Help! I don’t know what to pack

It is really difficult knowing what to pack for your trip overseas, when I first packed to go travelling I had a HUGE pile of things to take and a backpack – there was no way that I was going to be able to take a quarter of the stuff I had originally planned on taking without having to wear half of it and drag around a ridiculously large bag. Five years and a lot of travelling later, I now have a lot better idea of the things that need to be packed.

10 essentials to take with you overseas

  1. Sleeping Bag Liner
    – don’t taken a sleeping bag, you will get ridiculously hot! A sleeping bag liner is ideal, they are cool and light weight so fit easily into your bag and easy to take with you if you are going away for a weekend. If you have a single duvet cover, this works just as well, if not pop into your local camping or outdoors store and pick up a sleeping bag liner.
  2. Ear Plugs
    – useful for the plane, staying overnight in busy cities or for blocking out a loud snoring room-mate!
  3. String
    – this may seem like a weird one but it is very useful! You can use it to put up your mosquito net (you could buy this before you go or in country), to make a washing line in your room, in the classroom as a teaching resource – the possibilities are literally endless!
  4. Wet Wipes
    – be prepared to sweat a lot! Wet wipes are really useful just to quickly freshen up. Also you never know when the water might be unexpectedly turned off.
  5. Torch
    – you are likely to be living in place where power cuts happen sporadically, keeping a torch handy is very useful for this.
  6. Flip Flops
    – take flip flops that you don’t mind getting ruined. They are useful in heavy rain showers (see our blog on surviving the monsoon) and for those horrible looking hotel showers! I also used mine as a ‘slipper’ when in my host family house as they didn’t want me to walk around barefooted.
  7. First Aid Kit
    – take out a small first aid kit with the essentials – paracetamol, ibuprofen, plasters, antihistamine etc. Also tiger balm is my saviour when it comes to being bitten my mosquitoes, stops you scratching them instantly!
  8. Playing Cards
    – a great way to connect with your host family, I played endless amounts of cards with my host family – I don’t think I have ever played snap so many times with the children, but they loved it! Also it is a great way to learn new local card games and to while a way a night with your volunteer partner.
  9. Books
    – take a couple of long books to read in the evenings or over the weekends, also useful on long train journeys!
  10. Money Belt
     – having somewhere to keep your money safe when you are out and about is important, these are a handy way of keeping your valuables safe and hidden from view (have a look at our blog on keeping safe overseas, which gives advice on other devices to keep your valuables safe).

Think about what you will be able to buy in country, I took a ridiculous amount of anti bacterial hand gel when I went out to India last time to find that I could have bought it out there and I didn’t use half of what I took out with me. You can buy toiletries out there, to save room in your bag just pack a couple of travel size toiletries and stock up in country. The most important thing to remember is that you will have to carry your bag so you don’t want it to be to heavy, if you think you won’t use something you probably won’t so leave it behind – be brutal!!

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