There a lot of things to think about when you up-root yourself to travel for a year. Route plans, resigning, getting out of your apartment, all the goodbyes, whats the best platform on which to placate my sports addiction while I’m on the road? But paramount among these and other questions are, what size pack will I use and what can I fit. Here is the of what we take, in our His Packing List and Her Packing List, which is in no way a one size fits all, but perhaps some food for thought on your next backpacking adventure.
Size is everything, although, when backpacking, inverse to your initial thought, the smaller the better, or at least, the smallest you can get away for your specific needs. A
pack should be big enough you can fit everything you need and no more. This prevents you from taking all those “just in case” items you’ll no doubt never use, do you NEED 3 woolen knit sweaters if you’re traveling mostly in summer? probably not. Mark opted for a Osprey Ozone 46, which, as the name suggests is a 46l, it’s light (1kg), has a surprising amount of space, a number of separate pockets for your laptop/e-readers, and 2 large drink bottle holders. Martina has gone smaller again with the 38l Kathmandu Litehaul, which opens like a suitcase so is super easy to fill, with separate laptop and valuables pockets.
Clothes and Stuff
If you have enough for 2 weeks you have enough for a year…almost. It’s about having things that can handle multiple conditions, are light, and most importantly breathable. Fabrics like merino are perfect for this, they look good, and perform well in hot or cold conditions. Other than that, a good weatherproof jacket, some thermals and a good pack-able down, and you’ll be covered for most conditions you’re likely to face within the
main body of the weather bell curve, with only the extremes calling for specialised kit. With shoes, if you’re mainly city bound and hiking on good trails, canvas type street shoes, free runner type athletic shoes and a pair of pluggers (jandals/flip-flips) can be fine. This time, with hiking in Tibet, Nepal and Africa we’ve had to opt for a reasonable pair of hiking shoes with good grip: Mark chose these men’s hike shoes and Martina settled on these women’s hike shoes. Although this does compromise style somewhat, and while Martina is used to being referred to as a “German tourist” in the pejorative Mark is not (yet!).
Tech and Apps
To remain connected, we all travel with a world of information in our pockets. There are a plenty of apps/websites that make travelling a lot easier, even if you just have google and the associated suite of Apps you’d be one up on people traveling 5 years ago, on a trip to India in 2012 one of our resident bloggers found themselves in…….interesting accommodation after losing their phone and thinking they were too good to acquire a Lonely Planet. So, here are some of our favorite apps for travel planning, and execution (travel execution, not errr, the other kind, that’s Dark web stuff…I assume) So, some of our faves;
- For route planning, rome2rio is fantastic, and gives you bus, rail and flight options.
- TripAdvisor gives great tips and reviews of must see sights pretty much everywhere
- Triposo has offline maps and GPS tracking, and offers free downloadable city guides, restaurant recommendations and reviews
- Hostelworld and Hostelbookers are our go to hostel booking apps and probably the easiest to use, although Booking.com, while better for hotels, is getting better on hostels, and offers free cancellation.
- For flights, Skyscanner and Kayak reign supreme, with the ability to set up alerts and searching multiple comparison sights generally you’ll get the best deal, although it’s always worth checking with the airline themselves, Googles Matrix airfares is pretty decent too, although a little less user-friendly and only web-based.
- XE Currency converter does exactly what it says on the packet, and does it well
- Couchsurfing is a great way to meet locals, after becoming a member you can attend language exchanges, get togethers and, most importantly stay with locals to experience the way they live.
- Google Translate has come a long way, to the stage that you can wave your phone over any text and get a rough translation.
- Babbel, Duolingo and Chineasy are just some of the massive number of great language learning apps, that are fun and easy to give you a little edge in your street stall negotiations when you want that trinket that falls apart 3 months later.
Storage is critical, so in conjunction with an external hard drive and back up SD cards, Apps like DropBox, Google Drive and iCloud are brilliant as a safe guard against the loss or damage of your physical storage. On top on of all these, sprinkle in your news and entertainment apps and you’re good to go.
As for camera gear, we can do a deep dive on that in a later post, but as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have on you. Whatever gear it is you’re using to assist your trip, the most important part is to get out into the real world and enjoy yourself and your surroundings.
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