If you thought shopping for the person who has everything was hard, what do you get for the person who wants next to nothing? Budget travellers are a fairly minimalist sort. Each item packed for a trip must be worthy of its space. What should make the cut?

No matter how light you pack, there are travel items that save time and money. Here’s the perfect wish list for that frugal traveller in your life!


Savvy Stocking Stuffers

  • A pack of playing cards can quickly turn strangers into friends, and make lengthy bus rides go by just a bit further.
  • Even if racking up your country count isn’t your main travel goal, a travel scratch map is a satisfying way to track your travels.
  • A compact portable charger can save your electronics when you need it – whether for a GPS location or an urgent phone call.
  • A travel notebook is great to have on hand, whether for quick notes when you don’t want to flash a phone, or to journal your experiences.
  • Be the hostel hero with a keychain bottle opener and open beer at a moment’s notice anywhere.

Practical pieces

  • Luggage locks are great for use with checked bags, hostel lockers, and even to secure items overnight when staying in dorms to prevent theft. Label your bags with a luggage tag should they get lost.
  • Packing cubes are the traveller’s equivalent of dresser drawers. This is a Thrifty Nomads favourite!
  • A luggage scale prevents costly miscalculations when it comes to baggage weight when flying (sadly an error that we’ve personally made!).
  • A compact, sturdy travel umbrella is perfect for keeping dry on a moment’s notice and avoiding buying over-priced, low-quality umbrellas.

Geeky essentials

  • Skype credit is great for when travellers want to make calls but don’t have reliable wifi to do so.
  • Headphone splitters allows travellers to share tunes or watch a movie together whether from a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
  • Smart phone lenses allow wide angle, macro, and even zoom shots with just a small set of lens attachments for a smartphone or tablet.
  • A tamper-proof laptop/smartphone lock keeps a laptop or electronics safe. Simply attach and anchor to any surface (e.g. bed post, desk, etc.).
  • A selfie stick is a shameless must-have. Because sometimes there’s just no one around when you need that epic shot!
  • An eReader saves space and weight from books, while offering compact reading anywhere you want. Be sure to get a cover to protect the screen.

Camping & hiking must-have’s

  • No cell coverage or wifi? No problem. With GoTenna you can send texts to another GoTenna and get GPS even without wifi or cell coverage up to several miles. It works like a Walkie Talkie (units are sold in pairs).
  • Prevent waterborne illness by using a Steripen water purifier.
  • Keep precious valuable dry with an Earthpak Waterproof Dry Bag. Perfect for hikers, kayakers, and campers.
  • Long hike? Remote camping trip? A portable shower solves the issue of hygiene & even gives warm water thanks to its solar panels.
  • A portable washing bag is perfect for serious hikers & campers. With its internal washboard and bag design you can do laundry anywhere!

Frugal foodie items

Keeping trendy & tidy

  • Refillable travel bottles are great for lotions and washing gels. If <100mL these can be taken as carry-on which is perfect to freshen up during long layovers.
  • LUSH shampoo bars smell amazing and save on space. The ingredients are all natural, and each bar is customized to hair needs (e.g. dryness, oily, etc.). Be sure to get the tin to keep it mess-free.
  • Keep those locks silky smooth with a portable detangling brush. Its cover ensure it won’t get caught on items in your bag.
  • LUSH deodorant sticks are an all natural, chemical-free alternative to regular deodorants for travellers. Much smaller than regular deodorant too!
  • Fast-dry travel towels are space smart and eliminate the damp, stinky towel problem. We recommend at least XL size for a “normal” towel size.
  • A peg-less clothesline is perfect for drying wet clothing on a moment’s notice. Simply hook and hang up anywhere!

What travel items can you not live without?