The Truth About Backpacks
The recipe to a successful packing session is as straightforward as a Mandarin menu. Take one Karrimor Global 70-90 backpack and a handful of Sea to Summit stuff bags then fill your bed with some things old, new, borrowed and blue and get your mates round to cram everything in while you make a brew. Lift it in front of a suitably beautiful girl and when she bashfully turns away, drop it on your foot and shout “I love you!“. On your day of departure, panic that you’ve forgotten something but just leave. Half way down the motorway turn back to get your passport and then smile politely at the check-in girl, so as to distract her from the betrayal of the scales. Land in your first port of call and dump 25% of it and then proceed to rip it, drag it and rest on it before filling it up with random pieces of paper that you’ll never remember the origin of. This list, is merely me.
* Haven’t used at all | **Hardly used
1 x Long Sleeve Top
6 x T-Shirts
4 x Boxer Shorts – wash them in the shower, or go commando.
Pair of Socks
2 x Boardies
2 x Long Trousers – one is enough.
**Jeans – Now and then you’ll be dragged kicking and screaming to a nice bar
2 x Shorts
Lightweight Jacket – This is challenging the hoody for a ticket home
Flip Flops – Some like these for showers. I like these for sunshine.
Dunlops – Alas, my Green Flash have now retired to rot away on an Indian balcony
Crocs – The perfect travel shoe. Looks a bit ridicule but they are everything, and so much more
Shirt – I’m tending to wear this more and more, so a second one has shimmied alongside the original. Cooler in every way
Travel Towel – Those that scrimped on the cost of one are visibly jealous when stuffing a giant mouldy beach rug into their bag.
**Belt – It’s hard to keep your weight on in the oppressive Asian sun, so buckle up to save your blushes.
Silk Liner – Close your eyes and you could be in the Hilton. Open them, and you’re undoubtedly at the centre of a bug bed jamboree.
Neck Scarf – Useful for long journeys next to breezy windows, or on airplanes. Hopefully not a combination of both.
Adventure Medical Kits ‘Adventurer’ plus;
*Tiger Balm – Grrrr. Placebo effect? I’m not sure, but it’s done the trick more than once.
*Iodine Pills – Saves on plastic bottles ergo saves on climate change ergo saves the planet. Powerful pills, which I haven’t got round to using. Yet.
Paracetamol – I just pop these because I don’t know the difference between the rest of this list.
Ciprofloxacin - Discovered in my hour of need, now the most coveted member of the medical bag.
*Doxycycline (Malaria) - I don’t take these, for many reasons including I can’t find them.
**Hair wax – styled hair is a rare sight amongst backpackers
Toothbrush & Paste
2 x F25 Suncream – BOGOF before I left, after 7 months of sharing I’m finally rid
Razor & Blades – You’re more likely to find Gillette blades than something like Wilkinson in rural Asia
Shaving Gel – big, bulky and rusting
Scissors – Useful for cutting hair, paper and bits for the journal (though if flying don’t pack in your hand luggage!)
*Face Towel – I never used one at home, why did I think I would on The Trail? A mystery!
Nivea Creme – Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! I don’t that often, but pollutants, sea water and grime can really wear away one’s youth you know!
Vaseline – Small and handy, especially at altitude
Deodorant – To be honest, I could live without this but I need to make friends
1000 x Condoms – Approximately. Thanks Mum! Seriously though, good condoms can be hard to find and I know from experience that some foreign johnnies are not up to scratch.
*Fly Spray – Theory: See flies. Spray. See no flies. Reality: See flies. Run after them. See flies. Try and swat them. See flies. Cry. Never think to use this?!
2 x Mosquito Repellent (one with DEET, one without) – You should read a bit about DEET before liberally spraying it by water sources such as the ocean. Consider Citronella Oil as an alternative. Obviously if you’re in deepest Africa surrounded by Mega Mosquitoes… DEET away
*Cockroach chalk – I can count on one hand the amount of these critters I’ve come across, but then I’ve only been in Asia so far.
Neck Wallet – Keeps my passport and cash close to hand when needed, the waist type are also popular.
2 x Pocket Wallets – Splits cash up neatly
2 x Credit Cards – Different banks in case one decides to cancel the card for some reason. Definitely worth considering signing up to a credit card which doesn’t charge you for withdrawals abroad
*Debit Card – Banking is not my strong point, maybe I’ll use this? Maybe I won’t?
Driving License – Good alternative for ID, I prefer leaving this as security than my passport
Passport & Photocopy – No question, do this.
Medical Details – inc blood type card, I also have this on email in case I should lose the print out.
Vaccination Record – Useful for when the Vietnemese Doc asks if I’ve had the rabies jab
Lost Bank Card Telephone Numbers – Print out and keep, also on email
Insurance Policy Certificate – Don’t leave home without it, essential reading – that reminds me, must do that.
Eye Prescription – Taotlly out of dtae, bt A gooodd indciaotr.
10+ Passport Photos – Essential for visa applications, many people have printed out their own to cut costs, it works and is simple.
**Sigg Water Bottle and Carrier – Seemed like a good idea, probably more for the trekking types than moi
Tupperware – Watertight to protect the expensive stuff from rain and moisture
World Map – It’s amazing how bad travellers’ geography is. Bought on the road for tuppence.
A5 Moleskine Journal – The best diary you can get, a pleasure to use
Pocket Notepad – Make a note on your pad and put it in your pocket. Ta da.
Reading Glasses – Without them I wluod nto be albe to wirte tihs stie. Did I already use this joke?
Sunglasses – I love wearing these, it means it’s sunny. Or I’m sleeping.
Guide Book – The first one for the first stop is enough, after that just swap, sell and politely steal.
Reading book – Ditto
*Frisbee – Intended as a hobby-cum-plate. Reality is it’s seen no daylight, nor dinners. Like I’d really eat off a “cum-plate” anyway! Eeewww, gross Ant, gross!
**Hip Flask – Usually the local tipple is so good a hip flask is too small… hiccup
Playing Cards – You’ll never be short of friends if you whip these out.
Pocket Dictionary – doubles up as the game Balderdash, and a useful writers tool.
Skype Headset – Bought in China, small and light and useful for internet cafes without them.
**Swiss Army Multi-Tool – Mines a good inch thick, including a magnifying glass, pen and chisel. A small one with a bottle opener and knife is ideal.
Maglite Solitaire – The size of a cigarette and handy for finding the dorm room door without waking up the sleeping beauties.
Maglite Mini AA – A step up, handy size and useful for loads of things. Like, ummm, waking up sleeping beauties.
Mobile Phone & Charger – Load it up with pics of family and friends. Oh, and phone numbers.
2 x Pacsafe Prosafe 700 Locks – Priceless. These small padlocks have an extendable cable that I wrap around train chairs, benches and sun beds and then to my bag, my foot and ears.
**Pacsafe85 – A huge steel net that encompasses my whole backpack for long journeys or shifty accommodation. Heavy, but comforting.
**4 x Pegs – Used a grand total of once in first 10 months!
Handful of Laundry Tablets – Handy, but not essential – cheap in Asia
Vanish Stain Remover Bar – Does exactly what is says on the box.
**Small Bag of Bits’n'Bobs; Zip Ties, Tape, Elastic Bands, Post-It Notes etc – Another ‘mum’ thing that in reality could of done without
Canon EOS 400D - I’ve used SLR’s for 10+ years, so this was non-negotiable!
50mm f/1.8 Lens
3 x 1gb & 2 x 2gb Cards
2 x 128mb Cards – Useful for storing non-photo data
3 x Batteries
Lens Pen & Cloth
Facebook – As if you’re not on there already! The easiest therefore most popular way to keep in touch with the cute Swedish girl you’ll meet along your way.
Skype – It’s not perfect, but when you find a connection it can save you a wedge of reddies and ease your mummy’s worries.
Bank – If you don’t bank online already, check out your banks website and consider this. It’s fast and easy and, touchwood, I’ve had no security problems in my many years of usage.
Email – I’m sure you have this already, but maybe you want to open a new account to separate the wheat from the chaff.
LP Thorntree – True, there are other forums with equally long winded questions and answers, but the Lonely Planet does the trick. Sign up, sign in, sigh out.
WordPress – TrailofAnts.com wouldn’t be here without it, but don’t panic, you don’t have to go through The Fear, just sign up for a tin label and blah blah away.
Flickr – If you’re serious about photography, Flickr is a Geisha among goths. If you just want to show your mates the blonde you pulled last week, use Facebook.
I’ve seen travellers with a lot more. I’ve seen travellers with a lot less. I’ve seen travellers who have bought bag loads in Bangkok and I’ve seen travellers that change their fashions at the borders. One thing I haven’t seen, is a traveller that ruined their trip by forgetting anything. You’re leaving home, not civilisation.