5 Items on my Packing List That Nobody Else Seems to Carry

Backpack SuitcaseBefore I set out on my three month South East Asia trip, I read loads of packing lists by other bloggers. I’d done plenty of traveling before, but usually either short trips or staying in one place for several months. Traveling for three months while moving to a new place every few days was new to me, and as a stereotypical German, I wanted to be well prepared. Looking back now, there were four things I traveled with that weren’t on any of the lists I looked at that I loved having with me:

A tennis ball

Yup, a tennis ball. When I’ve been lugging a bag around a city, or have been squished into a Vietnamese bus for eight hours, my back will hurt. And a tennis ball is the easiest way to sort out a tight back. Stand with your back against the wall and put the tennis ball between your back and the wall. Lean against it and move around to massage out the tight spots. Sounds weird, but it works. Plus, a tennis ball is an easy way to entertain local kids or even dogs (at your own risk…).

Ridiculously big headphones

HeadphonesI contemplated this one for a long time, and it seemed kind of crazy to lug aroung big over ear headphones, but I hate the more backpacker-friendly in ear headphones, and I knew I’d be spending lots of time on planes, trains and cars, so in the end I did pack my big Bose QuietComfort headphones. Major advantage: They’re noise cancelling.

A big travel towel

I’ve actually seen this on some lists, but didn’t think I needed it as we were staying in mid scale hotels that all provided towels. And I was right, I never needed it as a towel. This microfiber towel came in very handy though as travel blanket in cold hotel rooms or on our train journey through Vietnam, or as additional pillow at night.

A can of Raid

If you’re traveling to an area where diseases like Malaria or Dengue Fever are an issue and don’t want to cover your entire body in bug repellent 24/7, get a can of Raid. I bought this on the road, and replaced as needed. Not every hotel room has a mosquito net, and you’ll often want to just sit and chill in your room before actually going to bed. So get a can of Raid, and spray your room.

A pack of ziplock bags

Again, something I bought cheaply on the road because for some reason they’re outrageously expensive in both Germany and Spain. They came in very handy for a number of things, from packing food for lunch on the beach to protecting cell phones and cameras from water damage to separating wet clothes from the rest of my luggage.

Want a full packing list? Here are some great ones by other travellers:

What to Pack by Travel Independent

The Essential Backpacking Packing List by Worldly Nomads

The Ultimate Packing List for Travel by Backpacking Spirit

Ultimate Packing List for Long Term Travel by Five Dollar Traveller

In my Backpack: Packing for South East Asia by Dangerous Business

What not so common items do you travel with? Share your packing list in the comments and I’ll add the link to the list here!

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9 thoughts on “5 Items on my Packing List That Nobody Else Seems to Carry

    • Haha, I’m not the only one then! 🙂 I find that the more you travel, the more you start using things for different purposes than they were originally intended for. The tennis ball is the best example for that.

    • Hi Ilse, thanks for commenting! Travelling is spelled with two L in British English, you’re right. However, it’s spelled with one L in American English, and most of my readers are based in the US or are used to American spelling, so I usually stick to American spelling.

  1. The reason Germans travel with a beach towel is so they can leave it on the best pool or beach chair overnight and have the best spot next morning. Why is it that only Germans think they can get away with this ….?

    • Ooh, I love stereotypes! But I don’t think it’s just the Germans. I’d actually never heard of the idea of reserving pool chairs until I went on a predominantly American cruise, where people really set their alarm clocks to 6am to reserve a pool chair. I once worked with a hotel in Gran Canaria that employed a person whose primary responsibility it was to take towels off the pool chairs – no joke! Their guests were a mix of British, German, Russian and Scandinavians, in case you were wondering, and he said there didn’t seem to be a trend of any particular nationality reserving them more… but maybe he was just too afraid of telling me, since I’m German?

  2. I didn’t read the other packing lists, but after 10 years living out of a 30 liter pack, I would add duct tape rolled backwards around a pencil or pen or business-type card, and a small packing waterproof bag. Also, why not just a sarong instead of the towel? does the same job, but doesn’t end up stinking, takes up less space and is multi-use! Happy travels!

    • Hi Greg, the duct tape is a great point! I used the ziplocks as waterproof bags, or simple plastic shopping bags, although they weren’t really 100% waterproof… but they did the trick to separate wet clothes from the rest, and I didn’t really do any hiking or anything where I needed a truly waterproof bag.

      I had a sarong as well, but it’s so thin it neither really serves as a towel to dry anything nor does it keep me warm (I’m always cold… ). I guess I’m a bit more high maintenance with blankets and extra layers, for many people a sarong might be enough! I have a lot of other items that are multi-use though and I generally love the idea.

      As for stinking: I’ve found that the newer, microfiber travel towels seem to be better quality. Also, I never wash them with fabric softener! That seems to make them a) stink and b) not soak up any water.

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