The key to being a backpacker is traveling light.
You can spend lots of money on fancy camping apparel or you can be smart about it.
A good theory is to take half of what you packed initially and twice the money you budgeted. We all know that is not going to happen but here are some ideas for the road that will make for a better experience.
My top ten list of backpacker essentials:
- Digital camera. Taking photos is a great way to enhance your trip. It is free and can become a fantastic hobby. When those memories fade the photos will bring them back.
- Sarongs. These have many uses, are cheap and take up almost no space. They can be a towel, beach blanket, dirty laundry sack, window curtain and new ones can make a great souvenir.
- Travel Insurance. In most cases you can deal with sickness and injuries locally. No one likes to think about it but if something goes really wrong, getting you home can set you back many thousands of dollars. Having this insurance means that in a life or death situation, you get to live. Woo Hoo!
- Cargo shorts/pants. You will be carrying more than normal on the road. Having a place for your camera, Ipod, water bottle etc is essential and these pants have nice big pockets.
- Money belt. These get sweaty and you will need to clean them regularly, so a second one is a great idea. Having all your essentials hidden away from prying hands and eyes is key. Do not go into the money belt in public unless you have to. Keep your daily cash somewhere else.
- Sunscreen. This is an essential item even if you think you won’t get sunburnt. I learned this the hard way. Don’t go anywhere without it.
- Insect Repellent. If you don’t want the mosquito’s to make a meal out of you then I suggest you spray it on or rub it on, along as you are covered, and they don’t make you their buffet dinner.
- Deck of cards. To use while having a few drinks with new friends and of course entertainment for those many hours on the road.
- Sunglasses. It is a buffer between you and all those people that want something from you in your new destination. It can be spooky in a new place and your eyes can tell a lot to a pack of evil taxi drivers or people trying to sell you something at the packed market.
- Flashlight. Don’t ever be left in the dark again. Great for camping out and a good precaution when you are staying in a campsite with no electricity.
It is important to remember that you can buy things as you travel. You might not find that cherry flavoured toothpaste you love or that shampoo that your stylist recommends but hey, you are on the road and that is what the experience of travel is all about.
For backpacker and overlanding advice and information contact the team at OverlandingAfrica.com or post your comments below.