5. A sarong – even for men, too
A simple piece of cloth with many functions: wear it as a skirt or as a shawl to protect you from the burning sun or when visiting religious places; it doubles as a sheet in hot weather; and it can be used as a (quick-drying) towel or to cover up after a shower or on the beach.
sarongs by Savanna Smiles on Flickr (cc license)
6. Flip-flops or waterproof sandals
These simple, light shoes will keep your feet protected when you have to shower in a grimy cubicle.
7. Walking shoes
If you’re going away for a few months and plan to do some trekking, don’t take walking boots. In hot weather, you won’t want to wear them and they’re heavy to carry. Instead, opt for lighter walking shoes that have a strong sole. Whilst they don’t offer the ankle support that boots provide, it’s a fair compromise for something you won’t use all that often.
8. Travel adaptor
Make sure you buy at least one adaptor before you leave home, as it can be hard to find the right type once you’re abroad. Get one with multiple sockets and preferably a USB port, too.
9. A mobile phone
If you have an unlocked phone, buy a local SIM card when you arrive in a new country to enjoy local rates. Smartphones can be invaluable – as well as the obvious communication benefits, you can pre-load street maps while you still have wifi. Most also have an array of travel gadgets, such as an alarm clock and compass, and there are handy apps, like the currency converter and offline language dictionaries.
10. Portable recharger
This little gem could save the day if your phone battery needs a boost while you’re out and about.
11. Neck cushion
Banish embarrassing head-lolling and sore necks on overnight flights and coach journeys. Buy a good-quality inflatable cushion that packs down flat.
12. First aid kit
A basic first-aid kit should include oral rehydration salts, plasters, water purification tablets, antiseptic cream, mosquito repellent, painkillers such as ibuprofen and – most definitely – Imodium.
13. Sewing kit
Don’t underestimate this – there’ll be times when it will be vital. Include a needle, pins, thread in several colours and safety pins. Include some string too, which can be used in many ways, for instance as a washing line or when one of your shoelaces breaks.
Many hostels provide a locker for your valuables, but you need to bring your own padlock. It’s also wise to lock your handbag in crowded places where pickpockets are active. Go for a combination lock rather than one with a key, as keys can get lost.
Besides the obvious uses on camping trips and night hikes, a headtorch is helpful if you want to read when others are trying to sleep, leaving your hands free to turn pages.
16. Waterproof trousers
Don’t be too vain to wear waterproof trousers on rainy days – they’ll keep you comfortable and dry, instead of wallowing in soggy-bottomed misery. Choose breathable fabrics to avoid getting wet on the inside.
17. A silk sleeping bag liner
Even if you’re not taking a sleeping bag, this is an absolute essential. Avoid bed bug attacks and close-contact with questionable stains on your mattress by using one of these when you check into those grotty budget hostels.
There’ll be countless times when you’ll be delighted that your penknife has a knife, scissors, tweezers and – hallelujah! – a bottle-opener. Don't forget to keep it in your checked bag though – it'll get confiscated at the airport if you keep it in your hand luggage.
19. Travel bottles
Decant your toiletries into small plastic bottles. To save space, try to use all-in-one toiletries, such as shampoo/conditioner, shower gel/shampoo or a soap that will wash hair and clothes too.
20. A Rough Guide book
Because paper doesn’t run out of battery. Find the right guidebook for you here >
Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.