10 Feb 2012 16:30:00
If you want to go travelling there is one question which first needs answering: you want to go on a package tour, fully booked and planned in advance, or you want to go backpacking. We at Utiket love backpacking mostly because of the sense of freedom you get when at the end of an endless bumpy bus ride you get dropped in a village and you're totally lost in a country where you don't speak the language... As Paul Theroux put it: 'Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going.' And that is the important part: not planning your trip till every detail but decide at the moment. Not knowing where you will be or sleep the next day is the ultimate feeling of freedom and, if you can accept it, is the most relaxing way of living. But you need to plan something, thinking about what to bring and not for example. So here are some important tips to bring before you head out to the bus station or airport with your backpack on.
What to pack?
Obviously things like passport, international bank card and toothbrush can be quite handy. Also some cash money hidden away in your backpack can be a good idea for if your bank card gets stolen or broken. In every country you can have money send to you to a Western Union office, so a hundred dollars or equivalent should be enough to get you to a big city and pay for a few hotel nights before your parents have send you money. Some basic toiletries are a must of course but try to find small containers for it and decide if you really need it. But what is most important if you are backpacking is what not to pack: you do not want to walk searching for a hotel in the simmering heat in the middle of the day with 25 kilo's on your back and another 10 in front. So what not to bring?
What not to pack?
Things you can buy everywhere but will not use often are candidates for leaving at home. An umbrella can be handy, but why bring one if you can buy it everywhere for a few dollars? Best part is that when you are done you can give it to somebody else and make new friends. Same with books, bring only one or two because in every backpacking destination you can exchange books at stores or with newly met friends. Unless you have some specific medical condition, don't bring any medicine since you can buy it everywhere if you are in need of it. Though some medicine for motion sickness can be a good idea too for if your stomach is upset and you are in a bus... Clothes are often the biggest part of your baggage and be careful selecting what you bring. Remember that everywhere you can wash your clothes or have them washed for you. Pack some underwear, few shirts, a sweater for the busses which have the airco on full, a few shorts and one pants made of light material. Try to combine things: pack a short which you can wear normally but also can use as swimming shorts. A pair of comfortable walking shoes is essential too but don't put them in your pack but wear them if you are travelling and put the sandals in your pack. One good tip to keep your backpack small (but not lighter) is not to fold your clothes but to roll it. Best is to roll it up tightly, put it in a plastic bag and squeeze the air out. But this is not very practical if you move around a lot... Lastly the high-tech electronic stuff. To bring your phone is a good idea. In most countries you can easily buy a local sim-card enabling you to keep in touch in a cheap way. Before you bring your 3 kilo heavy laptop decide first if you want to see something of the country you are visiting or want to spend it browsing the internet. In other words: is it worth to carry the weight around? If you plan to write about your travelling on your blog, or you need to do some work while away it is a good idea to bring a netbook or tablet which is small and light. We hope these tips are helpful and we wish you happy backpacking!