Sunday, 23 March 2014


With a trip around Asia scheduled for the end of this year, I have already started to think about what I'll need to invest in for the trip; what I'll pack, and having already done some travelling, what I'll leave out this time. I love making lists and have decided to format this thought process in to a list and share it with you. I guess it's really for the first time traveller, and doesn't include basic stuff like your passport, because you're not stupid. So here we go...

1) Padded bra - Don't go bringing any padded stuff. How do you think your boobs are going to fair under a load of polyester padding in a 30+ degree climate? Not very well.

2) Socks - I brought three pairs of socks with me when I went to India! I don't know when I thought I'd need these socks. I think it was just panic packing. However, I did wear one pair of socks for ten minutes during the trip, but only because I forgot what it was like to wear socks and they had become a novelty by then. So, yeah, don't pack socks if you're going to a hot country. Unless they're flight socks.

3) Decent Bag - A good bag is a MUST. And it needs to be a rucksack, not a carry bag or 'roll' bag. In the below picture, there I am with my giant roll bag, looking a bit ill as I quickly realise I'll now have this bag to lug around with me for the duration of the trip - throughout all my struggling to find somewhere to stay, roaming endlessly through packed out scorching streets, on the trains, on the beach, every time I change places. I learnt the hard way...the only choice if you're doing the kind of travelling where you move around and don't really know where you're going (what other kind of travelling is there?!) is a rucksack, like the one from Blacks below, and I shall be investing in one for sure. NB: A swishy good quality rucksack can always be found in the various trekking shops (or whatever they are, walking shops?!), so you should only be paying around £45 for one, tops. 

Blacks Alpine Aqua 60+10L Rucksack - £75

 4) Guide Book/Lonely Planet Guide - Your initial bout of homesickness and culture shock may well be helped significantly if you bring along a book about the specific place your going, as it did for me. On the first night of my travels, arriving in India shit scared and alone, the ONLY thing that helped was reading my Lonely Planet Guide. It sure felt like a lonely planet then, and that's when these books come most in handy. To read about someone who has been exactly where you are, also as a foreigner and written about the do's and dont's is invaluable when you first arrive in a new place and throughout. Make sure it's specific to the place you are, a huge guide book about the whole of India won't help if you're just based in the South, for example.

5) Weird travel cosmetics (don't go to Boots travel section) - Never used a tinted moisturiser with SPF 30 when you were at home? Well then, you won't use one whilst your away. Travelling isn't the time to try out weird and wonderful new products from the 3 for 2 bit in Boots travel section. Promise. Chances are you'll want to use the same stuff as always, but less. So if you use tons of products, then single it down to the bare essentials... and make sure you have sun protection that you can use on your face, wala! You're done. NEVER go to the Boots travel section before travelling. You'll discover a thousand things you think you need, like a special hot country face mask treatment etc etc, and you'll think HELL YEAH! No. Those special moisturisers and face masks will just drip off your face within moments of you putting them on in a hot climate, and isn't one of the charms of travelling going without and seeing how little you can survive on?!

6) A Good Book (Swap) - I got obsessed with Haruki Murakami on my trip. I read Norweigen Wood and then when I arrived in a new place and found that there was a make shift book shop on a beach that sold some of more his books, I was so happy! So, bring a good book, read it, then swap it with your travel companions/someone you don't know, a book shop, or with the place your staying. If you're doing the hostel thing, some of them have a book swapping service too, therefore bringing one book is your ticket to a wholeeee library of books without taking up space.

7) Thermal Tops - Sounds a bit crazy, but If you're travelling around a continent, you may find yourself in a boiling country at one point, and then in a coldish country next. I'm planning to go from India/Thailand to Vietnam. It will be Vietnam's winter when I arrive so I'll need warmer clothes with me. A country itself can also differ majorly in climate, especially if the terrain is mountainous in parts (cold in the mountains, warmer on the ground). This point is not tried and tested, but having thought about it, I'm going to buy two or three thermal cotton tops that fold up tiny in my bag, and should I get cold, layer them up. Lugging a coat around India doesn't sound good. You can get these tops very cheap from budget stores like Primark.

Marks and Spencer'sThermal Fleece Long Sleeve Top in Grey Marl - £17.50
8) A Tablet - Yeah, you're going travelling to escape all that shit, right? Well, chances are you're going to want to stay in touch with you family and/or friends whilst your away. Whether this means the odd message or long skype conversations, a device like a tablet would be ideal. I didn't have anything on my travels, but what I didn't anticipate was that I'd want regular contact with people from back home at least for the first few weeks, and I must have spent a fair amount in internet cafes.

9) Nothing Too Precious - Contrary to what I have just written above, don't bring any precious pieces of technology, jewellery, keepsakes etc with you. Certainly don't bring your BEST £1000 camera (unless you're a professional photographer/safety genuis). It will probably get damaged or stolen, then what? Tears. Bring a semi decent digital camera that takes good enough photos, but if anything happens to it, it will be a pain rather than the worst thing ever. I am very reckless with my possessions sometimes, and this means I got my cheap-ish camera stolen within the first two weeks of my trip to India. An annoyance, but no tears. Would I have looked after it better had it been an expensive one? Probably, but I didn't want the responsibility.

10) Soap - How are you going to wash your clothes? Soap! Pick up a few bars of decent soap, enough to last you your trip (rough guide - one bar soap = 3 to 4 weeks) when you have enough laundry for a wash, fill a sink, any sink, with your dirty bits, fill with water, scrub clothes with soap, then leave soap in the sink with the clothes and the water, go out for the day and when you return, your clothes will be much cleaner then they were! Give them another scrub with the soap, rinse, and leave to dry on a balcony/window ledge/washing line. If you're somewhere hot, they'll be dry in no time. I recommend Faith in Nature Organic Coconut Soap, £1.39 for 100 gram bar.

11) Shoes - It's getting spring like therefore the inevitable onslaught of ethnic inspired clothes/shoes/accesories will soon be arriving in shops everywhere. Don't be tempted to pick up a pair of woven sandals especially for your trip. They'll be uncomfy and you'll be a fashion victim fool! The only good that can come of packing such shoes is that you can give them to someone when you get there. I did exactly that and ended up giving a bag full of stuff to some Indian girls who wanted it. Bring decent shoes. My parents are obsessed with 'Ecco' shoes, and I think there's something in it, they're designed to be comfy, sturdy and last for ever. Might be worth investing. A few pairs sometimes crop up on Ebay too, as they're bloody expensive to buy new.

Ecco Offroad Walking Sandals Light in Black, £85

And don't forget to have a good time, all the time. Even when you're sick.

Ok, that's all. If you have any of your own packing for travel tips, share them below!