You need to consider the size of your rucksack. Don’t fill it up at home cause you will inevitably buy more and then have nowhere to put it! Your bag needs to be comfortable to carry because there will be times when you will have to carry it around for a few hours hunting for accommodation.

20kg is the norm on International Flights and this usually equates to a 65lt rucksack filled to the brim. If you pack smart and light, you will only fill half of that and still manage to have a small day sack as an in-flight/general day pack. Remember the check in scales only measure your bags weight. Some people I know put all their heavy objects such as cameras into their jacket pockets and wear them at check in.

Which means as you travel you have space to add and update your wardrobe, without paying extra weigh penalties, at some small airport in the middle of nowhere.

It’s also worth considering either buying a rucksack that has a lockable zip or buying a lock that you can put round the rucksack. Although, the rucksacks you see wrapped in a metal mesh at various destinations seem to have 'I've got something valuable inside me' written all over them!


This is a basic list to act as a starting point:

  • Shampoo/conditioner

  • Any personal medication (clearly label it or keep it in the original packaging to avoid any confusion at customs)
  • Soap/shower gel (Biodegradable soaps are ideal. Small light and can be used for you, clothing or washing food)
  • Pumice stone for your feet (essential for travellers, cracked infected heels can ruin a trip)

  • Flannel (Another use for a Buff if you get stuck)
  • Towel (I would recommend the super light pack towels, they dry fast and take up very little space)
  • Condoms (local brands might not be very reliable)

  • Suntan cream (ideally one with anti-mozzie solution)

  • Mosquito spray (two choices; those with DEET, which can melt fabrics or SkitoStop which is just as effective but natural. New products come as sun cream and after sun which is excellent)
  • Tampons/female hygiene products (some countries still don’t stock tampons, this information is usually included in the Rough Guide/Lonely Planet)

Photographs of friends and family are invaluable partly for homesickness and partly to show locals and new friends. If you’re working on a project, it might be worth taking some photos of your home/college/where you work etc as initial talking points.

Travel wash: whilst in many places, such as South East Asia, you can get your washing done very cheaply for you, it’s always worth being able to hand wash a few things should you need to. To hand wash clothing simply pour a bit of the washing liquid on the item and scrub or knead the fabric in warm water before squeezing, rinsing in clean water and rinsing again.

I would recommend taking with you at least one set of passport photos. They don’t take up much room and can prove invaluable, as they are required for all sorts of things from visas to passes at selected tourist destinations.

This is a basic list of stuff to take that you can expand upon:

  • Sunglasses/sun hat - (don't skimp of getting decent glasses)

  • Camera

  • Guidebooks

  • Travel diary
  • Travel adapter plug

  • Washing line (useful for hand washing, drying towels, swimming costumes etc)

  • Small Padlock (combination locks are best because don’t have to worry about loosing keys)

  • Torch (solar powered and wind up torches are invaluable. Many times you will pack at night so think about a head torch)

  • Money belt and small day wallet with old useless cards in it

  • Books to read (you can often swap with other travellers and its a conversation starter)

  • Mosquito net (depends on where and when you travel)

  • Sleeping sheet and or sleeping bag (in hot countries you will only need a sleeping sheet. Silk is the best, light, very small and washes easily. This is a good idea for places where the cleanliness of the sheets is somewhat dubious. A sleeping bag is obviously required for colder countries and you should base your choice both on country and climate. A light bag is useful for long flight delays)

  • ipod/MP3 player (be aware that displaying these, especially i-pods, makes you an easy, obvious target for theft)
  • First aid kit (must contain dioralite, re-hydration salts, plasters, antiseptic, paracetamol/aspirin etc)

  • Pack of cards (essential for travellers!)

  • Toliet roll

  • A bottle of disinfectant hand gel (invaluable!)
  • Wet wipes
  • Pen knife (useful for cutting fruit etc. Keep it small though)
  • A spork and flat folding plate (instant picnic when waiting for a bus, train or boat)

Naomi Cartwright Jan 2009 (Cont)

Part 1 - Preparations

Part 2 - Before You Go

Part 3 - What To Take

Part 4

Part 5 - When You Arrive

Part 6
- Safety Overseas


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