Our packs average about 9/10kg apiece – that’s a lot compared to the more minimal RTW travellers out there, but not compared to the average traveller. Even so, I can honestly say that most of the time, the majority of the stuff in my pack does not get touched or unpacked.
So, what’s come in handy thus far?
Our sleep sheets got their first outing during our first Thai stop at the minimal Ladda guesthouse in Hat Yai. When you’ve got no blanket, or a blanket with no sheet to go in between, having your own sleep sheet comes in handy. We’ve also stayed in a hostel that required us to bring our own bedding, and slept on two floors where they came in handy again. We also brought one sleeping bag between the two of us, but since we’ve mostly stayed in warm countries, in commercial accommodation (as opposed to camping) and with hosts who usually have bedding or even actual beds, it’s only come out a couple of times.
We actually didn’t use bug spray half as much as we expected to, but it came in handy in Thailand and again in Italy on the farm.
Along with my trusty Trilogy Everything Balm, I brought along a jar of thick manuka honey balm. It’s come in handy on several occasions, usually for moisturising chafed and sunburnt skin.
T’s backpack came with a detachable daypack, complete with Camelbak. SO much handier than lugging around water bottles (though we had one of those briefly, too – till he left it somewhere in Notting Hill, that is).
Convenient, comfortable, great for exploring new cities without having to bust out my bulky sneakers. (They now have holes in the burlap where my little toes have rubbed up and through against the material.)
Even after I ditched two tank tops in Thailand, I still had lots of options. A week later, I used an old work shirt to stem T’s bleeding hand. I then managed to lose another T-shirt somewhere in Italy. I’m now left with one T-shirt and a few tanks and singlets I can layer, which should do me until we get home.
Paying the $12.99 a month for offline access has been so, so worth it. T is the kind who needs music/entertainment during long train rides, and since we’ve started driving across North America, it’s been a bizillion times more useful and we’re both benefiting from it.
For all the advice I read before we left, some of the items that were recommended most often have not come in useful at all. For example:
Maybe we’ve been lucky, or maybe it’s the way we travel, but I cannot think of any instance in which I needed to bust out our rubber sink plug. It’s amazing how many basins have them built in.
This has seen the light of day exactly once. Generally, if I’m handwashing stuff on the road, it’s smaller items like socks and underwear, or light shirts (and those usually go on towel rails or similar). Otherwise, we’re usually using washing machines and dryers – in Asia, for super cheap prices, and elsewhere, at hosts’ houses or occasionally (in a pinch) at overpriced laundromats. Sometimes you just need an industrial mechanical wash.
Swiss army knife
Don’t get me wrong – it’s certainly had its uses, most often for slicing up delicious juicy melons throughout Europe. But it hasn’t been anywhere near as useful as I imagined, particularly when going through security at museums. Turns out bringing it along in anticipation of an afternoon picnic doesn’t work when you’re going to multiple Smithsonian museums in the morning. We had to hide it in nearby shrubs and hope nobody would find it and steal it while we were inside.