backpacking advice (what to take/what not to take)

Some disagree, but when I’m backpacking, synthetic fabrics are my friend. I love natural fibers, but cotton and wool are thick, heavy, and slow-drying. Denim jeans, cotton cordoroy trousers and wool jumpers are only for those who enjoy carrying things a lot more than I do.

By choosing nylon and polyester fabrics, I can travel indefinitely with 2 pair of trousers (at least one of which zips off to form shorts), 2 or 3 button-up shirts, 2 or 3 T-shirts, and 3 or 4 pair of underwear. If the weather might be cool, I wear shoes instead of hiking sandals, so I add 3 or 4 pair of socks. A polyester fleece pullover and a thin nylon zip-up jacket, worn separately or together, for outerwear. (Obviously not enough for truly cold climates, but for my travels, it’s always worked beautifully.) I always look neat and clean, though maybe not fashionable. Like calm kiwi’s friend, all my travel clothes look the same.

I wash my clothes in the hotel room sink, every other day or so. Wash them at night, and by the time I get up, unless I’m in a monsoon, they’re dry enough to wear or pack. They don’t look pressed, exactly, but synthetics tend not to wrinkle much. If they aren’t perfectly dry, I wear them anyway. It’s uncomfortable for about one minute, and then I forget about it.

When I backpack, often the only cotton I carry is a couple of bandanas. Even my underwear is polyester–I found some special “travel” underwear that help prevent fungus (an important consideration in the tropics), and they dry almost before I hang them up. (By the way, a length of nylon line for hanging clothes is handy, too.)

Here is a link and here is another that might help you. I don’t agree with all of their advice, but some of it is very good. For example, I no longer insist on carrying my bag on the aircraft, because it precludes carrying my trusty Swiss Army knife. Still, some good stuff there.

I agree with HomeSlice about the security pouch to wear under the shirt. The ones that go around the waist under the clothes may be more secure, but they are also more uncomfortable and difficult to access. The usual advice for travellers is to pack half as much stuff and twice as much money as you think you’ll need. Unless you’re far from civilization, everything you really need can be bought locally. In fact you can acquire some interesting souvenirs that way.

Safe travels, and have fun!

I know you have resolved this already, but I have to chime in on the side of journaling while traveling. Especially if you are traveling alone, having a journal to write in while sitting at a cafe drinking beer/wine/coffee/tea is a great thing. Good way to cement the trip in your memory as well.

And the big bonus is, six years after your trip, when you pull out the journal and re-read it, you will remember exactly the way the sun hit the cathedral down the road as you drank your second hefeweisen and ate a wonderful soft pretzel as you filled in the details of the fantastic breakfast the hostel served you and every other bit of the day up to that moment.
~~lea; wishing she was going back to Europe soon.

I’d take a copy of Lord of the Rings book two, in case you ever need some encouragement if you get lost. And bear spray.