In 2001 I packed a bag which was to do me for a long, long time. Months of travel which ended up spanning into years. Now as I begin a further stage on the Virtually Nomadic world adventure below are 10 things I brought with me THIS TIME which I might not have brought with me the first time; or more specifically did not put as much value on.
I realise now their importance in bettering my experience while travelling.
We all love music. We all know its power when it comes to affecting mood. However, I didn't fully realise the immense power music could have in changing how I saw the world, until I went traveling. Great music can offer patience when stuck or comfort when feeling low. Strolling the streets of a new city with a favourite album banging through your head can be a most wonderful and enjoyable experience. Music will help you walk longer and distract you from what may be an exhausted body. When feeling low it has the ability to transform a somewhat empty dorm or apartment into something familiar and homely. I now happily pay my €10 per month for Spotify. I also take the selection and creation of playlists of my iPhone very seriously, as I never know when they will be needed to change my mood or situation.
Following on from the actual music, this time around I have bought myself a proper pair of bluetooth headphones. Basically the same point as above, but walking streets, roaming temples or simply people watching with good sound without wires hanging all over you helps you stay relaxed, calm and focused. All important when travelling.
I know, I know, more music, but last one. Bluetooth speakers have now come on leaps and bounds and so throwing a little rugged blue tooth speaker in your bag will most definately come in handy. More importantly when it does, it will bring life to whatever situation you are in. Whether hanging out in the yard of your hostel, chilling on a beach or perhaps just over looking the Yangshua mountain range in china with a few beers. What ever situation it may be, it always improves with a little of the Black Keys banging out.
This may be an obvious one, but it is the reasoning behind having one that has changed. You need it incase it rains heavily. Myself and Tim have been caught a few times in thunderstorms. On boats when it has began raining or hiking and have been caught with our laptops. Yes, they are inside our bags, but when your bag is soaked through this can be of little help. Having your laptop inside a good, waterproof case while inside your backpack will give you that extra bit of comfort when traveling. Plus, get one that opens at the top so you don't have to keep taking it out of your bag.
This is of course a big purchase and so not one I can push too strongly. All I will say is Apple Care now covers you for 3 years. 2 years for most other products: iPods, iPads, iPhones, etc. Quite a lot of money but for quite a long time. Worth at least considering as for most of us this will be longer than the adventure we embark on and so nice to know that for your entire trip, no matter what idiotic things you attempt, your iPhone and macbook are covered.
Travel adaptors are something that you kind of couldn't be bothered spending your money on the first time you head off, but now with a bit of experience I know they are so handy. Buy a good, solid, international travel adaptor. They only cost around €15, but it will save you having to troll markets to buy cheap ones which will break - and the day it breaks will always be a bad day.
I never once bought a proper training top in my life before I headed off traveling and it was one of the best purchases I made. When at home I simply wore old tshirts. However packing 'old' tshirts to jog in seems ridiculous, so buy one good sports top you can sweat in, then throw in a sink and have it dry in 30 minutes. Nothing like going for a run in a new city, but you need a top you can wash and dry quickly.
Travelling means exploring and exploring means walking. No matter how fit you are we are not all used to walking hours and hours. No matter how beautiful or intrigued you are of a new place, if your feet are killing you it wont be as enjoyable. An annoying one to pack but one I'm always glad to have when hitting a new place. Walking hours each day for a few days in a row in flip flops ain't great.
If like myself and Tim you transform into forgetful idiots when out drinking than buy a cheap digital camera. Smart phones are now simply too f&*king expensive to be bringing on crazy nights out and more importantly you want to be able to throw it on the table, ask people to take photos, snap away and not care about loosing it. We have seen some beautiful places and things on our journey so far, but the best pictures we have are those from random crazy nights out when you meet the right people in the right mood and one beers turns into 3 days. The worst photos, the best memories.
I had never gave an audio book a go until I went travelling and now I'm addicted. I did judge them at the start and thought I probably wouldn't enjoy one, however I was very wrong. Audio books are not to replace a book and can't. Sitting and reading or reading in bed is nice. Audiobooks are not for these scenarios. They are for wandering aimlessly through streets, for waiting in queues or for bumpy bus rides. A good book is a good book. I once enjoyably listened to the whole of the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho while stuck in a Vietnam Visa queue. You never know when they will be of use, so have a few ready on your smartphone and if taking heed of tip number 2, you can start going through books like there is no tomorrow.
I hadn't really considered using anything else other than a backpack when I first set off. I'm going back-packing, I'm a bloke, I have to use a backpack right?
Well, in truth myself and Tim did very little back-packing. We have been traveling via bus, plane or train from place to place and always when walking, exploring, hiking etc was on the cards, we always managed to dump our bags somewhere. So after a while my backpack wasn't the best form of luggage for my travels. Arriving in new place it became annoying to always be dumping everything out on a bed to find a crumpled shirt or t-shirt. This time around I went for a large duffel type bag. Being 40 litres it is much larger than a backpack, has wheels which does come in handy but most importantly I can open my bag in a new place and see everything. Much, much better.
I won't push this too much as it is more of a personal one, but along the way I came across the Headspace meditation app. Sometimes you need a little help to find clarity and focus and I have found this little App helps.
Last but not least my trusty hip flask. It can be an ice breaker, a thank you without words or a stress reliever. Perhaps your flight gets cancelled or maybe you just find yourself lost from wandering. Maybe your just cold. Whatever the reason I have found having a wee, cheeky hip flask buried in the bottom of my bag for random occasions or emergencies is always a handy accompaniment.
Paul Feeney is a Brand Manager, SEO Specialist, Marketer and Designer who helps businesses increase traffic, attract more visitors, convert leads and close sales.
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