Cultural Experience | Packing Lists

The Most Practical Packing List Ever

15 items every backpacker must bring with them for any adventure.

Carabiner– These little contraptions are a way to add space to the outside of your backpack. No room for your runners after hitting up the markets in Italy? Tie your shoelaces in a knot and hang your shoes from a carabiner on the outside of your backpack. They also work well for clipping your water bottle to your backpack.

Bounce sheets- These are important because you might not always have time or access to do laundry and clothes generally don’t react well to being stuffed in a bag for weeks at a time. It makes a big difference to throw one of these in your bag every once in awhile. Your travel companions will thank you.

Microfiber towel– This is a big one. There is nothing worse than carrying around a damp towel in your backpack. Microfibre towels dry very quickly and better yet, they’re much smaller than a normal towel so you don’t use up precious backpack space.

Suitcase locks– Unfortunately, not every hostel provides lockers. This is when a suitcase lock comes in handy. There are two kinds: one that locks onto your zippers on your backpack so no one can get it and one that has a wire so you can lock your backpack to your bedpost. Both are equally important.

Power bar- When you have a phone, laptop, tablet, eReader, and a GoPro to charge, one adapter just doesn’t it. Buying a power bar from home only requires one adapter but lets you charge several devices at once. Also, having something this useful in your possession will make you the most popular kid in the hostel.

eReader– Waking up in a new city every day is great but it requires you spending a lot of time on trains, planes, buses, boats, cars, etc. You also never know if any of these routes get delayed, in which case you’ll have a lot more waiting around than initially anticipated. Buckle in for a long and unknown wait time with something to read.

2 sets of headphones- You are going to lose a pair. It’s just, like, the rules of travelling. There is nothing worse than not being able to squander time en route to a new city or country than by jamming to your favourite tunes.

Chapstick with SPF- lips are overlooked 100% of the time when applying sunscreen. Even in winter, the sun can still cause some serious damage. Eating is arguable one of the best parts about travelling (okay not arguably, it is for sure) and this is a whole lot less enjoyable with burnt lips.

First aid kit– Bandaids are for the blisters and polysporin is for everything else. Having a travel-sized first aid kit that you can fit in your purse/backpack is essential for hopping from place to place. You never realize the true value of a bandaid until you don’t have one.

Waterbottle- This one seems obvious but it’s vital to travelling. If you’re going somewhere where the tap water is potable like Canada, the United States, or Europe, you can save a lot of money by carrying around your own bottle and filling it up. A lot of restaurants also charge for water and therefore don’t want to give you tap water for free. If you have your own bottle already filled you can avoid going thirsty at dinner.

A suitcase resistant hat– No one understands the internal conflict that comes from wanting to look cute whilst travelling but also needing to be practical. Transporting a cute floppy hat from place to place is a lot more work than you think as you lovingly set it aside for your trip. If you’re travelling in the summer, pack a hat that can be squished into your bag but won’t look like it got run over by a truck. A running hat or any type of baseball hat, for instance, is a good choice.

Credit card with no foreign currency charges– If a credit card is how you’re planning on paying for a lot of things whilst travelling, look into applying for one that doesn’t charge foreign currency fees. 2% per transaction might not seem like a lot at first but you’d be be surprised at how quickly those costs add up.

Portable battery- If you’re like me then spending time choosing filters for your photos is a fine science and therefore demands your full attention, and unfortunately, battery power. Don’t get caught in a new city with a dead phone. A portable battery charges your phone on the go and ensures that you’ll never have to go without access to your phone.

Ziploc  bags– I firmly believe that these are the solution to all of life’s problems. Wet bathing suit? Ziploc  Leftover pizza? Ziploc Leaking toiletries? Ziploc. Smuggling food from the hostel’s free breakfast? Ziploc I promise that on at least one occasion you’ll think to yourself, “I really wish I had a Ziploc bag right now.”

Money belt– While there is nothing more attractive than reaching down your pants every time you need to pay for something, the importance of using a money belt should not be overlooked. Despite this unfortunate side effect of using one, a money belt is essential, no matter where in the world you are travelling. It’s great for storing your most important possession (passport), and you can divide your cash between this and your wallet as some extra insurance should your wallet get stolen or go missing.

Kearan Meagher

University of Calgary | 9 stories

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