Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Helpful Tips for Planning a Year Long Trip Around the World Part 6 [Important Travel Gear]

I’ve already written about the top 10 things you should always pack for travel, but that is by no means a complete list. Just a number of things that are often forgotten or overlooked. In the world of travel there are all number of cool gadgets, gizmos, and toys for you to play with.

Below you’ll find a list of what I consider to be “Must Have” items (clothing. That’s it. That’s all you need.) for any around the world trip, as well as some “Nice to Have” items (which are mostly tech gear), followed by some “More Money Than You Know What to Do With” items (which are for the most delightful of flashpackers.).

Most of the gear I’m going to list is from M.E.C. (Mountain Equipment Co-op) M.E.C. is a Canadian store that is the mecca for travellers the country over. They have everything you’d need, or want. And then they introduce you to items that you’d never even thought of before.

Must Have Travel Gear
You’re not going to walk around naked all day and all night – well… no – you’re not. We’re going to assume you’ll need clothes, but this can be a hassle to carry around. How much should you bring? And what items are best?

Shirts x3 – I recommend something light, breezy with pocked space that you can use. The MEC Beech Short-Sleeved Shirt fits this category perfectly. Having three with you ensures that while one is drying (from being washed in the sink the night before) you’ll have a dry one ready to wear – and should you spill something on that, well then you’ll have an extra too.

Shorts x2 – Two pairs of shorts is always a good idea, and that will cover you for most areas. I would recommend getting one light breathable pair, and one warmer pair. Something that is important to look for is zippers on the pockets. I don’t know why more travel clothes don’t come with this feature, but zipping up your pockets does increase security, and deter would-be pickpockets. I’m not saying zippers are beyond their ability to bypass (because they probably could do it in about three seconds) but it should cause them to find an easier target.

Pants x2 – Just like with shorts, get one breathable pair that you can wear in mosquito country, and one heavier pair for colder environments.

Thermal Underwear – MEC offers thermal tights that have been getting great reviews, and work wonders. You will find yourself in cold areas while you travel the world, and having this inner layer will seem a most perfect purchase.

Gloves – Just like the thermal underwear, these are things you’ll realize you needed when it’s far too late. The MEC Windstopper N2S gloves have been reported to work down to -20 Celsius. Not only that, but they’re very flexible and allow for easy operation of farm equipment, soda can opening, and manual camera settings. I’m sure some of those will be more common for you than others.

Underwear x3 – Get underwear that is quick drying. This is a must. If your shirt is a little wet when you put it on, that won’t bother you too much – but there are few things worse on a chilly morning than wet underwear. Make sure it will dry overnight in a variety of temperatures. For the most part, just find something you’re comfortable with. You’ll not need more than three pairs. Remember, the sink is your new washing machine.

Hat / Toque – Depending on how important being styling is to you, there are a number of different toques to choose from. Just be sure to have one. Most heat is lost through your head and as such it’s important to keep it covered.

Hat / Cap – When it’s not hot, you need a wide brimmed hat to protect you from sunburn and heat stroke. A good hat is a must. And, if you choose right, can add that extra sense of ruggedness to your photos. If it’s good enough for Indiana Jones, it should be good enough for you.

Rain CoatMEC Hydrofoil 3 Jacket is the easy choice for rain gear. Why? Because it’s semi-breathable, has large zippers under the arm pits to add airing flaps in the heat, a beak on the hood so the rain doesn’t just splash down your fair, but is instead funneled off in front of you, and a pull string to size the back of the hood to perfectly fit your head, so no breeze can blow it off. As if this were not enough, the pockets are large: as large as the entire front of the coat, from the bottom up to your neck. And they have a waterproof zipper to protect just about everything you have on you.

And that’s all you need for clothing. It may seem like a lot, but when you go through your bag and realize you’ve packed four shorts, one pair of pants, and no less than seven shirts, and seven pairs of underwear just for a one week trip – then you’ll start to realize just how little is actually required for a fifty two week trip.

Travel Tech
Time to James Bond yourself, and set out with the greatest of all tech.

Head Lamp – you may look like a goof, but when it’s dark and you can hold your map with two hands, then won’t others be jealous of your head lamp? Also – if you’re up late reading in a hostel, this is the perfect device to allow you to continue on, without bothering an entire room of tired, angry, travellers (not a smart thing to do.)

Solar Charger – I can’t personally speak to these, though I do know people who have said they enjoy solar chargers immensely. There are also backpacks that have solar panels built into them. It’s important to understand that the information you receive about these chargers is based on “best performance.” If it says “charges in only four hours,” that means four hours of strong sunlight, with the solar panel on the perfect angel to receive it – not four hours strapped to your back, even on the sunniest of days.

GPS – I have used the Garmin eTrex Legend for four years now. It has never led me astray (except for the time it led me astray up a mountain in British Columbia, but that’s another story.) Provided you have city maps loaded on it, which can be purchased separately, or some free user created maps can be downloaded from the internet (just do a quick google search for them.) you’ll always know where you are. Even without the maps, it’s nice to map your hotel / hostel / camp site you’ll always know how to get back.

Underwater Camera – A Camera is always a good idea, but having one you can take anywhere is fantastic. Leave the expensive SLR where it’s safe, and throw yourself into the ocean. It’s amazing what results a relatively cheap camera can produce today.

Flashpacking for the Fences
If you have the means, then why not indulge yourself a little bit.

A Good Camera
– Do I recommend a dSLR? No I do not. I recommend the Canon sx1is. Why? It isn’t a dSLR which means some venues which refuse entry for people with “professional equipment” will have no reason to keep you out. And that’s the trick. Aside from non-detachable lenses this is the camera to own. It has 20x optical zoom (500mm), swivel screen (so you can perfectly frame pictures you take of yourself – oh the joys of solo travel), and full manual controls (a must for any travel photographer, amateur or professional.) It also has some extreme low light capabilities as well.

A Net Book – These little laptops have dropped in price a lot. For under 400 dollars you get 160gb to store photos, and movies you create along the way. Also being able to tap into any open wireless network for free easy internet access is wonderful as well.

Now this is, by all means, not a full list. But with some of these items at your disposal you will be more than suited to face the big bad world all around you. Good luck, and happy travels.

Next up:

There’s more to packing than what I’ve listed here, and there are some other things you should always have with you. We’ll go over that in the next part. Until then, get out there and spend some time wandering around M.E.C. Trust me, you’ll like it.

Jump to other Parts
1. Planning Destinations
2. Budget / Culling
3. Hotels vs Hostels
4. Internet Research
5. Tour Groups / Solo Travel
6. Important Travel Gear
7. Packing
8. Medical Requirements
9. Saying Goodbye / Staying Connected
10. No Fear Travel

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