During the build up to my travels I started to frantically start searching the internet for blogs, websites, anything that gave advice on what to pack in your backpack because lets face it, it’s not huge, you’re going to be living out of it for a while and I’m a girl! Luckily, I’m not a girl that depends on hair straighteners, hairdryers, makeup, heels and glamorous clothes so that easily condensed my space down, however I didn’t have much of a plan before going to Australia apart from spending 3 months at Mojo Surf so I had absolutely no idea what sort of clothes I needed with what weather and environment I would be facing, what I would actually need and what I wouldn’t, if I’d pack to little of something and too much of something else. – This was becoming rather difficult! So, the easiest thing for me to do so that I wouldn’t stress myself out too much was simple; I’d pack a few hours before I had to leave for my flight so that I couldn’t doubt my packing! Here are my top 5’s on packing – My Top 5 Travel Items, 5 Things I Wish I had Packed and 5 Things I Learnt About Packing!
My Top 5 Most Used Travel Items
These are the things that I’m so glad I packed and constantly used or came in handy;
- A decent phone case – It’s definitely worth investing a bit of money into a decent phone case as I found out from experience! I’ve always been very careful with my phone, I’d had my iPhone 4S for about 3 years without getting a mark on it until I went to Australia where I smashed it to pieces. Multiple times! I invested in a new phone with a hefty case and it was the best thing I did! I know it doesn’t particularly look attractive but you’ll find plenty of backpackers with them or wanting them because phone repairs aren’t cheap in Australia!
- A good jumper – My grey Ripcurl hoodie saw me through my whole year away and still now back at home, I don’t know what I would have done without it! It saw me through the cold nights in the camper van, camping in Byron Bay, it was perfect after a cool, windy surf, comfortable to travel in and got me through my 3 months of farm work too! It was my only decent jumper I packed and I needed nothing else so that itself condenses more space down in your backpack!
- A decent camera – I know that when it comes to packing, people worry about gadgets and valuables in case they break or get nicked but as long as you’re careful looking after them then you’ll be fine. Most hostels have secure lockers available and backpackers tend to look out for each other. Investing a bit of money into my Lumix Camera was definitely worth it, I used it more or less every single day when I was away, it’s compact, takes photographs at a fantastic quality and is easy to charge up. Without it I wouldn’t have the 10’s of thousands of photographs that I came back with!
- A journal – I know I’m a blogger so of course you think keeping a travel journal seems more appealing to me than others but it’s not! A lot of backpackers keep them and fill them with whatever they want too, not necessarily just writing. For me it was good to document things I did on a day to day basis so that it would help me write my blog but I also filled it with personal thoughts, travel tickets, photos and its even full of lovely messages that my friends in Bundaberg wrote to me for when I left after 3 months. Its something wonderful to keep and look back on :)
- Earphones – Without these, I would have had many an irritating or boring time on the road/in the sky! I’m not one to choose earphones over socialising, I’d rather chat to someone any day but when you’re travelling on a long, overnight bus journey, or flight or trying to get to sleep in a noisy hostel or campsite, you want to take a personal Skype call (make sure they have a microphone!) or even if you just need some time out then your earphones will become your best travel companion! My House of Marley earphones have lasted me years, they’re sound tight, compact and they ‘tangle free’!
5 Things That I Wish I Had Packed
It’s natural to start your travels and think of something obvious that you wished you thought to bring with you, or even put a little bit more thought into that could benefit you – but hey that’s all apart of the learning! Here are my top 5 things that I wish I had with me, some of them are a little luxurious for a backpacker budget but they’re things I personally felt would have benefitted me and my travels;
- A Go-Pro – this little beauty are small yet amazing! I didn’t think about buying a Go-Pro until a few weeks into Surf Camp because I didn’t really know that much about them! They’re EXTREMELY popular with backpackers for many different reasons but obviously mine would have benefitted me mainly for surfing. Unfortunately there were other things that made the priority on my backpacker budget so I didn’t end up buying one but it’s top of my list for my second year of travelling, it might even prioritise over my Lumix Camera in my backpack to save on space!
- SPF for my hair – Yes I know this sounds very typical and girly but trust me, I wish I had known about it sooner! Naturally I was looking forward to get an Aussie tan and I managed to look after my skin well because I didn’t burn once! My hair however, suffered a lot and resulted in me chopping it all off when I got back home. I went to Australia with brown hair and came back with blonde hair and with my hand on my heart, I didn’t dye my hair ONCE, it was 100% Australian sunshine. Obviously being in the salty water everyday added to this factor, and (confession) I went weeks at a time without washing my hair because I was in the ocean everyday which is probably why I ended up cutting out 3 naturally formed dreadlocks! But your hair, and my hair especially suffers from sunburn so one thing I will definitely be using in the future is an SPF hair product!
- A good travel pillow – I acquired my Unicorn travel pillow whilst travelling and it transformed my nights sleeps when travelling, especially when you’re actually on the road. You’ll be so thankful for your travel pillow when you’re on an over-night bus journey or flight that’s lacking comfort because lets face it, you’re on a backpacker budget! Mine isn’t as travel sized as a lot of travel pillows but I’m a Unicorn lover so I made it work (it did fold in half!) – plus it added to comfort to all the hostel beds I slept in whilst travelling :)
- My laptop – I originally went to Australia with my iPad mini because it was an ideal size to travel with but it became difficult for me to blog on it efficiently and store all my photos I was taking so when my Mum and Step Dad came to visit me 6 months later I asked them to bring my laptop with them and it did make my life easier in terms of blogging and staying in contact with people. I did actually choose to carry it by hand when travelling to avoid damaging it but most backpackers tend to travel with tablets for space consumption reasons. It’s just a matter of choice with this one :)
- A hard-drive – Another gadget related item but it will save your travel memories and give you a peace of mind! I didn’t think of getting one until a few months after I was reunited with my laptop but it’s always a good idea to back up your photos and other files onto a hard-drive, just incase the inevitable happens! It’ll also become one of your saviours when you’re in need of movies! Plenty of other backpackers have their movies loaded onto their hard-drives so you can swap and share your movies with each other, giving your movie library a complete make over which you’ll be thankful for on long journeys!
PACKING TIPS; 5 Things I Learnt About Packing
- You really can get by with minimal clothing! I’m talking two jumpers, two pairs of jeans etc. I know that when you’re about to start backpacking you’ll start to fret about wearing the same clothes all the time but trust me, you’ll be thankful for the lighter backpack. Every backpacker you meet is in exactly the same shoes (literally!) and if you really need something then you can buy it, but trust me on this one girls because I found myself giving clothes away that I didn’t end up needing or sending them home with my Mum to lighten my load!
- You can also survive with minimal toiletries like your minimalistic make-up bag, electricals, shower items etc. They WILL weigh you down! I went out there with three small toiletries bags and came back with one small one! Pack as little as possible, the essentials and anything you can’t cope without you can buy when you need it and find a space for it.
- My travel wallet was the best thing I packed, it kept me organised and all my important documents all in one place. There’s nothing worse than rummaging through your tightly packed bags looking for important paperwork! It’s small, it’s condensed and it’s essential, perfect to keep in your hand luggage!
- Invest in a decent rucksack (hand luggage) It’ll be your most used item, it’s handy, carries everything you need and easy to carry around. I preferred having smaller pockets on the outside of mine so that I could grab certain items easily when I needed too, especially when my hands and back were fully loaded up!
- Another item I was thankful I bought was a filtered water bottle, it’s cheaper than constantly buying bottles of water and you can use them whenever you need too. I really struggled to drink the tap water in Brisbane and Bundaberg and seeing as I spent quite a lot of time in these places my filter water bottle came in perfect! Because it was always on me I also found that I stayed hydrated better which is obviously an important factor, especially in Australia!