GET THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL PACKING LIST! (Yes. It's editable, printable & FREE)

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. We earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you, we appreciate your support!


Whether you’re going on a pre-college adventure, you’ve finished your studies, or are planning a career break, a gap year is an incredible life experience and an awesome way to see the world. Here are some gap year essentials you should add to your checklist!


Gap Year Essentials

Written By: Annie Jarvis


Each year thousands of people take a gap year, whether they go inter-railing in Europe or backpacking Southeast Asia. No matter where you choose to go or what you choose to do, there are a few gap year items I believe are essential for every female traveler.





Travel Backpack | Packable Tote | Packable Daypack




I always recommend using a backpack over a suitcase. Whether you’re hitting sandy beaches or jumping from train to train, carrying a backpack enables you to pick your stuff up rather than drag or roll it on the ground. It’s also a lot easier to fit into small spaces on trains, buses, and in hostels.

Tip: Use packing organizers to organize your clothes inside the backpack. These save so much space and help keep everything nice and neat.


This guide will help you learn how to choose the best travel backpack. It’s a must read!




Diva Cup Menstrual Cup


Menstrual cup


One common conundrum for female travelers is dealing with periods abroad. We’ve all been there; it can really put a downer on a great trip. While lots of countries sell sanitary pads, tampons aren’t always available, which means you could be sitting on the beach while everyone else is in the sea.

So what are your options? You can either pack enough tampons to last your entire trip and risk running out, or invest in a reusable menstrual cup that will save you space and panic.

These little cups are lightweight, convenient, and great for the environment, making them the perfect companion for your gap year adventure, especially if you love water activities.


Check out the pros for reusable menstrual cups here!




En Route Journal




A gap year is one of those life experiences that you’ll never want to forget. Yes, you’ll take a thousand photos, but one of the best ways to keep track of your adventure is to write in a diary or journal throughout the trip. It’s something you can look back on years later and cringe or laugh at every little moment.

A blog is awesome to share your travels with your friends and family, but there are some private experiences and revelations you might want to save for yourself.




Travel Size Luggage Lock




No matter where you are going, safety is important when traveling. A padlock with a combination lock (not a key) is one of the most essential items for any traveler, male or female. Always bring two travel size locks: one for your bag and one for a hostel locker (or even your door).

Most hostels have lockers to store your valuables, but you’ll need your own padlock to keep everything safe. Make sure you lock away your passport and electrical devices when you’re going out and be vigilant at all times.


Read these tips on how to keep your passport safe while traveling!




Budget Guides for: South America | Central AmericaSoutheast AsiaEurope


Travel Guide


A travel guide is an absolute must if you’re visiting somewhere completely new. Filled with information about cultural norms and places to stay, guidebooks become every traveler’s must-read as they move from place to place searching for a new adventure.

As a bonus, they can also act as a conversation starter with other solo travelers. Keep it with you at all times, but don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path and explore new hostels and places to eat.


Even though you can find free travel tips online, find out why we still love a travel guide!




iPod Shuffle | Kindle Paperwhite | Portable Speaker




Believe it or not, there is an massive amount of travel (down) time involved in a gap year. Flights from country to country, long train rides, and overnight buses are all a part of this amazing experience. But without some form of entertainment, they can get quite tedious.

Fill your phone or iPod with your favorite music that you can listen to on your own or as part of a group.


Tip: Pack a small, portable speaker so you can share your music with others and let the party come to you.




Universal All-in-One Worldwide Travel Adapter


International Adapter


Save space and money by packing an all-in-one international adapter that can be used in any country. Not only is it super cheap, but it’s perfect for charging all of your electrical items and eliminates needing a different adaptor for each country.


Learn more about traveling with travel adapters or converters!




Sea to Summit DryLite Towel


Travel Towel


A travel towel is another must-have item for anyone going on a long trip, especially if you’re staying at budget accommodation.

You don’t want to lug round a large towel, as it will take up too much space in your backpack and won’t dry quickly. Microfiber towels are lightweight, compact, and dry super fast, which means they are perfect for any gap year adventure.


These are our top ten hostel essentials!




Stretch Silk Liner


Sleeping bag liner


On a long journey, you never know where you might end up sleeping. You could be in a luxurious hotel on some days, or in a rundown hostel with questionable bed sheets.

Pack a sleeping bag liner so you always have something clean to sleep in, regardless of where you’re staying. They’re also great for overnight buses as you can wrap yourself up and keep warm in spite of the blasting air-con.


Learn the top 5 benefits of traveling with a sleeping bag liner here!




Repel 100 Insect Repellent | Mosquito Repellent Wipes


Mosquito Repellent


Mosquito repellent is super important for anyone who gets bitten when traveling to a different country. Some hostels and guesthouses do provide nets over the beds, but there are plenty that don’t, which means you could wake up covered in bites. Pack a bottle of strong mozzy spray to keep those nasty bugs away at night.


Here are a few more mosquito repellant products we do and don’t recommend!



What are your gap year essentials? Comment with your tips below!


For more tips and ideas on travel essentials, please read:






I hope you liked this post on gap year essentials. Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!

Author Bio: Annie Jarvis is relatively new to the traveling world and has just completed a five month journey around Southeast Asia, India, and the US. She loves diving, skiing, cooking, hiking, and writing about her adventures on her Refreshing the Page blog.