There are lots of hints and tips for making backpacking easier/less stressful etc. But it is a personal thing what you want to do. Here are my five Backpacker Life Hacks that I always use on a long journey (and most of the time on a short journey). My Backpacker Life Hacks focus on storage, security and making life easier for any traveller. However, remember, these are my personal favourite Backpacker Life Hacks, so feel free to agree/disagree and even give me your preferences!
1.Take A Pen Knife
A good pen knife is a vital piece of equipment on a long trip. Although it unfortunately can’t be taken on hand luggage only flights… A pen knife (or Swiss Army knife) has a variety of uses. The main feature is being a anti-s*!% hostel device. There’s nothing worse than going to prepare your dinner only to realise there are no decent knives in the hostel kitchen! The knives available won’t even go through butter! (Not too sure why these hostels bother having kitchens…) But your per knife will save the day!
A pen knife is also handy on days out, whether you’re in a city, in the wilderness or working. Making your lunch before you leave the hostel puts you at risk of soggy butties. Taking a pen knife means you can make and enjoy a fresh lunch on the move.
Lastly, a pen knife can help you make friends! If someone else is having trouble with the less than decent hostel kitchen, let them use your pen knife. Or if someone’s accidently bought a bottle of wine with a cork, let them use the corkscrew (if your pen knife has one), you may not only make a friend, but gain some wine too!
Just make sure you never leave the pen knife in your hand luggage when flying, it doesn’t go down too well…
2.Store Books In A Plastic Bag
There’s a few travel tips that recommend not taking books, use a kindle etc instead. But I LIKE books. I much prefer the feel of a book, the smell of a book. I tend to take two books with me wherever I go, a Rough Guide of where I’m going and a story. Backpacks do not treat books very well at all, they ruin them (I have nothing against a well thumbed and loved book, but backpacks damage them, there is a difference). A Kiwi in a Christchurch bookshop told me to always pack books in a plastic bag in my backpack. And it works, the books get far less battered simply being in a plastic bag. I have no idea how this works, but I am forever grateful of the bookshop staff that told me this.
3.Use A Plastic Bottle For Washing Powder
If you’re travelling for a while you will need to do your laundry and more than once. Obviously, it works out cheaper to buy a box of washing powder, but this tends not to pack very well in a backpack, it’s rectangular and bulky, a complete waste of space! Rather than leaving some essentials to make room, pour the powder into a empty plastic bottles (you may have to treat yourself and buy some pop first, but you’re doing laundry you deserve a treat). The bottles can easily fix to the outside of most backpacks and if not, they don’t take up much room anyway. Storage your washing powder this way also makes it easy to use, simply pour the powder out!
Just make sure you dispose of (or give away) any leftover powder when moving between countries. White powder in a plastic bottle tends to look a little suspicious!
4.Use A Dummy Wallet
Getting mugged in a foreign country is not an activity anyone wants to participate in. However, it happens. Having a dummy wallet helps in if you should ever find yourself in this situation.
Fill the wallet with expired cards and some petty cash. Keep your real cards and money safely tucked away somewhere. If you are a victim of mugging you can quickly hand over the dummy wallet and the mugger will leave, happy with the knowledge he or she has some money. You can walk away happily knowing you’ve only sacrificed a small amount of petty cash and your bank accounts and credit cards are safe.
5.Make The Effort With Language
Obviously this only applies if you’re going to a country that doesn’t speak your language. If you are travelling to a country with a foreign language, learn a few key phrases before you go. I’d recommend at least the pleasantries like ‘Hello’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘Thank You’ but try to also learn to ask where something is. Not only will this give you a small advantage when you land in the country, but the locals appreciate it. I find the locals are happier to help and friendlier if you at least try to use their language (even though I suspect they then go and laugh at your efforts.)
As I have stated, these are my personal favourite Backpacker Life Hacks. I find them useful, especially on long trips, but please feel free to give me your opinion in the comments below.