1. Travel towel: I bring a small quick dry travel towel with me everywhere I go. I found mine on Amazon, it’s a lovely shade of lime green, and it has definitely served me well along my travels.
In many hostels, especially in Western Europe, towels are not provided and you are charged extra. Even when hostels do provide towels, you often can’t take those towels to the beach, or with you the day you check out and you want to explore a nearby waterfall.
2. Sleeping bag: I have a very small sleeping bag, and debated long and hard about whether to bring it with me before my last 6 month journey. In the end, this was one of the only possessions I managed not to lose or have stolen, and thank goodness for that!
When traveling in India and Nepal in January and February, I found it much colder than I expected, especially as most hostels and guest houses I stayed in did not have heat. I was so grateful I had my sleeping bag as an added layer! In other places, such as in Europe, hostels charged for bedding and I was able to save a few dollars by bringing my own. Bringing a sleeping bag also afforded me the freedom to sleep absolutely anywhere: the cheapest, doubtfully clean hostels, airport benches, buses, and more.
3. Kindle/tablet: I read 26 books throughout my 6 month journey! I read on buses, trains, planes, squished into the back of minivans alongside bags of rice and beans. I read everywhere!
I always make sure to read books that took place in the places I visit, and found that this really helped me connect to the place on a deeper level. My kindle is light, easy to carry everywhere, and seemingly indestructible (much more so than my phone!). Here is a list with some of my favorite books.
4. Flip flops! Some of those hostel showers are pretty gross. Enough said.
Travel Un-Essentials: Some Things I could Have Done Without
1. Toiletries! These way down your bag, can’t come aboard on a carry on, and can often be purchased for much cheaper at your destination than at home.
2. Nice clothes, clothes for going out, or anything that needs to be ironed, cleaned, and can’t be shoved into the bottom of a backpack. You don’t need this, trust me. A plain black shirt is much more versatile, and can always be dressed up with some funky jewelry I like to collect along the way.
3. Shoes that are not absolute necessities. I brought with me sneakers, Birkenstock sandals, and flip flops. Sneakers were necessary for running and hiking, and though wearing Birkenstocks to the club wasn’t the epitome of high fashion, I survived and was ultimately glad I didn’t have extra shoes weighing me down.
4. Malaria medicine. The travel clinic I went to in Seattle was overly cautious and prescribed me malaria medicine for about 3 months of my journey. When I got to India in January, not a single other traveler I encountered was on malaria prevention medication, and one friend who was ran out and was able to purchase the medicine for much cheaper in India. This is a very personal choice, but I feel that unless you are traveling in malaria season this is something you can do without, or buy for cheaper once you arrive.