We both learned from our mistakes last time but, I have to admit, my learning curve was a little steeper. That is not to say that the Wooky was innocent of the trend to pack for all eventualities and he was certainly guilty of the book overload.
These are a few examples of items which are superfluous to requirements or which you do not need to pack in bulk.
- A copy of Lonely Planet (or similar guide book) for every country you might visit along the way. If you do, you will have room for nothing else. Either download onto your Kindle (which you are already taking because BOOKS ARE TOO HEAVY) or just take the one for the first country you will hit for a significant period. We did indeed buy a copy of the Lonely Planet for every country we were thinking of visiting and we ended up taking only China with us. I was subsequently astonished to discover that you can buy books in Asia. Seriously, when I realised we could buy English language books almost everywhere I wondered why I hadn’t realised this would be the case. Another of my “what was I thinking?” moments of which there were many.
- Toiletries – you do not need enough shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste to last you the duration (apparently). Even though I knew that these items would be freely available absolutely everywhere we went I still tried to sneak 6 months’ worth in the backpacks while I thought the Wooky wasn’t looking. These items were discarded in Warsaw when the Wooky finally ran out of patience and my back started to protest with the weight. I think I got rid of a couple of pairs of footwear at the same time but I try not to think about it.
- I have to include insect repellent in this list, not because it is not required but because there is such a thing as too much of the bloody stuff. While we were preparing for the off back in London I became rather obsessed with insect repellent (wishing to avoid malaria and dengue fever at all costs) and I insisted we pack about 8 bottles of the best. I used it regularly once we reached Vietnam (because mosquitos love me) and we also gave quite a lot away but we still had 4 bottles left over when we arrived in Australia. At least we don’t need to buy any this time round….
- Too many clothes – I include this but we really weren’t guilty of overpacking clothes (probably because there wasn’t enough room, what with all the insect repellent and shampoo) but many people do overestimate how much clothing is required when you are on the road. Unless your travels are going to take you through seasonal changes (and, let’s face it, we’d all rather travel when it’s warm and sunny) or you will be required to attend black tie dinners on a regular basis, your clothing requirements will be minimal. As long as you have a change of clothes while you’re waiting for your laundry, you really don’t need much at all. Take something warm and cosy for colder nights, some light long sleeved tops or shirts and long trousers for when cultural differences (and respect) requires you to cover up, some sturdy walking shoes or boots and something to keep you dry if the heavens open. But you only need one pair of flip flops. Again, believe it or not, you can buy clothes everywhere in the world. And quite cheaply too, so if you pack lightly and you like a bit of a shop you can treat yourself along the way, as we did in various markets in Asia (and you don’t need me to tell you there are lots of amazing markets in Asia).