“What?! Not another Travel Gear post!” I hear you shout.
“Whoaaa, hold on just a second there matey!” I reply in a somewhat condescending tone,
“Yeah sure, it has been done before, but not by me!”
You’re probably pondering what I could possibly write to make this addition to the “travel gear” mound worth reading? Well, because what one person thinks a necessity, another may scream “Bollocks!” to. I thought I would offer you up all the wondrous things I myself did not cry out bollocks to, like anti-chaffing underpants and sweat towels.
Sure we all wear pants an’ that, but what kind of pants? There-in lies the beauty of another travel gear post. It is true most travel bloggers do a post like this at some stage, but I am always interested to see what they consider to be travel gear best practice, so with any luck, you will find my dirty knickers and electronic wizardry equally helpful in keeping yourself informed, and if not, well,
Look deep into my eyes….“you loved the post, you agree with everything I have said, and you think my bald spot looks distinguished”.
So here are the things I have found to be most useful, hopefully it might help other travelers from filling their limited space, with the often useless bits and bobs which at first might seem essential. On readying ourselves for our long term travel, Sarah and I went out and bought the things we thought would enhance our experience, or looked shiny and made us feel like adventurers. Surprisingly we did quite well with our original purchases, and despite the odd ridiculous item (like the fold away khaki hat which shall never touch my head again, yet matched perfectly my khaki shorts, khaki trousers and khaki shirt, I seem to have a penchant for poo brown clothing) our travel gear ended up being quite useful and looking like this:
3 X quick dry, cool wear t-shirts, 2 X sleeveless shirts (or wife beaters as they are called in Austraia),1 X normal shirt, 1 X lightweight long sleeve shirt.
3 X quick dry boxers, 5 X normal boxers. This gives you 16 days without having to wash them, that is if you do the old inside out trick, and 24 if you forget whether or not you already flipped ’em and go again.
1 X pair of lightweight shorts with zip pockets and such, 2 X short shorts (’cause I like to show a little leg).
1 X pair of lightweight longs with the zip pockets, because I thought everyone in foreign countries was a thief (oh how I have grown since then, I now know it’s just the people in third world countries who are thieves). *
*For those of you who think I’m serious, I am! No wait, wait, I’m not! Bet you were just about ready to assail me with a diatribe about “people like me” though, eh, eh?! Anyway, please continue…
…7 pairs of secret socks, but don’t tell anyone, 2 pairs of warm socks
1 X lightweight fleece
1 X pair of running shoes for everyday use ( even in Perth I only ever owned 1 pair of shoes at a time, only to be replaced when they were more hole than shoe, or when Sarah made me throw them out for smelling), 1 X pair of flip flops and a small pull string bag for each when they get dirty and have to be packed.
1 X lightweight travel towel, I hardly ever use this as most places supply towels, and because it seems more suited to spreading the water than absorbing it.
1 X small sweat towel, an absolute God send when your carrying your backpack through the streets in 35 degree weather, lost and exasperated after having walked past the same smirking people a dozen times.
A light pull string bag for dirty clothes, so they don’t mingle with clean ones and spread their yucky germs.
We also bought small zip up storage bags and I separated jocks and socks into one, and clothes in another. This may seem like a small thing, but it makes getting your clothes out of a stuffed backpack sooo much less annoying.
My Electronics took up the bulk of space and weight, and comprise of (pics below):
Asus U31s 13″ laptop, because I am a graphic and web designer I needed a little oomph for Photoshop, this does the job with an i5 CPU, 8gb ram, 500gb hard drive and a GT 520m GPU. It is also under an inch thick and fairly slim for its power. I paid $800 a year ago, and it poos on any Mac anywhere near the price range, and it’s not a Mac, which is enough reason in itself for me to buy it.
Nikon D200 camera with 18-200mm lens and cards and such. Although this camera takes amazing photos, it has become more hassle than we are willing to put in, and we often find ourselves leaving it at home because it is annoying to carry around, and makes people uncomfortable. As such I am selling it and we have bought a Canon G15. It takes great pics and can be slid in the pocket, which I can then zip up to stop the thieves.
Canon sx220 powershot, a nice little point and shoot with 20X zoom, this was great for memory shots as opposed to artistic ones, but now we have the G15, we have sent it to a home where they won’t make fun of its inadequacies, or put it down for not living up to the spectre of its big brother.
Samsung Galaxy SII with extra 16gb memory card, my favouritest thing ever, I swapped the iphone 4 for this saucy minx of a phone in Thailand, best decision I ever did make, it has a bigger screen for watching shows and stuff (a life saver on long train, bus and plane journeys), but most of all, doesn’t require the ridiculousness that is itunes to get my things onto it. I wuv my wittle Galaxy SII, and it wuvs me.
Sony E-reader with lamp case, I really am fond of this little bit of magic, and have powered through 30 or 40 books with it, and for the same reason as the Samsung vs I phone thing, I prefer it to the Kindle.
Portable Speaker, invaluable when watching shows on the laptop, and by “shows on the laptop” I mean documentaries about the exotic places we are exploring, and by “the exotic places we are exploring”, I mean “True Blood”, the show about vampires.
An extra hard drive for backup and when our laptops fill up with photos and work, we started with one 500gb but this quickly ran out, now we each have a 1tb portable hard-drive, that’s a lot of TV shows, and, uh, work.
2 X Universal Adapters we bought from a chemist in Australia and they “adapt” on both sides to almost any plug in and outlet, a must when half your electric goods come from other countries. Unfortunately one has died and being the gracious boyfriend I am, I let Sarah take it. You owe me babe, you owe me big time…not really.
Cables, lots and lots of cables, I have another bag I can use to keep all these in, another lifesaver when you don’t want to empty your backpack just to find the phone charger. Also I labelled most of our cables so were not left wandering what the hell the extra usb one is for, or why you have 2 or 3 which look identical. I know what your thinking, and yes, that was clever, or, no I’m not anal, and yes, I hope both meanings of the word are spelled that way.
And the little things:
A key ring torch, used regularly when not wanting to wake people up, or when on a tiny island off cambodia where the lights are only on for 3 hours a night, and the dogs hunt in packs.
A silk sheet cover thing, for dirty beds, I used it once or twice, but after awhile you don’t really care and just try not to think about the grime embedded in the sheets your snuggling into.
A medical / hygiene bag, all the usual suspects: toothbrushes, tooth paste, shower gel, speed stick, plasters, headache pills, indigestion pills (A bit of advice, ALWAYS have headache and indigestion pills on hand, they show up at the worst times and can ruin an experience). Oh, and wet wipes, do not underestimate the usefulness of wet wipes, they may just save your life, or your thighs.
Initially I crammed all this stuff into my schmick looking 45L Kathmandu backpack, turns out money doesn’t always mean quality (who woulda thunk it), and this broke after a few months. I ended up buying a cheapo 65L backpack from Thailand, which is still kicking after 5 or 6 months. Two suggestions here, the first is to buy a bigger backpack than you need, ’cause trying to pack things exactly right so it all fits becomes annoying as hell, and second, buy a backpack that zips down the sides, it makes accessing your shite so much easier than the duffle bag style.
I also have a small fold up day pack which is constantly in use, especially when you just want a few bits and pieces along for the day. It is also a place to carry the laptop, e-reader and other breakables when catching a bus or flight.
So this is the travel gear I actually use, all together, including the 2.5kg Nikon, it weighs around 12 kgs, and with a bit of to and froing, it all fits into the one 65L backpack (including the aforementioned overweight and oversized camera). Along the way we have lost a few clothes, holey underpants have been replaced, and as mentioned, cameras have been updated.
All in all I think we did pretty well with our initial purchases, thanks in no small part to posts similar to this one, we have not had to change too much, and have used almost everything we bought! Carrying all your worldly possessions in one backpack can be a pain in the ass, but if you do it right, having everything you need and want in the world hanging from your shoulders is extremely liberating, and well worth a bit of forethought.
I hope you liked my travel gear post, and if not, well, look deep into my eyes!….
“You loved the post, you agree with everything I have said, and you think laziness and sarcasm are admirable qualities in a man”.