10 Items You Must Pack to Stay Safe While Backpacking

I guess I blog a lot about safety, but honestly, I think that is the thing most people are worried about in regards to travel these days... especially for females on their own.

Destinations and accommodations can be done on the fly, but being prepared for anything takes a little more work.  I have talked about my top Safety Tips for Solo Female Backpackers, which everyone should check out, but today I am listing the items you can bring along to make your trip that much safer.

Without further ado..


1. A cellphone with a local sim card

This is the best way to always be able to get in contact with someone in case of an emergency. In literally every country in the world except for America, cell phone sim cards are super cheap, and you can get a couple of gbs of data for $5-$15. Bring an unlocked phone, and you can switch your sim card everywhere you go.

It is so cheap that you could get a second cheap phone, and leave it in your bag for SUPER emergencies. 

I also used the "share my location" feature with my friends and family 24/7 while traveling so they would always know where I was, and if something happened, there would be a digital record of my last whereabouts.  This is my number one safety tip - take advantage of the 21st century and get a cell phone!

2. $100 in USD

USD will either be accepted anywhere in the world, or can always be exchanged for the local currency.  Now, this isn't true for every country, see: me almost losing $120 by trying to convert Lao Kip into Thai Bhat while in Thailand... note that these countries border each other, but once you enter Thailand, Kip is practically worthless. 

So bring $100 USD (no matter where you are from, find some before you leave), and LEAVE IT IN YOUR BAG. Do not touch it unless you have lost your wallet, or something else terrible has happened.  Try to forget you have it... even hide it somewhere so you don't see it all the time and get tempted to use it. 

3. A few blank checks

This is just another way to secure your finances.  When I lost my bank card in Laos, I was able to write a check to an American girl at my hostel, who did a mobile deposit and took out cash for me.  I also used checks to transfer money around between my accounts.  Always a good call. 

4. Bag locks (NOT TSA approved) 

Why not TSA approved? Because TSA approved locks are the most hackable locks on the market.  If TSA can get into your bags, any average pick pocket can get into them.

The TSA thing only becomes an issue if you check your bag, and I travel carryon, so never need to take them off. I guess that is another reason to travel with a carryon bag! 

A cord lock isn't a bad idea to have either.  I only used it a few times, but I was happy I had it.

5. Antibiotics

Yes hospitals exists around the world, and yes they can prescribe you medicine... but trust me, if you're sick, panicking, and in need of antibiotics, the last thing you want to deal with is local transit and language barriers to get what you need.  Bring a general antibiotic along just incase... there were a lot of instances where my friends would go on jungle treks for several days. What would you do if you needed them in those situations?

6. Medication/bug spray

Do you need any vaccines?  Well, I don't know, but you can figure it out. If you can afford it, I would suggest vaccinating before the trip, especially for mosquito spread illness. You may be surprised how much your insurance covers.  

Remember that time I got 130 bug bites on my legs in one night? Yeah, I was pretty happy I had gotten vaccinated. 

While I am iffy on Malaria pills and Malarone, bring some strong bug spray at the very least... skeeters ain't no joke. 

7. Extra glasses and contacts

I met two people who lost their glasses while traveling, and brought no backup. That is my worst nightmare.  I can't imagine the horror of not being able to see while traveling alone in a foreign country.  Bring extra glasses, and a lot of contacts.  

8. Cross body bag with metal chain

So you can go out, have some drinks, and not fear pickpockets and bag slashers.

9. Travel insurance

Just do it... this could (god forbid) save you hundreds of thousands of dollars if something terrible happens. I used Squaremouth, but a lot of people use World Nomads. 

10. A paper map of the city

In case you are wandering around and your phone dies.  Stay safe, and bring a paper maps as back up.  Most hostels and hotels have them for free, so just throw one in your bag. It is that simple. 



<Backpacking Tips