7 Essential Things on your Backpacking List

When you want to travel to Europe on a budget, backpacking is your most economical option. Be aware, though, that you’ll need the most essential with you to make your travels a great success. Let’s take a look at what you definitely need to pack. Check out these 7 essential things on your backpacking list.

Padlocks
You’ll need them for hostel lockers, dodgy guesthouses and your backpack on long journeys. Invest in about four different sized ones. If you’re one of those people who can’t hang on to a key without losing it, buy locks that use a combination code instead.

Travel washing line
Is it a washing line? Is it a bungee? Aha, it’s both! You’ll use it a handful of times in emergency washing/DIY/breakdown situations but at those times, you’ll thank god you brought it.

Decent penknife
Yes, you really will use it. All the time, in fact. Opening bottles, fixing bicycles, eating your dinner… there’s nothing you can’t do with a penknife. Invest in a good one.

Notebook and pen
How many times have you engraved someone’s phone number on the back of a cigarette packet with a broken pen? Exactly. Backpacking requires you to remember an address or ID number or something fairly important nearly every day. Pack a mini notepad and a couple of biros. Crossing a land border without having your own pen is difficult, to say the least.

Decent sleeping bag
Pack a thin, high-quality sleeping bag lined with down. Spend the extra money and your sleeping bag will keep you toasty in the winter and be light and airy in the heat. Even better, it’ll scrunch down to nothing, unlike a cheap one. Beware of going sleeping bag commando; it’s only for the brave or foolhardy.

Universal adapter
Don’t buy one that only fits your plugs from home, buy a universal one. There’s a good chance you’ll have to buy a new camera or another gadget at some point, so get an adapter that’ll convert anything to anything. In Britain, power plugs are different from the ones we use in America and different as well from the rest of Europe. By the way, when you include London in your Europe backpacking trip, don’t forget to do some celebrity watching. London is, just like LA, one of the best places in the world for this sort of activities…

Underwear
I know it sounds stupid. But trust me, you’ll lose pairs to washing lines, laundries and the rest will be a mystery. Especially if you’re traveling in Asia, finding underwear to fit Western bodies can be impossible. Take a lot with you and restock your naughties in big cities.

Don’t Forget to Pack your Medicine Kit

A medical kit is a traveling essential, though what you choose to put in it may depend slightly on your own individual needs or ailment tendencies. Either way, you’d be daft to travel without one.

If you carry just one or two doses of the essentials for when you find yourself away from home, you will usually find that you can pick up the medication to service the fundamentals in pharmacies when you touch base, provided you speak a little Spanish or French – while you want to be prepared, you don’t want to do yourself an injury lugging around your kit. With this in mind, here’s a checklist of the bare essentials that you may want to use and pack in your backpack as a starting point.

– Lip salve with sun protection – you won’t want to find out how sore burnt and bleeding cracked lips feel
– Contraceptives and the morning after pill – even if having sex on your trip seems like an unlikely scenario, pack condoms and, if you are female, take an emergency morning-after pill with you as well as your usual contraceptive choice
– Paracetamol or other painkillers – for blisters, sprains, and hangovers
– Malaria tablets – if you are traveling in a malaria-risk area, learn a lesson from Cheryl Cole and plan ahead
– Inhaler and anti-histamine pills – whether your asthmatic, allergic or a bit of both, you don’t want treatable problems to ruin your trip
– Sun cream – because burning anywhere feels just awful
– Laxatives and diarrhea blockers – for when everything isn’t flowing as it should be
– Digital thermometer – to check whether you are under the weather
– Alcohol-based hand cleanser – to help ward off germs and sickness
– Anti-parasitics – for keeping little nasties at bay
– Plasters/wound dressing kit – don’t skimp on the quality, as you’ll be thankful for a good cushioned plaster if you have a killer blister
– Needle – for popping blisters
– Cold/flu tablets with decongestant – because it always feels worse to suffer in the sun
– Hydrocortisone cream – to treat bites and rashes that can slow you down and make you unpleasantly whingey (and therefore not appealing to travel with)