Monday, December 22, 2014

Leave That, Take This

It's finally here, the day you've been waiting for. Your stuff is all there, ready to go, it's been checked, and double checked, and unpacked and repacked 100 times in the last month, trying not to forget anything. You're about to leave but your your backpack wont shut, somethings wrong, shoot it just closed yesterday, you've got to leave something, but what?! Well you've got to bring your laptop, that's obvious, and your boom box, 7 pairs of shoes, duh. What about the comb, I could always get a new comb right? Ya leave the comb, take the shoes it'll all  be good, now if I could just find some place for this acoustic guitar...

When you're getting ready to travel, one of the biggest obstacles to figure out is, "Exactly what the f$%# am I gonna need?" You may be only leaving for a few months, or maybe even a few years, but the struggle is always the same, unless you travel like the Kardashians you come to the conclusion that you need to carry everything you own, in one backpack. So how do you do it? Can it even be done? Obviously theres no right, perfect way to pack, it's different for each person based on their needs and how long they're going for, but there's definitely a WRONG way to pack. So heres my little list from experience of what is absolutely essential, and what you should just throw back in storage. 

Don't Bring: A Computer
Before I left for Australia I was considering bringing my brand new Macbook Air with me, though I miss the large spacious keyboard and the sexy sleekness, it would have been a terrible mistake. Though most of the people you meet while traveling are friendly and inviting, there's always bound to be some rotten eggs, and nothing gets scum bags frothing like that little white apple. It's also a matter of convenience, ya it's great to have your computer, but when your constantly moving around and staying in different places all the time it's just one more thing to keep track of, and one that you definitely wouldn't want to lose. When it comes to electronics and travel my rule is if losing it would make me cry, probably don't bring it. 

Do Bring: A Tablet
The irony of this is of course now that I'm blogging for Elite Daily it would be 1000 times easier for word processing purposes if I had my laptop, but assuming your just traveling and blogging for fun, tablet is the way to go. I purchased my refurbished Ipad Mini for about $200 and bought a bluetooth keyboard on groupon for another $25. That being said I would still be pissed if I lost it, but not to the extent of heartbreak with my Macbook Air. Tablets are super cheap and affordable these days, and with wifi compatibility, its all you need to skype family and friends back home. Plus they are small and pretty durable depending on the brand, I carry mine with me in my day bag and it barely takes up any space at all. For some great places to get a cheap tablet check out the groupon app, or visit (www.overstock.com), they always have great deals on tech. 

Don't Bring: Your electric toothbrush
I made this mistake of originally bringing my $150 cybersonic, gum disease controling, 1000 rpm, tooth whitening system, with a total of about... one replacement head. My thought process was, "I'm going to a first world country, it'll be super easy to find replacements and charging will be a breeze." There's a few problems with that:
1. You never know where you'll be staying, I lived in a small beach town for two months where the closest grocery store was 30 minutes away.
2. Depending on where you stay you never know if you'll even have access to an outlet to charge that bad boy, and even if you do you'd probably risk infection by leaving it out in the open.
3. The rest of the world seemingly doesn't give a damn about dental hygiene. This is not a stereotype if it's true, yes the UK has the bad reputation but pretty much all of Europe needs to learn what floss is. So even if you do happen upon a bigger pharmacy or store, odds are they might not have your brand of 3000 watt replacement brush heads anyway.

Do Bring: Floss, mouthwash, etc. 
I didn't realize how important dental hygiene really was until I started traveling. This has nothing to do with the awesome people you meet and how great of human beings they may be, but for some reason the rest of the world doesn't seem to care about having pearly whites. Say what you will about Americans, we may be fat, dumb and lazy, but we paid $8000 for braces and another $2000 to get those SOB's bleached whiter than Michael Jackson! But in all honestly seeing the lack of care people give to their teeth that I've met, I'd implore you to stick with the basics but make sure you use all of them. Everyday I brush, floss, and use whitening mouthwash, and trust me, it makes a difference, and those throw away toothbrushes are cheap.

Don't Bring: A whole mess load of clothes
On the day I was leaving for my trip I felt pretty darn proud of myself. I had narrowed down my entire wardrobe for the next year (or more) to just under two dozen clothing items (between mostly shirts, jeans, shorts, jackets, etc.). I had read a lot of blogs about how to back, what to bring and what not to bring before hand and I thought I was pretty spot on. Five months later I've almost doubled my wardrobe, but I've been living in the same house so I haven't had to worry about stuffing it all back in my bag (it's not all gonna fit incase your wondering). The bottom line is no matter how little you bring, it's almost always too much if your bag is full when you walk out the door. It's super easy to find cheap clothes and cool tshirts in markets that you might have to turn down otherwise because you know you won't be able to fit them. My advice take half of what you think you need, wait a couple days then half that again. 

Do Bring: A whole bunch of undies (and socks)
The complete opposite of this holds true for underwear and socks. Not that it's impossible to find underwear and socks overseas, but I'm very particular about my underwear and socks, and just like back home they have a strange knack for going missing. Also, you'd be amazed how much wear and tear you can put on some undies and how many holes you'll get in your socks when you don't have a few dozen to "share the load" if you will. On a personal note I love atheltic briefs, they give you some breathing room, they're super comfy, and they dry extremely quick (something you take for granted until you have to use a clothes line.)

Don't Bring: Fancy hair, face and body products
Now I can't speak fully on this topic because currently I look like a hippie-jesus, cave man, but there was a time when I put a lot of thought and effort into my appearance. If you're only traveling for a few weeks or a few months, you can probably mostly ignore this advice, because you can probably scrape by using a little less makeup, or hair gel here and there. But for those of you going for the long haul I would advise that with the unpredictability of traveling, the desire to be perfectly quaffed and groomed, usually starts to fade away pretty quickly when you're on the road. This is not to say don't stick to the essentials (i.e. deodorant, maybe some foundation for the ladies) but realize in the grand scheme of things nobody really cares but you that you haven't washed your hair for a week. 

Do Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, and first aid kit
If you are planning on traveling to Australia especially this first one is a MUST! They have a freaking hole in the ozone here (like a real one not an Al Gore one), and they charge $16 a bottle for sunscreen because they can. I was outside riding my bike one day for about an hour in a tank top, and I couldn't fully move my lobster arms for about 3 days. The other ones are just convenient because it's not something you ever think about until you need it. You never agree to take a weekend camping trip and your first thought is, "Oh I better pick up some OFF!". No, you get out to the bush and if no one has any to spare you become a human buffett.

Don't Bring: Thick Winter Gear
Now obviously Australia doesn't have a "Winter", like we know back home (I grew up in Chicago), but it still gets pretty damn cold, cold enough you want more than a hoodie. The thing is coats take up a lot of space in a bag and even if you do show up in the middle of winter they are only of use to you for a couple of weeks. The better thing to do is start familiarizing yourself with online community trading sites (kind of like craigslist, but less creepy). In Australia there are a few but the main one in Gumtree. Basically when you start to travel you realize there are a lot of other people out there just like you, who are willing to sell you slightly used goods for a fair price simply to break even. None of us are here to make money but I make a couple extra bucks for my travels to asia, and you get a sweet discount on a coat to go snowboarding with, easy. There's no reason to lug that stuff around with you for a whole year, when odds are you'll only need it for a small portion of your trip. 

Do Bring: Layers
When I originally flew into Sydney it was cold and disgusting out, I didn't have a proper jacket, but what I did have was a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie, and a windbreaker. Each individually not all that warm, but together their powers combined to be a perfect "make-shift" jacket for whenever the cold got a little out of hand. The  key here is trying to find stuff that's really all weather, so instead of one huge down jacket I could only use in 40 degrees or less, I had a big fluffy hoodie and an all weather wind breaker. Combined they basically turned into a full down coat but take up only half as much space. If you want other travel light ideas like this I'm a huge fan of REI stores (www.REI.com). They got me setup with a lot of travel gear and the staff is extremely helpful if you give them a general idea of where your going.   

For this last one I don't really have a don't bring to go along with it. But having bounced around from some hostels and share houses while traveling I can tell you this is one that no one ever mentioned when I was reading travel blogs and is highly underrated. 

Do Bring: A set of travel plates/utensils
Before I left I was in that same store (REI) in the camping department and I saw this really cool whole set of collapsable utensils, plates, bowls etc. that you could easily fit in your bag. I thought it looked great but was a little impractical, unless you were well... camping. This is the one thing I most regret not buying before I left!!! If you're traveling for a short time you'll be staying in hostels and silverware and plates are like gold! If you're traveling for a long time at some point you will probably have roommates who are disgusting and dont wash their damn dishes and having your own set would be priceless! Again this seems like something you might never need but I assure you anyone who's traveled long enough has probably had to eat a steak with a spoon, and it's not until you do that do you realize how nice it would be to have some cutlery of your own.

The point is there's no right way to pack for long term travel, but there can certainly be a wrong way. To anyone who's already on the road, or planning on going back soon I hope maybe you picked up a pointer or two you hadn't yet considered. For anyone thinking about traveling for the first time, consider this a starting point, keep reading and discovering more, and remember no matter how much you plan at some point in your trip you will say the magic words, "Why the F%$& did I bring THIS?!". But  that's more than alright, that's exactly how it should be. Safe travels everyone and if you liked this and want to read more follow me on my blog (http://kangaroongtang.blogspot.com.au). If you want to help boost my twitter rank (@logansdownunder), do that too, also there's instagram (@logandownunder), facebook (Logan Emmett), etc. Bon Voyage!!!!




























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