So you’ve taken the big step and booked your ticket to travel. The location is picked, the timing is confirmed and you’ve booked your flights! Exciting!!!
Now comes the much anticipated planning of what to pack! You’ve done the continous google search of ‘what to pack for travelling?’ And ‘necessities to take when travelling the world?’ Etc etc.. Yes? We’ve all been there!
It can be quite daunting to know what to pack when you are visiting new countries, what will the weather be like? What’s the culture like? What shoes should I pack? Question after question will fill your mind, and just when you think you’ve got your packing list down to a T, you’ll realise you’ve missed a vital item, or simply packed too much that it wont all fit.
Well, that’s where I come in, as someone who has been travelling for the past 6 months, and is still travelling now, i’m here to advise you on what items you definately need whilst travelling, and which items should stay at home!
1. A comfortable backpack / suitcase – first things first, you need to decide on whether you want to take a typical travellers backpack, or if a suitcase will suffice. The whole term ‘backpacking’ suggests you need to take a backpack to fit into this catergory of people. However, that’s not always the case. A backpack is extremely handy, especially if you are visiting countries like Asia, where the roads are uneven, or Fiji, where your bag gets thrown onto boats left, right and centre. But no matter how many bags you try on to find that comfortable fit, truth is, they are always uncomfortable. An easy 20 minute walk down the road suddenly seems like a 2 hours trek uphill with a 15kg backpack on. So if you’re a heavy packer, maybe a suitcase is better suited to you. I personally started with a backpack, I bought a Berghaus 60L + 10L. Basically a big ol’ backpack, with a detachable daypack. In the end my bag was bursting at the seams and I was carrying more and more in my arms, so I decided to send the bag home and buy a suitcase. My suitcase was extremely cheap, bought from Warehouse in Aus in the christmas sales, but with only a few flights left it would do. But no matter if you are buying a case or a backpack, definately spend a bit of money and get one that will last! The last thing you want is to be that person who is awkwardly collecting their scattered belongings from the conveyor belt in the airport!
2. Clothes – well this one is a given, surely? Of course you need clothes, the question is how many is too many? I came out with a loooot of clothes, which looking back was quite pointless as you buy alot on the road. Depending on where you go, less clothes equals less weight on your back! I’d advise taking minimal clothes, leaving enough room to buy stuff as you go along. I also bought a lot of cheap new clothes from Primark before I left such as shorts and tops, so I could chuck them when they had had it and buy new bits. If you are visiting Australia / New Zealand then i’d recommend one pair of jeans and a jumper, as it can get quite chilly in the evenings. Make sure you take plenty of underwear! It just seems to vanish!
3. Rain Mac / Coat – Asia gets a lot of rain, and the rain macs out there are literally clear bin bags. They stick to you and rip within one wear. But you definately do not need a proper coat in Asia / Indonesia etc. I’d advise buying a slightly better thin rainmac, and a coat for countries like Australia / New Zealand if you are visiting in a colder season. We visited New Zealand in summer, and still wore a hoody, coat and wooley hat for most days!
4. First Aid Kit – most places these days have first aid equipment available, however it’s best to take the essentials for those times it isn’t available! Like that time Mum fell off her moped in Koh Phangan, the blisters from your long hike or the dreaded food poisoning that ruins your whole day! I went abit OTT with my first aid kit, and havent used a lot of stuff, but i’m not ready to chuck it just yet. Because you know the minute I do, we will need it!!
My top first aid necessities are:
• Travel Sickness Tablets – you may not think you suffer from travel sickness, and neither did I. But I bought some just incase, and good job too! I suffered the worst travel sickness in Asia, the roads are awful out there which means your journey is super bumpy! Also boats. Boats are awful! How anyone enjoys them is beyond me! Vomm. You can also buy sickness braclets. I have two that my sister gave me, they are stretchy and have a plastic or magnetic ball in that sits over a pressure point in your wrist, it may all be psychological, but they seemed to help!
• Plasters – and a lot of them! They are handy for anything! There’s nothing worse than an amazing view at the end of a hike being ruined by the torn skin on your heel. Be prepared, carry a couple of plasters in your daypack for emergencies!
• Diarrhea Tablets – immodium or the likes of it. Especially for Asia, you may not necessarily get food poisoning, but the food is different to what us Brits are used to, and can give you a dodgy tummy in no time!
• Rehydration Sachets – anything containing Electrolytes, if you get food poisoning or a dodgy stomach you can lose a lot of water and energy. These rehydration sachets are perfect for a little energy boost when you are feeling lethargic.
• Anti-septic wipes – got a cut? Clean it? Fallen off a moped? Mum!! Clean it? Pretty straight forward, avoid infection!
• Paracetamol / Ibroprofen – and a lot of it! Again, this is handy for everything? Headache? Period pains? Ear ache? Tooth ache? Literally anything!
• Hayfever / Allergy Tablets – I’m quite lucky and don’t suffer from Hayfever, but Steve does. And for him, there’s nothing worse than a brilliant day being ruined by countless sneezes.
• Gnat bite repellent / relief – oh those pesky mosquitos. Don’t you just hate them? I apparently am very tasty as I get attacked by the things! Definately buy a decent repellent! One with Deet in is best, the strong stuff! Also gnat relief cream is handy, if you can’t get your hands on any, then other things you can use that really help are toothpaste (yes weird i know), tiger balm (amazing!), or a cream such as sudocrem.
5. Shoes – which shoes do I take? Will I need a pair of heels for the nights out? How many pairs of trainers? So many questions! The shoes I have mainly worn whilst on my travels are trainers, and flip flops. I’d suggest 1 pair of comfy trainers, that you can walk in for hours. 1 pair of flip flops for the beach / showers. 1 pair of nice sandals for the evening. It depends on whether you can cope without heels or if you’re the sort of person who wouldn’t be seen dead without them! But even in Australia and New Zealand, most travellers you meet will go out in trainers / flip flops or sandals anyway.
6. Toiletries – unless you want to be that person in the dorm that everyone avoids, toiletries are a necessity! Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, soap, deodrant – you get my drift.
7. Washing powder – so this also depends on which countries you visit. I mean washing in Asia costs about £2 a kg of clothes. Who can complain about that? But Australia and New Zealand are $4 for a washing machine, $4 a tumble dryer and $1/2 for powder! Suddenly your money is draining away! Carrying washing powder is cheaper, and handy as it enables you to hand wash your clothes in a sink. That leads me onto number 8..
8. Portable sink plug – we didn’t actually take this. But I wish we did! There were many times we wanted to do some hand washing in a sink, and.. oh no plug! It’s either awkwardly stuffing a sock to block the plug, or paying for someone else to do it for you!
9. Kindle / books – i’ve always been anti-kindle, I love reading, but I love the feeling of paper between my fingers, I love to know how far through I am by how many pages are left, not numbers. But, books are heavy. And take up space! So for my journey, I bought a kindle, and loaded it with hundreds of books! And it was perfect until it broke in Australia because something in my bag pressed into the screen. So yeah, buy a case too! Read my top ten pageturners HERE!
10. Earplugs / eye mask – trust me on this one. You may think you’re a heavy sleeper. But when people are coming into your room at 3am, drunk and being super noisy, turning the lights on, they will come in handy!
11. Camera – this one probably should have been further up the list, but definately take a good camera! I used my iphone for the majority of my photos, as the cameras not bad. And I also took a gopro hero session 4 for my adrenaline bits and bobs. We met one guy, Mitch, who had a Canon G7X, which will definately be my next purchase! Just remember to enjoy the moment, don’t always live behind that screen!
12. Suncream / Aftersun – this is a given. Suncream not only protects you from the sun, but if you use it correctly, it can also make your tan last longer! If you get burn’t, you peel, goodbye tan! Aftersun not only helps your sunburn, it also helps to keep your skin hydrated, which prevents peeling.
13. Plastic wallet – keep all of our important documents together in a plastic wallet. Not only does it keep it organised, it also protects it from water damage. Print out your flight confirmations and itinerarys. Some airports need proof of your outbound flight on arrival, so having these documents to have safes time and effort. I think it goes without saying don’t forget your passport! You won’t be going far without it!
14. Spare padlock – this one i’d recommend but it’s optional. Most hostels have lockers either under the bed or in the room, having a spare padlock is handy for the use of those. Also if your padlock breaks like mine did, it saves the worry of being stolen from.
15. Plug Adaptors – if you want to charge your electronics, you better take a plug adaptor! You can research online which plug adaptors you need for each country. You can also buy multi-country adaptors, which has adjustable prongs to fit different sockets. We used two types of adaptors, the two round pins in Asia and Bali, and then a multi-country one in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Singapore has the same sockets as English plugs.
So, there we have it! You may or may not need every item on this list, or you may need a lot more. It’s just my rough guide of what to pack from experience. Remember, toiletries and clothes can be brought on the road, so don’t panic if you feel like you’re missing something! If travelling teaches you one thing (of many), it’s that you can live on bare basics! So pack away! The first initial packing is so much more exciting, after unpacking and repacking in hostels, it gets a lot more boring – trust me!