Top travel gadgets for backpacking

Girl backpacking through mountains and countryside

Let’s admit it, we would all rather wheel our suitcase than carry it. But sometimes, being ‘that girl’ with a wheely bag is just not an option. Knowing that I had at least four night trains, plenty of full-day bus journeys and two days on a slow boat on the Mekong River, I opted for a 60 ltr backpack for my epic trip around SE Asia.

And while the classic ‘roll and stuff’ packing technique does work, a month’s worth of things needed to be organised. Thankfully, I picked up a few tricks on the way and packing up my backpack every couple of days didn’t end up being a huge ordeal by the end of the trip.

If you’re planning your next backpacking trip, here’s a list of gadgets, accessories and tips that made life a bit easier on the road!

1. Packing cubes:

These are absolute God send when you’re trying to organise a backpack. I have two sets at the minute and have various sizes and colours helps me remember what I put in them! In the past, I’ve even managed to pack one medium-sized cube with clothes for the weekend and fly home to Ireland with just a handbag! Now that’s compact packing! These are the classic packing cube shapes I’ve had for years and loved. And these ‘packing sacks’ came in handy for organising smaller things like towels or pyjamas that I wanted easy access to.

2. Backpack travel cover

Most backpacks will come with a rain cover  that will protect your belonging from any unexpected downpours. But investing in a travel cover for your backpack is worth it if you have lots of flights to take. Backpacks are study, but snags and tears can happen when it’s thrown on a conveyor belt and onto an airplane! I have a Deuter Quantum 60+10 and my travel cover was included (and has it’s own little pouch on the bottom of the bag) and was really handy for our flights. It’s also lockable so if you’re feeling nervous about leaving your backpack out, or in a hotel for the day, it was good for peace of mind. Here’s a similar backpack travel cover by Highlander for only £12! Bargain!

3. Carabiners

Don’t underestimate the power of a carabiner! On one trip across Europe, my friends handbag broke just as we stepped out our front door for the first leg of the journey! With no time to go back in and swap bags, we used a carabiner to hold it together ’til we got to our first city to replace it. It ended up holding the bag together for the whole trip! Apart from that I’ve used them to create washing lines to dry clothes inside our tent on Kilimanjaro, hang sandals off the back of my backpack, and clip together zips of my handbag for added peace of mind while walking around a busy street market. I picked up this three pack of mini carabiners from Sea to Summit for my last trip and put all of them to good use!

4. Clear plastic bags

Whether it’s lunch bags or (like me!) you pick up a handful from airport security as you leave, make sure you have a few of these tucked away in your backpack. They’re handy to have for snack, wet bikinis, holding your toothbrush and toothpaste if you’re doing a night train, slipping your Kindle into to protect it from the sand. You’ll find a use for them, don’t forget them!

5. Money belt

Definitely not the most stylish backpacking accessory but I certainly put my money belt to good use on this trip! Every time we had to pack up and move on to someplace new, the first thing I did was put my passport, wallet and phone in my money belt and clipped it on. No matter what else I left behind, the essentials were physically on me and I was ready to go! I would also wear it on overnight trains or when doing activities, like holding my camera while on an elephant trek!

Stuffing a backpack with clothes, shoes, souvenirs and the rest everyday for a month was definitely a challenge, but worth it in the end!

Share your favourite packing tips or travel gadgets for backpacking in the comments below – we want to hear how you made your backpacking trip easier!

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