9 PIECES OF CRAP YOU DON'T NEED WHEN BACKPACKING
Light holiday reading material
What appeared to be a purely majestic idea, propelled by dreams of relaxing on the beach, unwinding and broadening my vocabulary, turned out to be a pain in the arse and about 4 kgs extra weight to carry. It makes me cringe to think I packed Eat, Pray, Love in order to get in touch with my inner ‘Liz’. Who was I kidding? I was Liz, ten times over! I had more planned for my vacay than she actually achieved in three months and now I was stuck carrying her dead weight.
Oh, did I mention I was lucky enough to be given a kindle in our travels (shout out to Megan), which meant I was now carting around 1 kindle, 4 books and a guide book (more on this later). There was only one thing to do, enter some manic reading frenzy for a few days in order to finish the books and then donate them to the reading libraries in various hostels. If you need a book, take ONE, then swap it for another at a hostel library.
For $1 it seemed like it would be the best investment since Newscorp shares in 2010 and just like the real stock market it gave us false hope before our stocks plummeted. The only day we needed these plastic sacks was in Siem Reap, the one day we didn’t pack them. At an inflated price, we purchased more - it stopped raining instantly! Now we had a plastic nightmare!
Climbing through mud and over ancient ruins, it was hardly a time to be precious about a bit of rain. So toughen up and brave the rain, or better still, purchase a squash able waterproof jacket.
Waterproofing liners for our backpacks
Are you sensing a waterproofing theme? We experienced quite a lot of rain through Asia, especially in Vietnam. We seemed to get caught in a downpour quite often and not in a fun 'I like Pina Coladas' kind of a way. Not bothering to unpack the waterproof backpack jackets, nothing got wet.
They would be handy for jungle trekking and more rugged conditions. For general travel they’re not worth carrying.
The digital camera
Venturing overseas, it's tempting to envision yourself as a world class photographer, picturing the perfect image taken with your new lens, aided by the perfect balance of your new tripod.
Chances are many amazing travel pics are taken with an Android or Iphone, with a badass filter and # tagged. We unsuccessfully tried to give our 3 mega pixel digital camera away - absolutely no takers! Mobile phones are so damn big these days to fit all that stuff in. Save some space and use your phone - photos will probably look great.
If you own an SLR and are half adept in its use, go for it. Keep in mind however you will need to carry it and keep it safe. Alternatively, go for a Go Pro (it's small).
More than 1 bottle of perfume/aftershave
Granted we were moving overseas and would experience varied climates, conditions and budgets, so we packed a few home comforts. In retrospect, packing 3 bottles of perfume was not sheer genius.
Let’s be honest, fragrance comes in beautiful but inconveniently heavy glass bottles. Adding this weight to your already 20 kg pack is not necessary. (There was rarely a moment however when our pores smelt of anything less than Armani or Thierry Mugler!) Take one full bottle of your fav. for long trips and you may score a sample or two. Travel atomisers are a lifesaver for shorter trips.
All of your make up
While on the topic of toiletries it’s a good time to address on tour. I packed 2 foundations, bronzer, 2 blushes, 10 lipsticks, 5 eye-shadows, primers, 3 mascaras and about 15 different brushes - I enjoy makeup! How embarrassing - I didn't need to look "catwalk fabulous" at Angkor Wat!
Exploring and comfort matter- keep it simple - foundation, bronzer, blush, 1 eyeliner, 1 eye-shadow palette with a few colours and 2-3 lipsticks including a light colour for everyday and a bold red. There is no look you can’t create with these, taking up a fraction of space.
Taking a guide book seems rather pointless in this day and age. We packed Lonely Planet’s "Europe on a Shoestring"- an amazing guide, & super heavy at 3.5 kg's! You'll probably Google most things. If planning to spend a long period in one place, by all means bring a modest sized guide.
Anything more and you’re going to be hating on it every time it mocks you from your pack.
We started our journey in the lovely Singapore & only on a few occasions did we need to look a little pish posh. Throughout Asia, male half wore a dress shirt twice, his lady wore her pretty skirt and top once.
Every traveller has ideals of looking like a high end backpacker. The reality is we wore the same shorts, gypsy pants and sandals for 3 days. Pack one fancy dress girls, and dress it up or down. Guys opt for something dressy that is weather appropriate.
These were popular twenty years ago when the world was afraid to venture to foreign places and interact with new cultures. Now people have lived and learnt a bit, they realise carrying all your valuable items around your stomach is kind of dumb. You’re fooling no one with that suspicious bulky item under your shirt. Not only does it scream tourist (and maybe even terrorist),it’s by no means foolproof.
With all the options these days your best bet is not to carry wads of cash (heard of a travel card?) and if you need to stuff it somewhere on you (bras and socks work well). If you’ve ever tried to take some money out of a money belt in the middle of a market, you’ll know why lifting your top up in public is far from stealthy.