Knowing what to pack when you’re leaving home for a year; it’s a difficult one. I went from suitcase to wheeled backpack to settling on a 70L turtle style sack a mere 5 days before I left for the airport..
You don’t want to pack everything, but equally you don’t want to re-buy everything you’ve already got in each country as the months go on..
Different climates (Bangkok to Hobart..), different activities (hiking, working 9-5, Friday nights in Fitzroy..) and different souvenirs (was a cuddly toy Tasmanian devil necesary, Bex?) are all things to take into account.. yet that still left me squeezing everything from my brand new Urban Outfitters dress I treated myself to over Christmas, to my netbook and 3 different cameras into a giant 70L backpack and carry on bag when I left in January????..
Over the course of 4 months I’ve been made to start operating a ‘one in, one out’ system trying to fit in new clothes, tools and toiletries yet I still find myself having to buy *actual* necessities in each city I visit. No more cuddly toy wildlife creatures </3
So here’s a few things I feel every traveller should consider so you’re neither breaking your back or forcefully parting with your dollars, baht and euros..
1. Earphones/earplugs and an eye mask
My absolute number 1 cannot live without item on this list, especially for all my fellow light sleepers. Sleeping in 20 bed dorms with curtains that don’t close, three different snorers and the dickhead that decides to go in and out of the room all hours of the night; it’s exhausting. I’ve found earplugs don’t quite drown out the noise enough, so I opt for my in-ear earphones and a nice ‘songs to sleep to’ Spotify playlist… and prescription sleeping pills however I’m not encouraging any form of drug addiction here~
2. An extension cord
Yes, really. Something that never ever crossed my mind until I really needed one!! Few hostels will give you a power socket next to your bunk. Most of them have a few plugs dotted near the door but when you’re across the room on the top bunk the last thing you want to do is climb down in the middle of the night to check the time on your charging phone.. so voila, extension cord! Problem solved!
3. First aid kit
OK so perhaps a more obvious one on the list.. but it still didn’t stop me from not even bringing a single paracetamol tablet let alone alcohol wipes, band aids and cotton wool. So after a nasty fall and quite literally slicing open my foot in Ko Phangan, I was left trying to explain to the Thai bloke behind the counter at a questionable pharmacy what I needed and came out 800 baht later for a few plasters and a wet wipe.. no bueno. Be prepared, you never know!
4. A sewing kit and super glue.
Turns out fancy hotels leave these along with the complimentary toiletries for a reason, you do actually need one!! When you’re living in the same few outfits for weeks and months, general wear and tear is bound to happen. Save money and hassle and just patch up that little hole, even if you do have to be the lame one who sits in bed sewing in the evening..
5. Minimal toiletries
Gals, you can kiss goodbye to your 2 anchor sized bottles of Tresseme shampoos and conditioners. It’s travel sized, 2 in 1 hair and body wash from now on. Your hair will forgive you, I promise.
6. Simple clothes
I know, you want to look fab and sassy and bring your best dress and look like the great fashionista you are at home.. but in a matter of days when you’re sweating your backside off and you can’t be bothered to unpack so you’re living in the same 2 outfits of plain vests and gym shorts all day.. you’ll want to burn the damn thing for taking up so much space in your bag. We all look like shit here; love it, embrace it xoxo
7. Ditch the handbag
OK so my inner bargainer got the better of me here. I didn’t come here with a bag, but I couldn’t resist picking up a knock off Michael Kors for less than $40 at Paddy’s Market back in Sydney.. as beautiful as it is, it’s been the bane of my fucking life ever since that day. I’ve used it twice. It’s the wrong shape to fit in my backpack and if i use it as an actual handbag then I am carrying a backpack on my back, a rucksack on my front and an MK on my shoulder. No no no. Girls, resist!!
8. Bring a tablet/small laptop
I see a lot of ‘should I bring my laptop?’ Posts floating around and my answer is absolutely, yes, if its compact. I have a small netbook and it is my life saviour on bored days and nights when I’m tired and poor and all explored out. I use it for writing and editing photos too, but download your favourite series and movies before you leave and you’ve got hours and hours of Desperate Housewives to get drawn into to kill some time.. You’ll be thankful!!
9. Paper maps
Not really something to get before you leave home but definitelty one to leave space in your bag for. Never underestimate the power of a good old fashioned map!! When visiting countries like Malaysia and Thailand, I noticed the GPS on my phone just had no idea where the hell I was or where I wanted to go. Most hostels will provide you with a free one, so do a Joey and ~get into the map~ to fully get your bearings of a new place. And even then, the getting lost is still the best part of exploring!
10. Washing powder.
Yes I’m very aware I don’t mean bring that 5kg box of Persil sitting in your garage.. Separate some washing powder into little sandwich bags and stash a few of them in your backpack. Hostels charge through the roof for powder and the use of machines. The machine price you cant really escape but for a few items, by already having the powder youve got free of charge hand washing whenever you please!
I’m sure there are many more items I’ve gathered on my travels that I’ve bought out of desperation, these 10 are just a few of the more important things I’ve needed. What’s the most essential item that you’ve needed to buy whilst out on the road?