Collecting together all the items you’ve set aside for your travels and packing them into your rucksack is one of those exciting moments when you realise it’s really happening – you’re about to go! I really had no idea what I was doing when packing for my trip, but after a few days in India I wished I’d brought different things. It’s hard to foresee how you’re going to feel in a few days, weeks or months’ time when you’re in a completely different culture and climate. Here are some of my packing tips:
- Research the customs of each country: Where you’re going is hugely important when it comes to deciding what to pack. If you’re heading to the Thai islands you can get away with swimwear and skimpy clothing, but in India or Myanmar it’s respectful to be much more covered up (and you really won’t feel like flashing any flesh there anyway because no one does). When I arrived in Thailand after a month in India I was almost shocked by the scantily-clad people everywhere and it took me a while to adjust!
- Research the weather: Make sure you research the weather before you turn up. It never occurred to me that Australia might be anything other than hot and sunny 24/7. I arrived in Melbourne in September when it was still quite cold, but my backpack was full of the shorts and t-shirts I’d been wearing in South East Asia. I had to make an emergency trip to H&M to buy jeans and a hoodie, and I was still freezing!
- Be comfortable: There’s a reason everyone wears the same traveler pants in South East Asia – they’re so comfortable! You’ll be spending a lot of time on buses, boats, trains and planes and it’s important to put comfort before anything else.
- Don’t overpack: One of the things I loved most about travelling was realising how little you actually need in terms of belongings. Don’t stuff you’re bag full of a million different outfits; you don’t need them! And it’s nice to be able to pick clothing and souvenirs up along the way.
My travel checklist:
- Clothing: As I’ve said above, make sure you research the weather and pack warm/cold clothing accordingly. Don’t forget conservative clothing and a shawl/pashmina if appropriate. And remember, comfort is the main thing!
- Footwear: I lived in my flip flops most of the time, but you’ll probably need more supportive footwear for all of the sightseeing you’ll be doing. Make sure you take trainers or hiking shoes if you want to do lots of physical activities.
- Underwear: This one is just for the girls, bur I’d recommend taking plenty of sports bras with you. I felt so much more comfortable in sports bras than underwired bras. They are also practical if you’re planning on doing lots of exercise.
- Wind and waterproof jacket – This came in handy so many times when it rained unexpectedly in Asia or when I just needed an extra layer.
- Sunhat – Very important for places like Australia and NZ where you really have to be careful about exposing yourself to the sun.
- Small towel
- Sleep sheet: These are like sleeping bags but with a very thin layer of fabric. They are great for overnight train journeys. They don’t take up much room in your bag either.
- Ear plugs: Great for overnight trains and anytime you’re trying to sleep in a loud environment.
- First-aid kit
- Travel clothes wash: Cheap laundry services are very easy to find in Asia and most hostels have cheap laundry facilities, but now and again I would wash clothes myself.
- Mini torch: This came in very handy in India, where there were often power cuts.
- Padlocks for bags/hostel lockers – I broke and lost mine along the way so spares are a good idea.
- Money belt: I had a little pouch for my phone and money/cards, which I sometimes wore under my clothing if I was in a place known for pick pocketing.
- Outlet adapter
- Camera, case and charging equipment
- Ipad/laptop: You might not want to take this type of equipment with you because of the risk of losing it, or if you want a bit more of an authentic travel experience. I didn’t take my Ipad with me for the first part of my trip, but I did for the rest of it. I found it quite comforting to be able to watch TV shows or films when I was exhausted in my hostel bunk bed.
- Passport, cash, credit and debit cards
- Documents: I printed all my important documents, including telephone numbers, and kept them in a folder. Also, take a few extra passport photos just in case.
- Watch and alarm clock: I used my phone for both of these, which I’m sure most people do these days.
Check out my previous post with advice about which backpack to take travelling.
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