What's in our bags?

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Everyone's always curious about what travellers have in their packs.  Many people are boggled by the idea that you can pack enough things in a small bag when travelling for durations of months/years.  My motto has always been: whether it's a few days or a few months, it's the same stuff.

Last time we set off on a significant journey, we were all geared for cycling and camping.  However, this is going to be a different type of trip.  At first it was very difficult to part with the freedom such things as tent, sleeping bag and stove afford, but we've decided to keep it simple and try something new this time.  Also, some of the areas we will be going are not that suitable for biking and camping.

I always hear long term travellers talking about taking less, and the comforts this brings.  So for this trip, we decided to give it a try.  One thing we DID NOT want was to look like a back-packer.  The typical giant pack the size of a human on the back and another pack slung in front hobbling around looking for a hostel.  We already have large packs like this which we take for week-long canoe trips into Algonquin Park - about 80 litres each.  So unfortunately, this meant buying new packs.  Heaven knows how many backpacks 2 people need in a lifetime, but surely Brian and I have well exceeded our fair share.  No mind, off we went to the army surplus store to look at packs. 

What a luxury it was to be able to shop in ACTUAL stores with RELIABLE brands!  You may remember on our last trip when we sent the bikes home and became 'backpackers'...I had to wander the bowels of Damascus looking for some quality packs.  However, this was all I could find.  As memorable as they were (memories ingrained on our backs and shoulders as well) they were quickly replaced by new bags as soon as we arrived in Amman, Jordan.  These at least resembled backpacks and not suitcases with straps...

I am happy to say that our current bags are only about 30-35 litres each, and even when we pack them, there's still extra room to expand.  We really wanted small and easy to carry bags so that we won't be weighed down by them (both literally and figuratively).  To have small bags like this, we're looking forward to NOT having to find luggage storage or a room before we can do anything.  We'll be fine carrying these through cities with us, or on hikes if need be.  We should also be able to take them as carry-on on buses and planes with us.  But I still think we have too much stuff...

So what's in there?

  • Malarial Drugs (new to this trip including SE Asia.  I'm not a fan, but have been extremely guilted into this. Also, bringing enough for 3 months is no a small amount.  I think we have enough preventative protection - see below, but we still have them)
  • Mosquito Nets (in case they're not provided or ripped to shreads - treated)
  • Deet (in it's many concentrations.  I remember stockpiling this in Canada when they outlawed products above a certain concentration.  100% doesn't seem to be a problem getting here...)
  • Permetherine (new to us, seems like a wonder insecticide for fabrics.  You treat your clothing and insects will actually die on contact - no skeeters biting through jeans.  Good even after washing and lasts around 6 weeks, so were taking a bit of extra to re-treat before we head to Borneo...) 
  • First Aid Kit/Sewing Kit (our own combo of safety pins, thread and needles,bandages and a few tablets)
  • Gorilla tape (you never know...came in super hand for fixing our bike racks last time...)
  • Super Glue (boyscout training...)
  • Towels (small and quick drying)
  • Sleeping Liners (our substitution for sleeping bags.  Silk liners should help retain a bit of heat and are super light and take up no space at all)
  • Daypack (for shopping trips, lunches, laundry.  Never hurts to have a spare bag)
  • Bathroom Bag (has all of our soap, toothbrushes, etc.)
  • Snorkels/Masks (being blind, I need my own prescription mask that I got in Egypt :) )
  • Dive Cert
  • Clothing (bit of this and that.  a few choice pieces.  mix of warm and cold.)
  • KEENS (I LOVE my keens!  Wore them throughout our last trip for cycling, hiking, lounging, etc.  You can cut down a LOT of space by not having extra pairs of shoes/boots with you.  These are comfortable in the heat, but you can put on a pair of socks if you're cold.  If it's raining, your foot dries a lot faster than a pair of socks.  Oh, also you don't need to pack socks!  Great grip and toe protection.  Can't say enough!  Convinced Brian to finally see the light and he'll be sporting a new pair for this trip as well.  I guess this doesn't technically count as something IN our bags, but wouldn't travel without!)
  • Sunglasses ('cause we're goin' someplace where the SUN SHINES!!!)
  • Rain Gear (Jury's still out on this one - comments appreciated.  I don't really want to take our jackets as they're too bulky and I think will be too hot to wear.  Currently thinking we'll be able to get umbrellas or sexy ponchos when needed.  In the meantime, our bags have rain covers)
  • Swiss Army Knife (don't really need to explain this...)
  • Water Bottles (my new favourite piece of gear for this trip.  Safe drinking water can always be a concern when travelling to developing countries and I just hate the idea of having to buy bottled water all the time - can't knowingly contribute to the plastic situation.  These bottles have a full biological filter built into them and will last through many many gallons of water.  Read more about them here)
  • Headlamps (necessary as electricity may not be always available, as well as for those 2am hikes up mountains for sunrise shots...)
  • 2 cameras (my giant SLR and Brian's Lumix for video)
  • Tripod (hopefully I'll actually use it this time and not just hike it around the planet)
  • SD cards (worried that the hard drive on the computer may give out and easier than clouds or online photosharing sites)
  • Journal (I'm so old-fashioned.  Please know that these blogs have been written not once, but twice - once by hand and once typed :) )
  • Kindle (wonderful addition!  Now I have all the guidebooks we could want plus lots of reading material)
  • Netbook (faithful Acer bounced around on our bikes for 6 months and has been our prime computer for the last 2 years in the UK.  Let's see how long it lasts!)
  • Mobile Phone
  • Tablet (new addition for Brian so he has something to do while I'm doing this..Also, has some great GPS run maps for when we get lost.)
  • Chargers, cords and adaptors (waaay too many it's scary.  We have just bought a new adaptor.  Originally, we had our North American to overseas set; however, since living in the UK, we now have gear with a UK as well as European  plugs.  Our new adaptor matches EVERYTHING to ANYTHING and also charges USB) 
  • Dry Bags (waterproofing for computers, journals, etc.)
  • Compression bags (does a great job shrinnking our clothing down to NOTHING.  Also waterproof - bonus!)
  • Locks (can't believe my old highschool locker lock is still around)
  • Goodies and gifts (I have an assortment of photos, postcards, and Canadiana to give to our hosts and people we meet.  One of the things that floored us on our last trip was the overwhelming kindness and generosity of people.  We're also more involved in couch surfing now than we were before, so I plan to do this on the trip.  Also packed in is a few balloons and bubble gum to share with any children we may meet).
  • Toys and Games (for a little entertainment during down times)
  • ooops, almost forgot the passports!
...and I think that's about it!
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Cynthea Corbett on

Sounds great. We are envious of the small packs. I know i have far too much stuff. You have inspired me to look at what I take and send back to NZ

Danny S. on

Be careful when taking your luggage with you to plane as cabin bags cause your Swiss Army knife will get confiscated!

2totango on

We'll let you know how it goes...already reconsidering the fleece jacket and rain jacket - they'll take up plenty of room!

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