Ive had a bit of free time lately, so to keep myself busy, Ive been researching my trip to Capetown in a month, and doing some packing prep.
A lot of people Ive met while traveling, have asked me about what gear I take and how I pack it, so I’ve decided to write about it.
Firstly, a bed, is an invaluable packing tool. Visibility is essential (I like to have everything laid out in front of me, so I know what I’m doing). After this, a notebook and pen, near to hand.
I normally prepare, in 3 sections. Amongst the many usefull things I’ve learned on various training courses, was some stuff by an ex-soldier. He spoke about working withing 3 levels, whilst in the field. The idea is that he lives on the contents of his rucksack, fights on the contents of his belt/webbing order, and survives on the contents of his pockets.
I’ve roughly applied that to: Stuff on my person, stuff in my daysack, and stuff that’s actually packed into my main rucksack.
The stuff on my person is pictured towards the top left of the picture. Most of my travel money is worn in my money belt and I have a money clip in my pocket, with about £40 in mixed currency. In my pocket, I have a waterproof bag, with my passport, tickets, a laminated card with emergency details, a credit card and 1 Imodium instant tablet.
On my belt, I carry my camera. The pictures I take are my lasting memories of a trip, so I like my camera close to hand at all times. A space pen in case I have to fill in a last minute form etc. Around my neck, I wear a length of para-cord, with a whistle and small torch on it. A personal stereo, with music, relevant pod-casts and audio-books to break up waiting around time.
A cheap mobile phone completes things. A mobile has 3 key uses. 1, as an alarm clock, 2, to send/receive texts for half an hour each evening, 3, most important, is pre-programmed with emergency and in country numbers fi things go wrong.
I was debating this time, to take my IPhone, instead of a cheap mobile and my ipod. Its usually best to follow the rough guides advise. Never take something into a country you can’t leave without, and never carry unnecessary valuables. Ive thought it over, and decided to take it anyway.
The “survival” aspect of the things above, is that if my rucksack goes missing, my coat gets stolen etc, I have enough on me, to continue with the trip and improvise. I have lost things on trips and at airports, but Ive never lost the trousers I was actually wearing !.
The 2nd group, the stuff I have in my daysack (I dont fight, this is the stuff mainly for days out exploring, and useful things to do, when on planes, buses, trains etc).
Contains copies of travel documentation, a notebook and pen, guidebook. I usually have a bag for lose change, as I dont like British currency rattling around in my pockets, once Ive left.
It also has an inflatable travel pillow, and some eye covers. Used with the blanket on a plane, and the relaxation stuff on my ipod, it alows me to be in my own place.
I usually have a book, and a to read file, with quick snippets and articles ive printed off the internet, or taken from the Newspaper (A chap I met in Peru, cut out several weeks supply of the Telegraph crossword, which for its size and weight, can alleviate hours of waiting time).
I also have a laminated photo of my main rucsack, in case its lost, and they want to know what it looks like (I also have a T shirt, and some underwear and socks, for the 24hrs after I arrive, if they have lost my bag (its happened 4 times so far, Im quite used to it now)).
The newest addition to this, is my Acer aspire laptop, which can obviously be used to read email, browse the web, listen to music, watch films etc.
Finally, the main rucsack contents (the top right of the picture).
I normally carry a 45 litre sack. It amazes me when I see people with massive rucsacks (above 80 litres) and I ask them if their going to high altitude, or spending extended periods in the jungle, and they reply that they are doing an ATW, with city visits !.
Are you actually going to watch your portable DVD, while your away ?. On the other hand, having a pair of scissors in
your first aid kit, and a reliable torch, means you wont have to ask other people (travel and adventure are, among other things a test of your independence).
I took extensive stuff on my first trip around the world, including a host of “emergency items ” as recommended in the rough guide first trip around the world .
When I got to my hotel in Hong Kong and was checking in, they noticed a rip in my fleece, and sent someone up to my room to collect it, repair it, wash it and return it to me. 5 years later, I still cant spot where the original rip actually was.
The rough guide, had been written for rough backpackers on a budget, and on this trip, I wasn’t one of them, so be clear about the kind of trip your going on.
In the rucksack, I normally put about 100 things. Obviously this gets time consuming and tedious, so instead, I decant the contents into smaller bags and stuff sacs. In this way, I can pack and unpack the entire sack in under a minute.
The plastic boxes along the top, are mirrored with some of the other bags. I use individual boxes, and pack from them, into the individual bags (things like the contents of my washbag. If I’m camping, Ill need a trek towel and insect repellent. If Im going to Paris for a weekend, I wont need either of these, but aftershave and an electric razor, will have distinct advantages).
If Im going somewhere warm, then a big coat is superflous for most of the trip. I find a bigish jumper, and a lightweight waterproof provide the same functionality, pack much smaller, and are far more flexible. The Hagloff waterproof jacket I wear is also suitably sensible, so that it can be worn on evening’s out. Its in a green stuff sack, so when I put it away after use, it doesnt get other things wet.
First aid equipment. If your going walking with friends, you want to take some stuff like bandages and things like that, but if your on an organised tour to say Machu Pichu, your guide will have the means to get you of the mountain quickly and to emergency healthcare, so there isnt much point in you taking your own bandages and stuff like that (for the record, Plasters, Anadin and Imodium, are the most frequently used contents of my fa kit).
A full size and 3 quarter pack-it bags for clothes. I normaly choose Rohan stuff for traveling. The choice of clothing, is too detailed to go into here, but I normaly take some additional footwear, so I have something different to wear in the evening.
The black “tech” bag, has stuff like socket converters, mini tripod for camera, usb stick spare batteries, and stuff like that.
Misc items are kept in my utility bag. Most rucsacks, have a zip compartment at the top (the bit of the rucsack thats near the back of your neck, when your wearing it). Its much easier to put the misc stuff into a separate bag which you can remove from the sack, and saves messing about. It contains things like a penknife, a torch, lighter, some sort of high energy bar, 3 sachets of hot chocolate, some paracord, some gafa tape, etc.
Ive written this, as a pretty general article on adventure travel packing. If any of you are interested, give me a shout, and I can write in far more detail, if you tell me what you want me to talk about.
In a nutshell, the most important thing about packing, is to be realist about what you need to take, and realy do cut it to a minimum (but do this in balance).
Other stuff going on:
Best wishes to the India Crew on their trip to Berlin, Im sorry I cant come with you guys, but I hope you have an ace time.
That brilliant series North Square, is now availble free to watch, on the Love Film website.