Here is a list of things (in no specific order) that I felt were useful when on my backpacking trip to Asia. Most of these items can be found at MEC. For my first time backpacking, I had no idea what to expect or what kind of toiletries I might need and I would have found this list useful while I was packing!
1.) The Diva Cup $39.00CAD
This little baby=best money I ever spent. I loved it so much while I was travelling, I continued to use it even when I got back. This product basically means you will never have to buy feminine products EVER again. The diva cup is a menstruation cup to use in place of tampons and sanitary napkins. The benefits of this product included; flexible movement, 12 hour changeover rate, Eco-friendly and easy to use. When you are backpacking sometimes bathrooms are hard to come by so having this meant I only had to empty the cup every 12 hours and didn’t need the washroom to prevent leakage emergencies with normal feminine products. At first the diva cup can be a little tricky to get the hang of but once you do, it is golden. I have had the diva cup leak once (which I feared when I first bought it), during my first time of use on the plane on route to Asia and I did not have any issues after that. This leak was definitely due to improper placement since I was attempting first use in a plane washroom cabin where I had limited space for movement to figure out what I was doing. When you have to empty the cup, one of those washroom stalls that has a sink inside of it is ideal to rinse the cup before re-insertion, however, you can also empty the cup into the toilet and quickly clean out with bottled water & some toilet paper if you happen so be somewhere where rinsing the cup with a sink is not possible. Yes, you need to get over the fact that you are touching yourself and dumping out your blood into a toilet/sink… but when it comes down to it, we are women, menstruation is natural and if you can embrace that, this product can make your life 100x easier.
2.) The Go Girl $11.50CAD
While in Asia I actually perfected the squat so I actually did not use this product very much while we were travelling. I still however, 100% recommend this product for backpacking since you seriously never know where you are going to end up. Being a woman, urinating is a true hassle when you are in the middle of nowhere. This product allows you to quickly and conveniently urinate and get on with it. This product can also be quickly rinsed with bottled water and re-stored into your backpack. When folded, it takes up very little space and is super cute. FYI urine is also sterile so honestly, don’t be worried about germs & bacteria if you feel like it’s not rinsed enough. *MAKE SURE YOU BRING TOILET PAPER (especially in Asia). Alternatively people bring urine rags and dry them outside of their backpacks after use (again, remember urine is actually sterile) so this is acceptable. Depends on how Au Natural you want to go!
3.) Key Chain Lip Balm $4.45CAD
MEC sells these really cute lip balms that come on a a mini carabiner that easily clips onto your backpack. Remember lip balm, seriously you don’t always need it but when you do, you really do. It was so handy. Just make sure to get some with SPF to prevent sunburned lips!
4.) Pocket Size Hand Sanitizer $2.32CAD
This product really doesn’t need explaining. I kept my hand sanitizer clipped inside my bag with my lip balm, I used it all of the time. When backpacking you really don’t know where you will end up or whether there will be running water. These are a must. If you are traveling for a long period of time or are basically obsessed with hand sanitizer use, I would recommend bringing more than one. The holders are reusable, so that is a handy bonus!
5.) PackTowl Personal Towel $11.00-$45.00CAD
This towel opens into a full sized towel and is extremely useful. It acts sort of like a ShamWow and absorbs the water off of your body quickly. The price depends on the size of towel that you want, you can look this up on MEC. I believe my towel was a medium size and it covered my entire body. Once the towel is used, it is very fast drying and is essentially dry after rolling and wringing it out a couple times. It takes absolutely no space at all and I used it for everything in Asia, from showers to the beach. It’s super soft too! However, make sure you let this towel completely dry out after use as the moisture will stay trapped in it and potentially cause mold or create a permanent, not-so-nice smell inside of the fibers.
6.) Travel Tooth Brush WITH Refillable Tooth Paste Tube $5.25CAD
Tooth Brush! Do not forget your toothbrush! These are extra useful because you can refill the toothpaste part. So if you do run out during your travels and are in a hostel, you can ask someone to refill yours & it saves you from having to buy and carry around a whole tube for yourself. Landon & I tried Lush’s “Toothy Tabs” dry tooth paste tablets, but they did not hold up very well in the humidity of Asia, we mostly just used our own tooth paste and tooth paste provided in the hostels we stayed at.
7.) Travel Sized Sunscreen $4.50CAD
Bring sunscreen!! I bought two mini spray bottles for my trip to Asia and they lasted me quite a while. Sunscreen is very expensive in places like Asia because only the tourists use it. This means that the prices are ridiculous. Also… in Asia, the sunscreen has an added “whitening feature” because just like Westerner’s like to be tanned, they like to be white! So bring your own travel sized bottles and save yourself the hassle. SPF 50 & Waterproof is probably your best bet, but my SPF 30 worked just fine.
8.) Travel Size Insect Repellent $4.75CAD
9.) LUSH Shampoo Bars $10.95CAD(bar) + $3.95(tin)CAD
GENIUS! Landon and I both used these while we traveled and we didn’t even end up using the entire bar. This bar is shampoo and you only require a few rubs for it to really soap up your hair. It was natural and we felt okay using it when we did not have proper shower facilities. It’s small and super convenient, you will not regret bringing these on your travels. These are also able to be used to wash laundry with, which I did end up doing a few times in Asia, just in a sink. This product is a must for backpackers!
10.) Vagisil Feminine Towelettes $6.99CAD
Lifesavers. When you backpack… you get sweaty, sometimes a little too sweaty. Sometimes you aren’t going to get to shower for a few days. Sometimes.. intimacy calls. These were really handy, they could be more discreet as every little towelette screams VAGISIL on the package. But these are simply just feminine wipes that are OK for vaginal health and come in handy when you want to freshen up at anytime. They were most useful during that time of month or when I did not have access to a shower after a day of walking around in sweltering weather.
10.) Condoms $1.33/Each CAD
Do it!!! Though I traveled with my partner, things happen. With the time change I was horrible with taking my birth control on time and condoms are totally necessary to not only prevent pregnancy but also prevent STI’s. On the flip side if you are traveling single, hostels are interesting places. Have protection for yourself just in case the other person doesn’t. STI transmission is very common in travelers abroad. It’s probably going to be a one time thing, maybe there’s even a language barrier… it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t trust anyone when it comes to your heath and be safe! And obviously enjoy… !
Hopefully this list was helpful to some of you backpack seekers. These products definitely made my life easier on my travels. Feel free to comment with any questions about these products or other one’s that you have heard of but are not on my list! Thanks for reading, happy trails & safe travels!