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Preparing Your Bag for Adventure Travel

Preparing Your Bag for Adventure Travel

The movie Romancing the Stone had a hilarious sequence when Michael Douglas' character meets Kathleen Turner's character, who accepts his offer to drive her to a phone booth hundreds of miles away. He just refuses to assist her in transporting her totally ridiculous baggage, and a few moments later, goes even further by cutting the heels off her shoes so that she can actually walk in them, as seen in the trailer. This small snafu encapsulates the heart of what it means to pack for adventurous travel. Less is certainly more in this case!


When traveling to a new place, it is generally quite simple to distinguish between the seasoned traveler and the beginner. In most cases, the inexperienced traveler is hauling massive luggage or attempting to carry a brightly colored backpack that is much larger than they are. In addition to being outfitted in the newest "must have" adventure gear from the most costly adventure shops, they are also sporting "trekking" shoes that are worth hundreds of dollars. For a variety of reasons, this is not the proper way to go about things. The first is a sense of well-being. When you travel on vacation, you will most likely be doing a lot of walking, and walking with 50 kg of baggage is both exhausting and challenging. Also, keep in mind that you will most likely get very filthy and destroy whatever clothes you bring (even if they are pricey "adventure apparel"), as well as the possibility that part of your equipment may be stolen (sometimes by other travelers). Bringing all of your finest and most costly stuff makes you a walking target for hustlers and thieves, so be careful what you bring. With all of this in mind, here are a few pointers to consider:

Luggage-If you are going to be doing anything even slightly athletic and walking more than a few hundred meters, a backpack is unquestionably the best way to go. However, not all of the packs are made equal! Consider something tiny and unobtrusive. Compared to a bright purple or red pack, dark colors such as brown and black will draw less notice. If possible, choose a pack with a flap on the top that covers the hole to prevent water and other debris from getting into the pack (the types that zip up WILL get your stuff wet). Furthermore, you should keep your clothes in waterproof stuff bags-I use ordinary plastic shopping bags, but there are harder ones available from waste disposal facilities and camping shops that you can purchase as well. In addition, you want your pack to be as compact as it possibly be. Especially if you are just on a short vacation (mountaineers may need something bigger). Despite the fact that I use a 30 liter pack, I would recommend a maximum of 45 liters for general purpose usage. You will be carrying it about a lot, so if you are unable to put anything in it, it is likely that you do not need that item.

Clothing - Keep it light and breathable, please! Cotton is a staple in every wardrobe. Three shirts are typically plenty, since you can wear one, wash one, and keep one as a back-up. If you are heading somewhere that is even slightly sunny, bring ones with collars to keep the sun off your neck. When it comes to trousers, I like cargos that can be transformed into shorts by zipping the legs off (which can also double as swimming trunks). Dark colors are always going to be effective at concealing filth and grime, so that is another excellent suggestion. Typically, apart from underwear and socks, I don't bring anything else with me. You should constantly keep in mind that if you run out of anything, you can always purchase it there for a fraction of the cost of buying it at home! When traveling, don't forget to pack a hat to protect yourself from the sun, since being sunburned is a terrible pain.

Shoes - Unless you plan on doing some real climbing, you won't need those $300 Scarpa hiking boots, at least not for the time being. You can get the $300 Scarpas in the local markets for $10 in many impoverished nations because some stupid tourist left them outside his door to dry and an entrepreneurial local grabbed them to sell at the markets! Keep in mind that comfort is key - I typically go for Converse All Stars, but any kind of inexpensive canvas shoe will do just fine. My Converse shoes enabled my feet to get wet approximately ten minutes before my friend's feet were wet-he was wearing $300 Scarpas! Once again, if you need anything more superior, you will most likely be able to get it at a lower cost at your destination.

Other belongings-There are a few items that I would never travel without again. The most important thing is sunscreen, since I really despise being sunburnt. A compact multi-tool is also useful from time to time. However, avoid purchasing a leatherman since you will either lose it or have it stolen. On the other hand, you may often get multi-tools for $5 or less that are quite enough. Another item I usually have with me is a lighter ($1 plastic kind), which I use for anything from lighting people's cigarettes to sealing the ends of ropes.

The key to packing for adventure travel is to keep your belongings as light, unobtrusive, and inexpensive as possible. This keeps you from becoming a human pack mule or becoming a target for thieves and hustlers, among other things. You will also discover that you will appreciate your trip experience more since you will not be as weary or concerned about your equipment as you would otherwise be.

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