Travel Series Part 3: How To Pack For a RTW Trip

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Improvise, borrow or, go without!

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When it comes to packing for an extensive trip it quite literally IMPOSSIBLE to prepare for every eventuality and to be fair, if you could anticipate every situation there would be little point in going now wouldn’t there?

Our plan was to travel for as long as we could until we ran out of money & then hit Australia to make up some dollllah, then hit the road again. We knew which countries we wanted to visit but weren’t sure if we’d make it to all of them and knew we wanted to work in Australia but weren’t sure which part of the vast country we were going to end up in our what we’d end up doing… so far, so bloody hazy!

If we were to attempt packing for every eventuality I would’ve packed nursing uniforms & dragged them around the world with me for when I landed in Australia a year after we’d left. I didn’t and, as it turns out, they don’t wear uniforms in Australian psychiatry so that would’ve been a serious waste of time anyway.

My point is that you don’t really have a bog what you’re going to need and more frustratingly, what you’re going to carry & not use so you just have to trust your instinct & figure it out along the way.

To help your instincts along I’ve sectioned this guide into 3 parts to help you plan what to load up and vitally, what to unload.

I’m basing this only on my experience, the experience of those I traveled with & those we met along the way.

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Here we go….

What I was happy I brought:

* A large colorful scarf that served as something to lie on on the beach, a sarong to cover up when leaving the beach, a shoulder cover in religious areas, a light cover to sleep under and a scarf to keep myself warm. Absolute essential.

*A floor length black skirt that could be dressed up or down & suited beach area & city areas perfectly.

*Bold lipsticks; they don’t take up much space & can make you look instantly ‘dressy’ for a night out.

*Statement necklaces for the same above reason.

*An epilator. Yes, they are made my Satan himself but with little access to waxing establishments (or, with so many disastrous ‘waxing’ experiences already under my belt while travelling!) I was delighted to have an at-hand, free hair removal option. Use it as regularly as possible & it’s not near as sore.

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*A decent sized USB. Nothing more regretful that loosing photos that weren’t backed up.

*Cotton bags which I sectioned into 4 stacks inside my backpack. One held my skirts & shorts, the other dresses, the other tops & the last one was filled with smaller bags each containing belts/necklaces/bracelets ect. This is a packing LIFESAVER if you’re not planning on travelling super light. The best thing I ever did before I set off.

*Sewing kit & safety pins for mending on the go.

*A bottle of dry shampoo. You may know that dry shampoo is my desert island product so having 1 bottle of it with me allowed me access to it on the rarest of occasions when I really needed my fix. It lasted surprisingly long when used sparingly and when it ran out? I commandeered baby powder & got over it!

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*An external hard drive; Sean had one filled with movies, series & music before we left. Lifesaver.

*A small torch.

*Black leggings. I’m not a fan of leggings as pants but they’re damn handy for sleeping in, layering with ect.

*Tampons. Important to have a stash if their your preference as some countries don’t sell them. If you’ve ever considered trying a mooncup I reckon backpacking would be a great time.

* An Ipod.

*A sturdy but compact diary. I wrote in it for the whole trip & this travel series would likely not exist without it!

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*A Laptop; mainly for watching movies on… we very rarely had or even sought out internet access.

*A basic SLR camera… good enough to take decent photos, not so good that I was scared to loose it.

Coded padlocks. We used them & were glad to have them on several occasions.

*A credit card. I got one with a low amount before we set off & when I lost my debit card I was able to use it until I had a new one sent over.

*A nice but comfortable pair of flipflops. I had one pair of shoes; gold Havaianas. They were comfortable enough to wear all day & smart enough to wear out in the evenings.

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*Eye mask & wax ear plugs… once you’ve tried sleeping on a bus or in an 18-bed dorm in a party hostel you’ll know why.

*Travel towel. Yes, they feel gross but they’re compact and dry quickly so therefore pretty much your only choice.

*A lot of black clothes… I love wearing lighter colours but their need to be washed after every wear is useless on the road.

*Swiss Army knife. Literally used for endless things, so handy to have.

*Simple light dresses that could be worn to the beach or dressed up at night.

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What I brought but didn’t need:

*A load of basic toiletries… everywhere you go has them so buy them on a need-basis & share the cost & carrying responsibility among your group. This will save you money and unnecessary weight in your bag.

*A raincoat. Never willingly went out in the rain & when I was caught in the rain I never had it. Threw it out after a month.

*Loads of eyeshadow & glitter n’ shit thinking it’s be ‘nice to have’… so would a feather pillow but you don’t see many people carrying one! If you only want the item now & again leave it behind!!

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*Proper runners. We only needed closed footwear now & again (when we went to the Amazon, cycling the death road ect) & it was easily purchased in La Paz… silly bringing specific sporting equipment unless you’re planning on spending a significant amount of time doing that one thing.

*Bulky handbags. I was whittled down to one medium-sized brown leather bag within the first month… it went with everything & that was all I needed.

*Endless patterned bikinis. 1) They couldn’t mix n’ match. 2) You go back for your favorite bikinis time & time again so bringing loads of ‘maybe’ bikinis is pointless.

*Cute underwear that was impractical for under 99% of my outfits. Leave ’em behind in favor of the more sensible options ladies! You’ll literally never wear them.

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*Hairdryers & straighteners. Its simply too hot to bother. They were dumped within the first month too. Air dry your hair & pin it into a tight bun at night; the bun will add texture & stop it getting frizzy. Something I started doing travelling & still do to this day!

*A sleeping bag. We never used them. Accommodation has bedding which is too hot to use anyway. Even when we did get caught out & had to sleep outdoors we felt like it’d draw too much attention to be in a sleeping bag so went without.

*Tea bags or random food ‘home comforts’… they go gross in your bag & you wont use them. Get over it!

*Lonely Planets. We brought one but you can borrow them as you go, write down the essentials & avoid a very bulky added weight to your bag.

*A money belt. Well, I didn’t bring one on this trip but did on a volunteering trip to Cambodia years previously. They’re bulky, sweaty & hard to access. Just hide your cash somewhere on you.

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What I didn’t bring but wish I did:

*Some broad spectrum antibiotics… handy to have until you get access to a doctor.

*A higher quality backpack. I brought a cheap backpack I already had in an attempt to save money but I’d invest in a decent bag if I was to do it again… not worth 2 years of discomfort to save €100. I’d also look into those backpacks you can both wear and wheel.

*A high quality pair of sunglasses. I didn’t own any at the time & wasn’t about it invest 200 quid on a pair of Raybans when I was budgeting for a RTW trip but you wear sunglasses every single day when you’re on the road so an investment pair would’ve been lovely.

*A kindle. While the romance of borrowing from hostel bookswaps saw us though our time a kindle would’ve been lighter & offered better options.

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Well, there you have it guys, really hope this was useful. Don’t forget to bring copies of your passport & add all your companions as subsidiaries on your online banking before you set off. Enjoy! x

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