The famous (or is it infamous?) question of what to pack on my trip is asked a lot online. Just Google ‘packing list' and you'll see heaps of examples, templates and tips. All a waste of my time. All I need are a few basic things and I'm a happy travelling geek.
Most of the time, you'll be travelling to civilised countries, so it doesn't matter if you forget your toothbrush or don't bring enough boxer shorts. No need to stress or to check off a super-long packing list to see if you've packed it all. Just make sure you bring the basics and you'll be fine.
The following items are my favourite travel accessories aka my must-pack items on any trip. No matter the destination, no matter the length of the trip, I always make sure to pack these simple yet important items.
1. Microfiber Towel
The one item I wish I purchased years ago: microfiber travel towel. These towels are so easy to have in your bag, just in case you decide to go for a spontaneous swim in a lake or the ocean. A microfiber towel is lightweight and doesn't take up much space.
It's the one item I'm actually able to fold up and put it back in the small bag it came with. Usually, when you remove something from its packaging you'll never get it back in.
My favourite microfiber towel is the travel towel from Rainleaf. These come in various sizes and heaps of different colours. It feels like you're using a curtain but it does a great job. You'll be dry within no time and the towel dries quickly if you just hang it. Get some breakfast and it's completely dry again. No more wet, smelly towels to carry around.
2. Packing cubes: organise your stuff
The best item to pack on any trip: packing cubes. These will turn any chaotic traveller into a well-organised one. Well, when it comes to your luggage. Packing cubes come in all shapes and sizes and are the best way to keep your clothing organised, especially if you're travelling with a soft bag (duffel) or backpack.
3. Airplane extension plug
The smallest and cheapest item that is on my what to pack for my trip list: airplane extension plug. I always bring an airplane plug to make sure I can use my own (good-quality) headphone instead of having to use the plastic ones airlines hand out.
Some airlines nowadays have made it possible to use a normal jack plug on board, but nonetheless, I always bring a small and super-cheap airplane plug. Just in case. There is nothing more annoying than having to use a crappy headphone on a long flight.
4. Sugru / duct tape
This is probably the weirdest item on my what to pack list. Until you realise how great it is to carry duct tape with you. Rip in your bag or jacket? Duct tape will keep you going.
And the Sugru Rebel Teck Kit is perfect for any other repair. Hole in your sole? Easy to fix with Sugru. No clothing hook in your hostel room? Make one out of Sugru (true story by the way).
5. Travel router aka mini router
There are two important reasons to bring a small travel router on your trip.
- Safety. Don't trust hotspots in hotels or hostels. Anyone can connect and will connect to them as we all want free wifi. However, these accommodation providers are not in the IT business so they often don't take good care of their wifi equipment. These hotspots can be hacked or compromised and can read your data – or worse – hack your system when you connect to it. Always have up-to-date anti-virus/malware software on your system and use a good & secure VPN. By using a travel router that supports VPNs you can create your own secure network in your hotel room and connect to your secure travel router.
- Use multiple devices via one free wifi account. Lots of hotels limit the use of their free internet to only one or two devices. Impossible for modern travellers as we often have several devices that need wifi. By using your own secure travel router you can access the free hotel wifi as one device and create your own secure wifi hotspot so your other devices can go online as well. Easy as.
6. How to pack your stuff
What to bring on a trip is important, but the same goes for how to pack it? There are always discussions online about backpack vs suitcase vs something else, so I won't get into that. Instead, I'll focus on my favourite pieces of luggage. These are versatile, simple and relatively cheap. You be the judge if it'll work for you as well on your next trip.
I always bring my 60L duffel bag with backpack straps. It's lightweight, so it's easier to stay below the weight limit of most airlines. Even if I pack it to the max, it'll still be below the 23 kg (50 lbs) weight limit. Combined with packing cubes it's easy to find everything. Especially, when you're going on a car or campervan road trip it's the best luggage to bring, IMHO.
The soft bag fits in any vehicle's trunk or storage area in hostels or train stations. So much easier than a suitcase made of stiff or inflexible material. The backpack straps make it super easy to carry.
I always bring my Lowe Alpine TT Carry-On. It's super easy to carry (as a backpack, shoulder bag or carry-on bag) due to the changeable straps. It can carry enough stuff and gadgets to keep you entertained on a long flight. The best part is that it stays within the size and weight limit of carry-on luggage on most airlines. Usually, on longer trips, it will be folded and stored in my checked-in baggage. That way I always have a smaller, easy to use day-pack when needed.
The Lowe Alpine TT Carry-On is also perfect for weekend away trips on budget airlines. You can pack everything you need and it's still within the weight limit of carry-on luggage. Even if you are over the weight limit of carry-on, no one will notice as it still looks like a small and lightweight daypack. They never check the weight of my carry-on when I'm using my Lowe Alpine carry-on.
What will you pack on your next trip?
As you've noticed I'm not a big fan of packing lists or worrying about whether I brought everything I need. As long as I have my passport (+ visa where required), travel debit / credit card, smartphone, some clothing and a few essentials to make the trip easier or more fun then I'm a happy traveller.
What are your favourite or must-pack items on a trip?