Let’s get packing!
These are a list of items I plan on packing. I have also included items that I am considering on bringing:
Sojourn Osprey 60L in Charcoal -I have been a big fan of the convertible/wheeled backpack for a long time. I have never been a fan of carrying things on my back. It is heavy, I get sweaty, and most of the time, I realize that you can just roll your backpack around. It is not the most hard core, nor is it cool, but it is definitely comfortable. I got a great deal off of BackCountry.com. The only times I have actually held a wheeled backpack on my back is through extreme traffic in Delhi, crossing through the Thai/Cambodian border on food, going through the many stairways and stair bridges in Venice, and hopping in and out of boats when getting on shore. I used to use a rolling backpack by Asolo with matching day pack. This was really a great purchase and lasted me about 12 years of travel. I have decided to opt for a backpack that does not have a detachable daypack, as I will be using an alternative day pack to also carry my camera equipment.
Rain Cover for your backpack or simple a couple of large clear bags – If you are traveling anywhere where there is a monsoon season (and you probably will at one point in your life), you will need a rain cover. I have never used one, but had a couple of large clear plastic garbage bags that fit over my pack. I could even puncture two holes in it so that it would still allow me to roll my backpack around. Did it work? You betcha! I only wished that I had carried a spare when we were traveling in a leaking bus that had water literally pouring on the monks in the back of the bus. When we got out, our packs were soaked. Would a rain cover protect it that time? Perhaps no. Would a large clear bag. Oh, yes!
Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW Camera Bag– I haven’t tried this bag out while traveling, and I sometimes worry that this will be too big as I really like to be hands free and back free when I travel. I have tried a few other camera bags, and always found that I would need to bring a separate bag to carry my stuff. I figured this camera bag gave you easy access to your camera, and it gives you space to hold other items you may need (including a laptop or iPad!) This also includes a rain guard! Very useful! I got my pack on sale for slightly cheaper at Avidmax Outfitters.
Seal Line Cirrus Sack 20L -If you have items that you want to protect from sand and water, these dry bags are really great. I used a rental once when I went jet skiing in Malaysia and it kept my DSLR completely dry. This can be a consideration to replace your day pack.
REI Multitowel– If you live by an REI store, you are very lucky! I am not a huge camper at all, but literally have spent hours in here. There are so many things here that I think could be useful on your trip. You just have to decide what is really important to you and if you really want carry that extra weight. I had always carried a regular beach towel with me everywhere, but I have come to the realization that after over 15 years of travel, it is time I invest in an REI waffle texture towel that absorbs a ton of water, but at the same time can be wrung out almost completely dry! It takes up little space in your pack. I must say though, I miss my 80s looking Petronas Towers beach towel…
Nikon D90 and charger and memory cards– Has been my friend for the last 5 years or so. Don’t forget your charger, cards and extra cards, and an extra battery. I also have a remote control to take fun photos when nobody is around. I actually bought the body of the D90 used at Fujiya Camera in Nakano, Tokyo. If you live there and are wanting to buy used items in great condition, I would definitely consider this place! I know the link to the store is in Japanese, but here is an entry on it in English.
Canon G15 and charger and memory cards– I haven’t purchased this camera yet, but my hope is that a newer model will come out by the time I go on my trip. Every single person who asks me about a nice point and shoot, I always recommend this one. I don’t know anyone who has not been happy with it.
iPhone with headphones and charger– I have been known to be really behind with technology when it comes to cell phones. Growing up, when people had voicemail, I finally got an answering machine, when people got cell phones, I got a pager, when people got an iPhone 5, I got an iPhone 3gs. This is of course personal choice, but I like to use this to keep my music, my contacts, check my email on wireless, and watch the occasional youtube clip. It is small and it does the job!
A safety whistle – I don’t know where I am going and what I will be doing, but I know I am going to be keeping a safety whistle with me!
Bug Spray – Whether it has chemicals or not, I have THE WORST reaction to bug bites. I once got 88 bug bites in one night. It was a horrible, horrible, horrible experience and I never want to repeat that again. I am trying out various bug sprays and lotions, but in the meantime, here is a list of things you can eat to make your blood less attractive.
Headlamp – For spelunking, walking through dark streets (this happens more than you think), looking for things in an overnight train car when they turn off the electricity, when your bicycle light does not work, and many more!
Vaccinations – Be smart. You don’t want to come home with some strange virus that nobody has heard of. Check with your doctor which vaccinations are highly needed.
PDF copies of important documents
Let’s get into Clothing Territory
Five things that come to mind when packing clothes are comfort, weight, multiple usage, fashion, and “dumpability.” Obviously when you travel, you want to make they are comfortable, and not heavy and take too much space in your pack. I lay out all my clothes to see how many outfits I can make to ensure maximum usage. I also only choose pieces that I absolutely love because I will be wearing these every. single. day. for an entire year. Finally, you must allow yourself the ability to let go of your clothing items. They may get lost in the wash, they may get stolen, or you may have perspired so much that you need just trash it. Here are my essentials:
Orthaheel Tide Sandal in Black – Sounds like this shoe is made for old ladies? Possibly. But I somehow managed to get really screwed up feet without ever being a runner or a gal strutting around in sky high stilettos. Nope. My podiatrist just asked me to walk in front of him, and he said, “oh, you just walk weird.” Thanks for the honesty. Anyway, trying to find shoes that are non-orthopedic looking, and simple enough that people won’t be staring at my feet, I found the most heavenly flip flops ever. As soon as it is summer, I wear these everyday, for long distances, and all day long. These are my savior. These are my savior. These are my savior.
One pair of comfortable walking shoes
3 or 4 pairs of socks – I like to bring ones that match with everything, that don’t take up too much space. If you are like me, you don’t need big bulky socks. I generally bring 2 sockettes, and 2 ankle socks.
Tights or hose – I bring one pair to keep myself warm under pants in case I venture into chilly territory. Can also use these as yoga pants, pajamas, and to wear under dresses. I am a big fan of Uniqlo’s heat tech leggings.
A summer dress that can be dressed up or dressed down – I choose a black jersey high low dress that I purchased at Forever 21 for around $15. I can wear it to the beach, wear it for dressier occasions, and if it gets ruined, I can totally throw it out!
Poncho – At first I thought that this would be a waste of weight and space. But I have been caught in plenty of downpours on a motorbike in the middle of nowhere with my camera gear in tow. I suggest a loose one so if you are wearing your daypack, it will be protected as well! If you aren’t committed to getting a real poncho, a disposable one will do. They look ridiculous, but when you have it, you will be thankful! I suggest buying the disposable one at the local dollar store.
One pair of jeans – Sadly, I have debated on just bringing jeggings. Yup, I said it. Jeggings. They are way lighter than regular jeans. Will I be bringing a real pair of jeans? That is the question!
Large Lightweight Scarf – Definitely in my top 5 most essential list as they can be used as a cover-up, a scarf, a head scarf, to cover your arms in insanely cold buses, use as an additional pillowcase, the possibilities are endless.
Toilet paper – I would restrict this to 1 roll. You never know when you will need it (especially in India). You can always buy some too, but I always, ALWAYS carry one roll with me.
Hand Sanitizer – Whether you like the sheets (although they dry out), or the gel form, I found this to be a lifesaver when washing your hands with water was simply not available. Your hands are dirtier than you think.
Underwear – At least a week’s worth. This is definitely something I do not skimp on. I could never reverse my underwear. Tip for girls? Do not bring underwear that has a ton of fabric. Also, I have doubled up my bikini tops as bras sometimes!
Swimwear – I am going to bring 2 this time as me thinks I am going to be going to a lot of warm places. Rapid aging here I come! (As indicated in the underwear section, I like to double up my bikini tops as bras, so if you can, a bikini is better than a full piece!)
Sunblock – Yes, yes, I know. You can buy sunblock when you go abroad. But sometimes it is highway robbery when the only place you can buy it is at the only convenience store in town. Plus, it is totally weird sunblock that you have no idea how old it is, or if it works. I bring one large one with me. I am in my thirties. I need my sunblock.
String – Hmm – can’t quite figure out if this is going to be good for me but I have read people using these for laundry. I think there are other uses too, and it is so small.
3 Tank Tops
2 T-shirts – I don’t normally wear a ton of t-shirts, but you will need these when you go to more conservative countries where you have to stay covered. I got a lot of stares in my tank top when I first arrived to India. I quickly learned and bought a lightweight white shirt with short sleeves. That worked!
1 long sleeved shirt
1 heat tech long sleeved shirt
2 pairs of shorts
1 lightweight jacket – I would suggest a utility jacket. I love mine because it is lightweight, good for layering, has a detachable hood, has pockets to hold a bunch of stuff, with adjustable sleeves. Multi-functional? Absolutely!
Pajamas – I try to stick to just a tank and shorts. Long sleeve and pants take up too much space!
Laptop – think small but powerful.
External Hard Drive
Book – I am going to bring one book with me. Just one. There are lots of trading stations at hotels/guest houses that let you trade your book for a new one!
Locks – small ones, and a larger one with cable if you ever want to lock your bag to furniture in the room. (Remember though, that if a thief really wants to steal your stuff, they can just cut your bag so I don’t know if it is that necessary).
Toiletries – razon, toothpaste, small shampoo/conditioner, body soap, a loofah, toothbrush and dental floss, brush/comb, nail clipper, deodorant, Neosporin, ear plugs, (very useful when your room happens to be close to a full moon party!), chapstick, sewing kit, make-up (only the essentials, ladies!) Don’t worry, if you have forgotten anything, you can probably buy it!
Sunglasses with case
Small first aid kit
Black Pen and Journal – it is heavy, but I do this every time I go on vacation!
Money belt – You can find various types of money belts, but my preference are ones like these. They are easy to wash, can hold money and your passport and documents, and can be worn at the small of your back, or your stomach. Don’t forget to put your passport and ticket!)
Plastic Bags and Ziplocs – I also like to store a lot of things in plastic bags, and ziploc bags to ensure they stay dry – you seriously NEVER know if your backpack will get wet. I have seen some people use a shower cap to wrap shoes.
Guidebook – I honestly don’t know what I will do with guidebooks, as I generally like to buy guidebooks everywhere I go. Lonely Planet offers them in PDF form that you can download so you don’t have to lug a bunch around with you. There is also the internet I know, and accommodations often have old travel books lying around.
Umbrella – which is more useful for you? Will you wear your poncho when it is raining just a bit? Or will you use a rain jacket? Or what about an umbrella?