I thought this day would never come. 6 long months I have been waiting patiently ’till the day when I can start packing. ‘You still have 3 weeks left until you hit the road’ I hear you say… 3 weeks of trying to fit all my friends around the last few days of work. Many a boozy night is ahead of me now, I simply haven’t got time to wait any longer. Of cause I will probably pack, unpack, re pack and pack again. Im that kind of organised freak.
So I thought I would compile a detailed list of what I would call Day Pack Essentials. I will follow this blog up with Backpack Essentials. But for now here is all you will need in your day pack, all the things you will need to hand, a fool-proof guide to getting it right when travelling.
I must add, the day pack is an extension to your backpack. If you are anything like me you will be struggling to fit all you want to take in one rucksack. Things tend to overspill into the daypack particularly when you have been on the beaten track for a while. No matter how hard you try not to buy useless tack that at the time you thought would be a perfect gift for your mum, you inevitably end up carting around more than you set out with. Curbing spending money on such things is a skill I am yet to acquire.
I had been in South America for 3 months when I was due to fly from Rio to Lima. I had the mistake buy, my Roxy soft surf bag (mentioned in Getting the right backpack. (a follow up on what to take)), my day pack, additional hold all I had purchased in Argentina and a stiff cardboard tube containing a large (100cm x 30cm) panoramic photo of Rio. Arriving at the check in desk I was asked the usual… ‘Has anyone helped you pack your bags to day?’ No… ‘Has anyone offered to carry your bags today?’ No… and ‘How many bags will you be checking in today?’ Ummm. Well I did try my hardest to check in just the one bag and sneek the rest on as hand luggage but of cause there is a weight restriction on this. And yes you guessed it, my bags were over that limit, even over the check in bag weight limit. I was carrying 45kg, 23kg over the limit. Oooppps.
A moment later and a receipt was presented to me, the charge of my 3 month long over spend in South America… $200. £200? I can’t have had $50 to my name at this point of my travels, how was I going to pay for that. Jesus I’m in trouble. Panic set in, I had to battle with the tears that wanted so badly to steam down my embarrassed red cheeks. I took a huge gulp and asked to speak to someone about this matter. I quickly composed myself and put on my ‘I can talk myself out of anything’ head and walked towards the smartly dressed official who was coming my way, he had a look of purpose across his face. this wasnt going to be easy.
My Spanish wasnt the best let alone my Portuguese, I didnt have a hope of understanding this guy. I tested my charm on him, it didnt work. He soon got fed up of me begging in a language he didn’t understand and sent me to an office behind the check in desks. Here I was pleasantly greeted by a good looking petite girl, I’d say a reject air hostess who didn’t meet the hight restrictions to be a fully fledged hostess so had been shoved in an office. I sat in front of her and tried my very hardest to explain my situation. After a good old grovel and an animated shaking out of my purse to reveal only a $20 note and a few coins. we came to an agreement. I would slip her the $20 and she would work her magic. I couldnt believe it, I had got away with a $200 fine for a backhand $20. I went on my way. Result. Lets hope I don’t acquire too much excess baggage this time round!
So, a good place to start when deciding what to pack in your day pack would be to look in the bag you use on a day to day basis in your normal life. If you usually carry medication pack that, if you chew gum, throw that in. There are the additional seasonal indispensable, sun cream and mosquito repellant. This is what I plan to have in my day pack and why.
Camera – any one who knows me knows that I cannot leave home without my camera, capture every moment forever.
Sun cream – avoid looking like a lobster.
Passport – you wont be going anywhere without this.
Vaccination record – some countries can be funny about you entering without proof of vaccines.
i pod – helps ease the 17hr flights and 24hr bus journeys. (although mine has just decided to die, typical)
Phone – not only can you communicate but doubles up as a clock. I never wear a watch when travelling, the only time you really need to know the time is if you are catching a flight.
Purse/wallet – goes without saying or you’ll get nowhere.
Insect repellent (deet) – avoid being eaten alive in the tropics.
Lip balm spf 20 – to soften lips on the air conditioned planes and to avoid burning lips in scorching heat.
Condom – you never know when you might need one,always protect yourself.
Sunglasses – or you will be blinded by the lights
Lighter – dont get caught out when you fancy a little recreational drug use.
Antibacterial hand gel – get those hands clean before eating.
Deodorant – freshen up on a long journey.
Toothbrush and paste – get rid of that travel breath after being asleep on the bus for hours.
Chewing gum – freshen your breath before liaising with the opposite sex.
Spare memory card – you dont want to run out of photo space before you have chance to download them.
Padlock – lock your bag when you are in crowded places or if you are leaving it to persue an activity like sky diving.
Penknife – Always useful, make sure the blades are less than 6” or you will run the risk of being interrogated for carrying an offencive weapon.
Medication – paracetamol, antihistamines etc
Guide book – always good to read up on where you are heading.
Journal – you never know when you might be inspired to write. Good for scrawling down contact details of people you meet.
Mac-in-a-sac – A good a place as any to keep your rain coat, at hand to whip out in a flash tropical storm.
As you become more comfortable with travel you will tailor your day pack to your individual needs. You will realise what you need regularly and can’t face digging deep down into the depths of your backpack for every time you require it. You may leave your backpack on the roof of an Asian mini bus or in the hold of a Boeing 747 but your day pack will by always by your side.