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Must-Have Travel Gear for the Overpacking Backpacker

by Caitlin
must have travel gear

I went on my first solo-trip when I was 22. It was also the first time I had been on a plane– and the first time I had visited somewhere outside the continental United States.

For my 4-week long trip to Puerto Rico, I packed a suitcase large enough to double as a hotel room. It held everything I needed, such as eight pairs of ‘going out’ shoes, and enough underwear that I would be covered should I pee my pants 3x a day.

On my most recent trip, a three-week long adventure through SE Asia, (thanks to some handy dandy travel accessories I’ve acquired) I fit everything in a 40L backpack and my 16L Fjallraven Kanken daypack. I even had room to bring some clothes and souvenirs home.

Proof alone, that people can, and do, change!

I can’t help but to chuckle at the mistakes that I made on my first trip, but some lessons are best learned through experience. Each trip, I get better and more efficient when it comes to packing the most into a carry-on size bag.

However, I don’t want you to have a bad trip. I don’t want you lugging around 50 pounds of stuff you don’t need. I don’t want you losing your luggage and spending the first few days of vacation dealing with airline call centers.

So to share some of my knowledge I gathered up my favorite travel gear that I never travel without.

Since my first trip, I’ve been on a dozen more, mostly solo, but also with my boyfriend/traveling partner. I’ve learned what I need and what I don’t, but it’s still a continual learning experience. That’s one of the best parts of traveling.

These days, whether it’s domestic or international I never check my bags. These items are the things I cannot travel without plus tips on packing for a long trip with just a carry-on.

Disclaimer:  All of these opinions are my own and affiliate links are used.

Eagle Creek Pack It Specter Compression Cube Set

Packing cubes are all the rages these days, but what you really want to get are COMPRESSION packing cubes. Most packing cubes just hold, and organize your clothes, which is super awesome. But compression cubes let you pack much more while saving space in your suitcase.

I first bought these in summer of 2015, and have used them on every trip since. I’m SHOCKED at how long they’ve held up. Mostly cause I’ve crammed them full every time I’ve used, and they still haven’t ripped or broken a zipper.

Get a pack of two on Amazon for $35

High Sierra Women’s Summit 40L Top Load Backpack

womens backpack travel gear

This is another piece of travel gear that I’ve had since nearly the beginning, 2014 to be exact. I love how much this women’s backpack can hold; roughly three compression cubes, a few pairs of shoes, and a toiletry bag. True story: I love this backpack so much I even bought my boyfriend the men’s version once he started traveling with me.

I have a huge distrust for checking my luggage, so I always prefer to travel with carry-on. Naturally I needed a backpack that was carry-on size, and this one fit the job perfectly.

The measurements are a bit bigger than allowed by airlines, but I’ve never had a problem stashing it in the overhead bins. My biggest tip for no problems as a carry on is to keep the top pocket empty at the airport.

Get one on Amazon for $65

GETIHU Ultra Slim Portable Power Bank

long lasting portable charger

I love this power bank for three reasons:

  1. It’s slim but goes far
  2. It can charge two items at once
  3. There’s a built-in flashlight, plus a USB plug-in flashlight!

Get one on Amazon for $15

BAGSMART Travel Cable Organizer

travel cable organizer

I had been looking for a good cable organizer for the longest time. I went through several different types before landing on this one. There’s no turning back now though, this one has so many great features that makes it’s a perfect travel gear for blogging back packers.

For starters this cable organizer, can be flat with just a few cords, or you can stuff it full with cords, external hard drive, a mouse, Mac charger, and extra power bank. It’s lightweight, and has plenty of pockets and straps for whatever tech gear you need organized.

Get one on Amazon for $16

Flexible Water Bottle with Carabiner

I’m a huge fan of Nalgene bottles, but I don’t think they’re the most travel-friendly water bottle out there. That’s why I’ve fallen in love with the Vapur Eclipse. You can roll it up to stash when you’re breezing through TSA, and fill it up as soon as you hit a water fountain.

I’ve gotten tons of questions about this water bottle. It’s durable, but don’t expect it to last forever. I’ve already had to replace one after using it for nearly two years.

Get one on Amazon for $14 (1.0L)

Teva Original Universal Premier Sandal

teva sandals

Call me a Teva Diva, because I’m obsessed with these sandals. They’re waterproof, stylish, good for trails, and good for pretty much anything.

I recently upgraded to the Universal Premiers, and my feet have never been comfier. Considering the multitasking these sandals do, I consider them top travel gear for any and everyone.

Get a pair on Amazon for $55

Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II

carry on camera bag

This is the newest addition to my travel gear list, but I’ve had a good feeling about this camera backpack since I found it. Some of my favorite features are a slim laptop sleeve, organizational pockets all over, and a quick-access zipper for your camera plus a big fancy lens.

This travel camera backpack is a bit of an investment but if you’re traveling with camera equipment, your top priority is to keep everything safe and well padded. This camera backpack does just that. Oh and if you don’t fill it full, it’ll fit under the airplane seat in front of you!

Get one on Amazon for $75

What’s your favorite piece of travel gear? I’m a junkie for products, so share your recommendations with me. What gear works for you and what are you good traveling without?

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