Pants: check. Socks: check. Flimsy, cheap but extremely cool Urban Outfitters sunglasses that will snap into several small pieces moments after being placed in bag: check…
Look, packing to go around the world is counter intuitive. You think, ‘I’m going away for a long time. I’ll need loads of stuff.’ Well yeah, I mean you’re going to need a few bits and pieces, or else you’ll repel everyone you meet with an odor akin to five day old fish. This happened to me once in India, when I found myself sat on a bus next to a particularly foul smelling Frenchman who had clearly taken the mantra ‘travel light’ a few clean items of clothing too far.
But alas, whilst the conventional wisdom is to travel light – and it is conventional for very good reasons – so much advice coming from the What Not To Take camp is often dispensed, dare I say it, by travelers wishing to point out how seasoned and experienced they are through their ability to survive arctic treks with little more than one sock and a string vest.
Thus, here’s some things I will be taking with me that you don’t absolutely need, but might just find very bloody useful:
1. A Water Bottle That Doesn’t Leak
I can’t begin to tell you the number of books I’ve ruined because some flimsy bottle of water has sprung open in my day pack. I ended up binning a half read Shantaram on the platform of Hyderabad train station after discovering it too had been leaked on during transit, and its 800+ pages had swelled to the size of a small apartment. Thus, a well sealable water bottle seems to be quite an investment.
2. Travel Sleeping Bag
Every year hundreds of young people stay in hostels around the world. By their very nature, these hostels attract those on a budget. And those on a budget, by their very nature, aren’t known for washing particularly thoroughly, especially if said hostels have less than adequate shower facilities. Those same hostels may also cut corners on things like clean bed sheets. I once spent an entirely uncomfortable night in Shanghai being eaten alive by bed bugs. The easy solution is a travel sleeping bag! These clever things pack down so small they’ll hardly take up any space at all in your bag, and yet they come into their own when you need something comfortable and bug proof to sleep on. You’ll pick a decent one up in any good outdoorsy sort of shop. It’ll be worth every penny.
A no brainer, frankly. You’re going to be sharing a hostel room with several other boys and / or girls. Boys and / or girls snore. They get in late. Their phones keep ringing. They set alarms for 6am and then ignore them for a good 45 minutes. Get yourselves some earplugs, and save yourself the hassle of having to wake them up.
Back in India, I made some of the best friends I met on the whole trip simply by virtue of the fact that I had several packs of Imodium going spare. If you get the shits, you need imodium. If you don’t, someone near you will. Someone’s going to get the shits at some point. That’s life, that’s travelling. Make sure you’re prepared when they do.
…………Look I’m not going to add anything more. You know what I’m getting at. Just take them. Yep? Girls too. If nothing else you can blow them up and use them for amusing party games.