1: What are your MUST PACK items?
This is a hard one to answer because it really depends on where I’m going and for how long. These are the things that come with me everywhere regardless of jouny length.
- Kindle (PaperWhite) – THIS IS MY MUST HAVE. I’m an avid reader and while I love the feel of a real book it is just not practical when travelling to have the four or five novels with me.
I bought my first kindle reluctantly in 2011 and have never looked back. Not only does it hold my books and PDF documents (travel related) the battery (even with a backlight) lasts at least a week if not more between charges, and I do read a lot when I’m on the road.It has helped me survive 27hour coach journeys in South America, delayed stays at airports, and long haul flights.
- Notepad & Pens – I’m a moleskin notebook advocate. There’s something nice about their slightly soft outer, and the paper is just the right thickness and feels right under my pen. They also seem to last because they cost a little more I tend to look after them better.
In practical terms having access to paper and a pen is massively important. I normally carry my full sized journalist notebook and a small pocket sized one for collecting phone numbers and email addresses.Its strange when inspiration might hit you, for example this blog as well as my personal one (glennkelly.com.au) started as an idea in my notebook, or are even completely fleshed out there.
- What Camera do you recommend other than a Phone Camera
Most of my travel shots are taken with my old trusty 40D SLR with 50mm lens. But I’m in love with the Canon G16 Canon Compact camera.While the camera on my phone is great for Instagram or Facebook posts it just doesn’t cut it when I’m truly trying to capture my travels.
There is something important to me about having access to something that is flexible enough to capture the moment, but also produces images that are large enough to get printed.
An example of the image quality you can get from a compact camera (Image to the right taken on an Island in Lake Titicaca 2013)
- Buff & Earplugs – Be it sleeping on an aeroplane or blocking out the snoring guy in the dorm room the combination of a buff (multi-purpose scarf) and ear plugs is a winner.This combination has meant I’m not woken up when people come back at 3am and turn on the light, manage to catch two or three extra hours sleep in airports, or a great nights sleep on overnight buses and trains.
2. What App/s do you recommend for storing itineraries and bookings? (I.E What App do you use?)
The truth is I don’t use an app, I’m a little old school on this one. As I mentioned in the previous answer I carry a small notepad with me at all times and I simply write all my bookings, dates, reference numbers into this in chronological order.
Why? Well I don’t trust electronics not to fail me when I’m on the road. Batteries run out, wifi can be spotty to access email and in the end having it in written form means its accessible at any time.
That said speaking with friends and colleges many swear by TripIt.com. It collects all your bookings and puts together a very detailed itinerary. I’ve only had a play but I already can see how it could be hugely useful, especially for longer complexe trips.
3. How do you journal your trip (Blogging Apps)
It is very rare to find me on the road without a moleskin notebook and pen. When I Cut the digital cord (i.e. go without social media) I replace it with reading or writing to fill in journeys, and spend at least half an hour a night writing down my day. Most of the posts on this website were written in a notebook first. (part of why I don’t post as regularly as other travel bloggers).
When I get a chance I transcribe and upload to WordPress. I’ve used the WordPress App (iPhone – Android) which is good, all be it a little hard on phones, but great on tablets.
I don’t write just the chronological days events, I recored the little things I’ll forget, the tastes, a strange smell, or even just a note about a cool place I found.
TOP TIP: There is NO wrong way to record your holiday. It just important that you do keep a record because our minds are bad at the details.
3. Solo Travel or Group Tours?
I am going to be a fence sitter and advocate both, especially if you’re limited in your time and want to see a lot. I tend to mix tours, day trip tours, and solo travel as I go.
Ignore people that tell you there’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way to travel.
It gives security and a chance to focus on the sightseeing (tours) and feeling out places I want to explore more. Solo travel gives me more time, but less structure. For every week of travel solo I put aside a day for planning/booking everything.
Anyone who tells you it’s cheaper to do solo is being a little untruthful, the same goes with people that claim tours are cheaper. In the end they work out the same if you factor in planning/organising time, and accommodation type. The difference in most cases is the pace, and the stress. Solo is 100x more stressful but then can be more rewarding.
The reason people claim solo travel is cheaper is because if you’re willing to Couch Surf (I.E. Sleep at a stranger’s place) or live in 4-16 person dorms then you can save a large amount on accommodation.
4. What Should I Pack
The honest answer is: “about half of what you think”. Everyone over packs, yes even me, there are items that go unworn in our backpacks and suitcases. There are a few rules I use.
- Have I ever/will I ever wear this? No – then it doesn’t go in.
- How often will I do laundry (normally once a week) do I really need 15 pairs of socks, and twelve t-shirts: answer NO
- How often will I wear these shoes. if less than twice in a trip they stay at home. *There are exceptions to these rules but they generally halve the contents of your bag.
I personally try and do the pack it then remove a quarter or up to half, although these days that is harder because I really don’t pack that much. One thing I do have to cut myself off on is electronics – which I wrote about here – There seems to be a trend to carry your entire home cinema in your backpack. Pick a device and stick to it. As mentioned at the top my only MUST PACK electronic device is a PaperWhite.
TOP TIP: Check the weather forecast. It’s not going to be correct but you’ll have a general idea of what it will do and if you’ll need any specialist clothing (thermal).
About Me (Glenn)
Five years of travel, Four of which were spent working for (6months a year) Contiki Holidays as a Trip Manager. I began exploring my fifth continent in 2013 (South America) and am excited to go back soon.
My travels are a mix of Solo, Group, backpacking, Flashpacking, Hotels.
My best travel memory will always be standing at everest base camp.