Packing Hacks: Versatile Backpacking Items
On my various long-term trips over the years, I’ve learnt a few lessons the hard way and picked up a few ingenious tips from fellow travellers. The more you travel, the more you discover new uses for things and find ways to cut down on the contents of your backpack.
The version of me that set out on my first big adventure was woefully unaware of some of the tips I’ve since picked up. These little tricks have meant I can shed kilos from my backpack, which my shoulders have definitely thanked me for.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveller looking for a few new pearls of packing wisdom to add to those you’ve picked up along the way, or are about to set off on your first big trip and have no idea where to start with your packing list, these multi-use tips are packing gold.
Take a bit of the weight off your shoulders or even gain a little bit more space in your luggage by making these the first things you pack before you head off on your adventure.
This isn’t just for dental hygiene reasons, although you will want to take extra care of your teeth whilst you’re travelling.
That’s because chances are that your diet won’t be as good as it is at home, and your alcohol consumption levels might well be a tad higher than usual. All of that combined can wreak havoc on your teeth.
Dental floss is a wonderful multipurpose item to tuck into your backpack. It works amazingly as a makeshift mini washing line if you want to wash something out in the sink and then hang it out to dry next to your bunk bed, or even in your tent!
It can also be used as an emergency thread if, for example, you suddenly rip a hole in your backpack. Just make sure you have a decent needle on you too!
Although dental floss won’t cut through anything very stubborn, it will make light work of slicing through cheese or bread, so it’s great as an emergency knife.
If you want a bit of extra privacy in your dorm then you can use it as a way to string your sarong over the front of your bed. If you find yourself in need of some shade on the beach, then tie between two trees and drape your sarong over it. This brings me on to my next wonder-object, vital for your trip, the sarong.
Whether you’re male or female, never go anywhere without your trusty sarong, no matter what kind of climate you’re headed for.
If you don’t have one, pick up a cheap one before you go, or make it your first purchase once you’ve touched down in your destination. You’ll find they’re for sale everywhere that it’s remotely warm, or anywhere near a beach, and one will last you a very long time.
Along with the two options above, a sarong can be used as a towel (saving yourself the weight of a bulky towel), as a picnic blanket and a beach blanket.
You can use it as a blanket on a plane or bus journey when they’re too over-enthusiastic with the air conditioning and you haven’t got a sleeping bag liner to hand.
It can be worn as a dress, a skirt, a scarf, a headwrap…. If you happen to come across a church, temple, mosque, or anywhere where you might not to show your shoulders or be in shorts, a trusty sarong will cover any bare skin up, whether you’re male or female. Basically, you name it, a sarong can be used for it.
Of course, with all these varied uses, you’ll probably want to throw in a small bag of washing powder so you can give it a quick rinse now and again. The beauty of most sarongs is that they’ll dry really quickly so you won’t have to be waiting around for long.
Make sure you always keep your sarong in your day pack rather than leaving it behind when you go out for the day, as you never know when you might need it for all kinds of reasons.
Never go on a trip again without a jar of coconut oil in your backpack. There’s a reason why the popularity of coconut oil has exploded in recent years, and that’s its incredible versatility, as well as its potent properties.
Whilst travelling, you don’t want to be weighed down by all kinds of different pots containing various chemical-filled concoctions that all perform different roles. Why would you, in fact, when coconut oil can replace many of them?
The miracle oil can be used as a face and body moisturiser and even an after sun. It even naturally has a couple of SPF in it.
It can be used as a hair mask when your locks start to feel a little abused after long days exposed to sun, sea and sand. It’s a natural make-up remover and will melt away even the stubbornness of waterproof mascaras and eyeliners.
Have you heard of oil pulling? Swirling coconut oil in your mouth is a wonderful way of protecting your oral health, and is also claimed to be a great teeth whitener.
Between this and the dental floss, your dentist will never believe you’ve been travelling!
Coconut oil is even a natural deodorant; just rubbing some into your underarms should help keep you naturally odour-free, although it isn’t an antiperspirant, and if you’re used to artificial deodorants then you make take a while to adapt to it.
Sound too good to be true? Try all of these tricks out before you embark on your next big adventure and see for yourself.
Make sure your jar of coconut oil closes tightly and doesn’t leak, and close it well everytime you use it, or you might regret it!
When moving around, it’s worth wrapping it in a plastic bag or two to make sure that if any does leak, you won’t end up with the entire contents of your backpack being covered in oil! That’s not very easy to wash out. Trust me, I’ve been there!
Also, remember it will escape more easily when in its liquid form, which it will be if it’s warmer than 25 degrees. I’ve learned this one the hard way.
This is something you’d probably never think to pack unless you’re headed somewhere like Ireland, that’s famous for its downpours at any time of the day, and any time of the year.
However, if you think about all the things that a plastic rain poncho can be used for, you might well have a change of heart.
If you’re sleeping under the stars, use it as a tarp, laying it out under your sleeping bag to keep you that extra bit warmer and dry. Genius! Having a picnic? If the ground’s a bit damp, then whip out your poncho rather than your sarong as a picnic blanket.
Wet clothes and no plastic bags to hand? Wrap them in your poncho instead.
Sudden rainstorm? Use your poncho as an emergency rain shelter to share with a fellow traveller – maybe even that attractive guy or girl you’ve had your eye on. You could even use your dental floss to string it up so you don’t have to hold it over your head. Be resourceful!
The beauty of travelling is that it teaches you to be resourceful, and things that once seemed one-dimensional suddenly take on a thousand and one uses, if you’re just willing to think slightly outside the regular box.
This way you can even guarantee that your luggage weighs less, too. As you go, you’re bound to come up with your own list of packing hacks that make life on the road just that little bit simpler. Happy discovering!