As a seasoned traveller, I do things very different now than when I was a total rookie. There’s a lot to be said for learning from mistakes and finding out how to do something the hard way, so I’ve written this post, Backpacking Hacks, with this in mind.
23 tried and tested travel hacks that WILL make life on the road a helluva lot easier.
1) Use a clothes peg for headphone cables
Wave goodbye to those tangled up headphones. A single humble clothes peg is the perfect solution to keep your headphone cable tidy.
2) Keep your stuff organised with 'Packing Cubes' or Zip Lock Bags
Not only useful for keeping your stuff organised but they also double up as an extra layer of protection if your bag gets wet. Packing cubes are the better option but do come with
3) Roll your clothes instead of folding them
Rolled clothes take up less space than folded clothes, and according to research it also helps to keep clothing more crease free. A win-win situation!
4) Pack by outfit
If you are limited by how much space there is in your bag, or the weight you have to carry, then save space and weight by packing by outfit, Make sure you pack items with colours or patterns that compliment each other and can easily be mixed and matched. Likewise, try and pack multi-purpose clothing; for example, a casual beach dress by day can be smartened up for the evening by twinning it with a belt, pretty shoal and strappy sandals.
5) Don't underestimade the usefullness of a scarf or sarong
Boys don’t dismiss this one either! A large scarf or sarong is probably THE most versatile item you will be taking with you. There are so many uses for example;
- It’s less bulky than a towel for trips to the beach.
If you’re visiting a country with temples or other religious sites, they will often require you to cover up shoulders and knees before entering. A quick fix is to tie your sarong over your clothes.
Air conditioning cranked up to full blast is one of my big pet hates on long haul travel. On long chilly flights and bus journeys use your sarong as a lightweight blanket.
If you are going camping, your sarong can be bundled up and used as an emergency pillow.
A sarong makes a perfect privacy curtain if you are staying in a dorm room on a bottom bunk. Tuck it into the framework of the bunk and hey presto you have a curtain.
Do a little bit of research beforehand and learn how to knot, twist and tuck your sarong in a multitude of ways to make a variety of items.
6) Bring a small laundry bag
Any small, lightweight bag will do – canvas shopping bags are perfect! A specific laundry bag is really useful for keeping your clean and dirty stuff separate but also really handy to just grab and drop off at laundry without rumaging through your backpack to sift out all the odd socks and tshirts that have wiggled their way to the bottom.
7) Pack a few spare carrier bags
Keep a couple of old plastic carrier bags on you and keep reusing them. You never know when you might have wet or muddy clothing to pack away and these are perfect for keeping the rest of your stuff clean and dry.
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8) A basic 'loo kit' will make you everyones best friend
A lot of places around the world don’t have the most desireable public amenities. On occasions a hole in the ground round the back of a shack is all you are going to get; especially on long road trips in lots of Asia, Africa and South America.
So from a voice experience from someone whose memory is scarred for life, I highly recommended you to keep a little ‘loo kit’ in your day bag – toilet paper, wet wipes and hand sanitizer – you’ll thank yourself when nature calls.
9) Use mini bulldog clips to separate money
If you are on a multi-destination style trip, most likely, you will come across lots of different currencies. Mini bulldog clips are super useful for keeping different currencies bundled together and helping you keep track of your money.
10) Invest in a travel wallet with LOTS of compartments
Thankfully in this day and age most things will be in a digital format, however it’s always useful to have hard copies of things.
A good way to keep organised is a mini travel wallet with lots of compartments to keep stuff safe and easy to locate.
11) Wrap your jewellery in tissue paper
If you plan to take jewellery on your trip then a useful way to stop necklaces getting tangled up or ear-rings getting lost is to wrap each item in tissue paper before packing them into a small compartment in your rucksack.
12) Pack your cables into a sunglass case
No doubt you will be taking electronic items with you on your trip, which means the potential of having to carry lots of different cables. A handy way to keep your cables organised is by packing them into a sunglass case (either the hard case or soft zip-up pouch). You’ll always know where they are and this will stop them getting tangled up and damaged.
13) Invest in at least 1 karabiner
This handy little clip has a whole host of uses and will enable you to pretty much clip anything to err…anything.
You don’t have to go for the really expensive ones that are used for climbing, ones from general outdoor shops are fine.
14) Pack a length of cord
You might find yourself having to do an emergency clothing wash or have wet stuff after getting caught in a downpour. Irritatingly and more often than not there is just no-where to hang your stuff up to dry – a few metres length of cord gives you an automatic washing line in these emergency moments.
15) Take a foldable bag to overflow into
You started your trip will a pretty full backpack and a month or so down the line you’ve bought so many souvenirs that you can’t fit everything in without ditching something. Sound familiar?
This is exactly what happened to me in Peru, I went a bit crazy in the markets. Thankfully I had a large canvas bag with me which acted as an emergency overflow.
16) Keep hairclips in an old mint container
I have long and unrully (mostly frizzy in humid countries) hair so I NEED hairclips, however, just like at home, these little buggers get EVERYWHERE. If hair clips/ bobby pins are part of your daily hair routine then keep them in an old mint container – similar to a tictac container. It’s also worth looking out for the mints that come in little tins that some shops sell, these are also perfect for storing hairclips in!
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17) If you're taking electronics, then a portable Powerbank is a must!
This has proven invaluable on so many occasions for any electronic item that runs out of power. Not all aeroplanes or buses have charge points and sometimes at an airport all the charge points are in use or you just don’t have time to wait for said item to power up.
A power bank is also really handy for extended trips away from civilisation – camping, hiking, island hopping etc to name a few.
18) Use shower caps to put on your shoes
I’m not sure who uses shower-caps for their actual purpose BUT they are fabulous for wrapping around the bottom of a pair of shoes before packing.
19) Pack your smallest items last
Things like little underwear, socks and swim stuff all squash down really small, so use them to fill any annoying little gaps you might have in your Backpack.
20) Go miniature
Even though you might be going away for a couple of months, only plan to take toiletries for a couple of weeks: MAX! They take up a lot of space and are heavy too. You can buy travel sized items in pretty much everything now, and if you can’t find a certain product then transfer it over to a travel bottle. Fill up your bottles as you go – often in Hostels, there are large bottles that people have left behind (because they are bulky and heavy) so top up your bottles as you go.
21) Keep your shaver finger friendly
As annoying cuts and nicks go, shaver cuts on your fingers as you are rummaging about your toiletry bag are up there with the worst. The solution – either invest in one that has a detachable head and keep the blade part wrapped up, or use a bulldog clip over the end of the blade. You fingers will forgive you.
22. Pack a water bottle
The world doesn’t need more plastic waste, so after you have finished your bottle of water, keep the empty bottle and refill it. It’s shocking how many people still buy a fresh one each time. It will save lots of ££ and also you’d be doing your little bit to help the planet. Most hostels have a water dispenser so try to get in the habit of using that.
23) Less is certainly more ...
..more convenient, more space left for souvineers, more easilly carried about; I could go on.
Step 1; lay out everything you’re planning on taking. It’s always crazy to see HOW much stuff you want to take.
Step 2; go through everything with the aim of ditching at least 1/3 of it, if you can get rid of a 1/2 then even better! Ask yourself, do I really NEED 10 t-shirts, 4 pairs of shorts and 14 set of underwear? The answer is probably no. Be strict with yourself.
Step 3; when it comes to actually doing the final pack of your bag, try to put things you want access to on a daily basis near to the top (washbag, change of t-shirt, underwear etc). Likewise if you have packed items you know you won’t be using for a while, put it at the bottom of your back.
These small tweaks have revolutionised the way I pack my backpack and have certainly taken some of the hassle with having my worldly belongings in onre small pack. Each trip I seem to impliment simething new that makes life on the road so much easier.
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I’m always keen to find easier and more efficient ways to travel so if you have any other travel hacks that make life just a little bit easier then I’d love to know about them! So don’t forget to comment below.