or…those things you might not think of!

If you’re anything like my kind of practical packer, when it comes to packing for holiday you’ve got all your items laid out ready to pack for weeks, if not months before a trip! But some of us prefer that last minute flurry of cramming in as much as they can, and that’s where a list of packing hacks can help!

I’m not going to run through all your clothing items, shoes and accessories. What I am going to do is give you a practical, ultimate packing list of tried and tested items that can save you time, money, space or heartache when you’re having a blast in far off places.

Water Bottle

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a country where the water from the tap is safe to drink, this might not occur to you. For the citizens of many countries this isn’t a luxury afforded to them, and bottled water is a terrible environmental issue. The good news is you can invest in a refillable bottle that filters the water for you and makes it safe to drink. Try the LifeStraw, it saw me through Central America! The clip makes it practical and easy to attach to your bag for carrying.


Halo Pad

One for the ladies. Minimise what you need to carry, and the chance of messy leaks through your bag, by packing a Halo Pad for your makeup. All you need to do is wet it and your makeup will wipe straight off. Clean the pad with soap and its ready to go again. I’m a recent convert to this and love it, I wish I’d had one on my Central America trip instead of having my bottle of makeup remover leak through my toiletries!


Not only has the Cygnett Powerbank rescued me at many a music festival, but it is incredibly handy to carry for countries where you might not have reliable access to power supply, or long bus trips between destinations. It will charge any device via USB so you’re covered for your phone, camera, and kindle – just don’t forget the appropriate cord! A 10,000 mAh should do you a couple of smartphone charges, without adding a ridiculous amount of extra weight to your bag. I’ve had a couple of different ones and love Cygnett’s products.

Multi-USB Charger

Along the same vein, a multi-USB charger is a life saver when you’re fighting for the single powerpoint in a dorm room, or need to charge multiple devices at once. The brand I use isn’t available internationally, but this product is well reviewed and comes with the added bonus of fittings for multiple countries.

Theft-proof bags

Lets face it, many countries aren’t as safe as where we come from, and if someone really wants to rip us off they’ll find a way. But we can make it more difficult for them! Pacsafe have a great range of practical products with various anti-theft measures built in, such as RFID safe blocking materials to prevent microchip scanning, and lockable zips. This shoulder bag came virtually everywhere with me in Central America, and was versatile enough to serve as an evening bag too!

If you’re after something bigger, and more like a handbag, this version saw me through my Europe adventures.

For that hidden element of security this pouch will attach to the bra and sit under your shirt. It’s the perfect size to stash your bank cards.

And in Central America and Cuba I always had a few notes stashed in this belt, just in case!

Remember, its always good practice to utilise safes provided rather than carry excess valuables around. Have multiple cards and ways to access funds, you may find it useful to have two wallets, one to leave in the safe and one to take out with just the cash you need.


I’ll admit I was late to the Kindle party but this is one that belongs in the arsenal of every traveling bookworm. My Kindle has well over 500 books stored in it, with a weight of less than one good sized book. If you’re the kind of traveler that likes to read in transit, or relax by a poolside with a book then get on board!

Mosquito Protection

Mosquito borne disease is a very real threat in many countries of the world and not an issue you can afford to get complacent about. I don’t like using the heavy duty DEET sprays on my skin so I tried the Parakito bands as an alternative in Central America. Each wristband comes with two pellets which last 15 days. It didn’t seem to work against sandflies in Belize but I never got a mosquito bite!

Aloe Vera Gel

Every savvy traveler knows they should have basic medical supplies on them, and aloe vera gel is a must to include. No one sets out to get sunburned, but chances are at some point it’ll happen and it can really rain on your holiday! You can also check out my essential items for your travel medical kit.


Hand Sanitiser

Another must for the medical kit is hand sanitiser. Not something to worry about in the west perhaps but certainly in Central America and  Cuba, soap was not a guaranteed sight in bathrooms. These little bottles are great for sticking in your bag or pockets.

Camera Tripod

These days we’re all an amateur photographer, and the advancements in Smartphone technology means anyone can take a good snap on the go without lugging around heavy equipment. It is however, worth thinking about a tripod. This tripod is lightweight, flexible, and can be used for either your camera or smartphone.

Washing Line

If you’re going to be traveling a while, especially with a backpack, anything that can help you reduce what you need to carry is a bonus. Pack a travel washing line so you can wash and hang clothes in your hotel rooms. My roommates always loved using mine on my Europe travels!

Day Backpack

If you’re planning on doing everything adventurous, such as a hike, or even just heading out for a day, you need something between your full bag and your handbag! I have a small, local brand backpack that was essential for my travels and served as my carry-on bag for flights. The Zomake pack has the added bonus of being one you can pack away in your main luggage when not in use.


Dry shampoo

Another one for the ladies, if you’re like me with long and very thick hair you might not always be able to wash it so easily on your travels. I wish I’d had this in Cuba!

Waterproof Pouch

A waterproof pouch is an essential if you’re planning to go anywhere near water on your travels. It will comfortably take your phone, some cash and a room key, a must in Boracay so you can jump in the water at any time. Most available on the market triple seal and keep everything inside dry. In Belize I went snorkeling with it,  and was able to take good quality video footage on my phone camera.

Zip-Lock bags

A few zip-lock bags are great to keep handy, whether its for keeping something dry, sealing in something that might leak, or for a few toiletries on the plane!

Turkish Towel

A lot of travelers advocate for a microfibre towel traveling, but a Turkish Towel is an exceptional alternative. Made of light weight and quick drying cotton, a full size beach towel will roll to only a little bigger than a t-shirt. When you’re staying in lower cost hotels that either don’t provide or charge for a beach towel – this is all you need! This was great for me in both Belize and Cuba!

If you still aren’t sold on the idea you can find more information on microfibre towels here.

Tissue Purse Pack

Another must to have in your bag is some purse size tissue packs. In Cuba toilet paper is a luxury not always available. You never know when these will come in handy.

Travel Bottles

If you’re like me, and buy a lot of your toiletry products in bulk, you can really save some weight and space by investing in a set of travel bottles so you only need to carry just what you need.


So there you have it! An ultimate packing list of the practical things that have or would have made my life easier on my travel adventures!


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