Are you planning to travel soon? With the Working Holiday Visa scheme? You’re packing your heavy backpack and you’re wondering « what the hell did I forget to put in my bag? », exactly like I did 8 months ago?
This blog post is made for you. Especially if you’re a solo woman traveller.
ADVICE NUMBER ONE
Mate here’s my first advice: remove everything you already put in your bag and only take the half of it. You’ll probably thank me later because there is nothing worse than being overpacked while travelling. And I know exactly what I’m talking about since I’m trying to light my backpack for 7 months now. You don’t need 42 knickers, nor lots of T-shirts. You will be able to wash/buy clothes on the way if you really need to. I promise. And all of this gear that you’re planning to carry around? Believe me, you won’t need it.
MY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to travel as a tourist, a backpacker, a camper or an expat, you will eventually thank me for bringing those 8 things with you. It implies also that you already have a backpack/suitcase with a First Aid Kit inside and that you have hiking/tramping shoes on your feet. That’s kind of the travel basics!
- A USB power bank
Do you know this awkward moment when you’re off for a day walk or a 3 days hike and in front of you there’s the best sunset ever and your camera just chose this exact moment to die, out of battery? This won’t happen with a USB charger (as long as it’s charged, of course), and you’ll be able to charge your camera or your phone whenever you are. Of course, it implies that you thought about bringing an adaptor plug with you.
- Baby Wipes
Because with baby wipes you can remove your make up, wash yourself when you smell like a dead corpse, dishwash your cutlery, wipe your hands, wipe your feet, wipe your ass, anyway you get to be clean even when the facilities are not this good.
- A Meluna Cup
Goodbye tampons, goodbye sanitary towels, say hello to the menstrual cup ! No kidding, this is surely the women travelers best friend, and you’ll soon forget how distressful it was to have your period. You can keep it for about 12 hours, you won’t feel it (at all, I promise), you’ll save some money and some space in your backpack. Moreover, you won’t be afraid to have your period while you’re camping in the middle of nowhere anymore. Seriously, GIRL, if there’s ONE thing you have to try in your life, this is it. And this (french) video might achieve to convince you. (You’re welcome.)
That’s the best thing in the world if you want to relax your feet after a hiking day (this also implies that you have hiking shoes. If not, you’d better buy some as soon as possible) or if you just want to avoid mycoses in the backpacker’s showers. Flip Flops don’t weight anything and won’t take a lot of space in your bag. Most of all, if you want to go swimming in the sea or at the lake, and there are BLOODY ROCKS all over the beach, you’ll be more than happy to put your fip flops and run like a crazy dog (except if you’re a kiwi guy, then you won’t care at all because you’re even used to go to PackNSave bare feet).
- A Microfiber Towel
It doesn’t matter if you bring one, two or five towels with you, as long as they are made of microfibers. You’ll save a lot of space in your bag and most of all, it’s drying very quickly. This towel will become your best friend, especially if you are always on the road. A little towel can even be used for dishwashing.
- A Head Lamp
Because you need a torch anyway, so it better has to be a headlamp. This way, you’ll be ready for kiwi birds hunting, night tramping, night peeing at the campsite, making an evening BBQ at the beach or reading your novel before going to bed in a 6 people dorm. If you have the choice, better choose the one that can switch to red light so you won’t frighten the kiwi birds away.
- A Sewing Kit
Honestly, the sewing kit is the broken backpacker’s best friend. Since you’re spending your days walking, tramping, hiking, your socks will soon look like some dead possum on the highway. Same with your leggings that ripped while you were Geocaching. You surely don’t want to buy new bloody socks for the hell of it. And even if Cotton On is a nice clothing store, you don’t want to spend your money on new clothes. Better sew this little hole in your top. For a better sewing kit, add some nappy pins!
- A Whistle/Compas combo
Because this little bloody key holder that I bought 2€ at Decathlon (to have a nice key holder hung up on my bag) ACTUALLY SAVED MY LIFE, when I was lost in the Northland Sand Dunes. Never underestimate your own ability to get lost, in which case this whistle/compass would become your best travel companion. You can follow a specific direction while whistling around to say ‘hello, I’m lost, please help me’. It can also be helpful when you think that it would surely be awesome to see the sunset right here and then realise that you’re actually looking south-east, in which case you can forget about your beautiful sunset.
AND THOSE COOL THINGS WHICH ARE NOT ESSENTIALS BUT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
- A Thermos
Because I love (and that’s a euphemism) to drink tea. And when it’s winter time and you’re tramping all day outside, you can really enjoy your hot tea with your sandwich/sweet break. Useful tips: you can put your panties inside when it’s dry and clean to gain some space in your backpack. (Yes. I know.)
- A Lush’s Solid Shampoo Bar
This one will be smaller and will last longer than a disgusting Fructis bottle. And there are Lush shops almost everywhere in the world now. I advice you do the same with your soap, don’t clutter yourself with some Petit Marseillais’s bottle, and choose the solid one. You can also buy some plastic or metal container to put them in, but the frozen bags are also as well effective.
- Foxes/Super Heros Plasters
In your First Aid Kit (yes, you have to have one), it’s definitely much more fun if there’s Hulk smiling at you on your plasters. Don’t you think ?
- A Totoro Tenugi
A Tenugi is a kind of japanese tea towel. This one was offered by Keiko, Noriko’s daughter while I was tarvelling Japan. It’s always with me, wherever I go. It’s soft, small, and easy to bring everywhere. It’s useful to wipe dishes, wipe your face, or wipe your feet after putting them into the sea/ocean/lake/waterfalls, like I do. And there are Totoro patterns on mine.
Forget about jeans. They’re heavy, take a lot of space and an eternity to dry. Leggings would be like tights under your skirt/shorts and would allow you to cross rivers while tramping. It’s also way easier to go camping with leggings than jeans. Moreover, if you’re going to do a shitty job like picking or dishwashing, leggings would be way more comfortables. It’s even possible that, after few months of wanderlust, you won’t care anymore about being fashionable and will use your leggings as pants (no way!!). Yes. Believe me. Everything’s possible.
- A Travel Book
My travel book was actually a gift from a british couchsurfer, Helen, who I was hosting back in Strasbourg. We had a wonderful time together. This gift means a lot to me, like a symbol. I’ve been writing loads of stories, sticking backpackers’ business cards, maps, museum entry tickets, scribbling names, songs, places to see. It’s now full of 8 months travelling New Zealand. I’ve also been writing another one while I was in Japan. This other one was a gift from my best friend Cynthia, which I had sent back to France to my mum’s in a Nippon Memories Box. I mean it, you’ll have to have at least a notebook to write down your stuffs, like some travellers e-mails or phone numbers, hiking advices, jobs, etc. And don’t forget to have a pen. That might help.
What about you ?
Which gear would you see as a travel essential ?