Tools for exploring

How to pack lighter

1. Do you need a sleep­ing bag? Sounds stupid, I know. BUT will a silk sleep­ing bag liner suf­fice? This obvi­ously depends on your des­tin­a­tion and time of the year. On a recent sum­mer trip Tur­key I was stay­ing in hos­tels across the coun­try and decided there was no need for a sleep­ing bag, simply tak­ing my silk sack. It’s small and light whilst still provid­ing a little bit of per­sonal space and protection.

2. String/​washing line. Just a few metres of nylon string allows you to hang your clothes up in a hostel or hotel to dry overnight (after you’ve washed them in the basin of course!).

3. Learn (at least some of) the lan­guage. Hard right. Try tak­ing a small piece of paper and writ­ing out key words, phrases and num­bers (you can write double-​​sided), then keep it in your pocket at all times. You’ll use it much more fre­quently than a phrase book that you have to keep get­ting out of your bag and you’ll be sur­prised how quickly you pick things up. Don’t go over­board writ­ing every phrase under the sun down, keep it simple. Hello, good­bye, thank you, num­bers 1–10, what time does the bus leave?, etc.

4. Shoes take up a lot of space. My cur­rent go to travel shoes are a pair of New Bal­ance Min­imus (other brands of min­im­al­istic shoes avail­able!). On a recent 3 week trip to Tur­key I took just the one pair of shoes, the pair I was wear­ing and used them for day to day use, tramp­ing and din­ing. They are light, super comfy, dry quickly and very ver­sat­ile (if you get a non-​​fluorescent pair — I’ve got all black ones). I also recently com­pleted one of NZ’s Great Walks, The Heaphy Track walk­ing 80k over 4 days wear­ing a pair of these, rather than my tramp­ing boots with no blisters!

5. Seg­ment your gear into sev­eral grab bags. Don’t go over­board and have a dif­fer­ent bag for everything as you’ll soon get frus­trated. How­ever, it’s great to be able to reach into your ruck­sack and pull out a bag of clean clothes when you arrive at a hostel, dump them out onto the bed, change into fresh clothes and chuck the dirty clothes into a second bag, before put­ting it all back into your ruck­sack. Easy.

6. Put a little time into your pack­ing and be bru­tal. Do you need 5 t-​​shirts? Whilst trav­el­ling, you’ve got licence to get more wear out of your clothes, it’s expec­ted, so embrace it. I don’t know about you but I find I can wear the same t-​​shirt for 3+ days eas­ily while trav­el­ling without it stink­ing! This obvi­ously depends on where and what you’re doing… Also, be hon­est, if you’ve got a shirt that you don’t wear at home, will you wear it whilst away? Prob­ably not; pick one you will!

7. Zip off pants. Nerdy I know! Mine go with me on every trip and get so much use. Whether I’m tramp­ing through a jungle or in a res­taur­ant hav­ing din­ner, they work a treat. Embrace the zip off pants!

8. On a sim­ilar note — com­pres­sion shorts. Sounds strange I know. I always take them. Mine are Skins, but many brands are avail­able. I use them for a mul­ti­tude of activ­it­ies includ­ing walk­ing, swim­ming, run­ning and even every day wear if I need/​want too (assum­ing you find them comfy of course). They are easy to clean, dry very quickly and more ver­sat­ile than stand­ard cot­ton under­wear. (I do take some of these too!

9. Pur­chase a Kindle. I know, I know, every­one loves a phys­ical book but a Kindle really comes into its ele­ment when trav­el­ling, allow­ing you to carry many books at once.

10. In-​​ear noise can­cel­ling head­phones. I don’t travel without mine. They are a lifesaver on the plane when you want to block out an annoy­ing back­ground noise or per­son! Being in-​​ear they are small, light and reas­on­ably priced. A bit of a lux­ury item maybe but worth it!

11. Setup a Drop­box account (or other cloud ser­vice) and save all your import­ant docs you’re your pass­port, tick­ets, etc. so that you’ve got con­veni­ent access to them from any­where with inter­net. You can then also save off your pho­tos to it as you go, from any inter­net café…and you can share the Drop­box folder with all your pics with one click with fam­ily and friends back home.

12. Sham­poo, soap, sun cream etc. Pur­chase this when you arrive at your des­tin­a­tion. One, it pre­vents any dis­asters of sham­poo leak­ing all over your pack, and two, you usu­ally can’t get it through air­port secur­ity anyway.

13. Elec­tric shaver? Not for me. Trav­el­ling gives me an oppor­tun­ity to exper­i­ment with facial hair and ima­gine how impressed your friends will be when you return with a beard!? If it gets annoy­ing, just pur­chase a dis­pos­able razor.

14. Be that per­son that has play­ing cards with them and knows one or two card games.

15. Finally, don’t fill up your ruck­sack! It seems obvi­ous, but whilst you are pack­ing I can guar­an­tee that whilst there’s free space, you’ll be temp­ted to keep adding stuff until every com­part­ment is bul­ging. Res­ist the tempta­tion! You’ll regret it when you have to lift the pack, carry the pack, lug into on and off trans­port­a­tion and also when it comes to find some­thing, the less you have, the easier things are to find!

Published: April 9, 2015

What to take on a river journey

To Bring:

Boat equipment:
tarp for roof, poles
fly or tarp for second boat
rope (a few types)
fishing rods
gaffe tape (for boat repairs and the like)
boat repair kit
air pump
bucket for tossing water out of boat
life jackets
waterproof pants, jacket and sandals
helmet (if necessary)
boogie board for the floor

waterproof case for phone

Food equipment:
chilli bins and frozen water bottles
utensils (fork, spoon, plates, bowl) and knife
Coffee, tea, milk powder, salt, oil or butter
dishwashing liquid and brush


Cookers and cooking equipment:
white spirits cooker
white spirits
gas cooker and gas
matches and lighter (in case the matches get wet)
wooden spoon, tongs and ladel
frying pan
2x pots


toilet paper
sunglasses and a big sunhat
sleeping bag and inner bag
pillow (inflatable one)
bed matt
head torch with new batteries
wallet and cellphone and money
Sunscreen and zinc
Insect repellant
waterproof pack liner
water bottles

sand hoppers (basically shoes)

plastic bags for dirty clothes
cards (500 pack)
Speaker and cable (charge before you go)
iphone\cellphone and headphones
Solar powered USB battery charger and cables
pen and notepad

waterproof pack cover

tooth brush and tooth paste
shampoo and soap
plasters for blisters

lip balm for cracked lips

tshirts, shorts, jumper
waterproof jacket, pants
sandals or crocs


For when you come out of the river (leave in the car):
Spare clothes and shoes
Soap and shampoo

Published: October 19, 2014