© Buzzfed

33 Best Backpacker Hacks for New Zealand

© Buzzfed

Tips and Tricks for Backpacking

We like anything to make our lives easier, right? The same goes for backpacking. Being a badass globe-trotter isn’t easy so with that in mind we have put together this whopping list of backpacker hacks (especially for New Zealand)!

Learn how to pack right, create your own inflight entertainment, make some mini speakers for those pre-drinking hostel nights and so much more in this collection of backpacking hacks. You’ll also learn about crafting useful things out of the limited possessions you have, such as soda cans, bottles, sweet containers, pill containers, trash bags and more!

For more advice on preparing to come to New Zealand check out: Backpack Vs Suitcase and How to Get a Working Holiday Visa.

1. No Inflight Entertainment?

Make your own. Boom.

© Imgur

2. Get Cheaper Flights

Enable private browsing when searching for flights. You will see cheaper prices. Get more “cheap flight” tips in How to Book a Cheap Flight to New Zealand.


3. Put Milk into a Water Bottle

For some reason, no one has invented a milk bottle or carton that doesn’t leak when put on its side. Leaking milk in the hostel fridge will make you an annoyance to everyone involved. On the other hand, water bottles are pretty sturdy. Give it a go!

© Blogspot

4. Everything is a Food Container!

Keep containers for your leftovers. Don’t be that person that stores food in hostel pots or bowls in the fridge. You’ll be saving the planet too.


5. Use Your Camera Phone

Take photos of your hostel room number, booking references, and anything else you don’t want to retain in your head. You’ll realise that a phone can be used for a lot more than taking selfies. By the way, have you checked if your phone will work in New Zealand?

© Facweb

6. Roll Don’t Fold

… your clothes. What did you think we were talking about? This will create more packing space. It’s science and art rolled up into one.

Pixabay© Pixabay

7. Stop Liquid Cosmetics From Leaking

We’ve all been there. As Ross from Friends would say: “major shampoo explosion!” Unscrew the bottle lid, place a piece of plastic wrap on top then screw the lid back on. A good backup if the cap bursts open!

Pixabay© Pixabay

8. Stuff Shoes and Wrap Them in a Shower Cap

Save of packing space by stuffing your shoes with socks. Plus, wrap shoes in a shower cap to protect your clothes.

Michael Coghlan on Flickr© Michael Coghlan on Flickr

9. Use a Pillbox for Small Items

… like jewellery. Ask your grandmother.

Imgur© Imgur

10. Dietary Requirements Card

Don’t speak the language well? And you have dietary requirements? Sucks for you but there is a hack for this. Carry a card explaining your food allergies in the languages of the places you’re visiting.©

11. Put Chargers in a Glasses Case

Stop cables from tangling. But then where do you put your glasses?

pxhere© pxhere

12. Can’t Find Your Clothes in Your Backpack?

Keep your clothes in separate bags e.g. so all your t-shirts are together.

Garoa on Flickr© Garoa on Flickr

13. Roll (Almost) a Whole Outfit into 1 Roll

Socks, underwear and t-shirt: sorted.

© Gawker

14. Wrap Soap in a Washcloth

What the big guy said ^^

Pixabay© Pixabay

15. Make Instant Speakers

By putting your phone in a cup. Your hostel room just got a little livelier.© Buzzfed

16. Exercise Like Crazy the Day Before You Travel

To reduce jetlag. Find out more ways to beat jet lag with the 10 Simple Ways to Get Over Jet Lag.

Pixabay© Pixabay

17. Keep Earrings Together

Using a button.

© Buzzfeed

18. Turn a Soda Can into a Camp Stove

In the case of an emergency dinner party (or just because you really are cheap), this trick is one of the most popular ones. You only need a knife and a pop can and “voila”! Add a candle and you are ready to warm up that can of baked beans that you desperately need.

© John Nakamura Remy on Flickr

19. Use an Old Milk Bottle as a Lantern

We consider this one more of a social trick than a practical one, as you will need a headlamp for this trick and, well, a headlamp is pretty useful by itself. However, headlamps have a narrow beam of light that only focuses on a small area, making for an awkward night of blinding your friends as you look at them. The solution? Make a diffuser with a milk bottle or simply wrap a tissue over the lamp and solve that problem in an instant.

© Tom Ray on Flickr

20. Use an Old Pill Bottle as a DIY First Aid Kit

Old pill bottles are an essential item for any light-packing backpacker. You can pack a lot of essentials into a small pill bottle while having them easily accessible at the same time. Use the same trick for your survival kit.

© Charles Williams on Flickr

21. The Best Fire-Starters are… Cotton Pads Dipped in Wax

NO joke, give it a shot. Instead of spending precious dollars on chemical fire-starters, try ladies cotton pads and dip them in wax. You will be able to keep them for a month and they will light in an instant.

© pixabay

22. Use Chips as Tinder

Some kinds of chips burn pretty easily, especially if they are oily but dry like the ones in this picture. Use them as tinder if you can’t find anything else to get that fire going!

© lynch_m_j on Flickr

23. Do Not Travel Without a Power Bank

Phone, camera, tablet… you’ll probably travel with all sorts of gadgets but when on the go, it can be hard to keep them charged and ready to use. Choose a power bank with a high amperage so it holds more power. Some even have a solar panel on their back so they can recharge themselves – pretty nifty! See which ones we like in the 21 Travel Gadgets for Your Gap Year in New Zealand.

© nijanthan_v on Flickr

24. For Extra Rain Protection, Line Your Backpack with a Trash Bag

New Zealand weather is unpredictable, often displaying four seasons in one day. To make sure that your pack stays dry, line your backpack with a cheap trash bag so, in case of a surprise shower, you are still sure to find a dry pair of socks to wear at night.

© Marco Verch on Flickr

25. Pack Your Bag Right

Weight distribution is essential when packing your bag. The general rule is to keep the heavy items at the bottom of the bag, but there is a lot more to be said on the subject so check out our article on how to pack your bag for a gap year in New Zealand.

Pixabay© Pixabay

26. Use a Toilet Paper Roll as a Phone Stand

Simple and efficient, here is your $20 phone stand made for 2 cents! Plus, you can draw on it and make it a personal piece of art.

© pxhere

27. Carry Your Herbs and Spices in Old Tic Tac Container

For those finer pallets that cannot stand a bland meal, carrying a few herbs and spices around is essential. In the outdoors or from hostel to hostel, campsite to campsite, there is nothing more annoying than a clunky backpack full of glass jars ready to break. Swap the original spice containers for Tic Tac boxes and have heaps of herbs and spices to make flavorful meals on the go!

© Polyparadig on Wikipedia

28. A Crayon Will Burn for About 30 Minutes

Can’t find a candle that fits in your bag? What about a pack of crayons? Small and easy to carry, each of them should burn for about half an hour- plenty enough to last you the night.

Pixabay© Pixabay

29. Use Beeswax to Waterproof a Ton of Things

Beeswax is amazing. It is truly the item that does it all. One of the most impressive uses of beeswax is waterproofing, from shoes to backpacks. Give it a shot, you’ll be surprised!

© maxpixel

30. Carry a Fabric Bag

Aside from the obvious “save the planet, don’t use plastic bags”, a fabric bag will also save you money as most supermarkets in New Zealand will charge you for a plastic bag – usually around 10c per bag. Fabric bags also make for great pillows when stuffed with a jacket and a jumper, something to keep in mind for your next Great Walk.

© lisaclarke on Flickr

31. Bitten? Rub a Soap Bar on the Bite to Ease the Itch

You are bound to be bitten by those annoying sandflies a few times when spending time in the New Zealand outdoors. Don’t fear, we have a tip for that as well. Rub a bar of dry soap onto the bite for a few seconds and the itch should disappear within a few minutes. Repeat as often as needed. By the way, check out 7 Ways to Stop Sandfly Bites.

© Pixabay

32. Make a Spoon Out of a Coke Bottle

Plastic bottles are a huge source of pollution on our planet and should be recycled as much as possible. You can cut a Coke bottle into a spoon shape to drink that soup that you warmed up on your can camp stove. That might make you feel better about your soft drinks addiction… For other ways to recycle while on the road, check out Be Green When Backpacking in New Zealand.

© Santeri Viinamäki on Wikipedia

33. Repair Almost Anything with Dental Floss

Strong and cheap, dental floss is a multi-tool for any crafty backpacker. Repair a cut in your backpack in an instant. Because it is a ticker type of wire, it will stay in place often better than traditional thread. Win-win!

© pxhere


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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