It’s a week before the long awaited journey begins. Your bag is purchased, your flights are booked, visas have been arranged, and all that remains is that most irritating of all questions: what to take with you when you go…
Well I can guarantee that half of what you think you’ll need you won’t, and half of what you leave behind you’ll wish you had taken! But that’s just the nature of the beast, na?
Like in most things experience is best. The more you take that stupid sack of shampoo and conditioner the more you’ll have it drilled into you that that sack MUST STAY BEHIND. Every traveller likes a different pack.
A different list.
Some (like me) want to go as light as they can, forego the spare socks and make do without the toiletries, but others enjoy a bit of comfort alone the roughened road that is backpacking.
Whatever your flavour, when you pack you have to forget the ‘shoulds’ and step back a bit. Its not about what you can or can’t do without, its about how to satisfy every need you have with as little weight and hassle as you can.
This list is a combination of ‘living essentials’, ‘happiness essentials’ and ‘purchasable extras’ that I now use for backpacking journeys of a month and up.
1. Living Essentials
- Money – credit/Mastercard, travel card/cash passport, US dollars for emergencies, spare cards
- Passport and ID (drivers license)
- Membership and concession cards (e.g. student card/I’m a member of YHA youth hostels association/etc)
- Tickets and proof of ALL bookings (flights, trains, hotels, tours, etc. for anything you’ve booked you should bring a receipt)
- Travel insurance certificate (In case you get stuck)
- List of useful numbers (e.g. your country’s consulate in the country you’re off to, travel insurance numbers, your bank, etc)
- Minimal toiletries (anything you can’t buy on the road e.g. Ella Bache Concealer. Plus a toothbrush, paste, and basics for your first few nights at least)
- Clothes (5 spare undies, one pair of socks, one jumper, one pair of shorts, one day top, flats, and, if u like, one super sexy evening outfit. NO heels! I always wear my long pants, another day top and my hiking boots when I set off: the boots can be strapped to your pack when you whip out those flats for warmer weather)
- Medicine (check you’ve had all the relevant vaccinations BEFORE you go. Bring antibiotics, malaria medication if relevant, bandaids, disinfectant and Panadol. Whack in some Imodium or anti-nausea tablets, a bit of Aloe-vera aftersun and some allergy stuff like Zyrtec. If you have asthma like me don’t forget your puffer!!)
- Clothing washing utensils (you can always buy washing powder on the road, but its so nice to have your own wire and clothes pegs. I feel like a real housewife! Which is slightly ironic…)
2. Happiness Essentials
- A good book.
- iPod, headphones, and CHARGER
- Laptop and charger (for all you bloggers out there) with a very sturdy case
- Hobby materials (I bring all my art supplies. I was travelling with a girl who brought a scrapbook diary once, and another who’s hobby was music so she brought a ukulele. Whatever keeps those brain cells happy)
- Pictures/memories from home (my mum made me a tiny photo booklet of our family which I take everywhere)
- Phone, charger and global sim (or buy a sim in the country. Make sure your phone is unlocked!)
3. Purchasable Extras
- Most of my toiletries (you can buy most things on the road, only take things that legit can’t be bought outside your country, and things which you definitely will need before you have a chance to get to the shops. The rest you can find along the way!)
- Replacements (chargers, sims, repairs and clothes can be bought in most places. Bank card, passports and visas are harder to find…so keep them safe!)
- Food, drink, duh
NOTE: as much as you can it is better to buy locally since by doing so you’re investing in the local economy, and inadvertently doing your small bit! So, if you can buy it over there why bring it from here?