Top 10 Things to Pack On A Long Trip

Packing for a long-haul trip is very different than for a weekly getaway. Every ounce counts when you have to schlep your backpack around on trains and buses, and walking from hotel to hotel looking for the best deal. You need to choose carefully what to bring in order to pack a compact bag.

Everyone is different, some make do one t-shirt and two pairs of underwear while others prefer a wider choice of outfits. Some people travel ultra-light with a small day-pack, while others require some modern conveniences to make the trip more enjoyable. The list below is a result of having traveled on a tight budget for several months in both Africa and Asia. I could swear by this list.

  1. Microfiber towels. Not all hotels (hostels/guest houses) supply towels. A microfiber towel may have a bigger price-tag, but it’s extremely light and dries in no time – even in humid conditions. Make sure it’s big enough to cover your A great brand is Seat to Summit.
  2. Silk sleeping bag liner. Most hotels provide a sheet and a pillow, but sometimes that’s all they provide. Sometimes there’s complete bedding, but of dubious cleanliness. In those cases, a silk sheet is indispensable; feather light and super-compact into an apple-sized package. It is easily washed and dries in minutes. We have used Grand Trunk Silk Sleep Sacks for years.
  3.  Pocket knife. Millions of applications – to cut open packages, peel fruit, cut off ropes, open beer and wine bottles, fasten screws and clean your nails. Etc, etc, etc. Victorinox Swiss Army knives  are the best, but any cheaper brand will also do.
  4.  Spoon, fork and a small plastic bowl with a lid. There are going to be days when you just want to prepare your own food, like oatmeal or yogurt with fruit, or a tuna sandwich. Disposable cutlery breaks easily and can be difficult to find, especially in countries that only use chopsticks. Bring your own spoon, fork and bowl to make your own meals once in a while. Light My Fire has a cool
  5.  Whether you need to cool off with a wet scarf around your neck, shield your head from the rays of the burning sun, or just need a napkin or hand towel – bandanas fit in your pocket, or can be tied to your belt, and are easily washed. You can buy bandanas pretty much anywhere.
  6.  A roll of isolation tape. Fixes cuts in your backpack. Temporarily mends your shoes. Holds up the mosquito net. You won’t travel far before you need it. Make sure you buy a good quality roll of duct tape, such as Reflectix.
  7.  Mosquito net. Keeps malarial mosquitoes, flies, spiders and cockroaches out of your bed. In countries with high prevalence of malaria, the local markets sell great nets for a dollar or two. If you want to get one ahead of time, a Mombasa net should do the job. Make sure you buy a net with cords from four corners, so that you can hang it easily, no matter what is available in the room. Don’t forget to bring extra string.
  8.  Walkie-Talkies. If there are two (or more) of you traveling together, walkie-talkies are a great way to communicate in distances up to a few kilometers. On many occasions one person will have to stay in place with the heavy backpacks, as the other goes looking for a hotel, train tickets, a taxi, and so on. It’s much more convenient and cheaper than SIM cards and work from the moment you land. We like Motorola’s
  9.  iPad Mini (or other preferred tablet). On journeys to more than one country, the tablet can hold all travel guides in eBook format. No need to print out electronic visas, flight reservations or hotel vouchers. You can take screen shots of Google maps, online directions, wrestling schedules, phrases in local languages, etc. – you’ll never have to take notes again. And of course you can access email and the internet in all the free wifi restaurants, bars and cafes around the world, and take photos with your new local friends. I’m not a dedicated Apple-fan, but the iPad Mini was invaluable on our last 5-month trip in Asia.
  10.  Business cards. Bring the ones you have or have some simple cards printed with your name, email address, blog or web site URL, Twitter and Facebook handles to share with to people you meet. Some travel acquaintances grow into lifelong friendships, and you never know when you will meet again and where. Vistaprint is an inexpensive printer.

And, personally, I would recommend bringing at least two pairs of underwear.

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