71 Awesome Tried & Tested Backpacking Hacks & Travel Tips and Tricks
71 Tried & Tested Travel Hacks

71 Awesome Tried & Tested Backpacking Hacks & Travel Tips and Tricks

Disclosure: Some of the links below might be affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, if you click one of them, I may receive a small commission (for which I am deeply grateful) but it helps me create more awsome stuff like this post.

On the topic of backpacking hacks, there’s an awful lot that can be said for ‘finding out how to do things the hard way’. Yeah, the past 5 ½ years of travel have been a learning curve, and well over 50 countries later I’m still figuring out better ways of doing stuff.

So, you could muddle your way through finding out the best travel hacks by yourself or take the lazy-hassle free option and skim through this list to find out the best backpacking tips; the easy way!

My original list of backpacker hacks consisted of a measly 23 tried-and-tested ideas, it’s expanded somewhat since then to a pretty extensive list

Gadgets – Backpacking Travel Hacks for the Best Gadgets

1. Keep your cables in a sunglass case

No doubt you will be taking electronic items with you which means the potential of having to carry lots of different cables. A handy way to keep these organised is by packing them into a sunglass case (either the hard case or soft zip-up pouch). You’ll always know where they are and this will stop them getting tangled up and damaged.

2. Invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones 

I’m rubbish when I don’t get enough sleep, whether it’s on a plane because of a baby screaming, or in a dorm room with what sounds like King Kong snoring the place down. Earplugs are one option, but I don’t like the feel of something inside my ear. So a better choice; are a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Hellloooo peaceful sleep.

Image: Sony MDR-ZX110NA Overhead Noise Cancelling Headphones – Black

3. A portable charge bank is a must

This is invaluable as a backup plan for any electronic item that runs out of power. Not all aeroplanes or buses have charge points and sometimes at an airport, all the charge points are in use or you just don’t have time to wait for charge. Having a handy back up of power helps alleviate this problem.

Image: Pxwaxpy Power Bank, Portable Charger 26800mAh High Capacity External Battery Pack Ultra Compact Quick Charge Power Bank for Smart Phone, Tablet and More (Black)

 

4. Download offline maps such as Maps.me

There are loads of off-line maps out there, heck, even Google does it. But my personal favourite is Maps.me for any overseas navigation. It’s free and super easy to use, just download the app on your phone in a wifi area, add the maps of the specific area you are going to, search for and then drop your pins on places of interest. You can even add personal notes to pins you drop. I’ve used this app so many times when I am outside of a Wi-Fi area, it’s been a lifesaver. Give it a go!

5. Go for a Worldwide Travel power adaptor with multiple USB sockets

Every seasoned backpacker’s been there. A dorm for 8 people, with power sockets for 4! Thankfully, lots of the newer hostels are cottoning on to this and if you’re lucky you’ll get your own personal one next to your bed. Backpacker Bingo! To get around the problem of lack of sockets, purchase a worldwide power adaptor with lots of USB charge points on it, so you can plug multiple items in at once.

Image: MyTravelPal™ Worldwide Universal Travel Adapter – The Most Powerful & Safest All In One Earthed International Wall Charger – 4 USB Ports – USA EU UK AUS – Suitable For High Powered Devices

6. Use a mini-tripod to help get the perfect shots

The majority of my travel is solo. This has meant that I’ve had to perfect the art of the selfie to get my snaps. But if I don’t want my arm in the photo, then what? If there is someone else about to take a photo, then easy, ask them. If you’re on your own, makeshift props using a bag, a wall, rocks etc., has to make do…or not. A tiny pocket tripod is so much easier. Twin this with an app linking that links your camera to your phone, and voila, who needs a photographer?!?

Image: JOBY JB01503-BWW GorillaPod 1K Kit, Flexible Compact Tripod with BallHead for Advanced Compact and CSC/Mirrorless Camera Up to 1 kg Payload

7. Use a clothes peg to stop headphone cables getting tangled

I’ve still got old-skool style headphones with the cables on them (heyyyyy, I use them on the beach, so don’t mind them getting covered in sand and suntan lotion all over them, plus no one’s going to nick a pair of manky old headphones if I leave them lying about). A quick backpacking hack and to wave goodbye to those tangled up cables is a single humble clothes peg. Clip the ear-bud section into the peg, wrap the cable around the peg, and then clip in the jack. It’s the perfect solution to keeping them tidy!

cothes-pegs-Photo-by-Félix-Prado-on-Unsplash-Optimsied
Super useful for more than pegging up clothes. Photo by Félix Prado on Unsplash

8. Take spare SD cards

I love my adventure sport, and soon realised that travelling with a GoPro, recording every scuba dive, white water rafting, a climbing experience that my SD cards were constantly out of space. My only option back then was to buy a new SD card every time it filled up. After two months in Costa Rica, I’d filled over three SD cards. Buying them at airports cost a fortune. Order them from your home country in advance.

Image: SanDisk Ultra 128 GB microSDXC Memory Card + SD Adapter with A1 App Performance Up to 100 MB/s, Class 10, U1

9. Become a magnet for free Wi-Fi

International go-to’s (and the only time I’ll step foot in there) are Starbucks and MacDonald’s. You’ll learn fairly quickly that most big hotels, town squares, cafes, museums has equally decent Wi-Fi – in fact, lots of places actively advertise it, they know we are like moths to a flame when it comes to Wi-Fi access.

Eating & Drinking - Backpacking Tips for Food & Drink

10. Book hostels or accommodation with a kitchen

This top backpacker tip is great for anyone with dietary requirements, as well as saving you a mini fortune. Cooking your own meals takes a little bit of planning, but think how much money you’re literally devouring each day. For long term travel, you’ll become a whiz in quick, cheap nutritious meals.

11. Take a Tupperware! And some travel cutlery

If you are travelling long-term, one of the best ways to save money is to cook your own food. There’s nothing worse than being stuck out on a day trip or on a long journey with overpriced uninspirational stuff on offer. If you are staying in a hostel/ apartment/ accommodation with a kitchen, a top money-saving tip is to make a double portion the previous night and pack the remainder into a Tupperware container and your own cutlery to eat it with for the next day’s lunch. Perfect!

Image: Pazi Travel Cutlery and Eating Utensils, Stainless Steel 4-in-1 Detachable Fork and Knife Spoon Bottle Opener with Storage Case and Carabiner

12. Caffeine addict?

carry some with you – I’m a total coffee addict, I can’t actually function without my daily hit. So I try to carry a little tin of ‘soul soother’ for those times when I can’t get hold of my morning pick-me-up. Sometimes, the coffee served at hostels is actually palatable, other times it’s like brown piss. The latter is more common. Keeping your own tin of it saves a ton of money too.

13. Eat the street food

IF you do eat out, weasel out cheaper food places. A good indicator is to eat where the locals eat, these are often slightly out of the tourist areas (look for small restaurants and street food vendors). Restaurants will always have a premium price on them, but you can get just as good, and often more authentic food at a fraction of the price if you eat like a local. The main worry is ‘is the food safe’, overall – yes! It’s cooked right in front of you, so it’s not had a chance to sit about and fester if there are a lot of locals eating there, it’s also a good indication that the food is cheap, safe and tasty.

Street-Food-Photo-by-Agathe-Marty-on-Unsplash-Optimised
My mouth is watering looking at this, pretty much everywhere in Asia has amazing street food. Street-Food. Photo by Agathe Marty on Unsplash

14. Pack a water bottle

The world does not need more plastic waste, so after you have finished your bottle of water, keep the empty bottle and refill it. It’s shocking how many people still buy a fresh one each time. Better still use a handy collapsible refillable water bottle. It will save lots of money in the long run and also you’d be doing your little bit to help the planet. Most hostels have a water dispenser so try to get in the habit of using that. For emergencies, you can buy water purification tablets.

Image: Kemier Collapsible Silicone Water Bottle -750ML,Medical Grade,BPA Free,FDA Approved,.Leak Proof Foldable Sports & Outdoor Water Bottles with Carabiner.

15. Take some Herbs and Spices with you

Hostel kitchens can be basic. Sometimes all you’ll find is a few old pots n pans, a chipped plate and a bent fork. If you’re lucky you might find an old box of salt to add some seasoning. You’re more likely to find a lump of unicorn poo in a hostel kitchen than some decent herbs and spices! There’s only so much bland food I can tolerate on a long-term trip. A handy trick is to put some spices and dried herbs into little pots or zip bags. A bit of basil or chilli powder can turn a bland dish into something super tasty.

a top backpacking hack is to carry Herbs-and-spices-Photo-by-Calum-Lewis-on-Unsplash-Optimised
A top backpacking hack is to carry a small amount of herbs and spices with you. Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

16. Carry your Dietary Requirements Information on you

whether it’s an intolerance, an allergy or a dietary requirement, it’s handy to have the phrase ‘I cannot eat……’ written in the local language. Alternatively, pictures of items you cannot eat with a cross through (a bit like a road sign) can also be really useful if you are unsure of the language and want to avoid certain items.

17. Hunt down the local Booze store

drinking out at bars can be expensive, unless you can find a decent bar that does happy hour. Even then, it’s nearly always cheaper buy your alcohol at a shop and drink elsewhere (but remember to check street-drinking rules for the country you are in!). Don’t forget to pack a little bottle opener!

18. Stay at hostels that offer free breakfast

everyone likes free food right? Some hostels offer amazing breakfasts, others are minimal (white bread or toast, bland jam and watery coffee). Sometimes, there is a small fee for a really decent breakfast and cheaper than anything you’d get elsewhere. Also, it’s so much more convenient to chuck something on, roll out of the dorm and get breakfast on site.

Granola-blueberries-and-youhurt-Photo-by-Dan-Counsell-on-Unsplash-Optimised
Everyone loves free food right? Try to find hostels that offer free breakfasts. Photo by Dan Counsell on Unsplash

Travel - Backpacking Travel Tips for Getting Around

19. Use incognito mode to get the cheapest flight deals

So Skyscanner my go-to for cheap flights. One backpacking hack that a lot of people don’t realise is to search in ‘incognito’ or secret mode. You know when you look at a flight and it’s one price, then go back later to check it and it’s going up – that’s because of the algorithm your device is sending to Skyscanner. Searching in secret mode stops this from happening.

Incognito-Photo-by-Braydon-Anderson-on-Unsplash-Optimised
Go Incognito to dodge the price increase algorithms. Photo by Braydon Anderson on Unsplash

20. Book flights at the optimum time

This is about 6-8 weeks before departure, often on a Tuesday or Wednesday at mid-afternoon.

21. Avoid using taxis hailed down off the

This is a sure-fire way to an expensive journey. Depending on where in the world you are, there is a multitude of ‘taxi’ apps, Grab (Asia), Bolt (Baltics) and Uber are all much cheaper than the regular cabbie. The three main advantages, the first being you know the price in advance, no getting screwed over or haggling a price, the second, you know it’s a legit and registered driver, not just some random off the street posing as a taxi driver. The third, the taxi driver isn’t going to drop you off at some random location because ‘his mate’ owns a bar/restaurant/hotel and is after commission on dropping you there instead.

22. Share lifts with other travellers heading the same way

Put a notice upon the board or ask about at the hostel to see if you can taxi share or better still if you’re lucky, someone’s got a car and they are more than happy to split the fuel bill. It’s also more social to go with someone likeminded. Who knows, you might stumble across some off the beaten track place on your journey and with comfort in numbers, go explore someplace you’d never considered.

23. Use public transport

It’s the quickest and cheapest way to get around, especially in cities, this is a no brainer. Depending on which country you are in public trains and buses can range from basic to full-on luxury. It’s all part of the experience. Just be careful to keep an eye on your stuff on certain routes. Pickpockets exist everywhere, but some places they are more prevalent than others, public transport (like everywhere in the world) is sometimes a hub for them. Just use your common sense.

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TukTuk anyone? Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Money - Travel Hacks to Save Money

24. Notify your bank that you are travelling overseas

I had this happen on a trip to Australia. I know the bank was ‘trying’ to be helpful in locking my bank card when they saw various transactions happening from the other side of the world. It was annoying beyond belief having to call them to get it resolved. A big phone bill later calling back to the UK and I did manage to get my card unlocked but I could have saved myself the frustration.

25. Set a budget, and (try to) stick to it

Each region of the world will be different. In most of South East Asia, I could get by on about $20-30 a day (accommodation, food, travel, activities). However, in Europe (and this is Eastern Europe) I struggled with keeping within $50 a day limit – Western Europe and Scandinavia would be substantially more than that. It’s a sensible idea to set a daily or weekly budget before you go, and really try to stick to it. It’s great to have the credit card as back up for unexpected costs, or the fateful impulsive purchases, but if you’re doing this over a long term just be aware of the mounting cost. The worst thing after coming back from an epic trip is checking the dwindling bank balance and a huge debt to pay off.

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Set a daily, weekly or monthly bedget before you go. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

26. Don’t be scared to Flashpack once in a while

for the bulk of the time, I travel on a budget – for food, accommodation, transport. If I can save money, I will save money. Unless you’re fortunate to be able to work and travel or have deep pockets, most long term travellers are on a budget. BUT it’s exhausting. The long travel times on buses followed by a sleepless night in a dorm room with roomies snoring all night can equal exhaustion which is no fun place to be. Just once in a while, you’ll feel backpacker burn out. It’s times like these when it’s ok to splash out a little bit and get a little bit of luxury in your life for a couple of days to recoup. Equally, I love adventure sports, which often come with a price. To keep in budget, I’ll offset it with a few days either side of spending next to no money at all.

27. Put a currency converter app on your phone

So the easy currencies, for example, Dollar, Pound, Euro, are all in fairly small denominations. On the other hand, Vietnam and Cambodia, just HOW many 0’s on their bills? I found it so confusing having to count up the number of zeros on the end of a number to discover it was actually only worth a couple of pounds! But it’s this confusion, that makes tourists a prime target for being short-changed when instead of paying the equivalent of $2 for something, you pay $20! Use a simple converter app to stop this happening.

28. Stash some emergency cash

It’s a good idea to keep a bit of emergency money (I take US Dollars) with you and keep it hidden somewhere safe in case of emergencies. You might lose a bank card, or be stuck somewhere with no ATMs.

Squirreling-away-a-nut-Photo-by-Ramon-Vloon-on-Unsplash-Optimised
If this squirrel has it sussed, so can you. Stash something away for emergencies. Photo by Ramon Vloon on Unsplash

29. Learn the art of haggling

As a tourist, regardless of how skint you think you are, a lot of the world will see you as a walking money bank. Basically, if you’re a tourist, you’re going to get ripped off. You’ll learn quickly that there is what’s known as the ‘local price’ and then the ‘tourist price’. As a rule of thumb, don’t listen to the BS inflated price you first get offered at 10x its actual value. Learn the art of haggling and save a mint. Although it’s a good idea to haggle, get a decent price, just make sure it’s also a fair price.

If you are haggling for something which has been handcrafted (as in it’s not been mass-produced in a factory and has a ‘made in China’ sticker on it) do take into account how much work has gone into the piece whether it’s a rug, scarf, bag, artwork etc. That extra dollar you are trying to bargain down could mean the difference between a meal for a whole family of the person you are trading with. So yes, do haggle, just don’t take the piss.

30. Use money clips, mini bulldog clips, hair clips or paperclips to separate and organise money

 If you are on a multi-destination style trip you will come across lots of different currencies. To keep them all organised, clip currencies together to help keep track of your money.

Image: 4 Pack Slim Metal Money Clip Holder for Men and Women (Silver)

31. Make the most of free stuff in each location

Pretty much every city I’ve been to offer a free city walking tour. Not only a great way to meet other travellers, but also to get the lo-down on the layout of the city and some insider nuggets of information. These tours do operate on a tip basis, so if you enjoyed it or found it of some value then don’t forget to tip the guide! Look out for free museums, or public events happening. Hostels staff or the local tourist board (either tourist information shop, or online) are usually pretty good at divulging this type of info.

What to Wear – Backpacking Hacks on Clothing

32. Use Packing Cubes to keep stuff organised

Not only do they add an extra layer of protection to keep your clothes clean and dry, but they are also amazing for keeping your stuff organised. Packing cubes come in a range of sizes suitable for any type of clothing. This is one of the top backpacking hacks that I’ve started to impliment in the past two years, I don’t know how I managed withouth them.

Image: Savisto Packing Cubes – in Small, Medium, Large, XL (6-Piece Set) – Blue

33. Roll your clothing instead of folding it

Rolling your clothes actually takes up less space than folding it, according to research it also helps to keep clothing more crease-free. A win-win situation!

34. Pack by outfit

If you are limited by how many items you can pack into your rucksack, then make sure you pack items with colours or patterns that can easily be mix and matched. Likewise, try and pack multi-purpose clothing; a casual beach dress by day can be smartened up for the evening by twinning it with a pretty shoal and strappy sandals. Accessories are also a good way to add diversity to a bland outfit.

Demin-and-complimentary-coloured-clothes-Photo-by-Daniela-Dávila-on-Unsplash-Optimised
Double denim anyone? oloured-clothes. Photo by Daniela Dávila on Unsplash

35. Invest in a scarf or sarong, and know how to use it

  • It’s less bulky than a towel for trips to the beach.
  • Temples often require you to cover up, a quick fix is to tie your sarong over your clothes.
  • On chilly flights and long bus journeys, your sarong can be used as a lightweight blanket.
  • If you are going camping, a sarong can be bundled up and used as an emergency pillow.
  • You can make a privacy curtain if you are staying in a dorm room on a bottom bunk.
  • Your sarong can be knotted, twisted and tucked in a multitude of ways to make a funky dress, top or skirt.

36. Know what’s culturally acceptable

This goes for guys and girls, do a little research on the dos and don’ts in a country. On my trip to Jordan, I packed clothes suitable for the middle east. Despite it being hot, it’s not as culturally acceptable to walk about in a middle eastern country in a mid-drift top and little denim shorts. Likewise, in Thailand, you can not enter a temple unless you are appropriately dressed. I do get the argument some people have of ‘I can wear what I like’ which is fine, but you’re asking for unwanted attention, for the wrong reasons. Wear what you like, yes – but just remember how you dress at home could be seen as incredibly disrespectful, or promiscuous to people in other parts of the world. 

37. Pack light - You don’t need as many clothes as you think

Before you go, lay everything you’re planning out on the floor. Go through it all with the aim of ditching at least 1/3 of it. If you can get rid of a 1/2 then even better! Ask yourself, do I really NEED 10 t-shirts, 4 pairs of shorts and 14 sets of underwear? The answer is probably no. Be strict with yourself. Having to lug a 15kg backpack about, when it’s a 30minute walk in the scorching heat, you’ll regret the extra baggage.

38. Use shower caps to put over your shoes

So, I’m not sure who uses shower-caps for their actual purpose BUT they are fabulous for wrapping around the bottom of a pair of dirty shoes before packing and keeping the contents of your back muck free.

Shower-Cap-on-a-cat-Image-by-Digital-Photo-and-Design-DigiPD-Optimised
So maybe just this cat uses a shower cap for it's actual propose. Image by Digital Photo and Design DigiPD from Pixabay

Health & Fitness – Including Backpacking Beauty Hacks

39. Make a basic loo kit

Lot of places around the world, public amenities such as toilets aren’t up to our standard here in the west; especially on long road trips in lots of Asia, Africa and South America. I highly recommended you keep a little ‘loo kit’ in your day bag – toilet paper, wet wipes and hand sanitizer – you’ll thank yourself when nature calls.

Frog-on-the-toilet-Image-by-Alexas_Fotos-from-Pixabay-Optimised
You've probbaly go more chance of seeing an actual frog on a toilet, than a roll of nice soff toilet paper in some places. Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay

40. Keep hairpins in an old tic-tac container

Like at home, these little buggers get EVERYWHERE. If hair clips/ bobby pins are part of your daily hair routine, then keep them in an old Tic-Tac container or mint tin.

41. Invest in solid bars of toiletries

Bottles of liquid are heavy, take up a lot of space and can be prone to leakages. To reduce the number of bottles, buy your shampoo and conditioners in solid block form. No chance of spillages, less waste from plastic bottles, and take up less room and weigh less than their liquid version.

Image: Foamie Shampoo Bar, Coconut – Gloss for Normal Hair – Plastic-Free, pH-Balanced, Soap-Free, No Nasties, Vegan – Perfect for Travel

42. Pack a mini first aid kit

Although most towns will have a shop that might sell some basic first aid stuff, it’s just a pain trying to work out in a different language what certain creams and tablets are. Let alone instructions on how many to take or how to apply them. Keep a small selection of essentials to hand. The basics I would never leave home with are antiseptic wipes, plasters, antihistamine, paracetamol/ibuprofen, diarrhoea (aka, the shits!) tablets & rehydration powder, bug-bite cream, and travel/sea sick tablets.

Image: 90 Piece Premium Kit Includes Eyewash, 2 x Cold (Ice) Packs and Emergency Blanket for  Travel – Astroplast First aid Kit Bag

43. A decent washbag with a hook

In most bathrooms I’ve used in hostels, at most you’ll only have a couple of hooks to balance your towel, clean clothes, dirty clothes you’ve just taken off and contents of washbag on. It’s a balancing act to make sure nothing touches the floor. A handy hanging wash bag means you can hook it over a door, or side of the sink and makes that balancing act a little bit easier.

Image: Travel Hanging Toiletry Wash Bag Makeup Cosmetic Organizer for Women – Waterproof (Flamingo)

44. Go miniature with toiletries

Only take enough toiletries for a couple of weeks MAX! They take up a lot of space and are heavy too. Transfer stuff over to a travel size bottles before you leave and then fill up your bottles as you go – often in Hostels you’ll find loads larger bottles of stuff left over for others to use, because they are bulky and heavy, so fill up your miniature bottles here.

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Super cute teeny tiny frog - everything can be miniaturised. Image by Doris Rohmann from Pixabay

45. Pack a microfiber towel

You can never guarantee having a towel at a hostel. If the hostel does offer them you either have to rent them, or it’s the tiniest, roughest and suspect stained thing you’ve ever seen. Regular towels are heavy and take up a lot of space, so be sure to invest in a cute and colourful microfiber towel like these. They take up next to no space, dry quickly and are super soft on the skin.

Image: 2 Pack Microfiber Beach Towels Set- Lightweight Large Travel Towel (wide stripe)

46. Use a bulldog clip over the end of your shaver

 Probably the most annoying of all cuts; shaver cuts on your fingers as you are rummaging about your toiletry bag. An easy solution either invest in one that has a detachable head and keeps the blade part wrapped up, or use a bulldog clip over the end of the blade. You fingers will forgive you. 

47. Wear a headscarf or bandana for bad hair days

Granted, there are going to be some days when your hair looks like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. A simple headscarf can make any bed-head look stylish. Messy buns and a headscarf, that’s backpacker chic! 

Image: YouGa Headband Bandana – Outdoors Headwear, Wide Headband, Headwrap Multifunctional Headwear

48. Go minimal with the make-up

Humidity, sweat and makeup never bode well. Save the hassle, bulk and weight and just take bare minimal with you; a little bit of concealer, a neutral shade of eye shadow, waterproof mascara and lip balm is about all you will need.

Security – Backpacker tips for keeping safe

49. Always keep your day bag in sight

If you are walking through busy areas and have a satchel style bag or rucksack slung behind you, you are a prime target for pick-pockets. Keep your back in front of you and try to push the zippers inside of your bag. If you are sat at a table it’s often habit to hook your bag over the back of the chair, where it’s easy for someone to walk past and snatch it. Whenever you are sat somewhere public, either put your rucksack on the floor and between your legs, with your own leg or a chair/table leg hooked through the strap, if it’s a smaller bag, keep it on your lap.

50. Hide your valuables on your body

If I’m out and about in a busy area and do not want to take a bag, you could invest in a money belt or scarf. There are loads available, which work great. However, my preferred method is (sorry boys) to hide things in my sports bra! When I first did this, I was surprised by how much I could stash away in a bra. Yes, even my phone fits!

51. Get a decent quality lock

Hostels usually provide a locker, on occasions with a key. Mostly, you have to provide your own, so buy a decent quality padlock before you go. Hostels will often sell them, but cheap nasty things as a hugely marked up price.

Image: Yale Combination Travel Padlock, Yellow, 28mm, Pack of 1, suitable for travel bags and luggage

52. Don’t flash expensive stuff about

I’m always amazed by how much bling people take travelling with them. If you’re going to walk about looking like a jewellery shop, then expect to be a target to thieves. This includes if you have gone shopping and are walking about holding a carrier bag with a designer brand on it. This is a beacon to any would-be thief ‘I have lots of money’. Keep it discrete.

Backpacker Top Tips - Backpacking Tricks for Packing and Organising

53. Bring a small laundry bag

Any small, lightweight bag will do, but canvass shopping bags are perfect for keeping your dirty stuff together and squishing into your rucksack. Just grab the whole bag and drop it to the laundry.

54. Keep hold of plastic bags

I’m not a fan of single-use plastics, so keep hold of any plastic bag you see. For example, the ones that your blanket on the airline is wrapped in is perfect! You never know when you might have wet or muddy clothing to pack away, and it gives a second use to a would-be landfill item.

55. Use a travel wallet with lots of compartments

Most things, thankfully come in a digital format now, although you will always have important documents which you’ll need to keep to hand and organised somehow, a travel wallet is perfect for this.. Keep all your hard paper copies of things. In particular, of your passport, visas, emergency contacts and insurance details in a safe place.

Image: Zoppen Mulit-purpose Blocking Travel Passport Wallet Tri-fold Document Organizer Holder

56. Take a packable bag overflow bag

On a long trip, it’s most likely you’ve acquired a few bits n bobs along the way, and ditching some items might not be an option. Pack a lightweight squishable bag of some sort to use as an emergency overflow. They also double up great if you need a pillow on a long bus ride – stuff it with a jumper and voila, you have a great pillow.

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Tote canvas bags are perfect for emergency overflows. Photo by Phuong Tran on Unsplash

57. Utilise tin-foiland tissue paper for little items

If you plan to take jewellery on your trip a useful way to stop it getting tangled and lost is to wrap each item in tin-foil or tissue paper before packing them. You could use cling film to do the same job, although tin-foil and tissue paper is much better for the environment.  Clingfilm is also useful to wrap any liquids in which might seep out during transit.

58. Pack big and heavy items first, and smallest items last

 Bigger items like shoes, can be filled with smaller stuff before being packed. Pack the big items first, and then fill in the little awkward and annoying gaps with small squishable items.

59. Invest in at least 1 carabiner

These super handy little clips have a whole host of uses and will enable you to pretty much clip anything to, err…anything. You don’t have to go for the really expensive ones that are used for climbing, ones from general outdoor shops are fine.

Image: Banner Bonnie 6pcs Aluminum Carabiner Screw Lock D-ring Keychain Clip Hook- For Home, RV, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Traveling and Keychain

Backpacking Essentials – General Backpacking Tips to make your life easier

60. Pack a length of cord

You might find yourself having to do emergency clothing wash or have wet stuff after getting caught in a downpour. Sometimes there is just no-where to hang your stuff up – a length of cord tied to the posts of your bed or between trees gives you an automatic washing line in these emergency moments.

Clothes-hanging-on-washing-line-Photo-by-Nathan-Dumlao-on-Unsplash-Optimised
DIY Clothes line. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

61. Take fishing line and a basic sewing kit

For basic repairs on clothing, or a surface tear in your rucksack, regular cotton is fine. However, for anything that’s weight-bearing you need something stronger. Fishing line is your answer. I know this from experience, regular sewing thread hand stitching a shoulder strap on back onto my rucksack just didn’t cut it, fishing line worked wonders and lasted until I got back home.

62. An easily accessible small torchlight or headlight

You’ll most likely have one on your phone but it’s super annoying when your phone runs out of battery. A tiny pocket torch is perfect for times like this or better still a headlight – yes, it’s a bit geeky but you do have the advantage of being able to go hand free.

Image: LED Headlight, Super Bright Premium USB Rechargeable Headlamp with Waterproof Design – White & Red Light 5 Modes for Running, Camping, & Travel

63. Bring a small notebook and pen

As much of a joy phones are, sometimes it’s just easier to write down directions, note,  information and your travel journal in a notebook.  It’s also handy to have this from a safety point of view. Nothing screams tourist more than standing outside the front of an airport with sketchy wifi trying to find the address of your accommodation. Write it on a scrap of paper so you can either hand it to someone to ask for directions. No one’s going to run n grab a scrappy bit of paper.

Image: My Travels Adventure Hardback Journal A5 Notebook Map Design

64. Do a tiny bit of research before arriving somewhere

I’m not one for planning much in advance. I love the spontaneity of exploring somewhere new. But it’s handy to know just a little bit about what’s in the region. This is particularly the case if something needs to be booked in advance, or there are limited opening hours. So just give yourself a heads-up, literally, it takes is about 10 minutes on Pinterest to find some itineraries or information about a location.

65. Talk to the locals

You might get one token resident arsehole at a destination, but honestly, the vast majority of locals you’ll meet are absolutely lovely and want to show off and tell you about their country. Rest assured that the majority of people in the world are decent human beings, so if you speak the lingo, or they speak yours, just be friendly. Who knows, they may tip you off about a delicious locally known restaurant, or somewhere that the tourists don’t venture too because it’s not advertised. Even just saying hello and a smile goes a long way.

66. Take a waterproof phone carrier or small zip-lock bag to put it in

Having a waterproof case to put your phone in is super handy if you’re caught out in a monsoon-like downpour while using your phone for navigating. It’s also great little travel hack for slightly wet boat rides.

Image: Waterproof Phone Case  Dry Bag Watertight with Lanyard

67. A pack of cards

As much as I am rubbish at playing, card games are universal. There’s nothing quite like bringing a group of strangers together than a pack of cards. Great for long journeys, drinking sessions at the hostel or staying in the middle of the jungle (yes, I played drunken card games after a day of hiking in the Sumatran jungle) universally silly card games are amazing at bringing a group of people together. Good ol’ fashioned entertainment.

68. Invest in a sleeping bag liner

Sometimes, hostel bedding isn’t quite up to scratch and the cleanliness can be questionable. I’ve slept in my fair share of manky beds! A sleeping bag liner can be a lifesaver here for when suspect stains on the sheets and bedding look dubious.

Image: ALPIDEX Polycotton Envelope Mummy Sleeping Bag Liner. Colour: Blue River

69. Don’t skimp on travel insurance

I know it’s an added expense, but it really is worth it, partly for peace of mind of your valuables, but more importantly the medical side of it. If you were to have an accident abroad, do you have the funds to pay for the potentially expensive treatment you might need?

70. Take a universal sink plug

I know it’s not very exciting. But a simple item like the humble universal plug for a sink can feel like a luxury commodity in some countries. Often, they are non-existent. If you plan on being on the road for a long time and need to wash clothes, you’re probably going to need one.

Image: Sink Stopper (2 Pack) Rubber Bathtub Drain Stopper & Kitchen Sink Plug The Best Universal Sink Stopper and Travel Plug by Muzitao

71. Don’t forget your sense of fun and adventure

For many, the chance of travelling the world is a pipeline dream. If you are privileged enough to be able to travel, make the most of every opportunity. Head off the beaten track, try new stuff and open your mind to every new experience possible.

WOW! That’s a pretty epic list of backpacking hacks! Most likely, a year from now I’ll be adding even more to this list.

Pin it for later

Save these pins so you can come back at a later date.

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If you found this post useful, or know someone who would, then why not like and share it.

Any questions? I’d love to hear from you. Or have another awesome travel hack that should be on this list?  I’d love to know.

Happy travels,

Becki  

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Backpack Becki

A 30something from Bristol, UK who ditched the rat-race in favour of a life of adventure.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. I agree with packing. Very good post. How many times, I’ve been during trip and guys didn’t pack properly.. I don’t even mention about over 100 ml liquid in hand baggage..

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you liked reading it 🙂

  2. These are some really great tips and obviously from experience, I particularly like #5, #18 and #22. I already do a few of them such as numbers 3 and 4 so that made me feel good! 🙂 I always feel like I pack too much and trying to conserve space stresses me out before trips so these are some handy tips for sure! Thanks!

  3. I’m leaving on a monthlong trip in a couple of days. These are swesome hacks and I will be using most of them! Bulldog clips are genius! Thanks for the great list!

  4. Great tips~ I am already doing a few of these things and my fav – using mint boxes for hair clips or earrings (perfect), packing by outfit and using packing cubes
    Next time, I will try separating the currencies like you mentioned ?

  5. The pictures in this post are hilarious! What a great way to remember the backpacking hacks! I completely agree with the scarf point – keeping a few scarves in my bag has saved my bacon a few times when I needed to cover shoulders or my husband needed to cover his knees! I’ve never considered taking a length of cord away with me before, but it’s a great idea

  6. Such a detailed and informative post, I especially love the tip on never underestimating the value a scarf/shawl as I use mine all the time while travelling especially in countries with lots of religious sites.

  7. Fab travel hacks. Isnt it funny how you learn these things on the road. I absolutely LOVE packing cubes, esp if you have big rucksack as finding clean undies in a dark bag can be a nightmare. haha. Fab list – have pinned

  8. These are excellent tips and I love how simple and doable they are. I really need to invest in some packing cubes. My clothes are all over the place. You are so organized. ?

  9. These are great tips, I have never back packed and these tips are very useful. Some of the things I haven’t used but should incorporate is : shower cap for shoes, length cord, sarong as an outfit and clips for earbuds. All others I have utilized and can attest to that work.

  10. These are such handy tips even if you’re not backpacking! I find sarongs and scarves incredibly useful because their use are so diverse. I also love love love packing cubes! Keeps things nice and organised. And totally agree with rolling instead of folding. Love these tips!

  11. These tips are all great; I’ve been using most of them myself for years. Particular faves are the sarong (I would never dream of leaving home without one or probably 2!), the laundry bag (I have a number of different lightweight cotton bags with handles you can tie together; so many shops eager to show their eco-consciousness practically give them out for free nowadays), rolling clothes (always) and a couple of spare plastic bags.

    I’ve got 4 extra tips which I would like to add to this list:

    1) Bamboo towel. I have a wonderful light sarong-type thing which is made of bamboo and is actually designed to be a towel! Bamboo is impossibly lightweight and soft, and feels and looks just like cotton except it absorbs tonnes more water. It also dries out quickly too. I used to always use the synthetic blue Trek Towels and although they are very efficient, I don’t much like the feel of them and also knowing they’re synthetic and will never biodegrade. I much prefer my bamboo towel now. It takes up less space, is all natural and is pretty and light enough that it can pass or double for a scarf or shawl. That reminds me – you haven’t mentioned what you normally use for a towel while you’re travelling?

    2) Bungee cord for drying washing: You mentioned taking a length of cord for a washing line but what do you do for pegs? There’s a better solution to this – take a bungee cord especially designed for this purpose. It’s like 2 lengths of elastic cord, twisted together and with a big hook at each end. You can hook it to whatever you want to, it stretches pretty far, and the twist in the cords mean you can tuck in the ends of whatever you want to dry (like socks, underwear) without the need for any pegs. It’s genius!

    3) Travel Wash! You haven’t mentioned travel wash. I always take a tube or bottle of liquid travel wash (soap) for hand-washing clothes on the go. Then use said bungee cord to hang them up ?

    4) Sink Plug! Speaking of hand-washing ….. another ESSENTIAL is a rubber universal sink plug. I actually saw you mentioned it in another post. If you’re planning on roughing it a bit and staying in cheap places, this can be invaluable when their isn’t a plug (and you want to wash your grubby socks and underpants in the sink Lol).

    5) Because it’s 5 now ? You mentioned bulldog clips…. I never thought of that but they’re quite bulky. My solution is those thin metal hairslides, you know the brown or black or blond ones with the crinkles down one side. I group notes together and keep them together by using these hairslides like paper clips. I’m rather smug and proud of myself for making this one up myself haha! (That said I expect hundreds of people discovered this before me!). It’s helpful for keeping track of your money and for keeping currencies separate, like you mentioned.

    So maybe come to think of it these aren’t ALL ‘hacks’ per se (like the travel wash) but for me these are all on the ‘essentials’ list so I though I’d share them.

    Ooh! One more use for the sarong! If you’re sleeping somewhere less than salubrious and are doubtful about the cleanliness, you can cover up your pillow with your sarong doubled up, then you have the comfort of knowing at least your face is sleeping on something familiar and ‘yours’ and cleanish. I find that very comforting anyway. Gosh Sarongs have hundreds of uses and I’d never even think of packing a backpack without at least one!

    Sorry this post has been so long…. I’m known for being a bit wordy …… I’ve got so many more tips I could share but it’s not like you need them haha!

    1. OMG Vanetia, you’re fab 😀 Would you like to write a whole guest post for me on what you do for travel. You have so many fab ideas – I love it 🙂 Thank you so much for your massive contribution. I’m liking the Bamboo Towel suggestion particularly, I’ll have to look into getting one of those.
      Thank you so much again for posting all these fab suggestions ? x

  12. So many great tips here. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Oh great tips, thank you for a good read!
    Cheers from Sweden 🙂

  14. Great information and great work in putting it together

  15. Such great and practical tips for packing. I am heading out for a week and going to come back to this post.

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