I’m back! Finally, after much stress and many tears, my laptop was fixed by the lovely Anthony a Bad Apples for about one-tenth of the price that Apple charge for the same repair. Now that I have proven the popular theory that electrical items and liquids DO NOT mix, on with the blog!
Today I thought I’d comprise a list for you all. Before I went off on my travels, I spent hours and hours searching for lists like these in an attempt to prepare myself one hundred percent for the adventure that I was about to embark on. I ended up packing everything from three tubes of my favourite moisturizer, to a roll of duct tape (neither of which I used) so, I thought I’d create a list of the items / packing strategies I found most helpful during my gap yah.
- Chose whether a rucksack or suitcase is more appropriate for the terrain on which you will be travelling most frequently.
I chose a rucksack and ended up crying and throwing it away in Japan as it gave me a severe case of costochondritis and I thought I was having a heart attack. If you are going to Australia, America, Japan, Korea, Europe or any country with pavements, I would HIGHLY recommend a hold-all with wheels or suitcase situation, especially if you have puny little girl arms like I do. If you do intend to take a rucksack, I can’t stress the importance of making sure it fits you properly and is the correct weight. For me, carrying an 80L rucksack on my back that at times weighed in around 25kg through scorching hot sunshine was absolute hell. However, if I had brought my 65L which is a much more appropriate size for my body then I probably would have had a much happier experience. British students, if you completed Duke of Edinburgh and you bought a rucksack that fit, just grab that one out of the loft, air it and take it with you.
- A sleeping bag SHEET
If you have a fear of unknown beds but really don’t want to lug around a big and bulky sleeping bag then I would definitely recommend this option. A thin, cotton sheet intended to slot inside your sleeping bag on long camping trips will fit nicely in your bag, ready to whip out when you inevitably encounter your first revolting hostel (it will happen, my friends, just give it time.) If this fear does not exist in your life then I applaud you, but spending a week sleeping under a cozy duvet in a hostel before discovering that it has not been washed between you and the previous ten users just might possibly change your mind.
- DO NOT pack flip-flops
If you are going to Australia. I was so eager to get to the sun and sand of Sydney that the day I booked my flight I skipped off down to Selfridges to buy myself a lovely fresh pair of comfy squidgy flip-flops. This experience was soured considerably when I arrived in Oz and discovered that my exact pair and others similar were being sold for about one-third of the price! Yes, I wore my flip-flops (or thongs, which still feels oh so wrong to say) on a daily basis, but if I had just waited till I got there then I would have saved myself some serious cashola (or just bought two pairs for the same price …)
Because guess what, some countries get cold in the winter. I was lucky enough to experience beautiful, blinding sunshine for most of the days I was in Australia, but that doesn’t mean it’s not absolutely freezing some of the time. I’ve mentioned before the common misconception that Australia is beautifully warm on a year-round basis, and unless it is practical for you to migrate to Cairns for the winter months then I would definitely pack a few warm clothes along with your shorts before you go. These are also helpful if you travel in Muslim countries, or places where you are likely to visit a lot of temples or religious buildings as you are almost always required to cover up to the elbows and knees, whatever the weather.
- A tablet or laptop
If you have one. If not then I would highly recommend taking at least one other electrical item that you can connect to a Wi-Fi that isn’t your smartphone. For one, there will inevitably be nights when you just cant be bothered to get dolled up and go out with your roommates and will need Netflix to fall back on. Another is that accidents happen. I was unlucky/stupid enough to drop water on my laptop, but if it had been my smartphone and I did not have anything else with me then I would have had no way to contact home, book any trains or flights or find directions for the rest of my stay, and that would have been HARD. Also, if you are intending on a working holiday then having your CV and general other information stored on a laptop ready to send off to potential employers is a whole load easier than trying to sort yourself out on an old, slow hostel desktop.
- A credit card
In the real world, credit cards are evil. In the travelling world, you will not meet a better friend. If you are going to a lot of different countries, you will be dealing with a lot of different currencies. Visa cards from British banks can charge you anywhere from 2-8% service charge. (I’m not sure about other places but I would hazard a guess at it being a similar situation.) If the foreign cashpoint also charges for withdrawal, this is not good news for your tight traveller budget. With a credit card, this service charge is removed and exchange rates are often a lot better, meaning you lose less unnecessary money to the banks while you are away.
- Sun cream in a factor below 50 if you want to tan
If you are travelling to South East Asia, this will be less of a problem but Australians are, quite righty, very particular about their use of sun cream. Australian residents are obviously exposed to a whole lot of sunshine and UV rays throughout their lives and it is pretty hard to find sun cream below a factor 50. If you do manage to locate it then it can be pretty pricey. Tanning is absolutely impossible for me unless I’m wearing 20 or under so if you have a similar problem then I would definitely recommend picking some up from the boots three for two before you leave blighty.
- Headphones or earplugs.
Hostels can be very, very noisy places. Even if you are staying in a very remote hostel, or one that caters to older customers to avoid partying teenagers, I can absolutely guarantee that you will be met at some point be an extreme snorer. It can’t be helped, it’s just a fact of life but it used to wind me up so badly that I would not be able to sleep at all. On these nights I was so very happy that I had thought to pack some small in ear headphones, and I would urge you to do the same. This way you can block out the snoring / sleep talking / coughing / similar of your roommates and drift off to sleep to a soothing symphony of your choice.
- A Bum-Bag (or Fanny pack)
Seriously, this was my number one item I could not have lived without. I was mocked endlessly before we left for buying such a hideous item (although, to be fair, it was white leather from New Look and I thought it was quite stylish.) It came in handy on a daily basis, especially in airports where you need your passport and boarding card to hand at all times. It was also great for journeys where I wanted to shove my rucksack into an overhead locker but still wanted my phone, iPod and personal documents upon my person. Oh and for taking on nights out and being able to hold a drink in each hand, hehe.
You will definitely need padlocks for all manor of things when you’re away, especially if you’re staying in hostels. As much as we would all like to think that everyone we are sharing our rooms with is one hundred percent lovely, you have to remember that you can’t know everyone properly after a couple of days. You may make the best of friends with any number of people in your hostels, but it definitely can’t hurt to keep your things locked up, and most hostel lockers require your own padlock to keep your stuff safe. If you buy an TSA approved lock you can double up and use it to keep your suitcase secure too, which is a big plus if you’re flying through underdeveloped airports where crime is rife.
I hope this list was a little bit helpful for those of you heading off out into the world! If you want to read more from me then give me a follow.