10 Essential Things

10 (Or 11...) Essentials to take with you...

  • Head lamp- Keep your hands free while digging through your backpack in the dark.
  • ‘Leatherman’-type multi-tool- Comes in handy if (Read: when) you need a tool to fix something along the way.
  • Small combo locks (NO KEYS)- Lock your stuff up in hotels and hostels without worrying about losing the keys.
  • Light, water-proof rain jacket- Always be prepared for the elements.
  • Basic medication (Antibiotics, allergy pills, ibuprofen, etc.)- Good to have if you pick up a stomach bug or twist an ankle.
  • Extra passport photos- Necessary for many visa applications, and may be required for job and or/housing applications.
  • Trash bags/plastic bags- Keep your wet/dirty clothes and shoes sealed away from the rest of your gear.
  • Waterproof shoes/sandals- Depending on where you’re going and what you will be doing, an old pair of Aquasocks can prove invaluable.
  • Extra camera batteries- You don’t want to miss out on capturing the moment due to dead camera batteries.
  • Music player and portable speakers- While away the hours spent on planes, trains, and automobiles, and get the party going on the beach or in your hostel room.
  • Small daypack- essential for those overnight excursions, and comes in handy when packing your gear for a day’s hike or a trip to the beach.
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    10 things to leave behind...

  • Cotton- LEAVE IT. It’s bulky, it’s heavy, it’s tougher to get clean, and it NEVER dries. Much better off with synthetic, ‘dry-fit’-type clothing.
  • Expensive sunglasses- Sure, I get that you want to look good, but trust me, your Prada sunnies will get beat up, and you can buy some cheapo knock-offs in any market for 1/10 the price.
  • Suitcases- Come on, you’re BACKPACKING. Get a backpack- they’re much easier to travel with, and honestly, you’ll feel a bit awkward trying to drag your bulky rollerbag through the sand.
  • Fancy dress clothes- True, you’ll probably want a nicer shirt and a pair of jeans on the road, but leave all the expensive designer threads at home.
  • Books- Yes, you will need one to get you started, but try to avoid lugging a library along with you. There are plenty of used book stores at which you can exchange your old books for something else.Electronic readers are a good way around this problem as well, though they inherently involve chargers, cords, batteries, etc.
  • Shoes- Take 2 pair, 3 at the VERY most. I know its tough, but try to be efficient with your footwear- you’ll be thankful for the additional room and the lighter load once you’re on the road.
  • Specialty gear- scuba masks and snorkels, fins, clip-in biking shoes, helmets- anything and everything that you might need for an activity is sure to be available for hire at the places where those activities are offered.
  • Wads of cash- ATMs are widely available, wherever you are traveling to, so save yourself the worry of carrying tons of cash.
  • A closed-minded attitude- Travel is all about seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures. Keep an open mind and an understanding that things will inherently be different abroad than they are in your home country. You’ll enjoy the experience much more if you do...
  • Your inhibitions- Traveling is also an amazing opportunity to face your fears and push your boundaries beyond their normal limits. Afraid of heights? Force yourself to bungee jump. Don’t like snakes? Get your Outback Guide to let you hold one (A non-poisonous one, of course- though they’re hard to find in Australia...). Picky eater? Sample the local fare, as exotic and unappetizing as it may seem. As a wise Irishman once told me- “You’ll never know ‘til you have a go!” Words to live by...
  • Bungy jumping Queenstown, New Zealand

    CONGRATULATIONS! You've graduated BPU 201! Now, it's on to BPU 301- The Finer Points of Backpacking...