Hits 1505 | Created 2007-05-23 | Modified 2007-05-23Going on a trip and don't know what to take with you?... These are the things I always travel with:
The kind that packs away really small. Surprisingly useful during monsoon periods and in obscure, cold places (if windproof too).
Essential to prevent delirious sunstrokes and extensive reddening of the face (a constantly embarassed look).
Usually about three pairs per trip, each cheaper and shabbier than before. Useful to prevent terrible old aged eye disorders and safely stare at people on the beach.
On my last trip my wife made me wear SPF 30 for four months before graduating to SPF 15. This helps avoid skin cancer in ozone holes like Oz and avoids the red faced look common to non-hat wearing Brits.
An important tool if you have similar memory problems to my own - lack of a journal means my memories of a six month trip can be reduced to a couple of amusing drinking anecdotes. You can also stick in beer labels, a harmless pastime.
Lighter / Matches
Take both, the more ways you have to make fire the better, quite frankly. I also carry a magnesium block and flint, just to be sure, though, this was a gift and I'd never have bought one myself.
Carry two, just in case you lose one. Carrying knives allows you to feel safer in rough areas and slice fruit and cheese at any time. It also allows you to have exciting run-ins with local law enforcement to debate knife carrying laws.
Don't be accused of vagrancy (padlock keys don't count).
With at least two keys.
I've never used it, but I always carry one. You never know.
However you spell them, you can clip everything to everything.
One long and thick, useful for hammocks and clothes lines, and one small and thin, useful for impressing girls by tying monkey's fists.
Needle and thread
Unless you're fairly rich, you'll spend some time sewing up the crotches in pants you've bought in Asia.
When you haven't got time to sew up your crotch, you'll be glad to have some safety pins to hand. You can also pin your pockets closed to confuse pickpockets.
Before you know it you'll be carting all kinds of crap around with you during the day - water, sun cream, camera, books, hat, shades, torch, compass, jumper, sarong, string, gum, etc...
Sit on it, wear it out of the shower, carry vegetables in it, dry yourself with it. Fairly handy.
I've used mine hundreds of times, saves on teeth and tables.
Wine bottle opener
I have a fold away little one that I've only used once, but it was worth it - smashing the top off a Pinot Noir should never be done.
Knife sharpening stone
To be fair, you may not need one.
Razor and blades
Unless you want to sport a beard of the kind only seen on travelling Americans and Roger Garside, you'll want to shave. Safety razor blades are the cheapest around the world. Though in Asia, cheap thrills are never far away by visiting local barbers and having a cut throat razor applied to your neck.
I can never leave without my father pressing a door wedge into my hand - 'this'll be useful, son', he tells me. To be fair, I have used it a few times to combat smoke induced paranoia of the dodgy hotel, dodgy area, dodgy door lock kind.
Another of my father's favourites, though I never travel with them any more. Most of the sinks I come across seem to have them.
Take some Avon Skin-So-Soft, you'll smell like a girl if you're a man, but the mosquitoes hate it. You can buy Deet based skin burning, plastic melting products everywhere.
Tea tree oil
Pair of scissors
My wife cuts my hair in places where I'm afraid to visit the barbers. You can also cut the legs off your best trousers in a moment of madness.
First Aid Kit
Plasters and antiseptic will be used, the rest will rot and leak in your bag for months.
Oil of cloves
If you have wisdom teeth like mine.
Water purifying tablets
If you find that you have no water at 5am except for the week-old hotel jug and you're gasping after dehydrating all day in the sun and drinking beer all evening, you'll be glad you have them.
Find north in any city.
For the BBC world service - listen to John Peel in the Himalayas. You can also listen to local tunes, which can be amusing, for a few minutes.
'Tati-tati' is what you'll want to say to your local Nepalese guide when you need a shit at 5,000 metres.
This or an old, tatty plastic bottle is what you'll be carrying around all day with you.
.. ..Chess, Backgammon, Battleships - Anything to pass time with dull people.
Unless you're going somewhere particularly cold, take a small, light one. You can always borrow a blanket. You'll curse your four season -20oC jumbo bag in Hawaii.
The better the boots, the less the blisters of course.
Unless you're a flip flop fan.
A small book
With everything important written in it. This saves rummaging through your bag whenever you need a phone number or your flight details, insurance numbers, etc.
Good for visas and the false ID you're sure to buy in Thailand.
Two of everything, more of socks, and less of jumpers. You'll buy clothes as you go. Everyone takes too many clothes away with them.
I usually remember this when I go for my first shower.
Handy in the dark. Powercuts abound in less developed countries and the streets can be less than flat when you're coming home in the dark from a bar.
Lastly, less than you think
. Everyone takes too much stuff with them. If you take 50 litres or less, you'll thank me later when you see Germans lugging 90 litres of crap around on crowded buses etc. 50 to 60 litres and you'll be carrying extra bags at the end (or in the middle) of your trip. 60+ and you'll swear every time you pack.... An example, we left all our stuff (60 litres worth for me) in Bangkok when we went to Cambodia, taking only a 20 litre pack each. After a month I hadn't missed a thing and wondered what the hell I was carrying around all this time in my bigger bag. In central America I travelled with 45 litres (though, I did return to the UK with two extra bags full of hammocks in the end).
We also carry around a lot of stuff for camping
etc and a whole lot of stuff that we probably really don't need - the stove top espresso machine
with coffee, a bag full of camera film holders full of spices (everything to make a curry, chilli, pasta dish and stew), olive oil, knives, forks and spoon (of an excessively high and heavy quality for some reason), pots and pans (a compact set), two cups, the tent (lightweight, small two manner), a large sheet (bought in India) for suspect beds, picnics, etc., a huge water carrier that rolls up, incense, candles, a small candle based lantern, maps of all the countries we're visiting, a whole load of books as I can't stop collecting them as I travel, the minidisc player and some super compact high bass enabled speakers that eat batteries within hours (we have bought a power adaptor since then) and a large box of mini- discs that I curse constantly as I'm packing.
On money matters, take a load of US Dollars with you, they're very handy in Asia when there are no banks, ATMs or phones etc. In Cambodia, they're the second (1st?) currency. I'd also take two types (currency) of AMEX Travller's cheques, you can check out which currency is stronger when exchanging (often the pound would have a tremendous week in Thailand for example). ATMs are widespread in Thailand and found in big cities in India and Nepal (Cirrus, Maestro, Plus, VISA are best) If you take a credit card you'll end off staying longer than you planned and spend years in the future paying it off. A calculator is useful for exchange rates and haggling with non English speakers, though my mental conversion between pounds, dollars (US, canadian and oz), baht and rupee are now second to none.
Don't take your knife onto the plane or they'll confiscate it and not return it to you.
And lastly, in Asia, keep your temper and remember that the real price of anything you're paying for is a third less than you're being asked to pay, paying the correct price for goods and services becomes somewhat of a reason to live for some 'travellers'. For fun, call obsessed people 'tourists' and watch them explain the difference...