My Backpacking Essentials

Updated: May 28

Traveling with limited space is a challenge that I never thought I’d meet, but here I am! Due to the nature of backpacking, I often find myself in several hostels, night buses/trains, and generally inconvenient situations. I’ve compiled a list of things I couldn’t survive without during my 4-month trek across Europe. Hopefully, these things will give you an idea of what to pack for your next trek while preparing you for the unexpected.


1.  Sleeping Bag Liner

If you plan on staying in several hostels, a bed liner is a must! Due to the nature of hostels, many people have/will sleep on the same pillows and beds! If you’re a clean freak like myself, “yuck” is the first word that comes to mind but, a sleeping bag liner may be your best investment! These are perfect for backpacking because they are light in weight and easy to fold down for space-saving! I bought this one from Amazon. I like this one in particular because it is easy to wash and quick to dry! Another great thing about this liner is the satin material. If you have natural hair don’t worry about finding your bonnet every night, because this liner doubles up as one.


Bonus tip: Carry a travel-sized bottle of Downy wrinkle release spray. Each time you wash your bed liner, spray it with Downy and let it air dry for that fresh linen feeling!


2.  Ear plugs

Do not forget this! Earplugs will be your best friend! I made the mistake of assuming earbuds would be enough but I  found myself in several situations of restless sleep. Some cities may be louder or quieter, depending on where your accommodations are and, most hostels are known to have guests coming and going. Should you have an early train to catch or you just need a good night’s rest, earplugs will help you tremendously. You can easily find sets of earplugs on Amazonbut I also found the same ones at my local Rite Aid. Make sure you pack more than you need should you lose any!


3. Zote

As I mentioned, I wash my bed liner every time I move from place to place! I’ve recently started experimenting with solid products as opposed to liquids, and I love it. Traveling with solid products reduces the chances of spills and when all of your belongings are in a single bag, that’s a risk you shouldn’t take. Solid products are also great because as time goes on, they dissolve and free some space in your bag! Zote is a cheap laundry detergent, it smells great and can be used on delicate clothing. You can find Zote at Walmart for only $0.97!


*Bonus tip: You can also use a small piece of Zote to thoroughly clean your Beauty Blenders and makeup brushes.


4. Lush Buffy Body


I don’t know about you but, I love a simple and quick morning routine! Especially when I need to catch an early train or flight. Lush Buffy Body Bar makes it simple to exfoliate and moisturize your skin while you’re in the shower & wah-lah, no lotion needed! I keep my bar in a separate Lush tin for longevity but a simple soap holder will do. You can find them at LUSH or make your own for much less. Check out my recipe here.


5.  Menstrual Cups

This one is just for my ladies! If you’ve been wanting to ditch cotton products due to the potential risks of TSS this is what consider your search over. Not only are menstrual cups free of chemicals, but they will also save you tons of money in the long run. Who doesn’t love that? I have to be honest, they take some practice but with patience, you can get the hang of it in no time. They are a perfect solution for traveling due to their small size and ability to hold more liquid for up to 12 hours. With proper care, one menstrual cup can last up to a few years. You do the math! I bought mine here!


**Bonus items**


Clothes Pins:

Unless you find time to hit the laundromat, you’ll probably have to hand wash or only have access to a washing machine. Packing some clothespins makes the drying process a lot easier. Just find your nearest drying post and you’re set! I bought my travel set of clothespins here.


Inflatable neck pillow:

Backpackers struggle with space as it is, but our comfort matters too…and who doesn’t love a good nap? I’d be interested to know approximately how many hours are spent between trains, buses, and flights in a single backpacking trip. I bought my inflatable neck pillow here! It’s less than $10, useful when you need it most, and out of sight when you don’t.

What are some travel essentials that you can’t live without? What’s more important to you space-saving or longevity? Let me know!


Until next time,

The Pint Sized Traveler

#backpacking #packinglist #travel