Since I’m on holiday at the moment I thought I’d post a few observations about packing based on our experience in the Amazon. Packing is always a balance between having stuff for every eventuality and traveling light. Age, destination and personality all come into it so there’s no right answer but…….
Take clothes that don’t mind the odd bleach stain and washing in with running colours. We’ve been working here so usually used a laundrette once a week (and at the price we can’t be bothered to handwash stuff). If you are always on the move you might prefer to handwash – pack a micro travel washing line (and mostly quick drying clothes).
You don’t always want to look like an overhyped tourist……. You know, all lightwear gear (big floppy hat), quick dry trousers which zip round the knees so you can wear them as shorts, trainers with ankle socks or posh ‘trek’ sandals and lightweight long sleeve karki shirts just to go to the town plaza by airconditioned coach……. Sometimes you’ll want to fit in to middle class culture (or go out for dinner) – pair of jeans / skirt, decent short sleeve shirt / top.
Hot countries get cold. After a few months you notice it more….. particularly travelling on boats and when it rains. Something lightweight to wear over your top is worthwhile.
When on a budget, the best places to eat are where there are lots of locals eating a set menu. Sometimes you’ll want a bit of ‘western’ normality; but most of the time better to eat local. If you don’t want cheap – try a block or two away from the main tourist spots, there are often local restaurants with good imaginative cuisine. Food poisoning is always a risk – but freshly cooked is best. A posh tourist restaurant doesn’t mean the kitchens are cleaner and often the food sits around longer because they aren’t feeding so many people.
The smaller the space you can pack your stuff into, the better. OK we use large cases to get here, but we when doing a few nights away we pack all our stuff into a rucksack. If we were really travelling, we’d probably just use our small hardshell suitcase (it’s an age thing) which has survived plenty of local travel in Peru, but better still just use hand luggage. Even if you use a suitcase, always pack some basic clothes in hand luggage when flying (for when your luggage gets lost).
A solar rechargeable light – great invention and has served us well. It can also be used as a power source to recharge your phone. Great for those times the electricity goes off, or you are staying places where there is no electricity (or only a couple of hours in the evening). But if you’re younger and likely to be trekking in the dark a small head torch might be better. (and a slim powerpack for the phone).
You have to be really, really off the beaten track not to be able to buy consumables. So you don’t need to travel with months supplies of shampoo / shower gell, toothpaste etc.
A surge proof extension lead (short one) helps you charge several devices from one plug. Not essential but useful if you are living and working somewhere for a while. If you travel light but with lots of electricals, a small usb multicharger is your friend.
Travel towel. Off the tourist trail, places often don’t supply them. Neither do they always have sheets (and sometimes the bedding has it’s own supply of micro wildlife), we’ve found lightweight sleeping bag liners useful.
Flip flops. With wooden, concrete or mud floors you need something on your feet. In cheap accommodation you need something to wear in the shower.