I’m not going to make a list of the number of t shirts I’m squeezing into my pack, or weigh into the Great Jeans Debate, but there are a few items that I’ve found useful on previous backpacking trips:

  • Kathmandu travel clothesline with hooks and suction cups (for drying clothes, or for rigging up mosquito nets or makeshift curtains with a sarong)
  • Earplugs (proved indispensable when the local mosques in Lombok held their morning muezzin-off)
  • Eyemask
  • Sarong (can be a towel, a bathrobe, a shower curtain, a bedsheet if the one in the hostel is a bit dodgy, or rigged around a bunkbed for privacy)
  • Babywipes (for washing hands before eating, or, at a pinch, as a short-term shower substitute – and babywipes are way cheaper than specialty make-up or travel wipes)
  • Hand sanitiser and a small tube of moisturiser
  • Multi-plug adaptor with usb socket
  • Headtorch (and one set of spare batteries)
  • Spare camera battery
  • As many spare SD memory cards as I can afford
  • a couple of bulldog clips (see makeshift curtain, above)
  • Mini cable-tidy and a small zippable bag to keep chargers and cables together

For India I’ll have a few extra pieces of kit, gleaned from the multitude of India travel advice sites (see Apps & Links):

  • Rubber door stop (wouldn’t bother if I was with a group, but by myself I reckon it’s a cheap enough way to have a little extra security)
  • A length of strong cable and a sturdy padlock (for securing my pack on long distance train rides or when I’m leaving it in my room for the day)
  • A multiplug adaptor/surge protector (I was impressed by the Belkin “mini” version that allows recharging of multiple items from one power point, but like a lot of products I’ve come across online it’s really only designed for the US market – would love to find the UK equivalent, cos the one I have now is a bit too bulky and I’m thinking I might end up leaving it behind…)
  • Steripen and refillable drink bottle with built-in filter  (This is a bit of an experiment.  I hate the idea of using huge quantities of plastic bottles without refills. The Steripen is small and sturdy enough to travel well, and uses UV light to – theoretically – purify tapwater – and hopefully what it doesn’t deal to, the filter will. I’ve read a couple of positive reviews, but it’s not exactly ubiquitous – not sure if that’s due to price or efficacy)

And then there’s the toys…

  • Kindle: For someone with a serious addiction to buying books, and sizeable collections in both hemispheres, I was pretty dubious about the Kindle, and e-readers in general.  I’ll still buy “real” books from my local independent, because the biggest drawback about kindles is that you can’t pass a book on to someone else to enjoy when you’re done with it, but for travelling a kindle is hard to beat.  An added bonus of the keyboard model (though I’m told they’ve removed this from the newer models) is that I have FREE wifi and 3G just about everywhere in the world hidden away under the “Experimental” tab.
  • Sony NEX 5N compact mirrorless DSLR: I’ve got a great Canon IXUS95 point-and-shoot, but it doesn’t always give me the effect I’m going for. I didn’t like the idea of lugging around a bulky DSLR, and a compact mirrorless DSLR seemed like the perfect compromise.  My knowledge of the finer points of photography is pretty much non-existent, so it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve. I’m hoping by the time I leave in January I’ll have the hang of it!
  • Ipad: I don’t really have a good excuse for this one.  In theory it will mean that I can upload my photos as I go, and update this blog, and maybe even skype, wifi permitting…and now that I’m officially funemployed it’s probably the last gadget I’ll get to buy for quite some time…

It remains to be seen what turns out to be useful and what I wish I hadn’t brought… but is there anything crucial that I’m missing?  I was sooo tempted to bring a travel-size coffee plunger (milky tea is my idea of hell) but I guess that’s right up there with hair straighteners for OTT backpacking…

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