Packing

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
An old Tibetian saying

Packing Light

I am not going to go into great detail on the ins and out of travelling light. You’ll probably have heard this a hundred times before, but it is important to travel light. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, you are going to be lugging everything you take around with you for the next few weeks or months. You are likely going to have to do at least a fair bit of walking, to reach hostel, hotels, bus stops and train stations, possibly in a hurry. So the less you take the easier it will be to reach these places. Secondly, the less you take, the smaller your bag pack will be. For me this is actually more important than the first point. Travelling light is relative. Some people can lug 30kg or more around with them no probs. For others (like me!) 15kg is already too much. I met one guy in Christchurch, NZ, travelling with what appeared to be a wardrobe on his back. But then this guy could have taken on Arnie if you get what I mean. Actually he worked on fishing boats in Alaska for 6 months in the year (spending the rest of his time travelling). So he was a tough fellow. But if he ever has to get on a crowded bus in Asia, good luck to him. In these situations having a bag at all is a right pain. This, of course, can’t be avoided. So try and keep your backpack to a reasonable size. I travelled with a “70 litre Travel Trekker” from “Lowe Alpine”. This was (I say was because it got stolen on a boat, see Preparation page) a really good bag. Maybe already a tad too big, but well designed and thought out. For more info on travel gear see my links section.

Packing list

On the next page you’ll find my packing list for my trip. I also indicate whether the item was of any use or not. We all make mistakes….
Total weight was about 18kg. Just about light enough. Oh, and don’t forget your ticket and passport.

Item Usefullness/Comments
3 Shirts 2 long, 1 short.
3 T-shirts Ok, including 1 thermal type thing
1 Turtleneck Jumper Quite Handy when cold
2 Trowser, 2 Shorts
1 Belt
OK, included one pair of swimming shorts.
1 Rain Coat I had a Gore-Tex one which you could squash into a little bag. It was really handy and a good wind breaker on occasions
4 pairs socks
4 pairs of underpants
OK, included 1 thermal underwear. Just in case.
1 Hiking Boots
1 light shoes
1 flip flops
Hiking boots were a bit heavy a lot of the time, but were very handy otherwise. I would take them again, depending on the type of place I go to. Bought some sandals in Asia, and threw away the shoes which were worn out. As for the flip flops. They were handy, but mine were a little big. Make sure they’re light and small (depending on you’re shoe size of course….).
2 Towel I had one for the beach and one small spungy one which can soak up something like ten times it own weight. Both were handy, but I exchanged the proper towel for a sarong once in Asia. A much better solution. Sarongs are excellent. They can be used as towels, bed covers, skirts (also for men!) and many other things that I am sure I don’t know about….yet. Also they are extremely light and squashable.
1 Scarve
1 Hat, 1 Cap
1 Pair of gloves
OK, depends on where you’re going.
Toiletries Standard stuff, which I am not going to go into in detail
Medical Items Make sure you bring any medicines that you need and that you might not be able get locally. Sometimes it’s helpful to carry a doctors note as well. For customs clearance etc.
1 Sleep Sack
1 Sleep Bag
1 Sleeping Mat
Ok, I learnt the hard way here. I really only needed the sleep sack. On occasions the sleeping bag was usefull, but a couple of lairs of extra clothing would have done the job too. I also took a “Therm-a-rest” inflatable mat. Whilst these a really light and compact if you need them, mine was a complete waste of space and weight, since I didn’t use it once. I think if I were to do the same trip again, I would only take the sleep sack. I had a cotton one. If you can afford it take a Silk one. They are really comfortable.
Torch, Camera,
Clock, Lock,
Moneybelt,
Journal, Guidebook,
Reading Books,
Some small bags,
Swiss Army Knife,
Walkman and tapes
All of these were usefull. The torch would have been more usefull if I had actually taken it with me on occasions that I really needed it…. see elsewhere. D’Oh. Taking a Journal is really handy for later, as you won’t be able to remember everything in a few years time. I am writing this over a year after getting back and really enjoyed looking up things in my journal. It’s also always handy to have a book for reading on rainy days or long bus trips. Although reading on buses is a bit of an Oxymoron(!) in most cases. You will find plenty of second hand book stores where you can buy cheap ones or exchange them. Of course, it’s cheaper if you exchange with a fellow backpacker. The walkman was also handy on long bus rides.

 

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