other names I suppose.
This tiny piece of fabric is super useful: your creativity is the limit.
It can protect you or your gear from the sun, dust, wind, cold and maybe more.
I used it to protect:
- my camera from dust and sand
- myself from dust & cold when riding motorbikes
- myself from the cold when sleeping or hiking up a mountain
- and so on
Low ankle hiking shoes
I specifically say “low ankle” because it makes a big difference compare to “high ankle hiking shoes”: the shoes do not stand out as much (as high shoes), they also weight less & take less space since they are smaller.
Many travelers try to get technical shoes that stand out as little as possible so they can wear these on daily basis even if adventuring in a big city, but also on hike or even run with if needed. That and a pair of flip flops & you’re good to take over the world 😉
Tip: trail-running shoes can often be used for hiking too so then you have shoes for walking, hiking and running all-in-one.
Warning: make sure you get shoes that are waterproof!
For the geeks: you might want to get shoes that have the Vibram outsole technology, some say that’s the best. Contragrip outsole technology (from Salomon) is not bad too, but I was not especially impressed when hiking on wet grounds.
When hiking or going to remote places, you will definitely want to have the option to drink water that you come across. This water might not be clean enough though. So buying one of these small water filter will save you money (by not buying water), help an area to stay plastic-free, and keep you healthy.
Sawyer makes an extremely popular product: : it’s small, removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, & can filter up to 100,000 gallons! I used it while in Nepal & highly recommend it.
Tip: when buying a water filter, check the size of the hollow fiber membrane.
Immersion water heater
You want one of these water heaters: great for making coffees, tea, noodles & more. You will save yourself some money while being super appreciated by your friends who never thought of this & craved for a good coffee 😉
Tip: you can even get some water heaters that work on 12V. Great if you are doing a road trip.
Silicon roll-up snorkle
Like most people going traveling for a while, you will enjoy snorkeling & scuba diving in some of the nicest places in the world. While doing so, you don’t want to share someone many other people’s saliva (I know…disgusting), nor have to pay to borrow a silly snorkel for 30 minutes (if you even find a place that rents them).
The problem is: regular snorkel are annoying to pack because they are rigid, and they often don’t survive the treatment they get in a backpack.
Silicon snorkels, them, are really flexible. So they can be squeezed in the middle of many things.
Hammock with integrated mosquito net
So you want to get a hammock? Then you might want to get a hammock that has an integrated mosquito net (amazon.com/dp/B01EUUFB4A/).
Tip: make sure it’s small & light when folded.
Really? Well, maybe if you are in a western country.
If you get something light (2kg maximum) & really small (i.e. that can fit into a 30L backpack).
You will then be able to go unnoticed (i.e. do wild camping in Switzerland) & carry it easily while hiking.
That tent fits the requirements: NatureHike Cloud Up 2 (amazon.com/dp/B00W32LFZW/). It is an affordable (100€), super light, 2 persons tent. The “NH15T002-T20D” (in silicon) weights 1.5Kg! The only down side is the size: it could be a tiny bit smaller when folded.
Tip: if you get inflatable mats, make sure they are small once folded (like this inflatable mat from Decathlon).
Slackline junkies: apply here
Waterproof case for your mobile
Your mobile will suffer. Your mobile might die during your trip. But, you can make it survive this experience if you get a good case for it. One that lets it survive getting dropped a hundred times, whether it’s on concrete, in the sand, or even water. You’ll most likely get soaked many times, whether it’s because you’re in a rain forest, a boat, or simply partying too close to the pool 😉 So make yourself a favor: get a decent protection for your mobile.
Warning: I would not take my phone underwater, even with this protection on. A small gap left when closing the case & that’s it, water can come in. If that happens, of course you will be blamed for this & even if you have an damage insurance it probably will refuse to cover you for that.
Multi-port USB charger
You might travel with several devices that can recharge via USB. You don’t want to have several plugs for that. Save space, plug hunts, & other inconveniences by getting a charger with multiple USB outputs. Some have up to 6 USB ports!
Warning: make sure both outputs do provide the expected power. Some multi-port USB charger do NOT provide the required current intensity & you find yourself waiting for double the normal amount of time for your device to charge.
For the geeks: if you have an Apple products, you might want to check the charger you buy is MFI certified.
Battery power bank
You will often have no access to a electricity for a day or two because you will be on the move or in a very remote place. So you want one of these small battery power bank.
Another benefit: it will also help you to not forget your phone while charging in a restaurant, bar, or any other place.
If using it just for your mobile phone, I suggest you get a power bank with a capacity around 8000 mAh (amazon.com/dp/B017JL0UUW).
Warning: as for the double USB plug, you want to make sure that the output of the power bank is correct (mah).
For the geeks: check your phone’s battery capacity & make sure you get something that lets you recharge your phone at least 3 times.
World plug adaptor
Sold from 10€ and above, it saves you the trouble of checking what country uses what plug. You’ll be able to charge your devices anywhere.
Warning: some plug adaptors only cover a few countries, while others cover 150+ countries.
I know, you prefer real books, me too. But hey, I can have thousands of books & comics in one small inexpensive device. So why not? I can still read paper books if I get the chance to find some that I like. Essential? probably not. Convenient? Hell yeah.
For 120 USD you can buy Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite (amazon.com/dp/B00OQVZDJM/).
You want to take great pictures, get better at photography, but you don’t want the trouble of carrying a heavy reflex camera (DSLR)? Me too. So I bought a camera that uses a new technology called “mirrorless” or “mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera”.
In a nutshell, it:
- has an interchangeable lens
- has lots of quality components built-in, that they share with many reflex cameras (i.e. the sensor)
- does not have a physical mirror, hence it’s much smaller than a reflex camera
- has all the setting buttons present on a reflex camera
Mirrorless cameras are getting incredibly popular as their quality gets better & closer to DSLRs. Even professionals use this type of camera now.
Warning: don’t get robbed! Make sure your camera don’t attract the wrong attention, uglify it!
Camera UV protection filter
Actually, NOT for UV, read further below.
Imagine thousands of unforgettable pictures, each of them with a scratch in the middle. Well, you don’t want that.
This typically happens after damaging your camera lens. Whether by dropping the camera, knocking it against something while carrying it, or else.
One very cheap & easy way to avoid it: get a camera filter.
You can get a UV protection filter starting from 6 USD !
For those having a camera that does not have a removable lens
Imagine what it means getting a scratch on the lens: getting the lens changed by the manufacturer will cost you minimum 200 USD.
So if you own a very nice Canon G16 or something similar, make yourself a favor, get a UV protection filter.
Underwater camera housing
Loving photography & the underwater world? Then you may consider investing some money into a waterproof case especially designed for the camera model that you already own. I’m talking about a rigid case, tailor made for each given device model, hence quite expensive. However, you’ll be able to fully embrace your underwater & photography passion altogether.
See for instance this online shop selling underwater camera housings.
Warning: this is usually quite heavy.
Tip: you can save space in your backpack by putting your camera inside it when on the move.
You plan to stop in a few coworking spaces to upload your tons of photos & videos to the cloud? Or maybe just to work a little while? Then check if your computer has an ethernet connection because it could be useful (overcrowded wifi networks can be very annoying).
If it does not have an ethernet connection, you will want to get an USB-to-ethernet adapter (amazon.com/dp/B00ET4KHJ2/).
Mini-display to HDMI DVI VGA adapter
Worried to break your screen & not being able to use your laptop? Or maybe simply hoping to find a large screen to plug your laptop into at some point? But your laptop is missing outputs (i.e. does not even have HDMI), then the “Mini-display to HDMI DVI VGA adapter” is for you.
For the geeks: that’s really for those who use their laptop for work. Or for the geeks.
Warning: I did damage my laptop screen at some point & this little thing saved my ass.
I could not escape the topic. My advice if you do take a laptop, take something:
- as small as you can bare
- as thin/light as you can pay
- with a long lasting battery
- all the rest depends on what you use it for
Warning: once again, don’t draw the wrong attention, don’t get robbed, uglify it!
Tip for storing medicine
Don’t want to have your medicine in these original space-consuming cardboard packaging? Me neither.
The problem is that often when you take them out of the cardboard package, they do come out of the plastic package.
A simple trick is to tape the back of the plastic package.