Support TFG by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so we can continue to create helpful free content. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on Amazon in addition to other retailers featured on the blog. Thank you, we appreciate your support!
When planning a frugal-minded trip, you are likely willing to sacrifice conveniences such as hotel rooms for hostels and guesthouses, nice restaurants for local food stalls, and easy flights for overnight bus journeys. This can also mean changing up how you pack. Check out our budget travel packing essentials to prepare yourself and get the most out a low-cost adventure!
Budget Travel Packing Essentials
Table Of Contents
Packing Cubes or Non-Plastic Organizers
Ziplock bags may be convenient for travelers staying at hotels, but there’s no faster way to ruin your budding new friendships in a hostel dorm than with the crunching of plastic bags while your dorm mates try to sleep. Don’t be “that person” and stick to packing cubes or compression sacks to organize your belongings.
Use a packing cube set if you have a top loading backpack or you may prefer a compression sack like this one: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack. Alternatively, use this portable closet to hang your stuff on your dorm bed and have easy access to everything you need!
Compass Rose Packing Cubes available at Amazon!
Watch this packing video—it will change the way you travel!
Multi-Purpose Travel Adapter
Purchase an international adapter that works around the world to take care of your electronics. Choose a travel adapter that also acts as a converter and has a surge protector to avoid blowing a fuse in your valuable electronics.
If you’re only traveling to one destination, it’s also possible to choose individual adapters so you don’t have to lug around a bulkier one. Although, the fact that this also acts as a surge protector is worth the effort. I use this basic one that can be used worldwide.
Compass Rose Travel Adapter available at Amazon!
Learn about the pros and cons of a voltage converter vs. travel adapter option!
Cozy Sleeping Liner
Believe it or not, some hostels don’t offer blankets unless you want to pay extra and some budget rooms may offer sheets that look a bit… dirty. Avoid these issues by carrying your own sleeping sheet, it’s lighter than a sleeping bag and can be used with both warm and cold climates.
As a bonus, since sleeping bag liners enclose your feet and your entire body, pesky mosquitoes can’t bite your toes while you sleep. Avoid cotton because it’s heavy and bulky, choose cool microfiber fabrics or the optimal material we love: silk.
Indreamy Travel Sheet available at Amazon!
We have rounded up some TFG favorites for the best travel sheets!
Essential Travel Towel
Do not expect to be given a towel in budget digs. While it does happen, it’s not very often. A travel towel is better than carrying a regular towel because it packs small, is lightweight, super absorbent, and dries quickly, which is key when you’re on the go (see dry bag below). Please note that sizes are very small, so a large to xlarge should be standard even if you’re petite.
Sea to Summit DryLite Towel available at Amazon!
Find out what’s the best travel towel for you to take on your next trip!
Sea to Summit Lite Line Clothesline
Save Pennies With a Laundry Line
As a budget traveler, you probably want to save some money by washing your own clothes. You could use a piece of reusable string, unwaxed dental floss, or something more durable such as this travel laundry line but save yourself some trouble by packing this small item. Also, make this task easier by choosing the right travel clothing. Learn more in my guide!
Sea to Summit Lite Line Clothesline available at Amazon!
Read these tips for traveling with dirty laundry!
Super, Versatile Dry Bag
A dry bag can be used to store wet clothing when you’re on the go. Imagine if you have an early bus to catch to your next destination, but you only had time for a quick shower before breakfast not leaving you any time for your towel to dry.
Avoid hanging it over your dusty backpack and pack it in a waterproof bag that can also be used to hold other wet items such as, a bikini. It can also be used to store and protect electronics from a sudden downpour.
Itzy Ritzy “Travel Happens” Sealed Wet Bag available at Amazon!
Learn how to hand wash clothing while traveling!
A Spork for the Budget Foodie
When you’re sampling local treats from the street and market stalls don’t always expect to be handed a fork to go with your food. Play it smart and pack a spork that you can use during these instances, as well as if you want to buy food from a grocery store or shop. If you’re eating preferences include only eating at restaurants skip this item.
Light my Fire Titanium Spork available at Amazon!
Take a look at these travel necessities and add a few of them to your packing list!
Budget Travel Head Torch
Why is a head torch better than a regular flashlight? Because it leaves your hands free to eat your meal, use at night while camping, go about your business in a blackout, or walk late at night hands-free.
Petzl E91 Tikkina 2 available at Amazon!
Here’s the list of the best travel flashlight for your next adventure!
Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack
The Ultimate Budget Backpack
Budget travelers are always on the go and can spend much time exploring off the beaten path destinations which oftentimes means there is no path at all. Make it easy to carry your luggage over muddy trails, up ferry stairs, and over gaping holes in sidewalks by traveling with a backpack.
Looking for a travel backpack? Check out my Farpoint Osprey 55 review. It’s my fave to take on my journeys, available here at Amazon!
Read this step by step guide on how to choose the best travel backpack!
Ipanema Neo Sense Thong Sandal
Cheap n’ Cheerful Flip-Flops
It may seem that the majority of backpackers either wear trainers or flip-flops to match their laid back dress codes (but that varies on your personal style, of course).
Fashion preferences aside, one of the main reasons a budget traveler would want to use flip-flops is in icky budget accommodation showers. Avoid foot fungi in hostel bathrooms and pack a pair of shower shoes.
iPanema Women’s Neo Sense Thong Sandal available at Amazon!
Check out our favorite travel shoes for women that double as a flip-flop and a cute sandal!
Travel Packing Essentials Comparison Chart
|MODEL||BRAND||RATING | PRICE|
|Compass Rose Packing Cubes||Stick to packing cubes or compression sacks to organize your belongings.||Check Price|
|Compass Rose Travel Adapter||Purchase an international adapter that works around the world to take care of your electronics.||Check Price|
|indreamy Travel Sheet||it's lighter than a sleeping bag and can be used with both warm and cold climates.||Check Price|
|Sea to Summit Drylite Towel||A travel towel is better than carrying a regular towel because it packs small, is lightweight, super absorbent, and dries quickly.||Check Price|
|Sea to Summit Lite Line Clothesline||As a budget traveler, you probably want to save some money by washing your own clothes. You could use this travel laundry line.||Check Price|
|Itzy Ritzy Sealed Wet Bag||A dry bag can be used to store wet clothing when you're on the go||Check Price|
|Light my Fire Titanium Spork||Play it smart and pack a spork that you can use.||Check Price|
|Petzl - TIKKINA Headlamp||Head torch is better than a regular flashlight? Because it leaves your hands free.||Check Price|
|Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack||Make it easy to carry your luggage over muddy trails, up ferry stairs, and over gaping holes in sidewalks by traveling with a backpack.||Check Price|
|Ipanema Neo Sense Thong Sandal||Avoid foot fungi in hostel bathrooms and pack a pair of shower shoes.||Check Price|
Can you think of any other budget travel essentials? Please share in the comments!
Check out these posts for more helpful tips on budget travel:
- Backpacking Checklist: Top 10 Hostel Travel Essentials
- How to pack for Europe’s Budget Airlines
- Packing Tips and Travel Clothing for Multi-season Trips
- Are you a Jetsetter on a Budget? Here are 15 Cheap Purses for Travel
LIKED THIS POST? PIN THIS PIC TO SAVE IT!
Such fantastic suggestions! I find the travel towel to be invaluable while I’m traveling. I also just got a set of silk travel sheets, a laundry line, and headlamp for Christmas, so I’m ready for my next adventure!
Sound like a perfect combination!
Love this! Very practical advice for travelers anywhere.
Consider using a self-sealing “vacuum” bag such as space bag you can squeeze out the air to save space and keep it from leaking and you can also fill to with soap and water and squish it around to wash your clothes. The ones I use have a secure zipper and then you roll from the bottom to get the air out.
good tip! Thanks!
Interesting list, i couldn’t agree more. I’d add a swiss-army knife. They aren’t super cheap, but unbelievably useful.
Swiss Army knives can’t be in carry-on luggage can they?
Nope, they have knives so you should check this item or skip it if you travel carry-on