“I am going away to an unknown country where I shall have no past and no name, and where I shall be born again with a new face and an untried heart.”
There are hundreds, no, thousands of blog entries giving just about the same advice: travel light, pack enough underwear… But here are a few useful tips most blogs don’t include.
-Don’t bring excess hairbands, shampoo, toothpaste… You can get all that where you are going, and if you are going to a developing country, it will be a lot cheaper there than back home.
-Don’t bring clothes, or at least not more than an outfit or two, and plan to buy more wherever you are headed. For instance in India and Nepal the girls wear lovely suits that you will surely want to buy as they will help you fit in, plus they are comfortable and beautiful. Wearing “trekking” backpacker clothes everyday certainly gets old when you are on the road long term.
-Antibiotics. Don’t worry about bringing them. Though it is a good idea to have a few different medicines with you, you can get them here for much cheaper without a prescription.
-Bring flip flops or saddles. I have never understood why tourists walk around in their large clunky hiking boots when they don’t need to. Seriously, a pair of Birkenstocks or flip flops is well worth the weight.
-Bring ear plugs. I don’t care how much you hate the idea of sleeping with something jammed in your ear, you will thank me after a week of sleepless nights once you realize that they are an absolute must in some parts of the world.
-For long term travelers, a good way to ensure memory cards or other small items you want safely shipped back home arrive is to send them back via tourists. You will meet others from your country on shorter holiday who can send the items onto your address once they get back home. That way you don’t have to deal with having your valuables stolen by postal corruption.
-Maps and guide books are expansive (plus, in my opinion, quite unnecessary) so exchanging them with other travelers moving through the continent in the opposite direction is a good money saving idea.
-On that same note, rely on other travelers and locals to direct you rather than your guide book! Following someone else’s laid out plan is definitely not as fun, exciting, or culturally instructive as creating your own. Trust me, being slightly lost is sometimes the best way to live.