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- Remi Rosmarin / Business Insider
- After college graduation, I took a month-long trip around the world with my friends.
- I packed everything in a relatively small backpacking pack, so I had to be pretty calculated with my packing list. Ultimately, I learned what products were really essentials and what were unnecessary extras.
- These are the eight essentials I brought with me on my trip, which I couldn’t imagine traveling without now.
After graduating college, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably be overcome with a range of emotions. As one chapter ends you may feel nostalgic, anxious, excited, or a mix of all these emotions as you anticipate what’s to come. You may have your next moves set in stone before you even get your diploma or you may be just trying to get a sense of what’s next for you.
Flush with a range of post-grad emotions, I put my energy into a different pursuit, backpacking from Israel to Southeast Asia with my friends. We made our way to four countries over the course of a month, packing mostly in large backpacking packs, staying in hostels, Airbnbs, and planning much of our itinerary on the fly. In the end, everything went smoothly. Of course there were bumps along the road, but the excitement of traveling helps to minimize the impact of those obstacles.
I spent a lot of time packing, knowing that I’d be far from home for a month. While I packed pretty light, there were still some things I probably could have lived without, but there were also a host of products I couldn’t imagine having gone without.
Whether they made traveling easier, comfier, more efficient, or just helped ease my mind – these are the eight essentials I took on my post-grad trip around the world, and will bring with me for the next big trip I take, too.
Activated charcoal capsules
Immersing myself in the local cuisines was one of my favorite parts of my travels. Trying stinky durian in Thailand, freshly-fried falafel in Tel Aviv, and steaming bowls of Pho in Hanoi were just some of the highlights. Don’t hesitate when it comes to trying the local delicacies, just be prepared. As a traveler – especially in places where climate and sanitary practices are different than in your home country – you’re more prone to getting sick from contaminated food or water.
Activated charcoal works like a filter, absorbing toxins so those contaminants don’t get absorbed into your body instead. I always kept a bottle of this in my backpack for moments when my stomach felt a little iffy. You can take it three to four hours before or after your meals. While it won’t totally cure any serious stomach issues, it really did lessen the effects of a sour stomach for me so I could focus on enjoying my travels.
At home or abroad, germs are everywhere. But, when you’re frequently taking and touching things on planes, trains, and local forms of public transportation, you’ll want to have some hand sanitizer nearby.
When you’re out and about adventuring all day, you can also expect to use a lot of public restrooms. And bathrooms around the world don’t always have the same comforts you may be accustomed to at home. Coming across sink-less or soap-less bathroom situations won’t be so bad when you have a supply of hand sanitizer to rely on. These ones are perfect for travel because the jelly wrap can be looped around your backpack for easy access.
- REI Co-op
If you’re traveling for a prolonged amount of time, your suitcase (or backpack) is more than just a place to hold your things; it’s pretty much your life condensed into a reasonable-enough-to-carry size. Make the most of what space you do have, and bring some routine to an otherwise unpredictable time with packing cubes. I brought these with me specifically because they’re waterproof and expandable. You don’t have to worry about any toiletry spills or leaks ruining your clothes, and you can seriously maximize your space with the expandable zipper.
Packing cubes also make finding all of your belongings much easier. I always knew where I could find my shirts, shorts, socks, etc., because I packed my cubes accordingly. If you’re frequently traveling to new destinations, having this organizational system will make your life a lot easier. Instead of wasting time shuffling through your bag to get dressed when you touch down in a new city, just quickly go into your packing cubes, get what you need, and you’re all set to explore an exciting new spot.
Losing passports, credit cards, visas, or any other important documents can add a lot of stress to your trip. Foreign countries have different rules and restrictions on what documents you need to get in and out. And, you may not always be conveniently located near an embassy that can help you get your documents sorted out. Here’s hoping you don’t lose anything, but play it safe and bring backups of your important documents just in case.
I kept a basic plastic folder, filled with photocopies of my important travel documents, in my big backpack. This probably wasn’t the best way to tote my documents – there are likely more compact options around – but I didn’t have any issues and it did a fine job of keeping all of my backup papers in one place. If you want something smaller, there are plenty of smaller zipper travel folios – like this leather or polyester option.
I actually did not pack one of these myself, but I borrowed my friends’ carabiners so often I have to deem them an essential. These lightweight clips have so many uses and came in handy so many times while traveling.
First and foremost, these are a great way to lock your backpack. Instead of holding your backpack on the front of your body in ultimate tourist fashion, keep it on your back and just throw a carabiner between the zippers to fend off any pickpockets. My friends and I often clipped our Tevas onto our backpacks for days when we knew we’d have to change up our footwear – like days when we’d go hiking then swimming. And, when your big backpack is stuffed to the brim, a carabiner can help give you some extra space – just clip on extra bags and let them dangle off securely.
- Teva Instagram
I was always pretty vehemently opposed to Tevas, but since traveling I’ve been converted into a major Teva fan. Now, I’ll more than happily admit that these are probably the best shoes for travel. There’s no crazy design or technology – just a rubber-soled sandal with Velcro straps. They’re comfortable enough to walk miles on cobblestone city roads or muddy hiking trails, and they’re waterproof and dry pretty quickly, so you can wear them in the rain, sunshine, or even right into a lake as water shoes.
When traveling, you want to be up for whatever adventures come your way and you don’t want the wrong footwear to come in the way of that. I say, just wear Tevas. They’re ready for anything.
A towel probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of packing light, but this one folds up to be almost flat and takes up very little space in your backpack. If you’re planning on staying in hostels, or traveling to places where you’ll be exploring beaches, lakes, or waterfalls, you’ll want one of these one hand. While it’s really thin, the microfiber will dry you off just as well as a regular cotton towel, but it also means it dries a lot faster. Just wring out all the water you can and leave it to air dry, or if you’re on the go, pack it into the waterproof carry pouch. The pouch also serves as a great place to store wet bathing suits and clothes.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and it feels like it only speeds up when you’re traveling. You’ll make unforgettable memories for sure, but with so many exciting new things going on at once it’s not unlikely that some things may just slip your mind when reflecting on your trip. Keep a little notebook with you to jot down random musings and keep track of events.
It’s a surefire way to make sure you’ll always remember every part of your travels, and it offers a nice way to slow down and reflect on everything you’re doing in the moment. You could also journal on your phone, either through an app or on a long note, but I much prefer pen and paper. My friends and I would often all take some time before going to bed to journal and it really was a nice ritual after long, busy days.