What to take with you

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What you take with you on a trip strongly depends on your destination, the period and your activities. When we left in September for a trip of almost four months around South America, we knew we would get very hot, but also have night frost. If one day you are woken up at 4:30 am in your glass dome tent at 4,000 metres up and it is really freezing, a warm fleece sweater, hat and thermal underwear is just the ticket! So we had to pack clothes for these two extremes. Moreover, a travel pharmacy kit should not be missing from your luggage.

What to pack it in?

Do you take a backpack or do you put everything in a big travel bag? We always travel with a backpack, but if you look at it right, you never walk long with a backpack. We often took a taxi to the bus station or there was a pick-up at our hotel. During our 8 months on the road I think we walked a total of a few hours with the backpack on our backs. So a big travel bag could have done just as well. Some even have wheels too. It strongly depends on your personal preference as far as how to transport your luggage is concerned.

If you are travelling with a backpack, we do advise you to buy a so-called “flight cover”, a cover for your backpack. The backpack is then not damaged by the airport’s baggage reclaim belt and stays nice and clean. What is more, we also put the backpack in the cover during transport by bus for the same reason.
It is really handy to take a smaller backpack, a day bag, as hand luggage. If you go trekking for a few days you can put your stuff in it, or even for a day of city sightseeing this kind of backpack is ideal. If you also use that backpack for multi-day trekking, make sure it is not too small (minimum 30 litres).

Clothing

Don’t take too much with you. Remember that everything is available on site too. Bring things that dry quickly and absorb (perspiration) moisture easily. So, don’t bring cotton shirts, preferably bring synthetic. Use “layers” of clothing, and certainly some with long sleeves or legs (necessary in the jungle against insects or when visiting a temple). As soon as you get too warm, take off the outer layer, etcetera.

Detachable trousers are also very practical. Three of these trousers were enough for me to travel for 4 months. Good hiking or trekking shoes are always handy too, even if you are not going to go on any big hikes during your trip, even when you just visit a city, you quickly cover many miles in one day. Comfortable shoes are a must. And if you do want to go on a multi-day trekking trip… at the end of the day you’ll want to take off your trekking shoes. Slippers or sandals are nice to have.

Travel pharmacy kit

In addition to your medicines and personal hygiene equipment, the following should not be forgotten: ORS, Imodium, painkillers, medicines for air, car or travel sickness, insect repellent spray (DEET), high-factor sunscreen if you are at high altitudes and/or close to the equator), lip balm, plasters, gauze, disinfectant, earplugs and tweezers. It is good to check the country information to see if other things are necessary for your travel pharmacy kit.

One last tip for wearers of contact lenses: in several countries, lens fluid is hard or impossible to come by so bring enough for the whole duration of your trip.

Personal photos

In faraway countries you can very quickly get in touch with the usually friendly locals. Despite the language barrier that sometimes exists, they want to know a lot about you. In South America, I also experienced that teenagers wanted to know my shoe size because I am so tall. In Asia, for example, people are very interested in whether you have children, how you live, what your country and your house look like, etc. A small folder with some personal pictures of you and your family in the Netherlands, a picture of our Royal family and some windmills does wonders if you want to make a nice impression!

On the handy travel articles web page, you will also find an overview of useful products to take with you on your trip.