In my experience there are few things you need to travel for an extended period of time.
By an extended period I’m talking 10 months plus.
There is a misconception that travelers have to smelly and unwashed, dazed wandering aimlessly and crawling with bed bugs.
If this aesthetic appeals to you ignore this post.
If however you wish to travel with some modicum of decency and blend in more with the surroundings read on.
Most importantly. First and foremost. This is something that will warrant serious thought. The smaller the pack the better, you will not over-pack. You wont have to check luggage on airplanes and people wont give you filthy looks when you try to find an out of the way corner to stand on busy commuter buses.
Something worth considering is a backpack with expandable space, this gives you somewhere to store bulkier and sometimes smellier items – think hiking boots and dirty laundry.
My pack has a 65l capacity with side pockets that can expand for a further 10l hence the name – 65+10.
I generally pack no more than I would need for a week while ensuring that I have some clothes for both a warm and a cool climate.
From left to right we have…
- 6 T-shirts
- 1 hoody, 1 heavy sweater and 1 light sweater
- 2 Pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of pants and one pair of heavy duty combat pants.
This is perhaps where the most disagreement can lie. I know people who travel with nothing but a passport and clothes and I know people who travel who travel with everything but the kitchen sink. This section can vary hugely, depending on where you’re going, how long you plan on staying in each destination, if you really want to tell the folks back home that you’re alive and well etc. ad infitum.
Here is what I tend to settle on in no particular order
Dented or not a good water bottle is invaluable. You will save a fortune by filling it yourself from the tap and more importantly it will serve as an excellent place to put sitckers of Disney characters.
First Aid kit
Mine is tiny. It has some gauze in it and a roll of medical tape. I have needed them more than I like to remember.
Or some other means of accessing the internet. It is impossible to escape from the internet these days and like it or not it can be the best way to plan things on the fly. Need to find a couch to surf, or how to get from Bali to Toronto – It’s got you covered.
Universal Plug Adapter
Pretty self explanatory, but if you’re gonna be off gallivanting God knows where you’re gonna need to stop and recharge those batteries eventually.
Notebook and Camera
This might be cheating but I’m putting these two together. If I was blessed with artistic skill I might neglect the camera in place of a sketchpad. I am not. I can just about point a camera at stuff. Regardless these two tools are the best to record and remember your awesome adventures.
If you are like me and your clothes are from secondhand stores then chances are you will need to repair them from time to time. A few needles and a some thread will save you no end of trouble. Also sewing skills.
Books! any kind of books. Books to inspire wanderlust, books to keep you company and books to help you find your way. Here are two of my favorite Vagabonding by Rolf Potts and On the Shortness of Life by Seneca.
Multi-Tool or Pocket Knife
I can’t count the amount of times that this little baby came in handy.
Card games, it would seem, transcend language barriers. A game of cards is a fantastic way to meet new people or keep yourself entertained while sitting on an uncomfortably long bus ride.
- A bag within a bag? What madness is this? The best kind of madness – practical madness. Got a few hours to kill in a city? Check your backpack in to left luggage and take your day bag. Staying somewhere for a few days? Going on a short trip? Leave your backpack in the hostel and pack this guy up. Going grocery shopping? Boom! You got a carrier bag.
Below chilling by my day bag, is Beauregard the Budgie (Beau to his friends). Beau has been my constant companion and caregiver for over a year. He attaches to my pack by way of a ribbon and sits on my shoulder. He is plastic. I have been stopped many times by border officials. He remains plastic.
Headphones and Earplugs
Both essential in their own ways and at the right time.