This is one of those questions, people ask quite a bit. So, what do you pack if you are going to be carrying all your needed earthly possessions on your back for almost two months. The million dollar question. All of a sudden when you realize you will actually be carrying your stuff on your back, you end up having to make some compromises. Do you really need those amazing knee length boots? How often will you wear them? If you carry them, half of the backpack is full, what about all the other stuff you have on the ground that somehow must make it into the bag!
Below is the list that we came up with for our backpacking trip to Europe.
- Toiletries- Such things as Shampoo, conditioner, Soap, Toothbrush, Razor, makeup, contacts etc
- a shuka (to cover yourself, use as sheet, bathroom wrap)
- Inflatable Neck Rest- For when you have trouble sleeping in tight spots
- Small flashlight and batteries- for reading in the dark or just for extra light
- Plastic Poncho - These are available in a lightweight pocket size
- Swim Suit with plastic bag
- Universal Plug Adapters
- Wash Cloth & hand towel
- Ear Plugs and Eye Mask, sunglasses
- Warm Jacket that you will usually wear when you go out, sweatshirt
- At least 2 pairs of pants+ tights
- One pair comfortable shoes, slippers for showering, pajamas
- 2-4 Pair of long socks
- 2-4 Long Sleeve Shirts and at least one sweater, warm shirts
- band aids, panadol
- book, kindle/ ipad / galaxytab
- Day Pack (to put things you will take with you during the day)
- one pair of flats and cute tops for clubbing
- Lotion and lip balm
- Extension cable
- Mobile phone charger
- Tooth brush, tooth paste, mouth wash, floss
- Combs, hair oil, braid sheen
- Shower gel
- Head scarf/ Bandana
- Scarf and gloves
- Small towel for showering
- Journal and camera for chronicling
- Water bottle
- Cleanser, moisturiser
- Gum/Tic tacs
If you think this list is complete, then you have revealed yourself as being one of those people who go commando:-) Yep, underwear needs to be on this list. Of course even with such an exhaustive list, there were a few extra items that still made it into our backpacks. I on my part, was guilty of carrying nail polish (nothing worse than having banged up nails,) and a few lipsticks (every one has a vice, and this is mine.)
I am sure most of you are looking at the list and thinking, "How can I survive with only that for 1.5 months?" We all had the same questions in the beginning, but by some point in the trip, we almost started throwing things away. I remember one particularly hard day in Paris. The place we were staying in was a small town 20 minutes away from the Paris city centre. We got to the town and found out that our place was half an hour walk away from the train station. We decided to take a taxi, but to our shock, it turned out there are no taxis in that place. Chelles had no taxis! We still don't know why this town had no taxis, but that was that. We were extremely exhausted. Some people told us that we could get a taxi to come from Paris, but we would be charged 40 Euros just for them to get to Chelles. We began the long trek to our place, and I am sure each of us thought, "Do I really need all these 18kgs on my back? Maybe I can survive with fewer clothes?"
One useful lesson I learnt from having few clothes with me, was that we waste a lot of water at home. Clothes do not actually have to be washed after every wear. We had a ritual every evening when we got to our hostel - people would change into their pajamas, air out their clothes by hanging them on cupboard doors, chairs etc, and in the morning each item would undergo the "sniff" test. "Does this top smell sweaty?" "Nope, it smells as right as rain." "Ok, top, you get to see another day."
When I came back to Kenya, I must confess that it took me quite a few days before I got used to throwing clothes in the wash after only being worn once. My family was not having any of it though, "Put those clothes in the pile! You are not going to air dry them!"