There are a bunch of guides out there on what you really, really, need to take on your next trip. We read them all before we left and we listened to a lot of the advice. Some of it was awesome – some of it less so! So, here’s a list of the things you absolutely don’t need to take if you are going round the world for a year. These are mainly designed to save your back and your pocket, as well as your sanity.
More than 1 going ‘out out’ outfit.
There are a few places where you do need to look like you’ve made an effort. Sky Bars tend to have dress codes, but you can’t afford Sky bars very often on a budget so there is really no need to take more than 1 outfit to cater for this. Travelling is very definitely not a fashion show. If you are on a budget you will likely frequent places where you will feel out of place dressed up.
Us in Our one and only going out outfit. Can you tell?
A Backpack larger than 55 litres
If you can get away with smaller – do. We bought the Osprey Farpoint 70 (in the above picture) – this has a 15 litre day pack and if you buy the smaller framed one, the main backpack is 50 litres instead of 55 litres. I’m a little on the large side, so my clothes don’t fit into the smallest possible packs, but even I cope with a 50 litre. Invest in some good compression bags – these help keep stuff small & organised. I should point out that previously I was a 2 suitcases and a suit carrier kinda gal for 4 days at a conference. If I can pack light, anyone can.
A year’s supply of toiletries.
They do wash in other countries too! In fact, in Thailand you can buy most of you every day essentials in a local 7-Eleven. These, are like rats in New York or London, in that you are never far away from them. We h
ave yet to go to a country where we couldn’t find something. DO NOT LISTEN TO YOUR MUM! You do not need to take the largest bottle of shower gel in the world with you.
We’ve been to 16 countries so far this year, with another 4 planned. Only Laos expected us to have a passport photo when we got our visa on arrival, and even then you could pay them a dollar to do it for you. Most countries do online visa applications now so you can take photo on your phone and upload it.
NB: Visa rules change all the time. Check Visa requirements regularly to not get caught out! For example when we left the UK, you couldn’t get an E-Visa for Vietnam & you were limited to 90 days in total over 3 stays in Thailand without buying a Visa The combined Visa for Zambia/Zimbabwe/Botswana had also been suspended. These things had changed by the time we went to these countries.
Every gadget charger you own
Most hostels don’t have more than 1 plug socket available anyway in your dorm or room. You are best off taking a power strip and 1 multi adapter with you. This way you get access to multiple power sockets, and don’t need to carry around a bunch of adapters. If you plan to be in South East Asia for any length of time, grab one there. You can even get them with built in usb ports. You will, incidentally, probably be the most popular person in your dorm if you possess one of these.
A Water proof coat.
In the last 8 months my coat has been used a grand total of twice….In Africa….In the winter. If you plan to spend most of your trip in sunny climates, a coat is a waste of money, space and weight. You can buy a poncho, which will roll up super small, and not make you boiling hot when it is chucking it down but still 30 degrees. Unless you want to look like you’ve donned giant condom, we’d suggest investing a decent one, not the kind you get for $1 in 7-Eleven. You don’t even have to do much research on this as the Tiki Touring Kiwi has done that for you. Check our his review of Travel Ponchos here.
If your plans change, or you will be spending some of your time in a country where it will be cold, you can always buy a coat on route. We managed to get sleeping bags designed for African winter in Manila.
Condom Alert – NEVER look like this in public
It is so super cheap to get laundry done in SE Asia – Less than £1 a kilo in most places. It’s more expensive in Africa, but its also cheaper to buy laundry soap there than take it with you.
This one is entirely subjective and absolutely dependent on your plans. If you plan to spend a lot of time trekking, take your boots. But bear in mind that in some areas, those boots will be useless. Within 10 minutes of meeting us, our guide in Borneo had recommended a pair of rubber shoes for trekking which cost about $2. They were infinitely better for trekking than my boots!
If you don’t plan to do much, or any trekking, then I guarantee your boots will spend the vast majority of the time tied to your backpack like mine did, or taking up space in your backpack. A pair of walking shoes is a better bet, or a decent pair of trainers.
Me & My backpack week one – my boots stayed tied to my bag for 2 months before I used them for 1 day
More than 3 pairs of shoes.
Yes ladies, this means you too. Your trainers/walking shoes. A pair of Flip flops and a pair of shoes that you can get into nice places in. At a push, add a pair of walking sandals. You can actually get some nice ones which you can double up as your ‘going out’ shoes. You do not need, High heels, your loafers, jewelled sandals or anything else. Your shoes will come off as you enter most places anyway!
It was on most travel packing lists we read. We have NEVER USED IT. You bag is either with you, or in one of the following places;
- A luggage hold
- A bus hold
- Under a pile of other bags at the back of a mini bus
- Under a pile of other bags at the back of a boat
- In a luggage store
A Bike lock is of no use in any of these circumstances. There is nothing you can do about the most determined of thieves, so get a decent TSA approved lock for your bag and PLEASE don’t put your valuables in your main bag.
The world is actually a much smaller place than we realise. It’s easy to get most, if not all, of what you need in most countries. My glasses broke in Thailand, and I had a new pair in about 1 hour. We got antibiotics over the counter for a chest infection in Nairobi and when we need a Yellow Fever vaccination, we went to a hospital in Chiang Mai and paid about 25% of the cost of the same vaccination in the UK. You really don’t need to pack the kitchen sink and if your plans change it is not that difficult to get what you need on the road.