People often ask for my packing list, though indirectly. People look at my pack, ask me how long I’m travelling for, and when I tell them they stare at me for a few seconds before saying “how the fuck do you fit all your shit in that pack?”. Really my pack isn’t that small. It’s a PacSafe VentureSafe 45l. It fits everything in my list and comfortably in the overhead compartment though I usually sneak through a little over the 7KG weight limit.
I do have a packing list though not so much for people who ask, but for myself because it is always a disheartening beginning, turning up in the middle of nowhere, dirty and smelly after hours of travel, and realising you can’t charge your phone and the only underwear you have is the pair you’re wearing.
Most people don’t take as little as I do though, so they just include everything on my list into lists of their own. I completely understand. I have been asked to expand on a few things in my list though, which I have done below.
Drinking Water/Drink Bottle
For those who have spent a few days throwing up everything they ate and a few things they’re sure they didn’t, I don’t need to explain the importance of being careful with what you eat and drink. While you can never eliminate the possibility of getting ill entirely, you can at least ensure your drinking water is clean.
While travelling, I really only trust the water I have cleaned and handled myself. I also try to avoid bottled water, as the notion of buying something, emptying it into my face then throwing it away, all for the sake of convenience, seems absurd.
I prefer the design of the Grayl over other filter bottles. You fill the lower part, then press the filter down filling the top container. It is done in a few seconds. While it doesn’t store much clean water, what sold me is you can use it to fill other containers, which is more difficult with other designs.
Anyone who has backpacked or hiked will know that while cotton bath towels are warm, comfortable and effective at drying, they also fill a huge amount of pack space, weigh around 15 kilograms when wet, and take far too long to dry.
Enter travel towels. Small, lightweight, and quick drying. I’ve tried a few types of travel towels but never really liked them. They either didn’t dry well, smelled pretty bad after a few uses and just felt weird, like that feeling you get when someone licks the inside of your elbow.
A friend of mine suggested linen towels, and I had to get them shipped from somewhere in Scandinavia. They’re heavier and larger so if you’re an ultralight packer, you may still prefer microfibre. Most importantly for me though, they do not stink like a swamp trolls undies, and they perform the task of drying admirably. I have now stuffed my microfibre towels into a box and put them into storage where I will find them in a year and think “I should do something with these” before closing the box with the promise to definitely do it next time.
I have gadgets. Laptop, camera, phone, powerbank. They all need power. In the past, we had to worry about voltages when travelling between countries, however modern charger designs have largely solved this for us unless you’re travelling with an iron or hair straighteners. So usually all we have to concern ourselves with is a travel adaptor. Do not quote me on this. If you blow up your phone, it's not my fault.
I have a MOCREO Travel Adapter which is designed to work in over 150 countries, most of which I will probably never visit. It converts most plugs and has two USB ports so I can charge my phone and my laptop at the same time.
The great thing is that it is one unit, so it doesn’t have any parts to lose, or forget...unless you forget the entire unit of course. Unfortunately, like most adaptors it has a small blue light that appears inconspicuous, until you turn out the lights and try to sleep. You then realise it is bright enough to light up a football stadium.
Universal Sink Plug
This stupidly handy piece of equipment is just a piece of rubber or plastic you can use when there is no sink or basin plug. That might not sound like much to some people, but if you’re like me and you like to do your laundry in the basin, then it is an extremely handy tool. Mine cost a couple of dollars. I could have made it for less, but I didn’t think of that at the time.
Broke Man's Wallet
I have a wallet I use for travelling. It has a velcro strip and a coin pocket. It looks like the wallet of a 12 year old whose parents refused to buy one with Billabong on it because it was too expensive. I use this wallet so I look like I’m too poor to buy one with Billabong on it in the hope thieves will feel sorry for me and put money into my pocket, instead of trying to take it out.
I’m not too worried about RFID scanners as I haven’t heard of anyone actually being scammed with them, however I figured if I was looking for a cheap wallet, I may as well spend the extra $2.40 and get one that might stop my cards getting copied by some shady character waiting behind me in line.
Yes. I have one. Maybe it’s because I’m heading towards that age when wearing a bum bag is acceptable, no matter what you call them. Bum bag, fanny pack, waist pack. Crumpler has one called the Clam Chowder. I just...I have no words. I jest of course. Bum bags are never, ever acceptable unless you are open to having your photo put on the internet for your friends to see and to have shame cast upon your family forever.
Money belts serve a purpose. I have a Pacsafe Cashsafe 25 Deluxe Travel Belt. I really only use it to store a bit of extra cash and a list of phone numbers. I keep cash in a few places. This is one of them.
While it does what I need it to do, it’s still annoying to use as an actual belt. One end of the buckle is basically a belt loop catching fork and the other end is too large to push through. I’m thinking about removing the current buckle and sewing on a new one.
Passport Neck Pouch
For my passport, I prefer this Pacsafe Coversafe X75. It is enough to store my passport, a spare card and some cash. It isn’t the easiest pouch to get into and like the money belt, I use it knowing full well that if I get mugged, it is probably not going to pass undetected, but it will likely save me from random pick pockets.
What I like about this is I can pull it tight around my waist and then stuff the pouch down the front of my pants. There are only two people I let down the front of my pants and one of them is my doctor.
Sleeping Bag Liner
You can get these from any camping store made from either cotton, silk or some kind of plastic garbage. The idea is you sleep inside this, inside your sleeping bag. The liners are much easier to clean so they’re basically bedsheets for your sleeping bag.
I carry one with me for those times when I don't like the look of where I’m staying or if I want something to cover myself with when I’m sleeping on a train. I can wrap myself up in a silk sleeping bag liner and pretend like everything's just fine.
You can buy them with insect repellent as well, to provide an extra layer of protection against small bitey things like mosquitoes and bedbugs.
I never liked the idea of packing cubes. I thought they were stupid. They seemed like an expensive piece of rubbish made for people who didn’t know how to pack.
I was wrong. It has happened before, it will happen again.
After chatting to a travel friend, I bought the cheapest travel cubes I could find. They’re just zip-up, nylon bags of varying sizes. Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive. They have made my packing infinitely easier and better. I still roll my clothes and take as little as I can, but now everything is held together nicely. I now recommend them to anyone for keeping your pack tidy.
Happy Travels! Let me know if you have any more crucial travel accessories that need to be added to this list!!