This time last year I was dreaming of my upcoming trip. I spent countless hours scouring travel books and blogs, completely obsessed with finding the right items that would see me through 3-4 months on the road! The tricky part was packing for a month in India, followed by a couple of months in Southeast Asia, followed by… well, I had no idea. There are some things that made life a lot easier, so I’ve rounded up a list of the best.
Must-haves for backpacking!
1. Lush shampoo bar: a totally awesome co-worker of mine gave me a Lush shampoo bar for Christmas, and it has been absolutely amazing. Having one less liquid to carry makes for worry-free and compact packing, the bar smells great, and it lasted incredibly well, especially considering Beth and I shared it!
TIP: if possible, leave your bar out to dry before packing it. If it’s wet in the tin for a long time it may continue to make suds and the outer layer gets a bit gummy.
2. Travel towel: most hostels don’t give you a towel, this one doubles as a blanket when needed, and dries quickly. I went for the biggest size so I could comfortably come out of the shower with it wrapped around my body in a dorm situation. Who likes getting dressed straight out of the shower when you’re still all wet? Not me!
3. Immodium. You’ll want to have it. Enough said.
4. A toiletry bag that will keep you organized! I loved having my hanging MEC bag on the road.
5. A solid backpack (duh – we’re backpacking here people) and packing cubes to keep you organized (are you sensing a theme here?) My backpack is the Black Diamond Onyx 65 for women and I used Innate packing cubes and MEC Stuff Sacks. I highly recommend being fitted for a backpack by someone who knows what they’re doing. I consider myself a medium to large person, but somehow required a Ladies XS harness for my backpack because of my short torso.
6. Silk sleeping bag liner: mine is the rectangular one from MEC. Most of the sheets in the guesthouses we stayed in were of questionable cleanliness, and the temperatures drop significantly at night in India in February, so the addition of an extra layer was needed. I also really enjoyed having something familiar to cuddle up in every night!
(Note for Southeast Asia: even the $5/night hostels have pretty clean sheets, and it was really hot, so I didn’t use it as often.)
7. Comfortable, loose-fitting, modest clothing. People are going to stare at you no matter what, particularly in remote areas that are not often traversed by tourists (for me, it was the South and North of India.) Do yourself a favour, and don’t give them a reason to stare (note to the ladies wearing SHEER shirts at the Taj Mahal. Not ok.) I always wore pants or long skirts, and shirts with sleeves to my elbow and modest necklines. My favourite pair of pants were purchased by Beth (with a few days to go, neither of us had found good pants). They’re made by Lole, and are a lightweight, flexible, comfortable pant. They feature a secret pocket and ankle drawstrings (which come in handy when you want to make sure your pant cuffs aren’t dragging on the poopy streets.) We also each brought a pair of olive green linen pants. What can I say, we’ve always been bobsy twins.
My wardrobe changed when we got to Southeast Asia. I ditched some of the warmer items and picked up more cotton tanks.
8. Some type of wifi-capable device. I had an iPad mini so I could blog and back up my photos. It was amazing to have stuff to watch on those long bus rides too.
9. If you ask my dad, you need a whistle. Preferably a neon yellow one, that can be worn on a string and easily accessible at any moment. But be warned, the whistle may do more harm than good because you might get a lot of comments about the fact that you carry a whistle. Children may giggle, and security guards at the airport will flat out laugh at you. But hey, you’ve got a whistle.
10. A sense of adventure and a positive attitude. Unplanned backpacking is not for the faint of heart!
Any questions about what was in my bag? Do you have an item you absolutely couldn’t live without when you went backpacking?