Within a matter of hours I will be commencing my journey to Australiaaaa where I will be touring around solo for a month. My first destination is Sydney, where my adventure will finally begin… after a 23 hour flight time! I will stay there for a few days soaking up the sights and most probably wandering around like a lost fish in true Finding Dory style. I then plan to make my way up the coast to Cairns and from there I will finish up in Alice Springs, squeezing in a visit to Ayers Rock. Whilst we are supposedly in summer, Australia is now in its winter months. I do, however, still plan to visit the most famous beaches in the world and of course go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef – the number one natural wonder of the world! Therefore, unlike my week in Greece, I can’t just pack a few bikinis, flip flops and shorts, my packing strategy this time needs a bit more thought. For those ready to jet off for a lengthy period of time here are some top tips on what and how to pack…
1.Backpack or suitcase?
Before you begin to pack take a moment to think about what you are going to pack into and what you are going to be doing on your trip. A backpacker holiday may not necessarily nowadays mean you have to take a backpack with you, a suitcase may in fact be more adequate. If you think that you will be doing a lot of walking in between your chosen destinations then a backpack is probably best. But, make sure it is comfortable, spend time trying different ones on and make sure you get one that is right for you. When walking around use the waist strap to reduce the pressure on your lower back. Backpacks obviously give you less space than a suitcase would and they do make it rather awkward to reach things you have put right at the bottom. You would think you were travelling with Mary Poppins! You will be surprised at what you can find lurking down there after a few weeks! Therefore, do choose one that has handy little compartments for easy access. If your main means of transport in between places is going to be by coach or plane, I would heavily suggest taking a small suitcase.
Whether you choose a suitcase or backpack an additional rucksack is a necessity for hand luggage – no wheelies! A rucksack will become your best friend on your trip – use it as a day bag and for all your easy access essentials. The rucksack&backpack combo is a winner among travellers and it means you can keep your hands free…
2. Flight Friends
This swiftly brings me onto my next top tip which is what to pack in your hand luggage and what I recommend for long-haul flights…
Neck Pillow – Without a doubt this is a must for me and now I won’t even travel on short-haul flights without it. Even if you are one to claim I don’t sleep on flights, do try using it, I am sure it will make all the difference. It doesn’t even take up any space inside as it will loop through the handle at the top of the rucksack.
Water bottle – it is so important to stay hydrated on a flight and if you don’t have a water bottle you are less likely to get the fluids you need. Take a reusable one with you. I love my camelbak thermal water bottle, I take it everywhere and you can get it for £14 on Amazon. Pop it into the side pocket on your rucksack. Don’t fill it up before you pass through security though – I always forget!
Emergency snacks – I have been on many long-haul flights where I have either slept through meals, not liked the look of some food or have just gotten uber hungry in between feeding time! Therefore, make sure you at least take a cereal bar, a banana and some yummy chocolate biscuits to munch on!
Wash bag – after endless hours on a flight I have such an urge to brush my teeth periodically so make sure you take some of the essential toiletries with you. I also don’t know what it is about flights but my skin always feels awful after a few hours so I also need to wash my face regularly. Perhaps it’s the aircon… or just me! 😉
Fleece and Fluffy socks – speaking of the aircon, do not underestimate how cold it can get on flights, I suggest taking some fluffy socks to keep your tootsies warm, if you like to kick off your shoes, and a fleece.
Lip blam – the aircon will also dry out your lips so make sure you lather on the lip balm, I use carmex, vaseline is said to dry your lips out even more.
Earphones – obviously for listening to music but also for film watching. The airline’s earphones are often very uncomfortable.
Important Documents – don’t forget your passport and any other important documents you need for flying.
Portable charger – I never go anywhere now without my portable charger since I use my phone for everything – listening to music, taking photos and blogging. Anker is a very good make and it never fails me, this is the one I use and you can get it off Amazon for £20. Fully charged it will charge your phone at least 5 times and it has various USB slots to charge many things at once.
Entertainment – on long-haul flights you are bound to get bored so make sure you have some reading material or activities to do. I always have my kindle.
Notebook and Pen – a must on any big adventure is a notebook and pen. I highly suggest you take one with you so you can log what you have been up to everyday. You think you will never forget those tiny details, but you will! I also take a glue stick with me so I can stick in receipts and entry tickets and stupid little things – I am a hoarder… and proud! 🙂
3 – Reducing space
This is not so crucial if you are going to take a suitcase but if you are travelling around for a while with just a 10L backpack you need to think about packing wisely and reducing space! My handy helpers are ziplock roll bags. Bags for clothes that compress and reduce the bulk significantly – you can get them in Poundland, for well just £1. They also become handy as you start to gather dirty clothes. For my 10L rucksack I normally use 2. I use one bag for cleans, one for worn but reusable and a separate compartment for the rank rejects that need washing! The top compartment of the backpack is good for dirties. Do remeber as a rule to place heavier items in the bottom compartment of the rucksack, otherwise you will topple over and I speak from experience!
4 – Shred some pounds
Even if you decide to take a suitcase you may be OK with space but I can guarantee that the 20kg weight limit will soon catch you out. Most get caught out with toiletries. A quick way to cut the limit is to use bars instead of liquids. Lush do good shampoo, conditioner and body bars that you can get tins for. They reduce weight and space and smell nice!
Avoiding the liquids will also mean you can avoid some major shampoo explosions! This happened to Miriam and me on our first day of our jam-packed Italy tour, it is funny to look back on now but it wasn’t at the time, now we know how Ross feels 😉
Opt for ultra-lightweight alternatives such as a the SoftFibre Travel Towel from Lifeventure. They fold up to an unbelievably small size. You can also get a hand towel version that is perfect for a head towel girls.
If you are going to be in cold weather you will need lots of layers. I swear by my Rab super light and foldable coat. It is a bit of an investment but so worth it! It keeps you nice and warm and can be easily folded and clipped onto your rucksack as it folds into a little bag. Taking a light waterproof jacket is also a must, again Rab is the way to go.
Another way to cut down the weight is to double up on clothes. I for one love my pyjamas, more than your average person probably should, but I do have to part with them when I am compromised on space. Instead of PJ bottoms use comfy trackies or leggings and a comfy t-shirt. These can at least then be used on flights and during the day. Sometimes in transit you may have to sleep on a bus or train anyway! I also love my loose fitted traveller pants. And when it’s cold I wear these with leggings underneath in bed.
5 – Hostel Handies
Ok so travelling isn’t always as adventurous and glamorous as the photos make it look, in order to see some pretty awesome sights you have to slum it a bit. Hostels are the cheapest places to stay in and they ensure that your budget can carry you that bit further. On the whole they have gotten a pretty bad name for themselves but whilst I have had some hostel terrors over the years, 99% of the time they are great! I would suggest that you have the following things packed to ensure you don’t make some of the same mistakes I made when I first started to use them…
Flip flops – sometimes the walk from your dorm to the bathroom can be a long and grubby one so make sure you pack some flip flops to easily slip on when you go for a shower or get caught short during the night. Being the house hermit that I am, I have tried slippers in the past and they grew very mucky straight away so stick to some cheap flip flops.
Head torch – being in a mixed dorm will mean that everyone will have different schedules and sleeping patterns. Some may sleep all day and be out all night and others may be tucked up early on. Therefore, a light will ensure you don’t disturb anyone if you are still up and the main light has been switched off.
Padlock – most hostels will provide you with a locker but make sure you have a padlock to keep important items secure.
Towel – hostels won’t give you towels and while in some you may be able to rent one it is always best to take your own.
Rope – it is amazing what you can do with a few metres of rope. You can use it to secure something to your backpack , to make DIY bundles or to make an emergency washing line!
Some travelling DIY has been taken a tad too far in the past, like when Josh tried to emergency dry his socks in Peru…
…it was a very clever use of the carabiners though I have to admit 😉
Watch – I always like to keep track of the time especially if I toss and turn during the night. You can’t rely on there being power sockets near your bed in a hostel so you may not have your phone to hand. Therefore it is worth investing in a cheap plastic watch with a backlight. My Casio watch is the best; it tells you the date, time, it has an alarm, a backlight, it is lightweight, water resistant, super comfy and at only £6 from Amazon (depending on the colour you want) it’s a no-brainer really.
Fleece – In a hostel you won’t have control over the heating/aircon so I highly suggest having a fleece to hand, especially as you won’t be given thick duvets!
Tissues – make sure you take a pack with you just in case the toilets are not well stocked up! Keep a pack in your day bag as well for any emergency spillages.
6. Those electrical ‘necessities’
Portable charger – Once you are out and about touring around, snapping away and logging into some WiFi spots, you will be surprised how quickly you can drain your battery on your phone. Therefore investing in a portable charger is a must!
Selfie stick – Yes, I know, what has the world come to!? But, they are brilliant! Especially for the solo traveller, you still have to have your mutt in some landmark photos! Just make sure you actually look at the camera unlike me, I still can’t work it out!
Portable hairdryer – in the majority of hostels you will not find a hairdryer so if you suffer from frizzy hair syndrome like me then you are best off taking one. My Babyliss one is super compact and lightweight.
Travel straighteners – OK, so if you are over on weight limit and haven’t got any room in your bag then the straighteners can stay at home! I have always managed to take them with me though! These Babyliss ones are really good, and a fab colour too 😉
Portable speakers – Again, not high on the necessity list but if you are in a hostel dorm of 8 people sometimes a bit of music can help to break the ice!
Well now it is time to enjoy one last cuppa before I head off to the airport – I suppose the next time you will here from me will be when I am Down Under!
As a little summary here is a Hopscoff checklist for you. I would love to hear about any essentials you think I have missed that you cannot travel without – Comment below 🙂
- Neck pillow
- Water bottle
- Emergency Snacks
- Wash bag
- Lip balm
- Fluffy Socks
- Entertainment (Kindle, Magazines, iPod)
- Passport and other important documents
- Portable charger
- Notebook and Pen
- Ziplock Bags
- Toiletries in bar form
- Compact towel
- Lightweight coat and waterproof
- Leggings/comfortable trackies
- Flip flops
- Head torch
- Selfie Stick
- Travel hairdryer/straighteners
- Mini speakers