It’s funny that the word ‘pack’ is actually in the name of this particular hobby because it’s almost certainly the part of it that people enjoy the least.
For a number of completely understandable reasons too. I mean, first of all, it takes forever to actually pack everything that you need. And even if you take all of that time, you might just find yourself out in the middle of nowhere and realize that you’ve forgotten to bring toilet paper. Then you’ll be cursing the idea of packing all over again. There’s also the fact that no matter what, the pack is going to outlandishly heavy. Unfortunately, I can’t really help you with any of that stuff, but there are some things that you might not have which will make your backpacking experience much better.
Here are five items that I believe are essential for backpackers.
1) Travel Insurance
Let’s get the boring one out of the way first. This isn’t technically an item as such, but it is essential for backpackers so I think it belongs on this list anyway. Look I completely understand why so many people don’t bother with this one. It costs money, it takes time and most of the time when you get home after a safe holiday it feels like a waste. I’ve travelled without it before myself, but when you’re backpacking it’s probably a good idea to add this to your list of expenses.
The fact that you’re actually wandering around for your entire journey makes you much more likely to run into health issues. You could fall and break your arm, you could get attacked by a wild animal, you could catch some illness in an environment that you’re body is not used to. Of course, one of these things could kill you and then you wouldn’t have to worry about it, but if not, then being insured makes it easier to deal with.
You can be sure to get treatment in whatever country you’re in and not have to worry about taking a flight home while injured. Also, you may not realize this, but travel insurance will allow you to reclaim if your flight is cancelled or if you have to pay rescheduled flight fees.
You never know what’s going to happen, so you might as well make sure that you’re covered.
2) First Aid Kit
This might be an obvious one, but I feel the need to stress it because some people still think it’s okay to travel extensively in foreign countries without this. You can pretty much guarantee that minor things like bumps and scrapes will happen, and while they are minor, you should treat them as best as possible.
You’re out camping, you’re essentially out in the wild, which means that any wounds are more susceptible to infection. If you come prepared, you can also treat things like a sprained ankle or a serious cut of some sort. Another thing is to make sure that you have all of the right stuff in your first aid kit. You can buy standard ones but they might not be equipped with every important thing. More than anything else, you have to take care of yourself out there and you have to make sure that you are safe for your entire trip.
That’s why the first two items on this list are just so important, and you can pretty much relax if you know that you have them.
3) Universal Adaptor Plug
If you've never travelled before you might not even realize that this could become a problem for you. The outlets are different in different places. God knows why this is still a problem in 2018 but there you go. Some places things will have three-prong outlets, some places it will two-prong and in truth, the amount of prongs is kind of just the beginning. It’s just different everywhere. I know that most of the time you won’t be near any outlets anyway, but you will be sometimes in rest stops and the like. You need to be able to charge your phone or whatever other electronics you have with you and for that, you need something that will actually fit in the outlet.
Of course, you could buy something when you’re over there but if you have a universal adaptor then you have all of your bases covered from the word go.
4) Mosquito Repellent
Do not go anywhere near Asia or Africa without mosquito repellent. You know what actually? Just have some wherever you go. Backpackers often get caught up in meeting new people and ending up in places they weren’t even thinking about beforehand, and you could find yourself in mosquito territory very easily. So just have it with you at all times. As far as I’m concerned, this should be considered backpacking 101.
Did you know that mosquitoes are responsible for more human deaths than any other animal on the planet? They are extremely dangerous. Malaria is a difficult disease to treat, and if you are in the wilderness and far from any civilization you could be in real trouble. There are different strength repellents out there and you need to get the best ones if you’re in a high-risk area. Also, bring along some kind of bite or sting cream too in case you do happen to get bitten. This shouldn’t happen if you have the repellent though.
5) Water Purification Bottle
Yeah, don’t rely on just bottled water. It’s way too expensive to just stock up on a ton of bottles for a camping trip. You will need loads of them since you’re out exerting yourself all day, probably in really hot weather. Dehydration can range from a mild discomfort to a potential catastrophe. So yeah, you have to keep hydrated, but most people will have neither the money nor space for enough bottles. So just bring one. Bring a water purification bottle, specifically, I think you should get a water-to-go bottle.This has a filter in its lid which will treat almost all of the harmful bacteria, protozoa or viruses that you would find in water from a lake or a spring or something.
Of course, there are some freshwater bodies of water that you wouldn’t need to treat for it to be safe, but you probably won’t know which ones and it’s not always the case. Just bring along this bottle and you can drink pretty much any freshwater that you find. It’s cost effective, space efficient and better for the environment too.
The most important thing is to enjoy your trip! Not really though, I mean I hope you enjoy your trip but the true most important thing is to be prepared. Just remember that even though it’s a great, enjoyable experience, you are putting yourself in danger when you go backpacking. You can avoid a lot of this danger by being thorough about what you put in your pack.