Helpful Travel Essentials
Everyone has different things they like to take away with them that they call 'their travel essentials' or 'home comforts'. Packing light is an art and takes practice...you learn what is 'essential' from your own experiences and desires.
I have been fortunate enough to have travelled various places across the world all with varied climates - some humid, some dry some super baltic - some active, some lazy.
Knowing what to pack can be tricky, especially if you're going somewhere that has unpredictable weather. I've listed below what I think are my 'go - to - must pack' travel essentials even when packing light, with an experience of why for each.
My Number one for ALL countries:
1. These are especially important in third world countries.These aren't only needed due to SO many places having cheap, horrendous toilet paper that resembles sand paper, (you literally end up shredding your butt rather than cleaning it), sometimes you need a 'wet wipe' shower too when you're caught out or can't face one more cold water bucket shower.
When I was trekking through the himalayas I had a night when after a day of trekking 20+ kilometres I ended up having to stay in a goat farmers shed because I had no other choice for shelter and it was getting dark. This 'shed' definately had no hot water let alone a shower or a bucket - and I would have felt like the grubbiest chick in the mountains if it wasn't for trusty wet wipes.
2. Western tummies are often not as 'resilient' to the culinary delights of our third world friends and you will of heard from many travellers the term of 'Bali - Belly', 'Dehli - Belly', 'Thamel - Telly' and so on. Travellers don't lie - this is a very real thing peeps...trust me. I've had food poisoning an uncountable amount of times on my travels and it ain't pretty. Great if you're trying to shed some pounds and stop yourself from eating ALL the food, but it sucks when your in a wetsuit 30 meters under water.
3. Humid countries - Travelling jungle or countries during the monsoon seasons it can get super hot, sticky and humid, having wet wipes to hand to wipe your face throughout the day is super handy.
4. Dry and Dusty Climes - Some places can be proper dusty and leave a coating on your skin - I know Thamel (in Nepal) especially gets very dusty and your skin gets coated with pollution so they are handy for wiping your face throughout the day for this too.
p.s. I've attached a link to some wet wipes I feel are good as these particular ones are natural and also biodegradable. Be friends of the planet and all that.
Ear Plugs. Sound Blockers. Anything to stuff in your ears or on the outside of your ears to help you get a good nights sleep. One or two nights rough sleep is a non - issue...but months of it? Just no.
In Nepal you hear dogs all night, every night. (In Thamel and Pokhara especially). In the Philippines you hear Cockerels all morning, every morning. In hostels you're bound to be lumbered in a room with AT LEAST one snorer, or with someone who deems it necessary to eat loudly at 5am without their mouth closed resembling the sound of a cement mixer. Ear plugs are really helpful, even if there is a storm throughout the night or something, and they are cheap to pick up from boots or any kind of chemist.
A Bar of soap
Don't pack shower gel...it weighs a lot, takes up loads of room and doesn't last that long. Take a bar of soap in a plastic sandwich bag and it will last you for...like...ever. Just make sure you rinse it after each usage.
Take all your wash bag stuff in miniature!
You don't need full sized shampoos, face creams and face washes guys. You can get everything in miniature now a days, and looking after your skin IS important when travelling as flying a lot dehydrates your skin, and hair can get bad sun damage. You will be amazed how long a miniature tooth paste lasts. It blew my mind.
I have trialled and tested many a water proof - and this year in 2017 I have finally found the ultimate water proof jacket in the Patagonia Torrentshel. Ive honestly tried heaps of rain coats - expensive Helly Hanson ones, North Face ones, Cheap macs, and this one is just the bomb! It packs down into one of the pockets, comes in heaps of different colours for guys or chicks and only weighs a minute 301g (10.6oz). I've been out in amongst some serious wet, stormy, rainy weather and can't believe how a jacket so thin and lightweight does not soak through. Water literally roles off the surface of it like off a ducks back! The great thing about this one particularly is it is windproof as well. It has breathable armpit zip openings so if you're somewhere humid with a down pour - you have that air flow preventing you from getting to hot and sticky. I've worn this over thick layers when cold and wet, then simply just as a shell when trail running to keep me dry but cool at the same time. Rain storms abroad are very different across the world compared with the UK they can come out of no where and then there is a flood!
There is bacteria anywhere, to try and prevent any unwanted illnesses and belly issues - hand sanitiser is great as it comes in little travel sized bottles and lasts ages. You can buy this from any boots stores, at the airport or your local supermarket. Stay clean people!
Small bag of washing Powder
Sometimes its super hard to get a quick turn around laundrette and you get to your last pair of pants after turning them inside out and using them twice and know there is no more turning around to be done. A small bag of washing powder is so helpful for swimsuits and undies especially as you can just wash in a bucket or sink and hang out to dry whilst you're out on your days adventures. Again Boots sell these or you can get them in the country you're in for pennies from little super markets or street stalls.
A lightweight, quick drying towel is so handy! I purchased one of these from Cotswolds Outdoors when I knew I had to keep my baggage weight down and I would be going place to place and needing it to dry quickly in order to pack again. I've travelled with full sized beach towels in the past when I was a total amateur at travelling, and the amount they weigh and the amount of space they take up is ridiculous.
A Thin pashmina
A really lightweight thin cotton scarf / pashmina has multiple uses when travelling - especially for women. You can usually pick these up EVERYWHERE for pennies in countries like Thailand / Bali / Nepal etc as street sellers will be flogging them. They weigh nothing and pack down tiny. Below are some of the uses for them...
1. Some countries when you are visiting temples and religious places you need to have your head or legs covered - a scarf is the perfect function for this by wrapping around your head or around your legs like a skirt.
2. In places that are super dusty or polluted it is great to wrap around your face if you don't have a dust mask.
3. It works as a beach towel to lie on on the beach.
4. Its a scarf if you're cold.
5. Put it over your shoulders if you're out of suncream and in danger of being burned.
6. Wrap it around your head like a turban to 'fit in' in certain parts of Africa and Asia.
7. You haven't washed your hair in days and it will be offensive to others, so wrap it round your head.
Gorilla tape / Gaffa Tape - this is really useful, especially on a long backpacking travelling trip.
1. No one cares in the airport how 'expensive' or fancy your bag is, it gets battered going from plane to plane, bus to bus, boat to boat. What inevitably happens because of all your wooden elephants, tibetan slippers, Chang vests and general travel memorabilia you HAVE GOT TO BUY (not), your pack gets fuller and fuller and It takes you more and more brute force to get the thing to shut. Then voila - it begins to split and look ten years old in a matter of weeks.
Our good pal- gaffa tape - fixes this issue in an instant and works wonders.
2. Doing a snowboarding / ski season ? You wear your ski pants day after day, and generally they get ripped and worn from various stacks and falls or 'rubbage' from where you carry your board / ski's from the edges of your equipment. Gaffa Tape keeps these holes water tight for the rest of your season so no need to fork out and buy a new pair! I sliced mine to pieces from crampons when I went ice climbing in them, from always carrying my board on my right side the edge rubbed a hole in the seam of my jacket, and when baggy pants were 'in' back in 2008 the bottom of the trouser leg wore through from dragging on the floor. Thank you Mr Gaffa Tape for sorting these minor problems out!
3. Have you packed your bag so full you can't fit anything else in it? Therefore you need to tape contents to the outside of it? Yes. People actually do this.
Finally - sometimes it nice to pack a few foodie bits to make you feel at home. I take honey with me as I don't really eat sugar or processed foods and this is somewhat difficult when travelling. Honey is my go to sweetner for porridge, yoghurt or to sweeten a smoothie or crepe to help me avoid lathering it with the naughty white crystals on a daily basis! I've found around europe all you will be offered with brekkie in rural places is cheap marmalade, chocolate spread, jam or butter. Ive definitely been known to pack miniature peanut butter and marmite to make the starts to my day that much better! This of course is such a personal thing and depends what kind of diet / nutrition you go by. I know from when I was young, it was super common to stack on weight when backpacking or doing ski seasons as you eat a lot of fast food, cheap food and generally unhealthy food, so little things to aid this from happening I've found super helpful. Love your body!
I hope these few tips can help you on your exploring and adventures around the world! Bee the love!