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15 Crafty Backpacking Tips


Backpacking tips for the crafty traveller

Feeling cheap but crafty? Follow the backpacking tips below and save hundreds of dollars during your backpacking trip in New Zealand on all the essentials. From food to basic repairs, we’ve got a trick for every aspect of your backpacking experience in the list below. (To be fair, you don’t really have to be that crafty to stick a lamp to a milk bottle right?!)

Most of these tips will help you in the outdoors of New Zealand and are a great way to recycle your trash! Make use of soda cans, bottles, sweet containers, pill containers, trash bags and more!

When you are done and want more tips and trick, check out the hundreds of tips to help you make your gap year a breeze in our Travel Tips section!

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1. 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.


2. 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 head lamp for this trick and, well, a head lamp is pretty useful by itself. However, head lamps 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 a instant.


3. 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.


4. 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 month and they will light in an instant.


5. Use chips as tinder

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


6. 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!


7. 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.


8. 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.


9. 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.


10. 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!


11. 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.


12. 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!


13. 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 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.


14. 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 second and the itch should disappear within a few minutes. Repeat as often as needed.


15. 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.


16. (BONUS) 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!


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