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The Essential Gap Year Checklist

You're ready. You've saved your money, you've studied the area you're visiting, your departure date is looming and you have no idea where to start packing. Being clued up and organised on what you need to take can make packing for your trip that oh-so-much easier so make sure you pack the essential backpacking items below!

The first and only thing you'll really need to splash out on is a travel backpack- what else do you expect to carry your life and belongings in for such a long period of time?

Make sure you're not investing in a rucksack (think back to your first year at secondary school) but a real travel rucksack. What's the difference? Rucksacks are far too small for what you're after. You need a travel bag which is essentially a malleable suitcase, with separate compartments to keep your clothes, toiletries, gadgets and everything we're listing below in, and straps on top to store your bedding roll or sleeping bag.

Next up, your first aid kit. Now, along with any prescription medications, spare prescription sheets and the generic medical name for all of your personal stuff (these come in useful should your supply be stolen, damaged or lost, and you need to seek out more at a local pharmacy where they don't necessarily speak English or have the brands you are familiar with). Make sure you pack in the following for any unexpected situations: plasters/blister plasters (because it's always handy to walk), bandages, painkillers, mosquito spray, bite cream, antihistamines, anti-diarrhea tablets, sterile dressings, and antiseptic spray.

Even though you're travelling and living every single exciting moment of travelling through parts of the world, you can guarantee you'll at some point be bored. Whether you're waiting to check-in, waiting for transport...basically, you'll be waiting for something at some point of your trip, and a pack of cards can come in useful in not only this situation, but also helps you bond with others too.

Something that you might not remember, or might not even think is that important - much like millions of other travellers each year - travel insurance could save your life. Travelling away from the shelter and comfort of home and it's familiarities leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of things. Under travel insurance, things like your personal possessions, important documentation, passports, cancellation or curtailment charges are all covered, along with the most important thing - medical expenses. Should you fall ill or injure yourself on holiday, you could be looking at a medical bill worth thousands of pounds - but that's without travel insurance. With it, you have a 24 hour emergency medical helpline to help you and you don't have to worry about the costs incurring, instead you can focus on recovery.

Now whether you're travelling through Sydney to Brisbane, working your way through the Thai islands or the Amazon rainforest, the likelihood of your vulnerable very-used-to-the-British-constantly-overcast-weather skin becoming burnt is pretty high. We recommend taking sunscreen, and plenty spare, unless you really really don't think you'll need it, but pretty much any exposure could leave you burnt and sore for days. Whilst you're travelling it's not worth the discomfort, especially if you don't have any remedy.

This almost isn't worth saying, because it'll almost certainly be the first thing on your 'Need to remember!' list, but your passport, ID, visas and any other documentation like plane tickets, confirmation of bookings and the rest of it - should all be placed in a waterproof wallet in your bag and kept on your person at all times. Also make sure you keep photocopies of your ID and passport in a hotel safe, just in case the originals get lost, stolen or damaged.

Cash comes in handy no matter where you are in the world, but taking a huge wad of converted spending money can also make you a target. To stay safe, split your cash into different bundles and store them in different places - try placing two on your person and three in your bag somewhere (even better stored in a hotel safe). That way, should something happen, you shouldn't be left without anything at all to live off or find help with. It's good to only take out the money you need with you for each day, not all of it at once.

Travelling without the comforts of home can be difficult, and after a few days in the same vest top you might find yourself wishing for the luxury of a washing machine and some fabric softener, but with compact and light travel wash, you can keep your clothes clean and non-smelly for as long as possible.

Because none of us travel without our phone, e-Reader, camera or an alternative way of using the Internet whilst away - a travel adapter is ideal for keeping these things charged when you have a limited amount of power outlets which are only suitable for local plug styles.

Something is bound to get wet at some point on your trip. Whether it rains, you accidentally sit your bag down in a wet patch that is actually a lot wetter than you originally thought, it ends up in the pool as a sort of prank - you will need waterproofs. A light and packable coat, maybe even trousers and most importantly, a waterproof lining to your bag, just to prevent any water leaking in and getting things damp even if it doesn't rain.

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