The Best of the Voyage (Part 5: Useful Things To Pack)

Part 1: Hostels (August 29)
Part 2: Bars and Restaurants (August 30)
Part 3: Facts and Cities (August 31)
Part 4: Lessons (September 1)
Part 5: Useful Things to Pack (September 2)
Part 6: Things I Wish I’d Done (September 3)
Part 7: Memories, Stories, and Wisdom (September 4)

Perugia, Italy - Gregory Deva 70 Backpacking Pack

Perugia, Italy – Gregory Deva 70 Backpacking Pack

5 Super Useful Things To Pack

  1. Sea to Summit Pack Converter – I traveled without a pack cover for the first leg of the trip and I survived, so I wouldn’t say that this is a necessity. However, it definitely makes life way easier. When arriving in New York, I had to run through a monsoon-status rainstorm to get to my friend Alex’s place in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for the contents of my bag, my Gregory Deva is not waterproof. Nothing was terribly damaged, but damp and wrinkled clothes definitely add to the look (and smell) of a traveler. When I returned in December, I bought the pack converter, rather than a simple pack cover, for a few reasons: 1) the converter encompasses the entire bag, covering all straps and making airport check-in super quick; 2) they make you pay for stroller bags in some airports, and they’re oftentimes not reusable; 3) you can lock a converter, making it safe through transit and in your hostel room, where you can actually lock it to something. (You definitely can find this for cheaper than is listed on the REI site.)

    ACE Bandage (& the contents of my mostly unused bathroom bag)

    ACE Bandage (& the contents of my mostly unused bathroom bag)

  2. Ace bandage – This might surprise some people, but I’ve been playing sports my entire life (sans the past few years, cue the muffin top). This has led to a series of unresolved sports injuries, which spring back to life at the absolute worst moments. Carrying an Ace bandage has saved me from unknown hours of pain when my bum knee or my rickety wrist or my fractured ankle decided that it was time to make their voices heard. I cannot underestimate the importance of this item, especially for the outdoorsy adventurers amongst you. My trusty smaller Ace bandage was passed on to Gabriel, on my last full day of the Voyage, when he jumped off a rock in Plitvice National Park and twisted his ankle.

    Carmex (More Recommendations: water bottle, sunglasses, headlamp, tissues, hand lotion, eyeliner, earplugs, pepper spray, gloves (for winter travel), luggage locks, small pouch)

    Carmex (More Recommendations: water bottle, sunglasses, headlamp, tissues, hand lotion, eyeliner, earplugs, pepper spray, gloves (for winter travel), luggage locks, small pouch)

  3. Carmex – Regardless of whether it’s summer or winter, the elements are biting; if you’re traveling around, chances are that they’re going to do some damage to your lips. And if you want to be taking full advantage of your trip (hint hint, wink wink), then you’re going to want your lips in tip top condition. I recommend Carmex, because it’s the only lip balm that actually stays on for hours through all types of conditions. I’m a long-time Carmex fan, having put up for years with ridicule at how I apply it. But there’s a reason I stick with it! I would list Carmex as one of the most practical things I brought, keeping it in a pouch with Neosporin, eye drops, and a small vial of hand lotion. I probably sound like an advertisement for the brand, but believe me, this isn’t just lip service (…hee hee).

    Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap (& the contents of my bathroom essentials bag)

    Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap (& the contents of my bathroom essentials bag)

  4. Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap – If you’re from Berkeley, you know what this is. It’s the official soap of smart hippies. It famously has 18 uses, and from experience, I can tell you that this isn’t too much of a stretch. I prefer the peppermint scent, which not only makes me feel super fresh, but also helps deter mosquitoes! I used a small 8 oz bottle when traveling for three and a half months, and upgraded to a 16 oz bottle for the longer seven month leg. Both times, I returned home with extra – or rather, I would have ended up with extra on the second leg had my bottle not exploded and spilt all over my bag. This is one downside of liquid soap, but the fact that I used it every day for cleaning both myself and my travel underwear goes to show that it’s pretty solid – in fact, its super concentrated form makes it probably the best investment anyone can make for their hygiene.

    PackTowl (More recommendations: small hand towel)

    PackTowl (More recommendations: small hand towel)

  5. Travel Underwear and Towel – I would recommend purchasing three pairs of Ex Officio quick dry underwear, rotating them such that one pair is drying from that day’s wash (I wash mine in the shower to save water), one pair is being worn, and one pair is a spare. I carry an extra large PackTowl, which is famous for its incredible absorbancy and quick drying time. Unless you’re packing it away while it’s still soaking wet, it doesn’t smell; plus, it’s super lightweight. The combination of quick dry towel and underwear cost me around $50 (which is, admittedly, cheaper than average – I bought two pairs of underwear on sale on Amazon, and accidentally was sent three due to an ordering mix-up) – but that’s a bargain considering the quality and resiliency of the materials. I used these things every single day for a year, and they’re good to keep going.
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