Packing tips – Items I wouldn’t travel without

While being on the road for almost a year, my backpack has changed a few times. I’ve bought a few new things, and sent home some other things.

At least I noticed that I don’t need to have everything with me the whole time. It really depends on where you are going, if you are changing between different climates and temperatures. Most things you can buy along the way if you really need it, then you don’t have to carry it around the first time and it’s probably cheaper too.

I’ve been in warm and cold big cities, hot beaches with surf and scuba dive, high and cold mountain tops… And I’m glad I had something (not everything!) for every occasion with me. While traveling in hot summer climate, I really thought it was a waste of place to bring my fleece jacket everywhere – but I really needed it on the cold cold night bus journeys.

But maybe I wouldn’t have needed to bring a sleeping bag with me, because I only used it like 3 times during 8 months. It would probably have been better (lighter and less space) to just rent one when I needed it. I also brought my rain jacket with me, but I sent it back after 2 months because I hadn’t used it even once, and it was literally just a waste of space. Instead I bought a thin plastic rain poncho for 2 USD which was even better because I could have it over my backpack too, haha. Just something to keep in mind! Anyhow!

Here are some items I’ve used a lot and would never travel without, things I’m like “omg I’m so glad I brought this with me!” haha.

Macbook Air 13” – perfect travel computer, light and good enough for editing pictures and videos, writing blog entries, watching film and tv-series ;) A little to small hard-disk for storage, but it depends on how long time you are traveling. I know I couldn’t have been without a computer at least, but a lot of people travel without!

USB-memories – for storage.  I prefer USB memories to hard disks because I feel it’s less chance to break and also I don’t like to have everything in just one place. Generally for electronics the prices are getting lower and lower, but in under-developed countries it’s still the same prices as we had maybe 5 years ago.  (for example in Sweden a 16 gb USB memory costs the same today as a 8 gb USB memory costed a couple of years ago). So depending on where you are going, it might be cheaper or the same price in your own country!

panasoniclumixA waterproof camera – Panasonic Lumix FT3 Waterproof and Shockproof Digital Camera – at first I didn’t like this camera so much because everything is pretty much automatic, but I got to LOVE it. It has great quality, great futures and great colors, you barely need to edit them. Love that it’s shockproof (2 meters) and waterproof up to 12 meters (40 feet) and has  a GPS! Then you know at what height or depth you are in. Perfect for adventure tours, hiking, climbing, snorkeling, beach, rain!

ultra-silA foldable waterproof daypackSea to summit Ultra Sil Dry Day Pack – Perfect to bring with you, doesn’t occupy much space in the backpack but so useful. Not too comfortable when it’s heave, because of the thin strips, but it’s perfect as a daypack – also it’s waterproof so it’s perfect for surfing, snorkeling and scuba dive-trips, but also for the beach or when it’s raining. I’ve used it so much!

 

Flipflops – I bought mine for like 4 USD in Mexico and it’s the most used item I have. Sometimes you just don’t want to have the supercomfy and ugly teva-sandals or trekkingshoes, just easy flip flops to wear the beach, around the city, or just in the house or to the shower

Travel towel – I prefer the normal towers, but compared to the space it would occupy – not worth it! Also I use the towel as a “protector” from insight around my bed when I’m in hostels. (hate knowing people are watching me while sleeping haha) 

LMF-spork


Spork
Light my fire – after 4 months it broke, so bring a couple of them! I used mine so much, sometimes if you bring your own meal/snacks on the bus ride, to the tour or to your room, and you really need a spoon or a fork for it. Perfect!!!

 

LeathermanA multi-tool – Leatherman. I’ve used mine so much!!  To cut up apples, open cans, open sodas, filing my nails, tighten loose screws, cut threads for the bracelets.. etc!

 

A couple of meters of thin rope
– To hang up washed clothes to dry, but also to hang my travel towel around my bed. Sometimes to tie something to my backpack. Very good to have! 

Head lamp – had a normal flash light in the beginning but bought a head torch for the Inca Trail. You usually need a flashlight and your hands free at the same time – like when packing or searching for something in the dark hostel room or hiking at night/early morning with hiking poles.

packing-cellsPacking cells – I just love them to organize my backpack. If I’m looking for something, I just have to take out the packing cells and open the one I know where my item is in. I always see other backpackers stuff laying around everywhere on their bed or on the floor, super chaotic unorganized. I like to have my stuff ready to go. I have one small for underwear and swimwear, a 2 L one for warm clothes/socks/union suit (which I never have to open in warmer countries), another 2 L one for my tops and t-shirts, and one 6L for pants, shorts, dresses, skirts and my fleece jacket.

Pad Lock – You will definitively need one or two. I have a cable lock pad – perfect for locking the backpack in plenty of spaces and also into a chair or a pole in the bus or the train. I also have a regular one for hostel lockers etc and for my daypack.


Foldable tooth brush
 – Takes less space and get’s less dirty! Works perfectly fine too!

A few clothing items I’ve used way to much and which is totally worth to have with you wherever you go –

A light cardigan/long-sleeved shirt – even in the hottest countries it sometimes get a little bit chilly. Also good to have a little protection against mosquitoes or direct sunlight. Sometimes you also need to cover your shoulders to enter a church.

Union suit – for cold nights and chilly bus rides. I used it as a pyjamas while sleeping in tents or in rooms where it was under 10*C inside at night. Not just an extra layer, but also perfect in the morning when you don’t want to put on freezing cold clothes direct on your body – just put the clothes on top of the union suit. Also on the damn cold super air-conditioned night buses between cities – would have died without it! And I even used it in the tropic jungle – it got a little chilly to sleep outside in the hammock!

Cap – When the sun is high and burning it really helps – especially to not be blinded by the sun but also to cool your head/hair a little bit. Also good to cover up your greasy and dirty hair when you haven’t been able to take a shower in a couple of days. And to have under your winter hat in sunny winter days.

For women:

Really light dress – For all occasions. Good to have to the beach above your bikini on your way there and from there, or when you are at home or at the hostel – takes 1 sec to put it on and it’s really comfy and light.  And also if you want to dress up a little bit in the city you can just add a belt or a necklace to it.

Leggings – Good to prevent mosquitoes, ticks and other insect bites at night and if it’s a little chilly and still want to have a skirt, or if it’s cold you can have them under your pants. Would never travel without leggings! 

Tampons – I actually brought a reeeally big pack with me (like 100) and I’m glad I did, because first of all, they don’t sell it every country/city, and at least in south America, where it’s not to common – it’s more expensive then in Sweden! And only boxes of 8 or something.

I hope this helps someone out there! (?)

Annonser

Safety tips and how to avoid getting robbed

No place on the planet is completely free from safety risks, including your own home.” – the first lines on ”Stay Safe” on wikitravel.

And that’s true.  You might feel that the world out there is more dangerous and unsafe than at home, but in fact you are more likely to have problems at home then out traveling. In my very safe home country Sweden I’ve got robbed of two cameras and one iphone over the past years. During this year of backpacking in central and South America I’ve yet had no problems at all. Maybe I’ve been lucky, but maybe it’s because I’m more alert and “follow” a few common sense-rules.

Here are a few safety tips about how to avoid getting robbed:  

Be aware – I know you think you always are, but you’re probably not while sightseeing. Look around and trust your instinct. Be aware if someone is following you. Have you seen that man before today? Also, get familiarized with the common picket pocket tricks.

Don’t show off your values – don’t have your wallet in the back pocket, don’t walk around with your phone in the hand etc

Don’t have your backpack on the back in subways or crowded buses (if they aren’t locked). Hold it tight in your lap or on your belly.

 Lock your backpacks – Don’t make it easy. I have a small padlock on my daily backpack when I travel and I have an adjustable cable lock from Pacsafe on my big backpack.

Blend in – try not to look like a foreigner. It’s of course difficult if you are a white and blond girl in Kenya, but try not to look like a typical tourist with the hat and the camera around your neck. Don’t look like you have money. Try to look like you know your way around there. Avoid looking lost, even if you are. Don’t fold out a map when you are on the street. Ask a police officer, or walk into a store and ask for directions.

Keep a low profile – don’t draw unnecessary attention to you. Don’t wear jewelry, try not to talk louder than necessary in public – you probably have enough attention as it is just by being a foreigner.

Separate your sources of money – don’t have it all on you or in the same bag. If they steal something from you, don’t let them take everything. I actually have three different moneybelts when I travel with all my stuff (one around my neck with passport etc, one hanging from the belt inside my pants with money, and then what looks like a regular belt but has a small pocket inside where I keep safety money in case they rob me of everything (but my clothes, hopefully). Also, have a wallet with enough “daily” money to make robbers satisfied so they don’t come looking for more. When I’m out for the day I of course don’t bring all the money with me, I keep it in different pockets/places/bags at my accommodation.

Don’t walk alone at night – especially in narrow alleys, dark parks or poorly lit streets. Stick to public and well-lit areas.

Do not accept food or drinks from strangers – it can be spiced with drugs. Keep an eye on your own drinks and food aswell, never leave it unattended!

Know the area you’re traveling to – ask a local (hostel worker, host, friend etc) if there are certain neighborhoods notorious for crime.

Do not hail taxis from the street – call one in advance. If you have to hail in a taxi, choose wisely – only take taxis clearly identified with official markings and go with older drivers – they are more experienced, more reliable and less tempted to get quick money then the younger ones. Also, do not ride with the windows rolled down, and don’t show off your values there either! And always ask for the price before getting in to the taxi if they don’t use a taximeter.

Don’t leave your belongings unattended in public areas. Sometimes you might need to go to the toilet while waiting to board your bus, you could ask another backpacker to guard your backpack for you while you are gone. I also lock my backpack with the adjustable cable lock in the benches at the bus station if I have to go.

Don’t leave your belongings unattended in hostels. I’ve heard plenty of hostel stories. Never happened to me, but I try to be careful. Don’t leave any values like your iphone, mp3, passport etc out in the open. And if you leave your clothes there, don’t miss them when they’re gone. It’s often the moment that makes a thief. I always lock my backpack with a padlock, even during night when I’m sleeping just beside. If there are lockers in the hostel where you can store your backpack, do it. If there are smaller lockers for valuables, keep them there. I had one padlock on the locker and one on my daily backpack inside the locker, where I kept my usb memories, computer, passport etc.

Last one – If threatened – don’t resist. Better safe then sorry. No item is more important than your own life. Just let go. (I know I would probably need to bite my tongue of to not to start arguing against them… I hope I never come to that)

 

 

Brain short circuit – slowly coming back

I have been meaning to start writing for a very long time, but it has just been to much for me. You know when you have tooooo many things to write down so instead of just starting you get a short-circuit in your brain and watch tv-series and do bracelets instead?? Exactly.

That’s pretty much how I’ve felt the last couple of months. I don’t know why. I’ve felt quite inspired but not productive.. I’m really not good in handling strain right now. 

But today I’m taking a few short steps in starting writing again. Maybe it will come back.

What’s keeping me back is that I have missed to write about a few very important moments in my trip: 

1) My visit to the Island of Sun in Copacabana, Bolivia, where I really enjoyed the company of my fellow alone-travelers Maider from Spain and Anthony from England (where I later met Anne on my way back too!)

IMG_3168

One of the beaches on the north side (challapampa) of Isla del Sol in the lake Titikaka in Copacabana, Bolivia.

2) When I was in Cusco in Peru and got to meet with my friends from Sweden, Mats & Ewa, Jacob Spijk and David & Carol, such a weird feeling to speak Swedish and fika!

Having lunch with Ewa, Mats and Jacob in Cuzco (notice the snus on the table, so swedish!)

Having lunch with Ewa, Mats and Jacob in Cuzco (notice the snus on the table, so swedish!)

3) My trip to Puerto Maldonado where I visited the jungle, ziplined through the rainforest and kajaked in the amazonas river, got to pet some monkeys and parrots and also got to spend time with three great Norwegian guys, two French girls and a Brazilian couple :)

With the greatest group in front of the Amazonas river in Puerto Maldonado

With the greatest group in front of the Amazonas river in Puerto Maldonado

So you understand that I have a few adventures to write about, and thousands of pictures to share.  Well.. not really… Because my waterproof camera got lost in the Amazonas river together with all my pictures from the second and third point here above. Stupid stupid stupid me. I have a few cellphone pics from the Swedish invasion and all the pictures the norwegian guys took (thank god for that!) but it’s not really the same.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t written about it, because it reminds me of my lost, I can still remember every picture I’ve taken. Yes, I’ve always been very sentimental about my pictures…. Still remember and “cry about” (not literally) the two times my camera got stolen – about the pictures that got lost and that I’ll never see again. The memories slowly shade away. So no, I’m not sad about the camera itself (I can buy a new one) but I’m greatly sad because of the pictures of the future memories that got lost.

Well. I think this will be enough for this entry. By the way, I’ve recently started to look into Brazil… and woooow I’m looking so much forward to it, a warm sun, turquoise sea and a white sand beach….. scuba dive and surf…. Ahhh!!