So let me start by saying that I SUCK at packing! So this blog is more of a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ situation…
I actually tested my backpack out for ‘Bestival 2014’ a couple of months before I left the UK, which is a 4 day festival, and it was full to the brim. Don’t ask me how – like I said I SUCK at packing. Of course I then panicked about how I was going to fit my entire life into a backpack for a year, if I couldn’t even handle packing for just 4 days. Biggest tip I could ever give you when travelling: Don’t overpack!
First things first… What are you going to pack in? (I actually got this one right). If you are going to be travelling around 3rd world countries, let me tell you, that you can guarantee there will be places where a suitcase, with or without wheels, is going to be a logistical nightmare. In Thailand there is a lot of travel by boat, especially long-tail boats which will drop you off a short walk from the shore usually because… This is Thailand (T.I.T)!
In short, you don’t want to be lugging around a suitcase. Invest in a backpack! I, got a 65L Osprey backpack specifically made for women (the weight is supposed to sit on your hips for a girl as that’s your centre of gravity, for guys it’s the chest). I got that backpack to do a year’s worth of travelling all over the world and it has been perfect.
For me it’s about always having choice. You know, when you are getting ready to go out and you put on something you know you like, you’ve worn it before and you felt like you were babin’ but this time you put it on thinking you have outsmarted your wardrobe and you are all prepared but NO. This is not the outfit you remember it being and now you have 5 minutes to be ready so you can get on the beers and you have NOTHING to wear (despite having an entire 65L backpack full of stuff!)
Well, let me enlighten you… What I have learnt is that you don’t need choice. It is ‘choice’ that makes you go crazy. What you actually need is to follow the ‘less is more’ rule.
Don’t bring anything you would be sad to lose – The laundry here is mostly fantastic (there is nothing better than getting a clean, fresh pile of laundry) but sometimes you will end up with the odd thing missing. HOWEVER… Karma they say is a bitch but I find she’s a bit of a legend really. What goes around comes around… I lost my favourite top in the laundry somewhere in Cambodia but there was an extra dress in the laundry that was not mine and is now one of my long standing favourite dresses. WINNING!
No shoes is good shoes – This one, obviously, depends where you are. I only wear shoes in cities like Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand and Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. That said; it is always good to have a pair or trainers that you can rough it in and if you fancy doing any hikes, etc… Then another pair of shoes in case you want to be a bit fancy. (GIRLS: Don’t even bother with heels. Trust me!) You can buy flip flops out here for super cheap so I wouldn’t even pack any: just get them here.
Toiletries – 7/11 Rhymes with heaven. Thailand has 7/11’s pretty much everywhere and you can buy pretty much anything you need in them so don’t worry about stock piling shampoo and conditioner and all that jazz. Bring some mini bottles (possibly face wash if you use it, most brands here contain bleach) of what you might need for when you are tired and not smelling the freshest and anything that is needed under medical grounds of course. 7/11 is also open 24 hours a day 7 days a week so you never get caught short.
Once you think you have everything you think you need: lay it out in front of you. Now half the clothes and double the underwear! You know I said that things go missing in the laundry sometimes – underwear goes the most and is the only thing that you can struggle to buy out here.
As for all the other little bits that come in handy here is a list that we have put together for you to print out and check off so you know you are ready to get on that plane and come play on the beach!
Here is our PRINTABLE backpacking checklist: TruTravels Backpacking List