As we approach the 12 month anniversary of us casting off from the portside of Bari, Italy towards the new adventures of full-time travel; we’ve begun to think about the typical things people talk about on the completion of their first year of travelling around the world. Some talk about what they’ve learnt about themselves during that time, for others it’s a time to reflect on the people and places they’ve left behind back home, for others it’s presents the perfect opportunity to pass on their knowledge of handy travel hints such as ‘500 Amazing Unmissable Things You’d Be Damned Without On Your Packing List‘.
Well, to hell with your packing list.
When we came back from our trip to Venice in 2011 the only thing on our minds was ‘travel, travel, travel’ and it became the only thing we’d be reading about online.
We’d be on travel blogs everyday reading the opinions of the travel bloggers who were just getting started through to the reviews of products and techniques by some of the biggest names in the travel blogging world.
“You MUST pack this”
“I wouldn’t be caught dead without this in my bag!”
All of it was reading as the best advice possible, that by using – and perhaps combining – all of these varying styles and packing lists we could come up with the biggest and best list that’s ever been! *insert applause*
We could make the best minimal-digital-adventure-luxury-budget packing list and laugh in the faces of those we see lumbered down with heavy backpacks with plastic bags of shoes tied to the outside and a extra suitcase on wheels in both hands.
Packing Adventures, Not Lists
What we’ve come to realise from our experiences is that there is no perfect packing list. There is no secret to getting the most (or the least) into your backpack to live your new travelling lifestyle to the full. What makes your new lifestyle incredible are the things you do, not the things you pack.
Sure, go and read our packing list from our beginning last year and get an idea for what we thought was good to take with us, but don’t allow it to guide you too much. Allow your comfort and own preferences to govern you because at the end of the day, if you’re not comfortable, you may never relax enough to let the world sink into your skin and allow the the people and the country you’re in to connect with you.
If you’re more comfortable walking for eight straight hours in an old pair of trainers rather than a heavy and sweaty pair of hiking boots, great! Pack ‘em! That’s what I do.
Not because anyone told me to, but because I’m more relaxed that way, because I want to feel and to see the world as I would do at home – in a t-shirt, a pair of jeans and my old comfortable slipper-like trainers – because that’s how I’m most at ease.
Why must I change the way I dress and the way I pack just because I’m changing location?
Pack that hairdryer if you want it.
You know it weighs more, but you’ll be happier and less reliant on finding one at your next hotel or hostel. If the weight worries you, sacrifice something else if needs be. Those two spare plugs for ‘just in case!’, bin ‘em, and anything else you feel as unnecessary.
Carry five heavy paperbacks if you want them. I do.
Sure, I could buy an e-book reader and save myself the strain of carrying those huge, heavy and bulky things from one city to the next as I take three months to read them all – but I love my paperbacks.
Pack a laptop, not a netbook if you’d prefer. I wish I had.
Don’t get me wrong, having a netbook has certainly had it’s advantages weightwise during our travels, and being able to just pop something onto my lap whilst on a long bus journey to somewhereville has had it’s advantages too; but I miss my laptop
I miss being able to navigate and work on the web at speed, not the labour intensive and mind numbingly slow “I could have written this in marble faster” speed of my netbook.
No matter how heavy your backpack becomes, if you’ve bought a good quality backpack and made sure to get instruction from whoever’s selling it to you on the best way to wear it to protect your spine; have no worry.
Packing List Version 13.7.13
If this was the beginning and we were just about to leave, I think we’d both do it differently and we think you should too, and I’m not saying don’t go and read more packing lists – I guess it’s part of the fun of preparing for your own travels to see the lists of others – just be sure to pack to your own list, not setting the lists of others as goals as your own.
Just pack comfortably, pack for your interests and for your needs.