You`ve got it all sorted; you picked your destination, booked your flight ticket, arranged your visas and you started to say goodbye to your family and friends. You got to the stage that only one more thing has to be done: You need to pack! A wrecking activity for most travelers. Just breath in and out. With these 10 items you`re sorted for your trip.
1. A backpack
What more can I say, a cyclist without a bicycle, a soccer player without a football, a painter without paint. A backpacker, needs a backpack! Everybody with an IQ enough to understand an episode of Sesame Street will get that point. However, spend time and money on finding the right one. There is nothing more annoying than a backpack that doesn`t fit well or a zipper that breaks on the moment you have to get into the bus. I`m already enjoying my Mrs. Jack Wolfskin for 9 years now and never had a problem. Other recommendable brands are Nomad or Kathmandu. Yes they are on the expensive side, but they go way longer than other brands, making them cheaper at the end. Plus a comfortable backpack saves you money on taxis, as you`ll be comfortable to walk for miles.
Last remark: you`re more likely to buy a backpack that is too big, than to small. I stuffed my backpack up to 20k at the start of my trip. A true burden for your body and mind. To my opinion max. 13k is the way to go.
2. A head torch
I know, you will not find them on the fashion items of this summer in Vogue. But waking up in a dorm, because somebody is turning the light on in order to read the last chapter of Harry Potter or looking for a napkin to blow their nose is, mildly speaking, annoying. Plus you may find yourself in towns or national parks where there is no electricity (during the night). A head torch will keep your hands free to look in your back, hold your book or make notes while going on a night walk.
3. Good footwear
Don`t make the same mistake as me, by buying new footwear the day before departure. Plus cheap is not always better. Make sure the footwear is of good fit, not causing any blisters. Good material that will survive and support you on different type of terrain and climates. Is waterproof, plus easily to clean. My previous hiking boots were from ecco and my loyal companions for 10 years. Plus if I could marry my tevasandals I would!. Good hiking sandals will not make you win a pageant, but they will keep your feet nice and airy on warm climate hike. Plus crossing a river or a mud pool, no worries. While the rest of the group has to take of their shoes and socks, dry and put the gear back on, you can just walk through. At the end of the day just wearing them underneath the shower will prevent you from getting a fungus infection on your toenails and cleans out your sandals in the meantime. Put them to dry overnight and enjoy fresh footwear that smells like your favorite shampoo.
Good night rest is essential to make the most out of your travels and enjoy it to the fullest. Nothing is more annoying than having the feeling that the whole Amazon is axed to the ground by mister world champion snoring sleeping in the dorm bed next to you. Or a couple rather replaying the notebook in the bunk underneath you than in the usual showers.
5. Your favorite medicines
Can you start a museum of the antibiotic packages you used for the tons of bladder infections you had? Can`t sleep with a blocked nose? Think what medicines you use regularly and pack them. Forget about the ‘what if.. ?’ medicines. Believe it or not, they`re pharmacy’s in other countries as well.
Yes, gentleman, that counts for you too. Tampons are multi-use wonders. Forgot your earplugs and there is a party going on downstairs. Fluff off a tampon and turn them into earplugs. Hiking and feeling a blister coming up. A ripped apart tampon will provide a soft patch in your shoes of sandals. A big wound? A tampon is designed to absorb blood, plus with the plastic package around them, they’ll stay sterile in your backpack and are more compact then general bandages. Last, but not least. Tampons will make you the best Firestarter the world has ever known. Rip them apart and you’ll be amazed by how much fiber is inside. The fiber combined with the air between will lit flame like no tomorrow.
7. A pocket knife
You don`t have to be on survival mode to enjoy the comfort of having a pocketknife. Cutting fruit during a hike. Making your own sandwiches in the bus. It safes you time and money to be able to take and prepare your own food on the road. Plus you’ll be amazed how many food packages are sealed bulletproof or cans who don`t have an opening lid.
8. Hand sanitizer
Going to India, this is a number one to take. Personal hygiene is very important. Enjoying an 8 hour bus ride while trying to prevent yourself from shitting your pants or vomiting in a plastic bag is not fun! Listen to your mum, disinfect your hands before eating.
9. A map or guidebook
Know where you are going. Whether it is in a city or on a 6 hour bus ride. In general people will try to make money of you, bringing you to another place, selling you a bus ticket to another town or won`t wake you up at your destination. By knowing where you are going you can prevent yourself from driving to Amsterdam instead of your romantic Paris. Plus by lack of a direct bus, it will help you determine an alternative route.
A good guidebook will provide indications of prices for transport or accommodation, avoiding you to get ripped off.
10. Gut feeling
Your gut is even wiser than master Yoda. Use the force. If you don`t trust a certain person or situation. Step out of it, even if it will cost you time, energy and/or money to find an alternative. At the end it will be in your favorite.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into one year and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto