Although my trip itself didn’t venture far off the beaten track (I was usually in the company of other travellers and staying in hostels) there were a few items I found essential and items I wish I’d taken with me. I don’t suggest myself to be an expert (despite the title of this section!) however I feel I have some useful knowledge to impart so sit back, take note and start planning your next trip!

Obviously the type of kit you take with you depends on the type of trip you are doing and the countries you are going to (i.e. if you are going to Alaska in the winter it’s probably not necessary to take a pair of shorts!) however some items come in useful wherever you are going.

Walking sandals – in a hot country these are invaluable, as putting on a pair of closed shoes in an unbearable heat is often unthinkable whereas flip flops don’t do the job if you’re going on a long walk. Make sure they fit properly and buy a good pair before you go and these will last you your entire trip and beyond, I wore mine continuously for 2 months and they were even more comfortable than my walking boots! Even if travelling to a colder climate these can be useful for wearing around in the evening and letting your feet air.

In my opinion a pair of walking boots for backpacking is unnecessary (unless you are heading off on a mountaineering trip), despite being a keen walker myself they rarely came in useful for the purpose for which they’re designed and while in hot countries these take up a lot of valuable space and weight in the already rammed full rucksack while they’re not in use! I think the best bet for backpacking if going on treks/to colder areas is a pair of comfy approach shoes with good grip for all purpose wear, as well as the aforementioned sandals and these shoes will cover almost all eventualities.

Wind-proof fleece – I resented carrying this around for the first 2 months of my trip while I was wearing shorts and T-shirts, however the second I got to a colder climate I couldn’t think of anything better! Acting in the place of a jumper this fleece can keep you at a nice temperature without making you too hot and in a biting wind this does just the job for keeping the chill off, especially if layered with thermals, and you’ll definitely notice the difference if you take it off!

Silk sleeping bag liner – while this may seem like an unnecessary extravagance (being more expensive than the cotton version) and not actually 100% necessary, this is actually a very handy item to have. While the primary function of the sleeping bag liner is to add an extra season to your sleeping bag by adding an extra layer, it is also washable keeping the inside of your sleeping bag nice and clean without the hassle of washing and drying the sleeping bag itself, and particularly with the silk version, it compresses into a bag the size of the palm of your hand and is barely noticeable in weight therefore you won’t even notice you’ve packed it. While most backpackers hostels provide sheets and blankets, this is great if you’re not convinced of the cleanliness of the hostel and can sleep in your own bag without having to get your whole sleeping bag out. As it is silk it dries very quickly after washing making it ideal for travelling where you don’t have time to hang around waiting for things to dry.

USB memory stick – Now this sounds obvious, but although I thought about everything else relating to my camera, memory cards, charger, spare battery etc. I neglected to consider the fact that I’d need to back up my photos on anything other than the camera, lest it get stolen! Depending on where you travel to it can be hard to find good quality electrical equipment so unless you plan on buying at the airport I’d recommend thinking about it in advance!

There are obviously many other essential kit items but most are available while travelling, and, depending on which country you’re in, most can be purchased at a reduced cost to buying at home, for example sun cream (essential!), a notepad for important info such as booking details or just to be used as a diary and basics such as toiletries.

Whether you are flying off tomorrow or are making grand plans for the future, hopefully I’ve given you a couple of ideas and maybe introduced a couple of ideas for kit that you hadn’t previously considered. Happy travelling!

A smart(ish) outfit – now obviously I’m not talking about a suit but something you’d be happy to wear to eat at a restaurant or go to a bar. Unless you’re going on a full-blown expedition, chances are you’ll encounter a couple of situations on your trip where you don’t want to be feeling conspicuous wearing muddy trekking trousers and thermals and therefore I found it useful to take a couple of items I’d be happy to wear in these situations, although maybe this is more a girl thing! For example, dark trousers and a casual shirt or, for girls, a lightweight dress is useful for both hot days and evenings out. And remember for all clothes, dark colours are a must – take whites if you wish but they won’t ever be white again!

By Tessa Lyons