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There are accessories that can make life as a budget traveller that much easier. Ever needed to look up the way back to your hotel on your phone and it's dead? Portable chargers can be a life saver. When looking for travel accessories, it's important to keep the cost, weight and necessity of each item in mind. We had a lot of positive feedback on our original travel accessory post and decided to expand it to more of the accessories we use when backpacking, road tripping or on a weekend break.
1. Portable charger
Portable chargers are a must have travel companion, no matter how long or short your journey might be. Simply having one fully charged and sitting in your backpack can give you peace of mind that you will never be stranded without your phone or tablet. On many occasions in the past we have been in a foreign city for hours on end and our phone batteries have died, without our portable charger this would have left us without direction to our Airbnb and without a go to translator.
The portable charger is also perfect if you are on a long flight on a plane without USB or mains outlets at each seat (oh yes, they still somehow exist). With your portable charger at hand in the airport you wont have to join those 12 other people crowding around the outlet in departures either.
When it comes to choosing your portable charger, there are two key things to look out for, first of all the number of charging outlets it has (if you are wanting to charge multiple devices) and also the capacity of the battery. The higher the mAh the more capacity your battery will store. 5000mAh will generally charge your phone fully one and a half times, whereas one with a capacity of 15000mAh will charge your phone up to 7/8 times. Notice that three times the mAh gives more than three times the charging capability.
3. First aid kit
Lots of things can happen while you are traveling, be it walking blisters, hangovers, upset stomachs from 'different' foods and so on. We always pack a mini first aid kit so that we don't need to around looking for a pharmacy and buy 100 band aids to grudginly bring home with us. You can buy a travel first kit or make your own using what you already own. It's also good to bring a kit when you're camping or in areas of the world without strict pharmacy regulations. We made ours, but it was important to remember to clearly label all of the pills with dosage amounts, especially when entering countries where a language barrier is going to exist and be sure to look up what it legal to bring with you across the border.
Some items we have in our first aid kit:
- Bandaids (various sizes)
- Alcoholic wipes, to clean cuts and scrapes
- Allergy medication, such as Benadryl
- Pain killers, such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol
- Stomach helpers, such as Imodium for diarrhea and Gravol for nausea and senna for constipation
4. Reusable bags
Reusable bags are great because you probably already have them at home! They are perfect for anything from buying food and souvenirs to keeping your shoes away from clean clothes in your bag. We even used them to keep our dirty laundry separate! We always bring a few along, especially as they can be folded up small.
5. Hat, sunglasses and other sun-protection
Sun protection is all the rage these days! And can you blame anyone? Prolonged sun exposure (anyone hitting the beach on their next holiday?) can increase your risk of skin cancer as well as signs of aging. Sunscreen is great but needs to be re-applied at least every two hours and after you get out of the water. It's also not so good for the environment, even reef-safe sunscreens are still packed with ocean harming chemicals. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and long clothing can alleviate the need for sunscreen altogether which is perfect if you are struggling to find a well priced reef-safe sunscreen. Our favourite sunscreen is Sun Bum 50 SPF because it protects against UVA and UVB rays or Badger Sunscreen Bug Repellent for hiking and vacations at the lake.
6. Packing Cubes
What is the point of a packing cube? They help compress clothing so you can fit more into your suitcase, which is perfect for budget travellers using hand luggage only. We have been using Heys Ecotex Packing Cube Set for years. The 'eco' comes from the fact they are made from recycled water bottles. They've held up to the wear and tear as well as keep our clothing organized so you can get dressed and ready quickly. If you are looking for something a little cheaper, the Amazon Basics Packing Cube Set is highly recommended on various travel websites.
7. Contact cards for your belongings
We print out contact info cards and taped them to the bottom of our laptops, inside our phone cases, my camera bag and inside my purse. This is super easy to do and can save your belongings! We make sure to put our email address on everything because we move countries often and our phone numbers are always changing. Our keys even have leather key rings with our emails engraved on it. We include our first names, email and phone. My tip is to put these places that are not easily accessible unless it is in the person hands. This will stop scammers getting your contact information on the fly.
Pro tip: Use luggage tags that must be opened to see personal information. We never put our full address on luggage tags, instead opting for our home airport. You can always give the airport an address to ship it to. Again, it adds an extra layer of security.
8. Solid Cologne or Refillable Perfume Atomizer
Solid cologne and perfume atomizers are essential for travellers who want to smell good and not be constrained by liquid regulations on flights. I swear by Duke Cannon's solid cologne bars, that come in a handsome metal tin as well as Lush's 'Dirty'. Not only do I find solid cologne to be more sensible when I travel, they also seem to last so much longer than traditional spray bottles.
Perfume atomizers work by combining a liquid perfume with compressed air, resulting in an exceptionally fine perfume mist. The main benefit of having this while you travel is that you get to take your favourite scent with you without having to lug round the whole, often clunky, glass bottle. Much like the solid cologne bars, perfume atomizers help your fragrance last a lot longer. As the atomizer contains such a small amount of liquid, you don't need to worry about that difficult customs officer throwing out your perfume bottle as it goes over your liquid limit.
9. Comfortable shoes never lose
This is one of the most underrated travel accessories and an absolute must-have for the budget traveler, because let's face it, chances are you'll be walking all day. Wearing flats, dress shoes or, even worse, heels are impractical for most travel experiences. A good starting point is to look up the weather for your destination(s) as well as think about the activities you'll be doing. I promise, there are ways to get that perfect travel shot with both comfortable and stylish shoes.
So, any ideas? White running shoes (or trainers if you're English) are a staple for both of us on holiday. They go with most things and can be worn in almost any scenario, including 14 hour days exploring the city to hiking up a mountain. They never go out of style but can get a little dirty. I have machine washable ones and the lases can be soaked in bleach to get them back to their pearly-white-selves. We all love to get a few new things before a big trip but remember to break in your shoes before you leave or you'll be spending the whole time with blisters and limping.
For more packing help, check out guide to the perfect travel wardrobe.
10. Lightweight luggage and a scale
If you travel often, you'll already know the standard weight limit is 50 lbs or 23 kg for a checked bag. Although we often opt for hand luggage only, as it comes with many benefits, we have moved to new countries several times and that requires a checked bag or two! No one wants to pay overweight fees. We use IT luggage and absolutely love it! Not only is it extremely light but is a great price and comes with a 10 year warranty if you retain the receipt (we keep ours in the front pouch of the bag). They also come in crazy colours which are easy to find at the airport and have less chance of being stolen. We have been using the soft style for several years now and none have been damaged or worn out.
We use a typical weigh scale rather than purchasing a travel scale. We have a scale at home and so do friends or family, so we can always borrow one if we're are moving. There are two ways to figure out your luggage weight, one being simply placing it on the scale. However, most scales are too small for the luggage so get an accurate reading, one of us will stand on the scale and then take note of the weight. Then pick up the luggage and minus our weight off that reading.
Take a pen. If you are travelling internationally, chances are you will need to fill out a landing card. Save yourself the hassle of trying to find one at 30 000 ft. and keep one in your bag. It will also come in handy if your phone dies and you need to write down directions, reservation numbers or other travel information.