Well hello my friends!
Back at home in the UK, a few weeks before I came out to Oz, I was busy beavering away trying to organise myself and my stuff for the trip. Part of this planning included getting some special travel gadgets and accessories that I thought would generally make my life a lot easier once backpacking around Australia. I decided it was definitely time to share 10 of these with you (please note that any technology based ones will follow in a different post), to hopefully make your lives easier and assist you with planning your trip away from home.
These are not things that you will definitely need as a backpacker and some will be useful for those of you who are just going away on holiday for a few weeks, but they will come in handy I promise!
Below is my youtube video of the items but I thought it would also be good to write about each product and give you an idea of price ranges and where you can purchase these little beauties!
***We are open and honest here at Unicorn HQ. There are affiliate links in this article. All this means, is that if you buy a product through one of these links (at no extra cost to you), I earn a few pennies which helps me maintain my blog & YouTube Channel***
Purchased from: Amazon Price: £6.99 for pack of two
Buy it here
Why?: If you want to keep your things safe whilst travelling you need to invest in a couple of padlocks. I use them at the hostel to keep all my important things…passport, laptop, camera, safe in the locker in the dorm room that I sleep in. You can also use them to keep your backpack or hand luggage safe and secure whilst flying. I chose the combination padlock over the traditional one that comes with a key for a very simple reason….if it doesn’t have a key I can’t lose it! If you can pick a combination you know you won’t forget you don’t run any risk of finding yourself looking for a pair of bolt cutters, trying to get in to your belongings, and yes I’ve seen it happen! So why TSA? A TSA lock means that airport security can open the lock without breaking it or damaging your bag by using their special key, if they need to look inside.
My verdict: 10/10- These locks have been great for me. Perfect size for the hostel locker and also fit on both my backpack and hand luggage rucksack too. They are strong and sturdy, and setting the combination is easy….heck I managed! Definitely recommend.
Purchased from: Amazon Price: £7.53
Buy it here
Why? Head lights are amazing. End of. No seriously, I am exceptionally glad I purchased this little beauty. I have mainly used it so far, when trying to not make enemies of my dorm mates by turning on the main light when entering the room or for reading if they want to sleep. Soon I am off on a Road Trip (read more about that here) and I know when we are camping either in a tent or our car, that this is going to be probably one of the most important things I will have with me. It comes with two little torches, which I left at home because I was trying to cut down on space and weight in my backpack and I can’t honestly say I actually even tried them out. The head light has two different light settings- one white light and one red light. I believe that the red light is meant to be easier on your eyes at night eg. you aren’t blind in the dark when you turn it off as you would be with the white light. Best used apparently when needing a small amount of light for star gazing or around a campfire.
My Verdict: 8/10- I love my head torch if you hadn’t already guessed! It is comfortable and light weight and actually has a fairly strong light. Powered by 3 x AAA batteries (it comes with 9 in the pack) it is easy to find batteries whilst on the road and replace them when necessary. Although you can tilt the angle of the light, you can’t focus the beam and I have no idea if it is waterproof or not. I doubt it in all honesty for the price. It is one of the more basic ones on the market but I think its really good quality/value for the product you receive.
Purchased From: Amazon Price: £2.99
Buy it here
Why? At some point when travelling you are going to need to wash your clothes. I hope for your travel buddies and hostel friends sake that you do this sooner rather than later. Washing your clothes isn’t a cheap business. You can expect to pay $4 for a wash and then $4 for a dry in a hostel in Australia. That’s $8 (£4) just to do one load of washing…..and if you split whites and colours it’s going to get expensive! Most hostels have a sink or basins available for you to hand wash your clothes for free. If this isn’t available then I have read about people washing their undies in the shower! Having a travel wash with you will cut down laundry costs and allow you to have fresh underwear at least when you are nowhere near a washing machine. This travel wash states that it is good for approximately 20 washes…..that’s the equivalent of $80 saved.
My Verdict: 7/10- It does what is says on the tin (well, bottle). My clothes were clean and refreshed after using it- or as clean and refreshed as any handwashed backpacker’s wardrobe is ever going to be!
Purchased From: Asda Price: £3
Buy it: In Asda!!!
Why? You know that awful moment when you are on a long plane/train/bus journey and you are sat there, silently cursing that you didn’t get the window seat because really, all you want to do is lay your head against that window and go off into the land of snooze? I know it well and it is for this reason that I purchased a travel pillow. Absolutely great for falling asleep when travelling and not having to deal with the guilt/shame of finding out you have fallen asleep on the person’s shoulder next to you and dribbled all over their favourite shirt.
My Verdict: 5/10- It definitely is not the most comfortable travel pillow that I’ve ever had but it certainly did the job on the plane journey from the UK to Australia. The bean bag style ones and memory foam are definitely superior in comfort, however I like the fact that this is inflatable and takes up virtually no room in my backpack. To make it a little more cosy, try wrapping a scarf around it.
Purchased From: Amazon Price: £2.99
Why? Well, when you’ve washed your clothes with your nifty Dr. Beckmann’s travel wash, you’re going to have to dry them. This 2m long lifeventure washing line folds up into a tiny round travel case which takes up hardly any room in your packing. Perfect for hanging up on your dorm bunk bed, or between trees when camping (just check for unwanted insect and arachnid friends if hanging from trees). Saves money on expensive dryer costs and let’s face it, it won’t take long for things to get dry in the heat of the Australian summer. Comes with hooks and also suction cups, so you can attach to windows also.
My Verdict: 5/10- Due to the long length of the line, it isn’t always easy to find suitable objects to tie the ends to (or sucker them on to). This being said, it did help me out a couple of times when drying space was an issue, I just attached it to my bottom bunk posts. For the money and space it takes up, it’s not a bad shout.
Purchased from: Ebay Price: £35
Why? Security of your things is important. No one likes to put their bag in a storage area to find it has been opened or slashed and valuables and passports, etc. removed (I do recommend keeping your passport, money and anything valuable on you whenever possible however!). The Pacsafe is an metal exomesh that goes around your bag to make it slash proof. It can be fitted around poles etc. which means that also someone cannot just pick up your bag and walk off.
My Verdict: 7/10- Ok it may be time to eat humble pie here! The pacsafe is a great idea, but for me in Australia, probably not all that useful or practical. The product is a very clever design, but you definitely need to practice with it at home before you leave as it will take you a few attempts to get the hang of it. It is heavy and will take up a fair chunk of weight allowance in your bag, I very nearly left it at home but my stubborn streak (after a long and arduous bidding war on Ebay) made me bring it with me. I think perhaps Australia is not the best destination to bring the Pacsafe. In my humble opinion, it would be more useful in countries in South East Asia, South America, India etc. where the crime rate is higher and your bag is more likely to be at risk on public transport.
Purchased from: Sports Direct Price: £4.99- £12.05
Why? I bought these babies because my backpack isn’t waterproof and because it also has wheels it is difficult to get a waterproof cover to fit over it. To combat this, I decided to get the dry sacs to keep all my clothes and electronics dry and safe. They come in various sizes and I recommend getting them out in the shop (or asking a shop attendant to do so) if possible. If buying online just chose a variety because I can guarantee you will find things to put in them that you don’t want getting wet. I have heard of people using the small ones to take swimming, putting their wallet, phone etc. in if they don’t want to leave them on the beach. The theory is that if you get some air inside when you close the bag, they will be buoyant.
My verdict: 9/10- At present I haven’t tested out exactly how waterproof these are, not to the point of submersion anyway! I did have my camera in one when it was raining one day and had no problems, so I can definitely attest that they are shower/rain proof. I love these as they give me great peace of mind that my electronics and clothes will stay dry when walking with my backpack in the rain, and they have been great for separating and organising belongings. Truly a win-win. If you want to maximise the space in your backpack, make sure that you squeeze all the air out when you pack and seal the bags.
Purchased from: Amazon Price: £9.99
Buy it here
Why? You need a towel of course but the problem is the space traditional towels take up. These travel towels are microfibre and fold up into little pouches that take up very little room in your backpack (or suitcase). They are plenty absorbent but you need to get used to more of a “patting” yourself dry. They dry out very quickly, which is great when you’re moving from one place to another every few days.
My verdict: 9/10- I wouldn’t be without my travel towels, yes I have two! I have an XL purple one which I use for my body and a L green one (which was a birthday present from my beautiful friend Barbara) which I use for my face and hair. When I start moving around more I will be using one for the beach and one for showers. The large is big enough for an “average” woman but for extra security when walking between the shared hostel showers and your dorm room, I would suggest the XL. Admittedly it is not the same as wrapping yourself in a big fluffy bath towel but it does the job, is compact and can we please get a round of applause for the beautiful colours that these come in! 4 months later and my towels are still as vibrant in colour as when I left home.
Purchased from: Amazon Price: £20.00
Buy it here
Why? Welcome to the world of the “Nod Pod”, an art-silk sleeping bag liner. They come in an adorable little pouch and have a built in pillow inlet too. These add an extra layer of warmth/protection when camping or trekking. I bought this before I bought a sleeping bag for the sole reason of protecting myself from hostel bedding!! Now the hostel I stay in is extremely clean, the sheets are washed and have no stains and there is not any sign of bed bugs. This is not the case in all hostel’s sadly. You may find yourself looking at your new bed for the night, trying to work out exactly which bodily fluids caused stains on the sheets that you are expected to sleep on and wondering if any creepy crawlies are living in that mattress. That is when your Nod Pod will come in very handy, until the time you can find a bed in a more sanitary environment. Please make sure that if you think your belongings have been around bed bugs that you take care to clean them properly and not spread them to another hostel or person’s belongings. You will not be popular.
My verdict: 7/10- Due to the high hygiene standards of my accommodation thus far, my little nod pod has mainly stayed asleep in it’s travel pouch. I used it briefly on our roadtrip as an extra layer in my sleeping bag and it did keep me much warmer on our colder nights in the car. For a more in depth review on how it withstands more regular use, check out the reviews on Amazon. In all honesty I’d save your £20 if you are backpacking Australia, or a country with generally good hygeine standards and put it towards something else.
Purchased from: Amazon Price: £14.97
Buy them here
Why? The question with these beauties is more “why not?”. Oh packing cubes, where have you been all my life!? These are amazing. This set of three comes with a large, medium and small size which allows you to organise accordingly. I used them for my clothes- by rolling my clothes and fitting them in here I saved huge amounts of space in my backpack. They have two (sturdy) zips that allow you to open wherever you see a gap and cram another item of clothing in! They fit in drawers, under beds and would stack up on shelves pretty easily. Perfect for backpackers but also amazing if you are going away on holiday, I genuinely wish I had had a set of these before coming to Oz.
My verdict: 11/10- I LOVE THESE! If you hadn’t guessed already! If you get only one thing off of this list, I urge you to get a set of these! They saved me so much space in my backpack and have helped me keep my clothes organised whilst I’ve been at the hostel too. The large one in the set stayed back in the UK, as it was too big for my backpack but I managed to get all my clothes (other than what I wore to the airport) in the small and medium one, much to everyones’s surprise! **update** over a year later, they are still going strong, despite the abuse they have suffered!
Well, I hope this has helped someone out there who will be departing on their own adventure soon. If you have used these products or similar, or have any suggestions or comments please feel free to let me know down below.
Safe Travels folks!
Creative unicorn ninja; Travel vlogger/blogger. Green tea enthusiast and lover of dance and art. Currently be found back in England planning the next adventure! Southeast Asia Odyssey coming very soon!
Where I can be found: UK