Top 10 Essentials
Here you will find our Top 10 Essentials we couldn't live without on this trip! Please note: the items we have suggested are because we use them and/or love them, not because we are being sponsored by any of the companies or products. You'll find some links at the bottom with the items we suggest. If you want to check them out for yourself, please follow the links that we provided and we will get a small kickback from Amazon, that is the only way we benefit from this.
1. Packing cubes - So, you’ve got your backpack, it’s amazing and it’s really comfortable. You have also very carefully folded and placed all of your clothes inside! Great! But wait for it… you have to grab that t-shirt placed on the very bottom of the pack and BOOM! everything else gets messed up and unfolds itself like a bomb. Get packing cubes! And get the ones that compress themselves. It sounds silly (at least it did to us at first) but this is one of the best travel hacks we can’t get enough of. Packing and organizing our backpacks have never been easier.
2. Fast-drying towel - I’ve heard mixed things about bringing a towel but from our experience the pros outweigh the cons when it comes down to carrying a towel. We bring them to the beach with us, use them as blankets when cold and sometimes even as a cover when we go to a temple. Hotels provide towels but not every hostel has them (or has one you’d want to use) so bring your own! But don't waste your time with the big, bulky towels you have at home - get a fast-drying one that also folds really small as you don't want it to take all of your very limited space. We bought “turkish towels” they look like and are the size of a beach towel but once folded they take about as much space as Loren’s Iphone 6 Plus.
3. Combination lock(s) - Pretty obvious but if you planning on staying at hostels and especially in dorms, bring a good lock so that you can keep your valuables safe. We have smaller ones on each of our day packs and also bigger, sturdier locks for lockers and such. If you end up getting a private room or a bungalow most of the time you will be able to add a padlock as an extra layer of security. It might sound a bit paranoid but for us it offers peace of mind considering the amount of electronics we carry. Also, make sure you read the fine print on Airport Safety Regulations, some airports will not allow certain locks on your carry-on bag for safety reasons.
4. Duct tape - It fixes everything. We didn't bring one the first time around and we regretted it so much! For the ones wondering why would you ever need duct tape - again it fixes everything! We got a whole in our mosquito net so we patched it with duct tape. Our friend’s net wasn't closing properly so we sealed it with duct tape. Loren’s backpack ripped a little so patched with duct tape. No mosquito net hook? No problem, use duct tape! Before we even left, Loren’s car rear bumper was even patched with duct tape! Should we continue? We love duct tape.
5. Power bank(s) - We do a lot of work on the road but even if you are not a travel blogger/photographer it’s important to keep your electronics charged especially phones since those are used for directions as well as travel info. We especially like the ones that have multiple USB ports and that are more compact.
6. - This is an offline map application that uses GPS instead of data or Wi-Fi. Truly an essential when it comes down to traveling and exploring unfamiliar cities. All you have to do is download the map you need while you have Wi-Fi and then you are all set! Not only will it help you from getting lost but you also won’t look like a tourist wondering around the streets holding a paper map.
7. Diva cup - Sorry boys but girl talk for a moment… Carrying pads or tampons while traveling is 1. Inconvenient 2. Takes up too much space 3. Not available in all countries. So, the solution? Diva cup! There are so many reasons why you should stop using tampons/pads and switch to diva cup but here’s just a few - no waste, so much more environmentally friendly, easy and compact, it’s cleaner… shall I go on?
8. International Driver’s Permit- Definitely a must have! Truth is that no matter where you go you might want to do a little day trip or explore on your own and therefore rent a car or a scooter. While most places do not require a IDP (Officially called the International Driver’s Permit, but most people just say International Driver’s License) to rent said motor vehicles, IDP is still required by police officers. We didn't have them when we rode to Pai from Chiang Mai so we ended up paying 1000 Baht each (around $30 USD) in fines. The cost of the IDP is around $30 and they are usually valid for at least a year so in the long run it’s a much better investment. Get it before you leave your home country as it’s much harder to acquire them from abroad, and they do take a little time to get. Also, watch out for scams! Go to your government website to see who they suggest going through so you don’t get ripped off.
9. Tiger Balm - This is a new addition to the list but definitely an important one especially if traveling to SE Asia! For the ones that do not know what Tiger Balm is - it’s a camphor based lotion sold everywhere in Asia that relieves bug bites and muscle aches. Don't make the mistake of buying it in your home country as it would be triple the price but do get one! No one can escape mosquitoes, no one!
10. Rewards credit card/ No ATM fee debit card - We will have to split this one into two categories in order to clarify what we mean….
- Rewards credit card - Pretty simple, you get points/ miles for every dollar that you spend. Those points/ miles can be redeemed for plane tickets or hotel accommodations so take advantage of that. Check out our post “How to manage money on the road” for more on that.
- No ATM fee debit card - ATM fees can seriously damage one’s travel budget so try to find a way around giving your money to the banks! ATMs usually have a transaction fee whichusually ranges anywhere from $3 to $8 which is not a lot, but when you get money out twice a week it adds up really quickly! We have explained how to avoid those in more detail in our post “How to manage money on the road.”
So there you have it, these are the 10 things that we believe are essential to us! But remember that what works for us might not work for you. So before taking off on that journey around the world decide what is important for YOU, as that will make the biggest difference and help you plan out your own top 10 essentials.