Yes, that’s me doing one of those annoying travel star jumps in the picture above. I swear I didn’t mean to… it just… happened, somehow. I think I was intending to perform some sort of dance move, but now, unwittingly, I have joined the realms of annoying people who do travel star jumps. I’m not even sorry.
“Do you make money from your blog?” a person recently asked us. We laughed. Ten hits on a good day does not a cash cow make. “We’re funded by donations on our blog,” the person continued.
“I don’t think we deserve donations,” I replied, “Our travel is for completely selfish reasons.”
Admittedly, so is this blog. It’s just an account of what we did and how we did it, which isn’t exactly contributing to the greater good of mankind. But maybe – just maybe – this post can be of use to somebody. It’s part dumb philosophy, part practical travel gear advice.
Before Caroline and I left New Zealand we separated all our worldly possessions into three piles:
– Things to get rid of
– Things to store with family
– Things to take on our adventure
Our biggest pile (by far) was the things to get rid of. Nearly a lifetime of collected CDs were sold in bulk. The van was sold. Furniture. Clothes. Appliances. Plants. Artwork. Books. Musical instruments. If we couldn’t sell it, we gave it away. If we couldn’t give it away, we threw it away.
The storage pile was mostly records and a record player, a few bits of artwork, my precious snare drum and cymbals, and a box of thick clothing marked ‘warm box’. My Tabla and Caroline’s classical guitar were dumped in Malaysia at Caroline’s family home.
Was it difficult to get rid of a lifetime’s worth of accumulated crap? Was it painful? Liberating? Earth shattering? Perception altering? Good? Bad?
It just was.
I suppose I could recommend selling the bulk of your worldly possessions, but don’t do it for any sort of euphoria or deep sense of purpose or enlightenment. Do it simply to understand that you can, and to realise that your life won’t be that much different afterwards. For me this seems easy, but then I’ve never really been a hoarder.
And so here is what’s left. My travel gear. I try to choose good quality, long-lasting, very lightweight stuff, and I haven’t regretted any of it.
44-litre Osprey Talon backpack (I chopped off several metres of unnecessary straps to make it a tiny bit lighter)
A tough little brown shoulder bag, handmade by a Malaysian company called Greenroom 136. The strap is an old seatbelt.
Everything I carry (listed below) fits inside these two bags.
INSIDE THE BROWN SHOULDER BAG
This bag contains everything that I might need to access quickly. Passports, kindle, notebook & pens, wallet & phone.
The little black pouch that says ‘ReSound’ contains headphones and ear plugs.
The green pouch is one of the greatest travel things ever: the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack. A 30-litre backpack that compresses into a miniscule package.
Two sets of shorts & t-shirts, a warm merino thermal top, waterproof jacket and pants (NZ company Earth Sea Sky), hat, long pants, socks & gruts. I also have a long-sleeved shirt, not pictured.
Immensely useful is the light blue Turkish towel, given to us by a couchsurfing friend. I’ve no idea where you could buy one, although Turkey might be a sensible place to start looking.
All of this stuff, as well as the clothes, fit inside the blue Osprey bag:
An ultralight, 2-person tent. The Tarptent Double Rainbow
Two tiny clothes lines
An ultralight down quilt (like a sleeping bag) made by Enlightened Equipment
Silk liner (handy in a hot country on a grotty bed)
Ultralight inflatable sleeping mat. NeoAir Xlite
Special mention for the head torch. This is far more useful that I ever would have guessed!
Hiking shoes (I have sandals, which I normally wear. The hiking shoes fit inside my bag quite easily)
Book for practicing Burmese (the one language I’m actually trying to learn)
Rain jacket for the entire bag
Toiletries bag (red)
Tech bag (white)
10″ Android laptop
External hard drive
Bag of plugs for everything
Universal power adaptor
Last but not least, a small waterproof bag with all the important documents, passport photos, spare batteries, and bandaids.
Caroline’s gear looks very similar, but where I carry a tent and a computer, she carries a waterproof camera case, flamenco shoes, and a yoga mat. Her main bag is a rather fetching 40-litre pack from the NZ company, Cactus Outdoor.
I once read a great rule to avoid accumulating more junk as you travel. The rule is simple: if you buy something, you must throw something away. Size doesn’t matter, but when you get down to having only necessary items, you begin to think long and hard before you buy something new
Note. None of the companies or manufacturers I mentioned above are paying me to write this. However, if they do happen to be reading, we will gladly accept cash.
Thanks Hayley for giving me the idea for this post.