So after backpacking for 8 months around USA, New Zealand and Asia I learnt a few things. I had read up about “what to take” on other sites however after actually experiencing it there are some points I disagree on and have some additions!
1) Get good walking shoes
I read lots of places not to bother to take them as they take too much room and just to buy them when abroad, however I don’t agree with this. I purchased some cheap walking boots for like £30 in the UK that I wore most the time. I never packed them as I wore them plus if i didnt wear them I just tied them on teh outside of my backpack so they didnt take up any room! The amount of walking I did in places like the USA and New Zealand (and this wasn’t including hiking) and I was so glad that I had purchased boots with great grip on them and comfortable. After 6 months the cheap fake leather shite was stripping of really bad and they had holes in the boots so they were no longer water proof – basically If i were to go travelling again I would purchase more expensive boots as they really are worth while as you do a hell of a lot of walking when travelling. Trainers will get soaked n ruined alot quicker!
2) Don’t bother with a sleeping bag
I know everyones recommends them, however I bought one that would fit in my Berghaus 65 litre pack at the bottom and I just never used it. If youve got one of those really small ones then maybe yes take it, but the one I took just seemed to take up space I could have used for other things. Its only really worth while if youre camping or maybe staying in shit holes. I went in a campervan for a week around New Zealand and never used it as they supplied sheets anyways. My advice would be to just buy one when you’re over there as they sell them bloody everywhere – why spend money if you may not need too?
3) Buy a car (in certain places)
This mainly refers to New Zealand really. We saw plenty of campervans / cars advertised in Hostels for around the $2200 mark with WOFS (MOT) and service history etc. We spent $700 on a campervan for a week. We were working for 3 months so didn’t bother buying one as would have had to pay to park it. If we were to travel New Zealand without working I would deffo buy a car / van as once you’ve used it you can sell it and get alot of your money back so it’s a bonus – deffo don’t hire as this will rinse you in New Zealand.
4) Cable Ties For Security
I couldn’t figure out how to put padlocks on my rucksack as they holes on the zips were too small, so I saw something on youtube where a guy put cable ties threw the small holes on the zips which then created a hoop when you tied then. You can then put your padlock threw these hoops. I put cable ties threw all my zips before I left the UK. The cable tie hoops are small anyways so no one notices them. Same thing aswel is to buy a dog chain. You can then thread this threw your straps on your bags and padlock them to beds or even each of the other big bags, so the theif cant take your bag as it will be chained to your other huge bag(s) making it very difficult to carry them.
5) You don’t need a towel
I never bothered to take one and it just confirmed I didn’t need too. All the hostels / guesthouses and huts had towels included with the rate.The only reason you may need one is if you get a campervan / tent..however again you can buy these when your over there!
6) Huge Rucksack??
If going around Europe you don’t need a huge coat, rucksack . You can easily get away with a small rucksack as you just don’t wear that much other than vests n the occasional shirt for the mozes. I took a 65 Litre backpack however I rekon I could get away with a normal smaller rucksack for somewhere like Asia. If you go somewhere with different weather conditions…then yes take a larger rucksack as you will need warm / weatherproof clothes aswel!
7) Take rucksack with mobile phone holder
Get a bag with a mobile phone holder at front – good for taking photos quickly. I was constantly faffing around trying to get my camera / phone out my pockets n sometimes moments were missed!
8) Take rucksack with Water Bottle Holder
I know it sounds normal, however my rucksack didnt have one. Its hassle having to carry bottles of water around so a holder would make life alot more simpler! Get a bag with water bottle holder on the outside so quick access to water.
9) Get Deet spray before you go away!
Deffo get Mozee spray in your own country as its just as expensive in asia (around £6 a bottle). Deet was recommended to me and I managed to find a 50% Deet one in asia. The other reason why id suggest getting it before you go away is because of the description on the back. I found that lots of Mozee spray descriptions etc was all in a foreign language meaning if there were any special instructions or things to avoid – I couldn’t read it! Get it in your own country so you know what’s in it and how to use it!
10) Take plasters n a bandage
I was amazed as to how many I actually used in 8 months. There’s times you’ll cut yourself n its always best to put a plaster on…especially when your in a place where there are nastys floating around that you want to keep out your cut! A bandage is always handy too as we used these when we cut ourselves n it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Wrap it up n hay presto -(just go see a doctor if it goes purple the day after lol).
11) Take portable mobile phone charger
So sure it’s a nice thought that you wouldnt use all the technology whilst away n be one with nature, however thats Bollox. This gadget helped alot, especially when I relied on my phone to skype n update facebook with etc.
13) Take Tablet rather than netbook
I actually took a small 10.1 inch Netbook with me. Although it did everything I wanted, the charger was a right pain as its long n bulky. If I went again id get myself a tablet as the charger is just a normal phone cable. Due to me needing to type too, I would just buy a clip on keyboard. If you can get really small chargers for Netbooks without that big hefty rectangle block then great – take a netbook as the main issues I have with tablets is them not playing certain file types!
14) Use Skype!
This I used alot. If your’e away from family for several months this helps you stop getting home sick. After 8 months backpacking…things weren’t as strange which made it alot easier to settle in..plus being able to see your dogs / parents / friends is really nice when your having a “low” spell 🙂
15) Get an online storage account before you go
Dropbox, Sky drive and Google Drive are some of the many on-line storage companies that offer free storage. Just sign up with them before hand and there you go. Install it on what ever device you are taking with you (i.e tablet, phone) and then when you have taken pics/videos you can drag them onto your on-line storage account so that if you ever lost your device / camera they are all safetly on-line. The great thing about this is that you can access your account from any device with internet. Also taking a 100gb small hard drive good too as your netbook / tablet space will get full up very quickly if you go travelling for months n months (I had 250gb and It just about did all photos etc)
16) Take Multiple PLug Socket Extension
The reason for the this is because many hostels only have 1 x plug per private room. This is a pain if there are 2 or more sharing as if you all want to charge your phones, use laptops or whatever you gotta wait. If you take an extension, all can be connected at same time leaving you with more time to explore!
- 1 x shirt
- 1 x shorts
- 2 x vest
- 2 x t shirt
- 1 x hoody
- 1 x anorak
- 5 x underwear n socks
How did you feel whilst travelling?
When I started off in the states… I was really excited. We would go from place to place and the states is a fantastic place for attractions. No place is the same over there. Towards the end of the trip when we went to Asia, If honest I started to get home sick. I guess when your just constantly going to temples and beaches I kinda wanted more stimulation. I reckon had it of been like the states where we were always on the go doing new things, then maybe I wouldn’t have got homesick. We did cut the trip early by one month as there was only Bali left on the list of places to visit and we didnt want to spend 1 month in Bali just lying on beaches and spending money so we came home early meaning we had cash in the UK to spend on car insurance etc. This was deffo the right decision.
I have learnt that im not really interested in museums unless there unique (death museum, Ripleys believe it or not). When travelling we constantly got people asking why we didnt do this and the other and why didnt we go to certain parts of Thailand etc…the truth is because we simply didnt want to. I think alot of travellers seem to follow the same route as each other i.e Asia – Australia . They seem to think that if someone hasnt been somewhere they have then there mad! What I learnt is there are different types of travellers. Just because you dont go to all the same places as everyone else, doesn’t mean your experience hasn’t been as great as theres!
Sure we didnt go to places like Chang Mei and Vietnam but when people talk about place like these there has been nothing that interests me there. I would never say that a place is shite or boring etc as my boring may be someone elses joy. You do meet some arrogant travellers who think they know it all about travelling and they really do my head in. I dont care if youve been away for several years and you dont miss youre home town…it doesnt make you any better of a person.
So I guess ive learnt to just keep making sure that you dont “follow” what others do, and just make sure that you do what you want…experience what you want too…if someone says “you must do this”…dont do it unless you actually think you will enjoy it. I went away for 8 months which some people would respond with “is that all?” however it was enough time for me and I did the majority of stuff I wanted too so im happy with the duration.
One opinion that hasn’t changed from me is my thoughts on travelling. I am so glad I got to do it. Some people would never dream of going however I also know that some people would love to go however have a fear of things like doing it on their own etc? One thing I have learnt is that travelling alone is not so bad as you think. I rekon once you got to your first destination you would do just fine. There were so many solo travellers out there that it would be so easy to make friends.
I guess one quote I would say would be:
“Travelling is all about your experience…not following someone elses”