Now with about five months under our belt since having packed up nearly everything we own into boxes, it may be fair to say we have a pretty good handle on living life with only the things that fit on our backs. Large by some standards, we carry 55L and 40L packs. The finite amount of space makes us prioritize and think, “Do I really need this?” “Is this too heavy?” It’s a balance between packing light and attempting to be prepared for everything. As weeks have turned into months, we now have a pretty good grasp on what we need and what we can live without. It was not until we were away from home for an extended period of time that we realized there are certain items that can make life much easier and more enjoyable. Check out the list below for things we initially didn’t know we should have packed!
1. SINK STOPPER
Admittedly this is a funny one, but it has been a real game changer for us. We hike, we kayak…and sometimes we stink! When laundry is not available, what do you do? Wash your own clothes! Whereas some drain plugs leak or are completely non-existent, a rubber sink stopper enables you to use any sink–drain plug or not. Since drain openings differ, we prefer a flat rubber stopper about 4-5 inches in diameter. And although we travel with a laundry bar of soap, really any soap will do.
2. HDMI CABLE
Not an essential, but definitely an add-on that can up your comfort level. Use it to connect your laptop to the in-room TV. It’s definitely more enjoyable watching Netflix than foreign news and giggly game shows in languages we don’t understand. (We used to travel with our Google Chromecast, but we’ve had issues in the past with others trying to connect to it which is why we recommend the hard-wire connection.)
3. FASTENERS, TAPE, CLIPS, and PLASTIC BAGS
This is our travel “tool box.” In a quart-sized resealable plastic bag we have: several more bags (quart and gallon), several rubber bands, four clothes line clips, duct tape, and outside of the bag, a 25′ rope. Plastic bags to be used for storing snacks or keeping valuables safe while on the water. Rubber bands to prevent that half-eaten bag of potato chips from becoming a crushed mess in the bottom of your back pack. Clothes pins can do their obvious task of securing drying laundry, but we also find them useful to secure our curtains shut. And who doesn’t love duct tape? Before leaving home, wrap a few feet around a pen or simply around itself. Rope is the most versatile. It can be used as a clothes line, lashing luggage to a motor scooter, or connecting inner tubes while floating down the river. Lastly, are carabiners. We have a few of these dangling from our packs which are used to tote flip flops, secure bulging zippers, and ensure that water bottles don’t slip out. These items can add on considerable weight, though, so pack wisely.
4. SUCTION HOOKS
I can’t tell you how many times we go to hang a towel to dry after showering and find that our lodging has no place to hang things! No closet and no hangers. Not even a towel bar in the bathroom. By purchasing a few small suction cup hooks, we now ensure our towels have the chance to dry and are free of the dreaded mildew smell! In addition to hanging towels, they can also be used to store a loofa in the shower or elevate a bag of food off the ground away from potential critters.
Yes locks with an “s.” We carry two locks on our travels. The zippers on our bags are easily secured using a small TSA-approved lock we found on Amazon. Though we don’t always lock our bags while on the go, it gives us peace of mind knowing we have the ability. In addition to the small lock, we also carry a flexible one for bicycles. This can be used to keep bags together and/or secure to a fixed object whether you’re in the airport or dropping bags at the reception desk before check in. And a bike lock is handy when parking bicycles or scooters, of course.
Hopefully this list helps you out! What are we missing? Any suggestions?