Thursday, 31 January 2013

Travel essentials

Top Ten Travel Essentials 

Over the years I have developed a list of items which I cannot afford not to pack for any trip.
They have helped me out of scrapes and been a comfort and a friend in times of need.

Wind up torch
Batteries can be a problem. Buying them repeatedly after you got some dodgy ones from a market or leaking acid and ruining your bag. Therefore a wind up torch is essential. LED lights make them powerful and the lack of batteries saves you time trying to haggle for ridiculously overpriced fake batteries in the dodgiest of markets.

World receiver radio
Sometimes you may be out of phone signal area or away from TVs computers and the like. Therefore to get your fix of world news from the trusted ally that is the BBC world service; invest in a small world receiver with fold out aerial.
I have a little one that has lasted for years and whether I was deep in the Sahara or heading up a river in West Africa or even sitting watching the waves lap against the shore in Cambodia. A world receiver will bring you news of home, sports results and potential difficulties that may lie ahead of you.
Sometimes hearing a British accent after so long away from one can lift the spirits if you are rather down.

Two good books
Never take just one. Take two that are completely different and I do not include guidebooks in with this. Take a novel that can transport your mind away from where you are and another that is more factual and keeps your brain working. Sometimes when travelling journeys can take days or longer. The repetitiveness of being on the move can numb your head. Therefore a good book can save you from boredom and repetition.
But don’t lose yourself in them and ignore all that is around you.
Also they become a second currency to swap things for once you have finished with them.

The problems with an ipod is that they need charging. So do similar MP3 players. Sometimes however you need to blur out the world around you and listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast.
It helps you sleep when all around you is going mad and can calm the nerves. Music is a great emotive power. It can make you happy, sad, melancholy or excitable.

Everyone likes being barefoot, but sometimes you just can’t risk it. Flip flops, thongs, jandals whatever you call them are brilliant for making you feel the elements on your feet but protecting you all the same. They are remarkably robust and comfortable. Easy to wash, pack and go with jeans, shorts or even if you are naked.

Converse all stars
Possibly the best all round shoes on the planet. I have ran in these, climbed mountains, walked through deserts and trudged the streets of many cities.
Easy to dry, hard wearing and bloody comfortable.
Comes in so many colours and high or low tops and even a thin sole range.

Pillow case
Forget taking ages to inflate a travel pillow only for you to find it too hard or too noisy. Pack an old pillow case and fill it with jumpers, t shirts and stuff like that. Quick easy and comfortable.
I added a Velcro line on mine to stop all the insides spewing out. Always useful if you are in a hostel and you don’t like the look of the stains on the provided pillow cases or camping.

A good camera
It does not matter how eloquent or elaborate when describing something you saw in your travels a picture will always explain it better to those less imaginative. It also captures a moment in time and can be emotive and brings back all the smells, feelings and excitement of when it was taken.
Try and get a good robust camera. I use the Olympus tough TG-820. The previous one came to a sad end at the hands of a bull in Pamplona. But out of the three Olympus toughs that I have owned two had been outstanding. Waterproof, shock resistant and sand resistant.

Rugby shirt
Warm, tough and smart. One essential piece of clothing for any eventuality. You can look good on a night out, rugged in the desert and manly on safari. Also it shows you have a rugby knowledge and it is a conversational starter. A plain or dark coloured one is preferable and cotton rather than synthetic.

Notebook and pencils
Where would I be without something o make a note on and with. Pens dry up and leak but the pencil is an age old tool that can help you record all that happened, what was said and even sketches.

Sharpens pencils, digs splinters out of your feet, cuts rope to fix a tent and makes you feel manly when carrying one.
A good Swiss army knife can be essential when travelling. But don’ t do what I did and forget that it was in your hand luggage and get it all the way to Changi airport in Singapore and then cause a security scare when they find it!

Of course there are other essentials such as a watch, maps, mobile phone in case of emergencies. But these are  the essentials which I will never travel without.

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