We’ve seen the best things I’m glad I packed in my (not literal) suitcase, and the things I regret lugging about, so what did I find a burning need for? What was I kicking myself over NOT packing? Crossing over with the previous parts, here are a few of the unexpected items I wish I’d had to hand!
What I wish I’d taken:
- Sewing kit: This is an item that is not often if ever used, and I’m usually that extreme over-packer and bring my rusty little case with me. HOWEVER, somehow I thought that this just wasn’t good enough in case of a textiles emergency, and so I left it far behind and opted for the winging-it approach. Of course, within the first two months I was facing a frayed sleeve crisis, and ended up buying a little set from The Warehouse in New Zealand. I’d say even if you think you won’t need it, you might and that’s why it’s always worth it, they take up so little room and even if you don’t use it, an unsuspecting fellow traveller might love you for it!
- Jumpers: Although we were chasing summer across the world, we did still find times nearer the end of summer and early autumn where lighter layers and thinner jumpers just didn’t cut it for warmth. I first noticed more of a chill in southern New Zealand, so ended up buying a cosy and comfy jumper for the road ahead, and I’m so glad I did! When it came to sleeping in the car or a particularly rainy day there was nothing better than knowing I was cosy and warm.
- Jeans: Similarly in NZ and Australia, even later on the odd rainy occasion in Asia, my slowly tanning legs were extremely appreciative of me eventually caving in to buying jeans. A cheap and cheerful pair from Factorie in NZ turned out to be the best purchase I made the whole trip – I’ve even since purchased another pair!
- A better travel adapter: Sounds picky as the one I had was fine, however it quickly became frustrating when in this increasingly digital world I wanted to charge more than one device at a time. Priorities were made, and my ever running low on battery phone always came out on top. Eventually in Bangkok I picked up a USB and plug adapter, perfect for the multiple battery operated items that needed constant recharging. Any gadget lover would definitely find this item useful!
- A better day bag: This goes for both the small day bag used in NZ and Aus, and the bum bag I’d brought along for Asia too. I adored my very purple and very comfy rucksack, but somehow I must have over-stuffed it and it developed a sizeable hole right by the zip. I continued using it for a while, until luckily my travel partner had a spare and I used that instead. In hindsight, I should have been less stingy when purchasing something I knew would be used all the time, and the saving on time and hassle would have been worth splashing that little extra cash. Pretty much the same thing happened with my old and fraying bum bag, I ended up with a new one almost immediately in Asia.
- A working camera: As I tell most people when they ask about my travels, I had not just one, but TWO camera related fiascos. Causing me to spend a whopping $200 on replacements overall. The first was inevitable, the camera was old and already having a few problems, then in my first week it went caput. The second incident was entirely my own fault, having taken it in a rock pool to take a shot of the ocean, a lovely big wave came and smacked me in the face. The camera did surprisingly well in recovery, but it left a blurry salt patch on the lens and subsequently all images too, so it had to go. Long story short, I really should have invested in a good camera earlier on, and taken proper care of it. With a phone, camera, and GoPro, I had the options and means for appropriate photography!
- A washing line: Hear me out. At the beginning of the trip, I noticed a few people with a long piece of rope on which they would hang their washing to dry across a bunk bed. This seemed like a genuinely genius idea when I had to make do with draping wet underwear all over the place and end up packing it still damp again anyway. Although it wouldn’t have been too useful in Asia, it would have saved a lot of change and hassle in NZ and Australia!
- Quality headphones: I somehow managed to get through 3 or 4 pairs of headphones in 6 months. I used them almost every day, and my pair were pretty old to begin with, so after a while the wires were fraying and with only one ear bud actually working it was time to say goodbye. Repeat this a few times having lost/broken them and you get that this was more than a little bit annoying. With the few pieces of luggage you use every day, I really began to understand how much of a difference having quality items would make. Travelling goes beyond wear and tear for your belongings, so I absolutely valued the need for making life a little easier and just investing in those few key items.
- Deet: Packing toiletries for any trip is always a struggle. There’s that niggling thought that says “I never need this, why do I think I’ll need it now?!”. However, bug spray is one of those things that always comes in handy and is begrudgingly packed because our poor European skin is apparently irresistible to bitey bugs. Being the stingy buyer I am (there’s a definitive theme in this list) I bought the store brand variety, which lasted no time and did a grand nothing to protect me from sand flies, mosquitoes, and god knows what else. I soon learned that Deet is the way to go, and its industrial strength protection is not a force to be reckoned with, so use with care. So once again, past Suzy, please just buy the good stuff.
- The right backpack: My backpack saw me through some spectacular ordeals and was a handy little thing, however, it was also old and completely the wrong size for me (designed for a man’s torso and therefore considerably larger than me), and could really have done with being updated. I was finding myself very jealous of anyone with zips, secret pockets, and proper adjustable straps! Since returning I’ve said a final adieu to the trusty rucksack, and although it’s treated me well the next time i extensively travel with a backpack i’ll get an upgrade for the sake of my back and my sanity!
So there we have it! It’s been a good exercise for me to think about packing, and I hope it’ll help for next time. I actually keep thinking of things I’m so glad I had with me, so at least I was doing something right! Most of what I wish I’d had with me are things that I could have just improved on my existing luggage, which I believe shows that you can think of anything and everything when packing, but it’s always worth splashing out on quality items that will last and withstand the adventures you embark upon. Happy packing!