The 5 things no backpacker should leave home without

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Here’s our list of the top 5 things you really must have with you

Every seasoned backpacker will tell you the same thing – find cheap flights and travel light. Having a small, lightweight bag gives you freedom.

Travelling with as few items as possible has loads of benefits; squeezing your bag into tight spaces on public transport for instance, or being able to carry all your belongings with you as you explore a city after checking out of your hostel.

But there are some items that a backpacker should never be without. Here’s our list of the top 5.

(Would you like to know what you MUST leave at home? See the 5 things that your backpack should NEVER contain.)

The super compact series by Petzl
The super compact series by Petzl


Whether it be finding your way back to your beach hut from the bar, rummaging through your bag for that all important item during a power cut, or reading a book on a train at night, hands-free, portable lighting is one seriously useful item.

Essential sleeping kit: air mattress, sleeping bag liner and pillow bag
Essential sleeping kit: air mattress, sleeping bag liner and pillow bag. Photo by David Brookes
Sleeping bag liners
Colourful sleeping-bag liners. Photo by Hostelling Finland

Sleeping bag liner

There’s no getting away from the fact that some hostels and modes of public transport are disgusting. A thin, durable and easy-to-wash sleeping bag liner provides great protection from bed bugs bites and smelly bedding. And in warmer climes, it’ll be a welcome sleeping bag substitute, too.

Ear plugs
Photo by David Masters


For every traveller on an extended journey there comes a point where sleep is really essential. Sadly on those occasions nobody around ever seems to care. Curses, loud voices, car engines, sirens and industrial air-conditioning units! Putting the world on mute is easy with earplugs (the cheap foam ones are the best – and if stored in small container can be used dozens of times over).

Photo by antwerpenR

Small padlock (with key)

A small padlock is a backpacker’s best defence against opportunistic theft. Using a hostel locker, or simply locking zips together when placing a bag on a bus or in left luggage can deter many a thief. We advise using a padlock with a key. There is always the risk of losing the key, yes (if you’re travelling with someone swap spare keys), but we’ve lost count of the stories we’ve heard of padlocks with number codes being cracked in their owner’s absence.

Photo by SKROSS

International plug adaptor

There are strong arguments for travelling without relatively expensive electrical devices like laptops, tablets, mp3 players and e-readers, not least the threat of having them stolen. Some people even say you shouldn’t take a camera. But let’s face it – we need our gadgets! None of these devices use disposable off the shelf batteries – they all need to be juiced up periodically. Make sure you’re not caught out by the vagaries of international power sockets with an adaptor.

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Featured image: JD | Photography)

The 5 things no backpacker should leave home without was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Brett Ackroyd
Author: Brett Ackroyd (631 posts)

Brett hopes to one day reach the shores of far-flung Tristan da Cunha, the most remote of all the inhabited archipelagos on Earth…as to what he’ll do when he gets there, he hasn’t a clue. Over the last 10 years, London, New York, Cape Town and Pondicherry have all proudly been referred to as home. Now it’s Copenhagen’s turn, where he lends his travel expertise to