Deciding what to take…

One of the things we’ve found most useful in preparing for our trip is reading websites and other travellers’ blogs to get an idea of what to take with us. One of our favourites has been www.travelindependent.info which has loads of information on what you should and shouldn’t bother packing and why, as well as some good product recommendations.

A great blog that we’ve been following closely which has some brilliant preparation tips, not only for packing but also for budgeting and general planning is www.neverendingvoyage.com. These guys are travelling indefinitely and have managed to pack all their belongings into one 35l and one 40l rucksack which is just incredible!!

Whilst we admire the philosophy behind packing light and the discipline involved in taking a bag small enough to carry as hand luggage, we knew we’d never be able, or more accurately, willing, to be so ruthless. We’re too vain (Leah) and too gadget-obsessed (Rich) to manage with just the bare essentials. So for us it was important to strike the right balance between a bag that was manageable and taking the little luxuries that would make roughing it…well…less rough!

35l was a little too ambitious for us so we opted for matching his and hers Berghaus Verdens which at 45+8l are still a lot smaller than a lot of people take for long term travel. Another great buy, and a tip which we picked up from both the above sources, was several sets of packing cubes which help to organise your stuff and condense your clothes so they take up less space.

The next step was to lay out everything we were taking and weigh it all so that we knew how much we had to carry and where we needed to lose some weight. Our target was 11kg each and after the initial weigh-in we were up at nearly 13kg so we needed to get rid of 4kg somewhere!! The first things to go were the guidebooks – a massive 1.5kg . We already have Kindles but have found reference books a little challenging as you tend to flip from one section to another and back again which is not that easy on an electronic device. But with our Kindles and netbook combined we were sure we’d manage so the books were dumped.

Next to face the cull was the toiletries – by far the heaviest items. Out went all the non-essentials and the medical kit got a trimming too. Once we’d dumped some clothes and streamlined the shoes we were ready to pack up our bags. We’re now at 12kg each – certainly not the lightest we could have been but the best balance for us. We’re lucky that we’re coming back to London for a couple of days after our three months in Asia so if we find it’s still too much or if there are things we just don’t use, we can dump them before heading on to South America.

So for those of you that are interested, and because these lists were invaluable to us, here’s the full rundown of what we’re taking. Like we said, it’s by no means the least amount possible so please bear that in mind and don’t judge us!!!

LEAH

As anybody who knows me will tell you, I have about enough clothes to wear a different outfit every day for a year. Well, maybe not quite that many, but you get the idea. So for me, one of the most difficult aspects of packing light was choosing what clothes to take and what to leave behind.

In order to maximise the clothes that I’m bringing with me I’ve adopted a very simple philosophy: layering. This means I won’t have to bring anything big and bulky, even for the colder weather we’ll be facing on some parts of our trip, and can mix and match clothes depending on the climate. For example, all the dresses I’ve packed can be worn on their own when it’s hot, with a t-shirt underneath when it’s a bit chillier, with a cardigan in the evening, or over a polo neck with leggings or tights when it gets really cold.

I could still have cut down more – there’s no way I need five dresses and I could have easily ditched a pair of trousers and a few tops, but for the time being I’m happy with what I’ve got. I’ll see how I get on in Asia and then if I change my mind I can always get rid of more stuff during the London pit stop. One thing I realised when packing our stuff is that girls’ clothes are much smaller and lighter than boys’ so I have a definite advantage over Richard!!!

Clothes

  • 3 x trousers
  • 2 x shorts
  • 5 x dresses
  • Leggings
  • 6 x vests
  • 2 x t-shirts
  • 3 x long sleeve tops
  • 2 x shirts
  • 3 x bras
  • Sports bra
  • 8 x underwear
  • 4 x socks
  • 2 x bikinis
  • Hoodie
  • Waterproof jacket

Shoes

Other

  • Sarong
  • Day bag
  • Small make up bag with a few basics, plus a couple of bits of jewellery and some hairbands/clips etc.
  • Sunglasses
  • 2 x spectacles
  • Contact lenses + 1 bottle of solution

For South America only (where it will be cold at times!)

  • Polo neck jumper
  • 2 x 60 denier tights
  • Woolly hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves

RICH

Clothes

  • Jeans
  • 2 x cargo trousers
  • Shorts
  • Fisherman’s pants
  • 4 x t-shirts
  • 3 x long sleeve tops
  • 1 x shirts
  • 6 x pants
  • 6 x socks
  • Swimming trunks
  • Hoodie
  • Waterproof jacket

Shoes

 

Other

  • Sarong
  • Day bag
  • Sunglasses

For South America only (where it will be cold at times!)

  • Thermal long sleeve t-shirt
  • Long johns
  • Woolly hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves

 

BOTH

 

Essentials

  • 2 x passports
  • Vaccination cards
  • Passport photos
  • Cash (small amount)
  • Credit card
  • Travel money card (as back up)
  • Driving licence

Toiletries

  • 2 x travel towels
  • 2 x Lush shampoo bars (a great tip from our friends at Never Ending Voyage)
  • 2 x toothbrushes, Toothpaste
  • 2 x stick deodorant
  • Body lotion, Face cream
  • Anti-frizz leave-in conditioner (Leah)
  • Hair mud (Rich)
  • Razor (Leah), Electric Shaver (Rich)
  • Suncream
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Insect repellent
  • Nail scissors, Tweezers
  • Comb
  • Wet wipes
  • Medical kit

Gadgets (Rich)

 

Early on I decided I was not going to be happy, regardless where I was in the world, unless I had some gadgets to keep me company.

Initially this was to be a simple, low cost netbook, but then we decided it would be rather nice if we could watch a few TV shows or movies en route so I bought an Asus netbook. It was useless. Video skipped, applications crashed under the slightest strain. It went back to Amazon for a prompt refund.

So I went back to the drawing board and ended up with an Acer Ferrari One netbook. It is without a doubt the most hideous personal computer available on Amazon (unless you’re Italian). Its ‘almost’ Ferrari red case and badge with accompanying racing tyre feet and ‘revving’ sound effect on start-up is an Olympic example of terrible co-branding. I’ve covered the whole thing in grey duct tape.

It is however a bloody good laptop – fast, light and can handle almost all current software…which got me thinking…

So, to accompany the laptop I’ve decided to bring along a small external soundcard and portable midi controller. Together with software Traktor, Ableton and Reason I’m going to have a blast. An extra 1/2 kg to my rucksack but I’m not budging, it’s coming. I will attempt to upload a few videos later in the trip.

We’re also taking a Wowee travel speaker, which is a mono speaker but packs a massive vibration unit which adds some unexpected bass to any music. It charges via USB so also a better option than a battery hungry alternative.

Music on the go will be two Sandisk MP3 players and a fistful of 4 GB micro cards.

 

Miscellaneous

  • 2 x sleeping bag liners
  • Torch
  • Small notebook
  • Playing cards
  • Alarm clock
  • Power adaptor
  • 2 x small padlocks
  • Earplugs
  • 2 x eye masks
  • 2 x travel pillows
  • Sewing kit
  • Penknife
  • Wet sack

One month to go!!!

It’s finally November. Just 28 days until we set off on our trip. Only four more weeks of the daily grind until we say goodbye to the grey skies of England and head off into the proverbial sunset. This time next month we’ll be lying back in our hammocks whilst our fellow Londoners embark on the annual torment of Xmas shopping madness. As they fight over the frozen turkeys we’ll be sipping cocktails with the waves lapping gently at our feet.

Alas, it’s also only four more weeks of English pubs, Sunday roasts, and dare we say it, Saturday night TV. But most of all, it’s only four more weeks with the people that make England home – our friends and family, those nearest and dearest who will be in our thoughts as we set off on our travels.

And so, since there is not room in our luggage to take you with us, this will be our way of sharing our experience with you and anyone else who cares to follow us on our way. But for now, it’s back to the grindstone, for there are still four more weeks to go…

Rich & Leah