Top 10 Travel Gear for Beginners
Updated: Sep 15
With the vaccine being rolled out, provinces/countries opening up, travel mode will be in full swing once again. If you're new to traveling, knowing what to bring can be a little daunting but don't worry, I have your back.
When I set out to do a Round the World trip 10 years ago, I went a little crazy and bought every travel item I thought I should own. Most of the stuff I rarely used and the other stuff just weighed my bag down even more. After traveling to over 50 countries, 7 continents and lived in 4 of them, here are my recommendations for traveling gear for beginners that you will use over and over again (and not just for traveling).
*These are my own options based on experience. I am not getting paid for any recommendations*
1. Travel backpack with a day bag
Get an actual travel backpacking bag with back support, adjustable straps, a hip belt, and one that comes with a detachable day bag (or can attach a bag to it). I prefer one that opens all the way up, making it easier to find everything and accessing it quickly.
There are a lot of backpacks out there and they come in different sizes. I would highly recommend trying one on before purchasing to make sure it feels comfortable and fits your back properly. My backpack choice has always been Osprey. They have an 'All Mighty' Guarantee which I've had to use with no issues.
Want to make your life easier while traveling? Organizers. I usually carry 4-5 of them and ALL of my stuff goes into those. When I open my bag, I pull out the one I need, put it back, and make zero mess. I have a bathroom bag, socks/underwear bag, bulky clothes bag and/or lighter clothes bag, and a nik nac bag.
I've had these bags for 12 years and anytime I need to pack a bag (even for 2 nights), I use a few of those.
3. Waterproof/resistant bags
I carry a few of these when I travel. They are super lightweight and pretty much become flat when not in use.
I have a Drybag with straps and use it for beach days, boat days, Songkran, or any days near water. When it's not in use, I lay it flat on the bottom of my bag.
I use one for my bathroom bag and all my liquids are placed here. If any spill, the spill is contained in the bag (and it has happened before).
I have a few for my electronics, specifically one for my phone with a strap so I can wear it around my neck.
Last is a water-resistant bag that I keep all my important documents and nik naks in.
4. Rain cover
I have 2, one for my day bag and one for my backpack. You never know when it's going to rain and sometimes you travel unwillingly during monsoon season. Whichever brand your backpack is, they will usually make basic S, M, and L covers to fit over their bags.
5. First aid
You can get a basic first aid kit from most stores ranging anywhere for 1-10 people. Make sure it comes in a waterproof/water-resistant container. Remember to replace anything you use in it and check the Best Before Dates.
If you're not traveling within your country, you probably need an adaptor. You can buy individual ones for each place or you can buy and an all-in-one adapter. I like the all-in-one, that way I'm always prepared regardless of the country I'm visiting and I don't have to deal with losing any individual ones.
7. Protective bag for backpack
Backpacking bags have a lot of little clips/zippers that can be damaged if caught on something. I have a protective bag to put my backpack inside for any bus ride, airplane journey, or anything else that could damage my bag. This bag has seen some damage but lucky my backpack is fine. This is a bit bulky and takes up space, but if you're going to be using any type of transport that will throw around your stuff, I would highly recommend this. As a bonus, it will also keep your backpack clean if it has to be thrown on top of buses.
There's a big difference between towels and travel towels. They save space and dry quicker than a regular towel and you can pack 2 without even putting a dent in your storage space.
9. Sleeping bag
When I did my 14 month RTW trip, I pulled this out about 95% of the time. I did couchsurf a bit but even in some of the hostel/hotels, there weren't either enough blankets for how cold it got or we didn't get any at all! They also work well for overnight train or bus rides.
Depending on where you are going and the time of year, you can get a compact and light one for up to 5°C.
10. Water tablets
These are a great backup if you won't have access to clean drinking water or bottled water or if you're a little bit iffy about the water you're going to drink. I used the water from the tap in most countries, popped one of these little tablets in, and never had any issues.
What are some of your must-go-to backpacking gear?