What is essential, in this age of modern travel? Some things may immediately spring to mind or be obvious because you can’t live without them, others may be regarded by others as ‘Gap Year’ essentials. Some are no brainers, some are good advice and some are just personal choice. Here is my top 10:
You’re in the 21st century now my friend, where without a charged mobile phone, you may as well curl up in a corner until you get some battery. This might be an over exaggeration, but just think about how much you’d use your phone whilst travelling… you’ll stream music, podcasts or videos (or perhaps all three), use the maps feature when you’re lost, fill your camera roll up with pictures which in a months’ time you’ll deem to ugly, blurry or embarrassing to keep hold of and if you’re feeling really technologically savvy, you may even be using the built-in language translator. Regardless of what’s being used, at the end of the day, it drains the battery. To solve this, a simple power bank can be purchased online for a tenner, which can spare you (and potentially your travel buddies who would have to put up with you complaining of a dying phone battery) a whole lot of grief. Alternatively, you can spend a little bit more and get a real corker.
You don’t want insect bites and airborne diseases as travel memories and in particular things like Dengue and Malaria from Mosquito bites and you can live without tics, fleas and flies in any case. Most insects are more active at night. Repellent sprays are good for evenings, spray your ankles as they seem to enjoy hanging round under the tables in restaurants. For night time protection, particularly if you’re staying in a rented room behind your favourite bar, you should get net protection. They’re easy to slip into once erected and you will sleep like a baby. Those little buzzing noises won’t bother you a bit. The better nets are treated with an insect repellent. There are a few good nets at reasonable prices but I like the Sea to Summit net, because its black and has better visibility.
Sounds obvious I know but you are gonna need them. If you can’t scrounge one from Ma and Pa, buy one online. This international adapter is a good buy, otherwise you can kiss goodbye to over a tenner each, if you forget and have to buy one at the airport.
It’s a bum bag. Not a fanny pack or hip pack and definitely not a belly bag, Bum bags are a great solution for carrying important items securely. Anyone can pick a bag off your shoulder or a valuable item out of a pocket, a bum bag however is practically part of you. Admittedly, you do trade off comfort and style, as the pack can make things unnecessarily hot and it may not be the coolest look. It’s a feeling you quickly get used to however, and it’s a lot better than having your money and cards swiped. Eastpack do a good range.
Mini sewing kit
I don’t know how to sew, but the benefit of having travel buddies who did was much appreciated. The worst thing to happen, and it happened to me, is to step in to a new place and your rucksack strap instantly gives way. Trust me, the nightmare only starts there. As reality sinks in, so do the prospects of what has just happened; having to hug your rucksack whilst walking, the expense and hassle of having to buy a whole new bag, the understanding that you can no longer eat whilst moving as your hands are full. It could be a torn bit of clothing. Either way, just by having a small sewing kit, you or your companion can stitch up the issue there and then. Isn’t there a saying about a stich in time?
Probably one of the most essential of essentials when travelling are blister plasters. They may seem unnecessary before you travel, but once you actually get going you’ll realise how useful they really are. The discomfort of blisters will surely ruin your travels, and just by having a couple handy each time you go out can save you a world of pain.
Sacrificial purse / wallet
We’ve all got them in our drawers somewhere, the unwanted Christmas present or the souvenir from Grandad’s holiday, well now is the time to use them. Your main wallet / purse, the one with all the large notes, money cards, driving licence and ID should be deep in your rucksack or back at the hostel, in the safe. Use Auntie Maud’s Birthday present however, for your beer and ice cream money can go everywhere with you and if you put it under your towel on the beach, whilst you take a dip, and its gone when you come back, well it’s not the end of the world.
Mums customary first aid kit
So, you’ve got your tooth brush, sun cream and passport – what else do you need? One of those things that you don’t really want to take but know you probably should is a small first aid kit. The basic medical essentials are absolutely necessary, to ensure that your trip goes without a hitch. It doesn’t have to be a full sized first aid box, just the essentials (Paracetamol, rehydration salts, plasters, small roll of bandages etc.). Even a minor incident can mean that you have to begin a search for the local pharmacy, where language and the names of medicines will be a challenge. A simple first aid kit can be purchased on line and could prevent a real pain.
I know this doesn’t go into your rucksack but it is important. Make sure you check out: Vaccinations for your travel destination. Back to the rucksack then, I didn’t want to make a big deal of this but a toilet roll is definitely a good idea. If you think it’s a bit bulky wrap all or part of one round a pencil or straw from McDonalds and then whip the straw out and you have a ‘mini roll’. You won’t regret it.
Long distance travel is not the comfiest experience, even if, on your flight, you’re the lucky one with the window seat, hard plastic still isn’t the comfiest of materials to rest your head on. The best designs tend to be the neck pillows, easily portable and just a simple design. However, if your holiday includes frequent travel, your selected mode of transport tends to be the place where you can get some shut eye and recover from previous days’ exploits, and by having a simple object such as a travel pillow, your chances of getting some good kip will undoubtedly be a lot higher!