Backpacking is, at its heart, travelling on the cheap. This normally entails travelling long distances in a shitty bus, sleeping in hostel dormitories with up to 20 fellow budget travellers, subsisting on cheap meals of bread and cheese or DIY pasta, and drinking a lot. To survive requires a few key tools that will make the experience that much easier and comfortable.
5. Ear plugs and eye mask
Sleeping in a dorm, you will inevitably encounter snorers, late night shaggers, or just those that like to noisily stumble drunk into the room at 3am and switch all the lights on. The ear plugs and eye mask will be essential if you actually want some shut eye. Also good for long bus journeys.
4. iPod and a book
Travelling involves a lot of dead time. Whether you’re waiting at the train or bus station, or whiling away the hours until you arrive at your next destination, or needing a break from the sightseeing or heavy drinking, having some tunes or a good read will help you pass the time without going stir crazy.
3. Thongs/flip flops/jandals
Two words: shared showers. Ugh.
2. Swiss army knife
This handy and versatile tool will help you cut up your supermarket meals of bread, cheese and salami, and open cheap tins of food and bottles of wine. It may help in non-food and alcohol situations also.
1. Lonely Planet guide
This is the backpacker’s bible. You may have a different guidebook of choice, such as Fodor’s or Eyewitness Guides, but the Lonely Planet publications know their audience – where they want to party, what fun stuff they should check out, and the best equipped hostels. It does mean that you often end up seeing the same people along the gringo trail, but it’s a fantastic source of knowledge – you won’t be one of those suckers that gets ripped off on that taxi ride from the airport!
What are your travel essentials?