I am about to embark on an adventure to South America, where I will be travelling solo (yes solo), researching textiles, working in communities and having general adventures! I am so excited about my trip!
I have been considering and planning the essential list of things to pack. Here is a list of things I recommend for the eco conscious backpacker (like me), who wants to explore, adventure into the unknown, but still wants to look stylish and feel confident! (on a budget too).
1. The backpack
Take a backpack (preferably an expandable one), make sure your backpack has a waterproof cover, lots of compartments to organize your things and is lightweight and easy to carry. I got a Karrimor backpack from Sportdirect (UK), I found sport direct a great place to go to get your essential things, they have great designer brands much cheaper as they are out of season. When it comes to backpacks and outdoors clothes they never really go out of fashion so shopping for things like this are ok. To customize your bag I'd recommend tying silk scarves around the straps!
2. Toiletries bag
When you are travelling its essential you have all the things you need easily accessible, so you can look and feel good. I prefer organized bag so I brought a Swiss Gear bag, its really great and has different sized sections for toothbrush, hair products, medicine, make up and things like tweezers. The best thing is it opens up and can hang on doors, which is great if you are staying in grubby places and don’t want anything touching the surface.
Towels are heavy and bulky they take up a lot of room in your backpack and take ages to dry. One option which saves the space and hassle of carrying wet heavy towels in your backpack, are called Hammam towels these are made by hand in Turkey and can be used as a sarong, towel, blanket or for lying on the beach, they are lightweight and easy to carry, a lot of them are made using organic cotton or Bamboo (which means they are fast drying and anti-bacterial).
Travel towels are another option you can buy these in most outdoor shops, they are lightweight, very small but once they fold out are as big as a normal towel, anti bacterial, fast drying come in a travel bag (handy for separating away from clothes).
4. Camera/smart phone
After researching into loads of cameras Id recommend a Panasonic Lumix TZ40 its lightweight, small, makes HD quality films, has excellent quality photos, built in GPS and wifi. This means you can get great quality photos, films and you can put everything straight on your phone to edit on instagram and share on facebook. I’d advise against taking a laptop as a lot of people I know have them stolen. Take a smart phone instead as you can still use the internet, Skype, Wassup, language apps, alarm clock, music and have photos of people back at home incase you get homesick. Make sure you bring a travel adapter and a memory card that’s big enough for a fun day of happy snapping.
5.Walking boots or shoes
Finding a good pair of walking boots has been a nightmare, lets be honest they are expensive, bulky and look pretty ugly. After looking at lots of outdoor shops, I found Sport direct to have the best and cheapest variety. I brought a pair of Karimor walking boots, in purple (to go with my purple leggings), they are waterproof (essential for wet hiking days), lightweight and really comfortable.
6.Mosquito repellent wristbands
Mosquitos can be really annoying, but I also hate putting mosquito repellent on my body, I hate the chemicals, the sticky feeling on your skin in the heat and the smell. Citronella is a great natural way to beat those pesky mosquitos. Its completely natural and one of the most effective repellents, I have discovered wristbands that hold citronella disks that repel wristbands and are really effective.
I like to wear a lot of dresses so wearing money belts can be very bulky and unflattering. Banjees wrist wallets are a great alternative, they are reversible so you can choose if you want a trendy pattern or plain black to match your outfit, and can carry your money, cards and phone.
A while ago I was on a night bus in Thailand and had all my cash and cards stolen, the thieves had cleared the money in my bank account. Luckily I had card guard which meant I could make a call reverse the charges, I made a police report, I was able to get emergency cash out from the bank, replacement ticket and get all of the cash and money they stole back after sending the report! If I did not have card guard this would of been very difficult.
9.Eye mask and earplugs
Packing a good eye mask and earplugs are an absolute necessity. I love sleeping and if you are staying in hostels it can be very noisy, with people coming and going out of the room all the time, you will also need them when travelling on night trains and buses to survive the journey.
10. Amazing music
When words fail music speaks! If your travelling on your own, you will need some decent music and some speakers, bring uplifting happy music for trekking and adventures and some more chilled out music for beach or bus days.
11.Moleskin notebook and selection of pens
It’s important to carry a diary on you to collect your thoughts, ideas, doodles and information, so handy to have a zip up pocket in the book to keep all your tickets, maps and memories too.
12. Fleece blanket
I don’t go anywhere without my fleece blanket its great to use as a shawl in the mountains or to help keep you cozy and comfortable on night buses and planes.
13. Silk sleeping bag
I use this wherever I go it keeps the mosquitos out and is a great safety device, I always put my valuables inside of it at night so I can keep them safe.
14. Well co-ordinated wardrobe
Make sure things that you pack all co-ordinate well together as a travel wardrobe, they should match together to be worn in different ways. Usually I will a take cotton and silk dresses that can be dressed up with make up and accessories at night or worn in the day with flip flops, a pair of black shorts (goes with everything), a shirt, one vest, long skirts (that can be worn as dresses), leather jacket, one jumper, one cardigan, one wind breaker, 2 pairs of leggings, 2 bikinis, 2 pairs of socks and finally a selection of underwear. Everything you bring should be fast drying, practical, easy to wash and iron free.