So you’ve got 6 months and a round-the-world ticket. The glaring question is obvious: What are you going to pack? The answer: As little as possible. Over 6 months, you’re likely to see lots of different climates and conditions, so it’s impossible to bring everything you’ll need. It’s inevitable that you’ll need to pick things up along the way – like a cheap fleece jacket to hike the lower hills of the himalayas that you can give away before you head back to the tropics. So here’s a quick run-down of the few things that made it through the entire trip and proved indispensable:
- The Backpack – Of course. This one was $100 bucks from REI’s online outlet store. What would we do with out them? I could afford to get a sizable pack, being 6’3″ but it could be cumbersome at times, particularly on crowded train rides.
- The Shirt – Normally, I have a big problem spending $60 on a shirt. But this long-sleeved Columbia moisture-wicking bad boy proved invaluable. It’s comfortable in any climate and was the only article of clothing to make it through the ordeal. It’s still perfect today.
- The Water Filter – Just because water’s bottled doesn’t mean it’s safe. In India, almost NONE of the major bottled water brands pass EU quality standards. Our model was a little convoluted though, and I think we got some mold in one of our tubes, find the most compact, simple, yet effective filter you can.
- The Money Belt – I don’t know that this actually would have deterred any real muggers, but it was good to have all the essentials against my skin at all times, especially for scatter-brained travelers like your truly.
- Headlamp – Essential for late nights, especially after too much local whiskey.
- Sleeping gear – We picked up a lightweight blanket and a sleeping sheet in India, and they stayed with us the rest of the way, it’s amazing how any uses there are for a good ol’ rectangle of fabric. We also lugged around a mosquito net for peace of mind.
- Sunscreen – Duh.
- Drugs – No not those kind of drugs. That’s a bad idea, especially in Malaysia (try on the death penalty for marijuana possession for size… not a real good fit, eh?) But a healthy supply of Cipro and anti-malarials can come in handy.
- Sandals – This is a vacation after all, right? I mean, you did plan to go to the beach, didn’t you?
- Locks – Of all sizes. A good (but not foolproof) deterrent for overnight bus and train rides.
- Towels – A locally purchased sarong or other lightweight cloth makes an ideal traveling towel.
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This certainly isn’t a comprehensive checklist, but it is the items that we soon found we didn’t want to do without. And for news geeks like me, add a short wave radio so you can tune into the BBC, even from the darkest jungles.