Packing for a backpacking trip can feel overwhelming at times - but no matter how many days or hours before your trip, always remember... THERE WILL BE STORES WHERE YOU ARE GOING so no need to majorly stress. However, while you plan, here's a quick list of should-brings!
Buff (Polyester/Spandex Neck Gaitor)-
The dollar ones off of ebay or the generic ones off of Amazon are totally fine. China couldn't produce something cheaper or simpler to make than a neck tube. A 99cent made in China buff was MVP of my 2 month Vietnam road trip. It protected me from rocks to the face, crazy amounts of dust, and a sun burnt nose. The fact that it was American flag design made it even better. Here's a cheap good one if you're in the market.
While it's totally fine to cheap out on a neck gaitor, you should spend a few bucks more and buy a real carabiner. Real as in, usable for rock climbing and rated to carry X amount of weight. Now that I've used a decent carabiner, I won't be going back to those cheap ones that have a broken spring after 2 weeks. Great for clipping sandals to a backpack on the beach, managing hotel and scooter keys, clipping up towels to dry, and hanging up that travel hammock.
Packing is chaos without these. Better than packing cubes, compression cubes have an extra zipper that remove unwanted air giving you extra space in your pack. We are so passionate about compression cubes we made our own. Check them out here
Ran out a while ago and can't seem to find them outside of the states. Not too surprised as I don't believe we've seen a dryer since we left! That silly little bear kept my Osprey bag smelling nice for the first few months of the trip.
Arg the pesky 3oz carry-on rule! Since we only carry-on bags that severly limits our space for toiletries. Most 3oz bottles are made of a plastic that is IMPOSSIBLE to use. Ever sat in the shower for 7minutes trying to shake the conditioner bottle harder than a glass Heinz ketchup? Struggle no more with these squeezable tubes. They come in various (smaller) sizes, but go for the full 3oz to maximize space. These are the exact ones we carry.
Then, when you're in a place for a long period of time, buy shampoo/conditioner/sunscreen from the local store... use the contents from that bottle, and put the leftovers in here to continue to carry with you! (So that you don't have to throw away and waste a big bottle to board a flight!)
We brought these along expecting to use them on flights. We've ended up using them when we least expected however. Whether you mistakenly book the hotel next to the karaoke bar or have a 3 hour trip on scooters, earplugs will come in handy when you expect them the least. SERIOUS NOTE- if you're heading to Philippines or Vietnam- the people LOVE karaoke there even more than any stereotype suggests. Even if you're staying at a remote cottage next to a rice paddy, don't be surprised if the bamboo hut in the middle of the rice paddy is blasting karaoke until 2AM every night.
Infinitely useful. Weightless. Oh the uses! That leftover bag of peanuts you wanted to take with you to the next hotel but they are spilling everywhere...ding! The cap on that small lotion bottle just broke...ding! Sand keeps getting into my phone case...ding! Those 6 extra advil, 2 motion sickness pills and a few tums keeps floating around my backpack....ding! Shove several of these plastic bags in some back pocket of your backpack and impress your future-self when you desperately need one.
Zeus came out to play when we were in Athens. Drybag fought the gods and won.Even when you're not specifically going somewhere wet, drybags are so light these days that its terribly easy to let one ride in the bottom of your day bag. Our dry bag saved our camera more than a few times...along with our cellphones. A plastic grocery bag works as well in a pinch, but when you're protecting $500 electronics, why not be sure?The Sea to Summit bag (pictured) is not too expensive (around $20) considering being top-of-the-line. You can grab this one from Amazon
These weren't cool again yet when I was in college. Now they are again apparently? If I don't have a sunglass strap my shades are destroyed in days. These are impossible to find outside of the United States for some reason as well. Got to bring these with you.While none of these are revelations, sometimes its the little things that can really make a difference day in day out. What small items are the unsung heroes of your travels?