Planning your first gap year or backpacking trip can be seriously exciting, but it can also be daunting for many people. There are a lot of logistical problems to deal with, essential paperwork to sort out, visas to get, wondering what to pack, and this can sometimes get a little overwhelming. Many first time backpackers can obsess with what to buy before they go and what essentials they should bring on their trip, and this can lead to a whole load of completely unnecessary purchases.
The Gap Year Travel Essentials Kit from the Gap Year Travel Store attempts to take care of that problem by packaging a selection of essentials together in one easy package.
The Travel Essentials Kit contains:
A travel towel.
A travel plug adapter.
A pegless washing line.
An LED torch.
A money belt.
Insect bite relief.
Hand gel spray.
Overall I was more impressed with this kit once I opened the package than I originally thought I would be. Although there are some minor issues, it is a great starter kit and if you are someone who has never been travelling before and was thinking of buying a few of these items separately, then it is certainly a fair option at the price range.
The travel towel is an absolutely essential item that I absolutely love, and I have carried one of these with me ever since I started backpacking many years ago. I always recommend to anyone who is thinking of going on a gap year to get one as they save a lot of space compared to a normal towel, do a fair job of drying you on the move and dry really quickly. No one wants a damp towel inside their pack! The towel inside this pack is made by Trespass, which is a great and reliable brand, and comes in its own really handy mesh bag that you can fit a couple of other bits in such as the washing line if needed. The only problem that I can find with this travel kit is that they have included one of the smaller sized towels at 45 X 90 cm. It will still do the job for most people, but if you are a big guy or on the taller side like myself, then you may want to choose one of the larger sized towels instead.
The torch is nothing fancy, it is a cheap, basic small, rubber torch and does what it says on the tin. It has a bright LED light and is perfect for rooting round in your pack or those late night visits to the loo in the hostel to avoid waking everyone up. A torch is an absolutely essential piece of kit and deserves it’s place in this pack however, and as basic torches go, there are a lot worse out there.
The travel washing line may seem a little superfluous, but if you plan on travelling on a budget and doing a bit of your own washing in the hostels, or even just hanging up your damp towel, then it can come in useful. It isn’t very long, but stretched out it can fit a T shirt, some swim shorts or swimsuit and a few undergarments on. I have used on of these myself from time to time and seen many hostels throughout the years with similar lines strung up between the beds. The suction cups are next to useless on the majority of surfaces you will be able to attach them to in your room or dorm, but it does come with handy clips attached, or failing that you always have the option to tie it to something. The pegless system works by the line being made of twisted bands of elastic, so all you have to do is open up each section, insert the item you want to hang up and the elastic will hold it. Definitely worthy of a place in an essentials pack.
The travel adaptor is another travel essential. There are two plugs in this pack with options for round pins, slanted flat pins or flat pins. This is a basic adaptor that on the packaging states it works in over 150 countries, converting a UK plug into whatever adaptation you need. If you are travelling off the well travelled beaten path for your gap year however and may have cause to convert a non UK plug to another dimension or even convert another countries plug to a UK pin, you may want to spend a little more money and get a completely universal adaptor separately. For the majority of UK travellers heading off on their gap year however, this is a basic item that adequately does the job.
The mosquito repellent and insect bite relief both come in extremely handy, pocket sized pen sprays and are great for carrying round with you in your daysac for a day of sightseeing or a trek. The insect repellent is only 30% DEET however. This is perfect for topping up throughout the day or after you have taken a dip in a jungle lagoon somewhere and need to reapply, but I still highly recommend purchasing a slightly stronger solution of 50% DEET and using this pen as a back up. If you plan on using this pen as your primary form of repellent you will have to reapply it a lot more regularly and the 10 mls won’t last very long.
Not everything in the pack is what I would consider a necessity however, and this is where the thin savings on price between buying the pack and individual items let it down a little. The hand gel is just basic hand gel that you can get anywhere pretty cheaply. It comes in the same style pen as the bite relief and repellent, but other than that doesn’t really need to be included.
Personally I could do without the money belt too. Some people do swear by them and if you want to use one then that is your choice and there is one here for you. It is however only a thin, cheap money belt, and if you do decide you want to travel with one there are plenty on the market that may be better, including the newer RFID protection belts. If you are anything like me however you will just find them uncomfortable, unnecessary and never use it, which makes its inclusion in the pack a little bit superfluous.
Overall though, this is a good starter pack. The Gap Year Travel Essentials Kit is packaged really well and is aimed perfectly at its target market of first time travellers. If someone is planning a gap year or backpacking trip for the first time and was specifically looking at buying all of these items separately anyway, then I can definitely see the appeal of this pack. It would also make a fantastic gift if you are a parent, relative or loved one of someone you know who is going backpacking.
Things like an extra large towel or a bigger bottle of 50% DEET spray would make the kit more invaluable and durable for a longer term traveller but it works well for the beginner.
If you are buying this kit for yourself – and you will use all of the included items – then the price only just makes it worthwhile to ensure you have the basic items you will use on the road, but remember that these are only the basic, smaller or cheaper versions of these items and you should evaluate what you think your needs will be carefully. If you won’t use the money belt or don’t plan on doing your own washing (and therefore using the washing line), then those two items are essentially useless. You aren’t saving that much by buying the kit than you would by buying every item individually, so if you don’t use one or two items, you are essentially wasting money. Also, if you will be travelling for a long time you will still need to buy stronger, larger insect repellent. The same is true for all the other items, check if they are suitable for your needs. For example, if you are a bigger person or just happen to want a bigger towel than the small version supplied, then you may be better off buying yourself the larger versions of the travel towel instead and then buying other items such as slightly stronger insect repellent independently.
If these things aren’t issues for you however, then you can save yourself a couple of pounds by buying the pack rather than the individual items and get yourself what is essentially a good basic starter kit.
Ready to buy? You can purchase a Gap Year Travel Essentials Kit here.
This review was possible with a product supplied by The Gap Year Travel Store. The views and opinions expressed are the authors own and are honest and factual without any bias.
No incentives are ever accepted in return for positive coverage, and in the instances where assistance has been given by travel industry professionals and services, full editorial integrity is maintained and all reviews will remain honest and forthright.