A backpackers guide to packing your backpack.

I have managed to coerce myself into publishing a slightly more practical post.

When dealing with the issue of packing a backpack, one should pay due diligence to the fact the said backpack, will contain all of one’s life whilst travelling.

With that in mind, I shall begin the list:

a) Courage – This is a key characteristic to pack. You will most likely already have it, especially if you have taken the steps to remove yourself from the monotony of everyday life. You will be experiencing new and unconceivable moments, you will be immersed in long lineages of history, you will be at risk a lot of the time. All this takes courage, mixed with a lot of whats next on the list.

b) Common sense – A lot of young people lack this arbitrary skill. The ability to assess a situation in seconds and make a logical plan of action or response. Maybe they lack the innate metaphysical framework for this kind of thought. I personally believe that the way we live today, strives towards cutting out the need for common sense. The individuals lacking in this key ability are perfectly fine, machines and beeping devices take over their need for this intuitive logic, natural selection fails and we end up with majority of the populous not knowing where or what Luxembourg is.

c) Humour – The intricate fleshy machine we walk this earth in, is the ambassador of our soul, the representative of our feeling. Our mouth is the voice of our mind. Our eyes, the window into it. We give away who we are, through bodily expression. Humour is a necessary tool to overcome some of the rougher times during a backpackers journey. That three day bus, or those eleven hours in a rained out bus stop, it is the cheap laughs that get you through. And it is infections. Use your humour, your body language, to spread the contagion. The impression you have on someone can either be memorable or a subconscious thought. Make them laugh and you will be remembered.

d) A trek towel – I do not care what anyone else says or believes. A trek towel is a must. These small thin rags, dry you in seconds and then dry themselves in minutes. Brilliant for travellers. Excellent flags, streaming from the unzipped section of your rucksacks like the tail of a kite, as you make a break for that last bus out of town that already nears the end of the street.

e) Tolerance – In a new world, with new encounters, you will quickly realise that you sometimes feel uncomfortable with local customs, the countries ethos or particular individuals. This all takes an element of tolerance. Not to say that you don’t care, but for your own safety, it is important to at least act tolerant to certain things. There is no need to act the hero. This is real life.

f) A pocket knife – The amount of times I have used my knife to either screw my sunglasses back into place, or cut a stick into a spear and pretend to hunt, makes it an invaluable piece of kit. The beach your staying on has mangoes. You have a knife. You cut the mango. You eat the mango. For me, this is a winning formula.

g) Your self – This is your trip, you are the master of your own destiny, you have taken the plunge. You will never stop wanting to travel. It is a privilege to have experienced some of the wonders of this world, every little lane behind a market, every scooter ride through a field, every lazy afternoon on a beach, it all makes up my experience of something I was not familiar with. Not being in your comfort zone shows you who you really are. In an everyday situation, you are comfortable with your surroundings, you know the people, you know how to act, it has almost become automatic. You aren’t forced to make any character defining choices. When out of this comfort zone, every choice you make defines you as you. It is a new choice, something you haven’t experienced before, and your decision will show you, your self.

So bring it along and you will get to know your self better.

h) A camera – Pictorial memories, snapshots of your journey. These immortalise your experiences. A good camera with plenty of memory is a must, or alternatively an old camera with a lot of film. Photography is an art, but everyone is an artist. If you haven’t been interested in it before, pick up a camera and start firing away. You will be surprised at how easy/enjoyable it it.

i) A good guide book – Lonely planet do a good range. Your guide will be your religious text and you will be a fanatic. It will give you a rough guide of how to get a round, or at least the right places to find out how to get around. As for accommodation info, if it is a recent publication, it should be accurate, but also go on gut feeling. Without a good guide book, you wouldn’t be able to tell the wood from the trees.

I hope this helps. It is by no means an exhaustive list. There is much more but I will leave you to discover the rest, after all, it is half the fun.

Whatever you do, make sure you keep your safety at the top of your agenda, be mindful of your surrounding and choose your travelling companions well. As they say in the ‘hood’, they will have your back.

Happy packing and until next time…

– U.Mirza

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