Travel essentials- the Adventurer

Long term adventurous travel is a very different beast. It’s not one I’ve tamed, so I’ve turned to someone who has.

This is the final in a series of travel essential posts. First was the 15 things that allow me to travel for weekends with a shoulder bag only. Then there were the bits of tech that The Hungry One can’t live without.

This one comes courtesy one of my oldest and dearest friends. She’s been out in the world for a year now- an hiatus of long service leave before she starts a very serious spot of study.  Over the last 11 months she’s travelled through Asia and Central America, the US, met up with us in London and Istanbul, made her way through the Middle East and is now spending some time in India.

She travels with one back pack and a significant spirit of adventure.

These are some of her essentials.

1) Vibram shoes

She swears by these five toed, rubber soled shoes – and not just for barefoot running training or aquatic based activities (whether swimming near reefs in the Caribbean, or diving in Jordan). She loves them because when paired with some non stick rubber mitts they let her do yoga, anywhere.

They mean instant grip on the ground and are a darn sight slimmer than toting around a yoga mat. Despite their unique aesthetic appeal, I completely understand why you’d want to take them with you. Finding a form of exercise that suits you while travelling for a long stretch can be a big thing. If you’re not a runner and you’re not always near a swimming pool yoga is a sound solution. It lets you work up a bit of a sweat in a small space. And if you’ve spent a lot of time on overnight trains, planes and buses, it’s a handy way to ease out the cricks.

2) Large rectangular organic cotton scarf

Not just a square of fabric. A Macgyver solution in warp and weft. It’s a head covering for mosques in Turkey. A sarong for the beach in Oman. A strapless dress for dancing in Cuba. A blanket for long bus trips in China.  Hers has a light stretch is a subtle black and white stripe. It’s worth spending money on a good fabric for it- a good organic cotton will pick up fewer smells from the road.

3) Mesh plane/toiletries bag

The trick is finding something the same dimensions as the plastic liquids bags to take on planes, but sturdier. Something that doesn’t have the top pop open and close like a recalcitrant button after a big meal. And if it’s mesh, it can go through airport scanners easily.

She swears by this one that she picked up from the label ‘Skunkfunk’.  You can get similar ones from Muji.

Muji mesh bag

4) Fes Spray

Tucked inside the mesh bag for planes you’ll find two products. The first is Fes nasal spray. Heston Blumenthal may have maintained in his airplane food investigation that a ‘nasal douche’ is essential to be able to taste things better in altitude. For an adventurous traveller this eucalyptus scented saline spray also helps stop you getting sick. A roaring cold trailing along with you in the depths of Peru is not everyone’s definition of fun.

5) All Good Goop

The second product she’s evangelical about is ‘All Good Goop’; it’s a small pot of organic salve. It’s magical balm that you can smear on your lips, on cuts or dry skin. It’s like a a really big drink and an aromatherapy bath for your body, all in a little pot.

All Good Goop

6) A cup

Turns out travelling with a cup is a useful for many reasons- chief among them that it allows you to make your own free tea in Chinese train stations.

7) Toilet paper

Best to carry your own. The Scouts and Girl Guides were right; always best to be prepared. I’m not sure I need to say any more on this topic.

8 ) Head torch

If you’re staying places without ready or constant electricity, it will come in handy. Rifling through a backpack in the middle of the night, in the middle of the Egyptian desert is a lot easier if you don’t have to use one of your hands to hold the torch. It’s also a lot easier to find your way to the bathroom if you can use two hands to balance.

9) Dry bag

A dry bag allows you to not only protect your pack when the weather turns inclement, but allows you to separate out wet things within the backpack (swimming costume, towel etc). This one has also been employed to protect a great camera from waterspray on dive boats and to carry gear while sea kayaking on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

Mac Pac Dry Bag

10) Cocoon Cable Organiser

Sleek and nifty, this CD case sized flexible grid of elastic straps gives all those stray bits and pieces a home. No more having your headphones clinging to your charger like a nervous child or losing your camera battery at the bottom of your bag.

Cocoon Cable Organiser

11) Credit card sized bottle opener

The brilliant thing about this is how it fits in your wallet like a credit card. This one came from the Little Creatures Brewery in West Australia; essentially a piece of home that’s with you all the time. Added bonuses; if you’re travelling on your own, being able to share a six pack of beers is one easy way to make some new friends.

 12) Silk inner sleeping sheet

Snug and small- and clean. When you’re not 100% confident on the cleanliness of the bedding that you’re dossing down on, carrying your own light weight sleeping sack is one way to rest easy.  She heartily endorses the ‘Sea to Summit 100% silk one’.  It’s machine washable, only weighs 140 g and comes in its own sack.

Silk inner sleeping sheet

13) A leatherman

She might not agree with the explicitly gendered naming convention- but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t tote around a very nifty ‘all in one’ device. Beyond a knife, her leatherman includes the plum essential of a corkscrew. Just don’t put it in your carry on when travelling on flights. You won’t be able to keep it for long.

14) A sense of adventure.

If this kind of stuff isn’t your cup of tea, you’d be best booking a hotel and going and spending your days having long lunches. When we travel together, we meet somewhere in the middle.


  1. Great list. My new travel essential is a Kindle. I used to lug around a stack of books always on holidays but now I am transformed and just have one slim little piece of electronics.

  2. I don’t want this series to end! It’s been such fun reading tips from different travel perspectives. The credit card bottle opener is very clever.

  3. Awesome list! Whenever I travel, I take way too much and end up forgetting things anyway. These are very good little tips, though I would never wear the toe-shoes, too silly for me! hehe

  4. OMG yes to the cable organiser! When I went to the US recently, I had a bag dedicated to all them damn cables LOL
    I ended up putting each cable into a sandwich bag so I can keep track and not have to untangle cords…saved so much time.

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