Flight booked, travel insurance paid for, what’s next? Getting that rucksack in tip top shape ready for the adventure of your life time. My number one piece of advise would be to pack lightly – no you do not need two toothbrushes incase you lose one. I know it’s all very well saying do not pack much but when you will be away for months on end and want an outfit for every eventuality, how can you shave off some of that added extra weight?
1. Clothes – there are laundry places near every hostel and if it is out of your price range or too far away, a sink will be around for some cheeky hand washing (all you need is a bit of all purpose cleaning liquid or shampoo or soap – Don’t bother with travel wash, I chucked my bottle out after I realised it’s the same as shampoo and adds extra weight to your bag). Consequently, if you plan on doing washing very 5-7 days, you don’t need very many clothes at all. As soon as I realised this I started giving away extra T-shirts, which were not needed. Weather may influence what you pack. What do you do if you do not know what countries you are going to? Pack warm layers as well as shorts. Just one of each, will suffice. It is better to buy things when you need them along the way rather than binning clothes you packed.
2. Toiletries – these depend on personal preference. However, when traveling it is time to get rid of perfume, hair products, dryers, straightness etc. Keep the bare necessities and do not forget you can buy things in other countries. Some hostels will have shampoo and conditioner but not all. Take a medium sized bottle of each and buy when you need more. Some people may just take one big bottle of shampoo and use it for everything. I however needed my conditioner, soap and little face wash. While packing lightly is good, do not deprive yourself of the little things which will make you feel 1000 dollars – be it a little pot of face cream, a small nail Polish or what ever floats your boat. I recommend all ladies to invest in a mooncup (it is eco friendly, compact, money saving, hygienic sanitary product – all woman’s saviour, whether a traveler or not).
3. Essentials – there are a few things which are a must for most trips. These are: a torch with extra batteries, a compass, Swiss army knife, a book, a Tupperware box (always useful for making some avena for a snack or storing left over food etc.) nalgene 1 litre plastic water bottles (best to take two, they are very durable mine have lasted over three years).
4. First aid kit – it’s a good idea to have a basic kit of goodies. A nurse friend of mine I made along the way, taught me the best things to pack – I was missing some essentials. According to my buddy, your kit should include : painkillers of your choice, stomach remedies for diarrhoea or constipation (different foods can mess with your internal works), oral rehydration sachets, plasters, blister compeeds, bandages, a lighter or matches, tweezers, scissors, a condom (if you have a deep cut wound you can put the condom over your arm or leg and it will hold the blood and reduce the bleeding too), a tampon (if you have a cavity a tampon will put pressure on the wound and reduce bleeding), some 100 % alcohol solution, this will clean out any wound – it will burn but is important, also this will relieve mosquito bite itching, deet insect repellent is another must. Other more specific medicines, remedies can be purchased in a pharmacy where ever you may be but these are the necessities which will provide temporary short term fixes.
5. Sleeping gear – it depends on your interests. A sleeping bag is not needed, if you are not taking a tent. Sleeping bags are heavy and bulky. If you want to go camping you will have to rent a tent so can rent a sleeping bag at the same time. As an alternative take a sleeping bag liner, very light and compact. It can be used as a towel, a protector in a dirty hostel bed and if you go camping somewhere hot it can be used instead of a sleeping bag.
5. Should you take a mosquito net? – I did not take one. Lots of hostels do not have anywhere to hang them. You need a specific layout for them to actually work. If a hostel does have mosquito net pegs chances are they will also have a mosquito net. I would just take insect repellent instead.
Do not take anything you mind getting broken, lost or stolen. Leave all your valuables at home. Pretty much all my belongings got ruined, broken or I left them behind somewhere as they were too heavy. Take things that you do not care about and you will worry less about them.
The key with packing is not to worry, what ever you forget you can buy abroad and if not you’ll learn to be creative; eating porridge out of a water bottle or using a sarong as a towel.