I hate the moment when you are about to go traveling and you see a huge mound of stuff on your bed and a tiny backpack to fit it all into. You just know, no matter what you try that not everything is going to fit. I hate this feeling, but it is something that I have learnt to cut down on over time. I thought I should make this guide for anyone that wants to trim down on what they take traveling and really only take the things that they need. I also thought it would be a perfect complement to the article I did recently on things that you shouldn’t take on your travels.
I think that generally speaking, this tends to happen to those that are much less experienced with traveling. I speak from experience here and want to save you the pain of this, because I know exactly what it is like to take things that you don’t need and forget things that you do need. Here are some non-negotiables:
1) Tiger balm: I would like to thank my Chinese heritage for this wonderful travel remedy, I can’t think of anything that cures everything as well as tiger balm. It is great for muscle pain, insect bites and pretty much any kind of travel ailment. Sometimes the smell even makes me feel better. The best thing is that it is cheap and lasts for a very long time in a compact package.
2) A flash/USB drive: The bigger this is, the better. This is great for backing up movies, giving to someone to print something or sharing some music, movies or pictures with your fellow travelers. This is a great inexpensive tool that can make your travels that much better, this is real bang for your buck.
3) Tablets: It is great to bring along some tablets that will help you along the way. I always like to bring some multivitamins, nausea tablets and something for an upset stomach. These can really get you through the days where you don’t want to be doing anything because you are sick. These also keep your common travel ailments, like the common cold, away.
4) Padlock: This is something you just can’t live without, especially if you are staying in a hostel. You can use this to lock your stuff away and is a very cheap investment for the things it protects.
Cards: Bring at least 2 cards with you, and make sure that they are kept separate from one another so that you don’t find yourself in a sticky situation when you lose your wallet or happen to be pick pocketed by one of the crafty locals.
$200 Cash: This is a real necessity, just keep in hidden somewhere obscure (who’s going to want to rummage around your dirty underwear on the off chance of finding some cash!). This will be a godsend when the one cash machine in town doesn’t work, and you have no way to contact anyone, it’s raining and you really, really need somewhere to sleep!
6) Havianas: These have to be the most comfortable, robust, durable and effortlessly cool flip flops on the market. Buy the originals and they’ll last you the whole trip – a much better investment than the 8 cheap copies you will continually buy as you wander around Asia!
7) Documents: This includes photocopies of your passport, driving license and travel insurance. Also, bring at least 6 passport photos too – true it might be cheaper to get them done in another country but when you’re at a border, and you can’t get through without a couple, you’ll be delighted at yourself for having the foresight to have a few wedged somewhere in your wallet.
8 ) A journal, a pen and a bag of motivation: Keeping a journal can seem like a real chore and no doubt it is hard work but when you get home you’ll have wished you were more diligent with it. So maximize your chances of writing regularly and bring all the things you need to stay up to date. I personally like to write short notes about things that have happened, so that I can blog about them later.
9) Mini medi-kit: I really mean mini – all you ‘really’ need is a box of plasters/band-aids, a pair of small scissors, a bottle of iodine and some decent painkillers. Anything that requires more probably also requires a trip to the doctors where they will invariably have a much bigger array of materials at their disposal.
10) Condoms: I will leave the explanation to your imagination here, but in the event that something does happen these will keep your travel memories as just that and nothing else unexpected. Always remember that you are free, not irresponsible, so take a few of these with you.