9 Essential Travel Items You’ll Wish You Packed

9 Essential Travel Items You’ll Wish You Packed

Essential Travel Items

So you’re about to embark on a backpacking adventure and travel to Southeast Asia but you have no idea what to pack. Either you’re panicking about bringing too much (trust me, it sucks lugging around an 80L backpack while jockeying through the crowds on Khao San Road) or you’re worried that you might forget those essential travel items that would’ve made your life so much easier.

Travelling light - Essential Travel Items

Yes, I ditched the umbrella.

Fear not! Pack these 9 essential travel items with you and you’ll be thanking me for months to come. Don’t and while I’m sure you’ll survive (barely), you’ll be silently cursing yourself for having read this article and not listening to me. Don’t give Future You a reason to hate Present You.

Toilets in SE Asia - Essential Travel Items

Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

  1. Toilet Paper
    • I don’t know how many dodgy toilets I’ve used in SE Asia that had no toilet paper, but each and every time I’ve been so happy that I was packing. Plus, you’ll be a hero to your fellow travellers if you spare them a square. This is an obvious essential travel item. (Protip: Squeeze and take out the cardboard roller in the middle for a smaller footprint in your pack)
  2. Hand Sanitizer
    • I confess, I rarely used mine because, well, I’m stupid and I just ate whatever street food I could find with my grubby little hands. However, there have been those rare moments when the filth on my hands was just too much, even for me. That’s when I said enough was enough and sanitized them. Trust me, when you need it – like after using a dodgy SE Asian toilet – you will REALLY need it.
  3. Flip flop Sandals
    • If you’re planning on hitting the beach, you’ve probably already packed a pair of these. However, even if you’re backpacking through Eastern Europe in the dead of winter, pack a pair of flip flops anyway for the hostel showers. Next time you’re in there, take a close look at the floor and you’ll be thanking me for ages to come. Or you could just try walking and standing on your heels the entire time. Toes up!
  4. Sharpie with Duct Tape
    • Sharpie writes on everything. Duct tape fixes everything. ‘Nuff said. Wrap the duct tape around the Sharpie to save space and combine them both into a single essential travel item.
  5. Reusable, Resealable Ziploc Freezer Bags
    • Waterproof, sturdy, thin, cleanable; having a few of these in your backpack will save your life and space. My toiletries bag is a ziploc bag. My electronics bag is a ziploc bag. My wire bag is ziploc bag. My passport bag is a … you get the picture.
  6. Travel Pack Towel
    • This is pretty much a given but just in case you were thinking about bringing your plush, soft, cotton towel from home – don’t. It’s a waste of space, takes forever to dry, and is super heavy. Invest in a microfiber travel towel and you’ll love how light, compact, and fast drying it is.
  7. Waterproof Poncho / Jacket
    • Rain, it’s inevitable. Unless you’re travelling in the desert. Still, nothing is worse than trying to find a hostel to sleep at and getting soaked to the bone. Ok, being soaked and getting all your gear wet as well is worse. Ponchos aren’t exactly the most fashionable but they sure do work well. Bust one of these out in the middle of a storm and you’ll be the envy of the hostel.
  8. Quality Ear Plugs
    My mattress is the one in the middle - Essential Travel Items

    $7 in Koh Samui, last minute, on New Year’s Eve will get you this.

    • Forget these and the only hope you have of falling asleep in a 16 bed dorm room in Hanoi or a room full of drunken Aussie’s in Koh Samui, is to drink until you pass out. Welcome to the suck.
  9. DSLR Camera
    One of a billion photos I took - Essential Travel Items

    This view from atop Adam’s Peak at sunrise was worth lugging my 2 kg DSLR for 3 hours.

    • Now this is a debatable essential travel item. Sure, it’s heavy, it’s big, and it’s expensive to carry around. And 90% of the time, the camera on your smartphone is usually good enough. But for those once-in-a-lifetime moments, like when you’ve just reached the summit of Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka and the sun is rising out through the clouds as they roll across the horizon… you’ll wish to all that is beautiful that you had a decent camera to capture that moment.

So there you have it. It’s by no means a complete list of everything you need but I promise you that should you find yourself in one of these situations and you forgot to pack that one essential travel item, you’ll be clenching your fist and shaking it vigorously while cursing the day you read this post.

What are some of the essential travel items that you always pack with you and can’t travel without? Post your suggestions in the comments below and save your fellow readers from needless frustration!

Written by Garry

Hi. I’m Garry. I’m an independent blogger who left the startup world in search of something more meaningful. What I found was a world full of amazing people, cultures, and experiences. I created this blog to share as much of it as I can and hopefully to inspire others.



Nice article! For women, I would also pack tampons, because I thought you can buy them in any supermarket all over the world, but this isn’t true.


Awesome tips! But never forget a pack of antibiotics. The best I can recommend is Ciprobay (ingredients Ciprofloxacin). This cures every bacterial infection!


Thanks! I was lucky and never needed antibiotics but I’ve heard that Cipro is killer and can cure everything! Thanks for the tip!


a flashlight, a few years ago, we decided to take on Mt.Fuji without planning, and halfway up with no money to rest at the Inn, we asended in the dark! Flashlights saved us!!


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