When you take a holiday, things are pretty simple – you pack what you need for the time you’re going, ask someone to check your mail, try to stuff your pillow in at the end, and head off. I never really appreciated how easy a weekend, or even few weeks away were, until I went travelling for multiple months.
So here’s 10 things you don’t think of that might pop up at some point during a long travel trip, that you don’t have to worry about for a quick getaway.
- Buying new clothes
Whether something popped up that you didn’t figure you’d need, or you’re just sick of wearing the same 3 t-shirts day after day, at some point you’re probably going to head out for some retail therapy. Tip: I always pick up a few pieces of clothes from the local second-hand shop – so if I need to get rid of the old to make room for the new, I’m not leaving behind one of my old favs!
- Buying toiletries
Even if you do travel with full-sized toiletries, inevitably at some point they’re going to run out. Unless you’re doing the kind of travel where toiletries are provided at convenient intervals, you’ll eventually find yourself in a foreign shop trying to work out which bottles are shampoo and which are conditioner!
- Personal grooming
Sometimes in a hostel, simply washing your hair is hard enough – but what about shaving your legs, clipping finger and toenails and plucking eyebrows? Even if you do everything the day before you go, and wax it all off, you’ll still sigh at the thought of wasting precious travelling moments wrestling with the shaver in a tiny shower stall, or squinting into the mirror to adjust your brows.
- Pack for all weather
When you’re heading to Bali or India for a two week adventure you generally only have to pack for one season. For longer travel – there’s sometimes no getting out of it – you’re packing for any kind of weather – hot, cold, rainy, windy. My tip: always take your most practical old favourites – they are the ones you’ll wear and the ones you’ll be thankful for.
- Sending stuff home
Sometimes you just have to carry a lot of stuff and restocking your backpack is essential – maybe you’re trekking or camping for part of the trip or maybe you’re just headed into extreme weather – often sending stuff home is the only way to get rid of the extra weight you don’t need anymore. And yes, you’ll get charged a fortune and you’ll have no way of knowing that it will actually make it – but what can you do?
- Do paperwork
Oh the endless paperwork that comes with long term travelling. Along with the obligatory emails or at least Facebook updates to stay in touch with people back home, there’s scouting for upcoming destinations and sights, booking flights, comparing hostels, making sure your money is in order… the list goes on. And that doesn’t include the random paperwork that comes up from home – suddenly realised your tax is due? Damn!
- Do a proper wash
Even long short-term holidayers can get away with washing their basics in the shower and air drying them. But when you’re travelling for months, there’ll come a time when your jumper is going to be too smelly/filthy to make it through another day, or you’ll get a horrific stain on your only pair of jeans. At some point in a long trip, you have to find a Laundromat and sit around looking out the window until your clothes are washed and dried. Sigh.
- Stop for a few days
Travelling is tiring. When you’re on the go for months on end, you just can’t maintain the go-go-go pace of a month-long holiday. There’s no shame in factoring in some quiet time – a few days in a small town, a room to yourself… it’s good to take some time to recharge the batteries… it also might prevent you from getting sick… which leads me to my next point.
- Getting sick
Even though you should rest up sometimes, either you won’t be able to, or you won’t want to, and then you’ll get sick. Getting sick is no fun when you’re on holidays and believe me, drinking a bottle of wine won’t make it better. Make sure you take a good stash of common medication and an emergency course of antibiotics – you’ll thank me later.
- Lose something
At the start you’ll be on the ball – scouting the walls for stray plugs, double checking the bathroom and under the bed – but as your travel continues, inevitably you’ll forget something at some point. Whether you slept in late and were rushing to pack, or you simply walked off the train without your umbrella, you’ll definitely lose something – and it’ll hurt. When your life is in a small backpack, every piece seems more essential. But don’t worry, everything really is replaceable… just try not to lose your passport!