I have been travelling around Europe for 2 months at this point and I want to share with you 10 things that have improved my travels. These are some old and new items that improved my travels significantly, in comparison to my first long trip.
So, in no particular order:
1. ‘Go’ Travel Toothbrush cover (about $4-$5AUD from a pharmacy)
On my first trip, I used a ziplock or sandwich bag to store my toothbrush. This was messy and just gross. Now I have an actual toothbrush cover from the brand ‘Go,’ which I bought in a pack of 4. After rinsing my toothbrush and shaking the water off it, I put on the cover. My toothbrush is kept clean and if I rest it on a surface (with the cover on) I don’t have to worry about it being covered in germs.
2. Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader ($174AUD from Officeworks)
This was a last minute purchase that I picked up before my trip commenced. I wanted to start reading more regularly but I didn’t want to be burdened with a backpack full of books. I am thoroughly enjoying my Kindle! It is lightweight, fits easily in my small handbag and it’s easy to use. The battery life is incredible, giving you around 28 hours of use in one charge. I am able to read multiple books at once if I want to, all on the one device. Clearly, this saves a lot of space rather than having 2 or 3 books and instead, having this slim 161g device. For my Kindle cover, I use a bubble wrap bag that came with one of my camera gear purchases.
3. Acer Aspire S 13 – ($958AUD on sale at Harvey Norman at the time)
My tech-savvy brother, Tyson picked this out for me about a month before my trip started after my old, heavy laptop that served me for many years died on me. I read many Tech blogs and travel blogs and spoke to many friends for about a week before making this purchase. Many Apple lovers tried to convert me but the price was something I could simply not justify. I was also very sceptical about the hype. With my head in my hands, I told Tyson that I wanted a laptop with similar specs to the Apple MacBook Air but for a better price. He did very, very well and I am very grateful that he helped me decide on this purchase.
All of the specs on this laptop are either identical or better than the specs for MacBook Air and for an exceptionally better price! The screen on this little 13.3″ laptop is incredible (with IPS and full HD 1080), the battery is long-lasting (up to 13 hours battery life), it has built-in Dolby speakers, it is thin (0.57 inches) and very lightweight (1.4kg). For the MacBook Air with the same amount of storage as this laptop (256GB SSD), it would’ve cost me $1799AUD. So, I essentially saved $841AUD. I use a SwissTech 13.3″ sleeve to protect this laptop, that cost me $24AUD.
4. Decjuba Blanket Scarf – ($10AUD on sale, no longer available)
I had my eye on this scarf for months and waited for it to go on sale. I purchased it just before Spring ended. It was initially around $50-$60AUD. This is a multi-purpose accessory. It is a scarf, a blanket when I need one and I recently I used it to reinforce my privacy curtain on my bunk bed in an 8-bunk dorm. While in warmer parts of Europe I have been wearing only a jumper with this scarf and going without my coat and it works because it is so warm and so big! I highly recommend a blanket scarf for winter travels.
5. Kit Classic Hanging Toiletry Bag from Kathmandu (purchased on sale $29.98AUD – RRP: normally $49.98AUD, $39.98AUD for members)
This bag is incredibly practical due to it’s hanging function. It generously stores all of my bathroom toiletries, current medications/supplements and my retainer. I like the compartments, the size, the material and the fact there is a hook and another piece of material to hang it with. I highly recommend having a hanging bag, in the past, I had one without a hanging hook and often had to place my toiletry bag on sopping wet or otherwise gross looking surfaces in hostels. Note: When I made this purchase, I purchased a lifetime Summit Club Membership for $10AUD (note: some people like students, seniors and YHA members can get this for free!!!) and saved around $20AUD because of this purchase at the time. I later used this membership for subsequent purchases which resulted in further discounts.
I recommend packing some masking tape to wrap around the lid/opening part of your toiletry products. Whenever I am flying I do this to prevent spillage.
6. Bag of Spares
This bag full of spare products was created spontaneously before I set off on my travels. I have kept an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, face wash and deodorant in there. When I know I am running out of a particular item or see an item that I regularly use on sale or for a good price I buy it and put it in this little bag. Sometimes when you buy things like razors and toothbrushes they often come in packets that contain multiples of the product. This can sometimes be more economical, those extra’s go in this bag. I think having a bag of spares is particularly helpful if you are travelling long-term.
7. Multi-outlet Powerpoint
I read on many travel blogs that this was a good idea and it truly is. If you use multiple electronic items on a daily basis you will find this especially helpful when you have access to only one powerpoint and especially when you have only one travel adaptor. You can charge all your items at once and this will make your life a lot easier.
8. Large Passport Wallet From Kathmandu (Purchased on sale for $35.98AUD – RRP: normally $59.98AUD, $47.98AUD for members)
This wallet keeps all my very important items in one place. I keep this always locked up and on travel days it doesn’t leave my side. It holds my passport, an extra bank card, insurance information, my vaccination passport, extra passport photos and some antique postcards that are very sentimental to me. I find this very convenient way to store these items, I like my passport to have its own home and when it is inside my small backpack it is almost camouflaged.
9. Gym Bag For Dirty Clothes
I got this bag for free when I was a member at a Fernwood Gym, any drawstring bag (or just a bag that can be closed securely) would do the trick though. I used to store my dirty clothes in a plastic bag but this doesn’t work so well and can be noisy (not great for hostel etiquette!). This is the perfect home for my dirty laundry, contains odours from stinky socks and is secure so my dirty laundry won’t go swimming amongst my clean clothes.
10. Thermal Tops From Kathmandu (if my memory serves me correctly I purchased them for $65AUD each on sale – however, they are both on sale for a lower price now, links below)
I have tried 3 different brands of thermal tops in polyester and merino wool. The Kathmandu Thermal Tops are my favourite so far. I purchased 2 black 100% merino wool tops, one crew neck and the other V neck. Merino wool products tend to be expensive but the material itself is a backpacker’s best friend. These Kathmandu thermals don’t irritate my skin, I wear them interchangeably and wash them when they start to smell which takes a while if you shower daily and use a good deodorant (this can take weeks!!!!). I highly recommend these especially if you are travelling to places with cold climates. I have also been wearing them as outerwear in warmer climates, in Spain and Portugal in winter.
Polyester can get very stinky very fast so stick with 100% Merino Wool Thermals.
I hope you found this blog post interesting and that it gives you some ideas of what to pack in your backpack or suitcase for future travels.