This post is not to tell you what to bring to your travels. The content of your backpack or suitcase is highly personal! Also this is not about the obvious or usual stuff like toiletry bag or an adapter for foreign outlets (that is always good to have in your backpack though!). I want to talk a bit about what almost four years of traveling and trying out different ways of packing have taught me about myself and my necessities to feel comfortable and inspired wherever I go. And talking Corona: You never know how long you might be stuck somewhere…
This is a new list that I made after being stuck in Ecuador missing a lot of things… Not to sound materialistic but what good is a life on the road without some bits and bobs that bring you joy and feed your passions? Some of those things are quite handy to have and saved my butt several times. Others have the only purpose to make me happy.
- Speaker: So many times I wished that I had brought my good speaker… So many times when we cooked or I was by myself and wanted to dance… Or just to watch a movie with friends! The speakers of my phone and computer are way too squeaky or not powerful enough to set the mood. Even if some small speakers might seem pricey believe me! You won’t regret it!
- That brings me to the opposite of good outward sound: Noise-cancelling headphones! Oh goddess, how many night bus rides have those little guys saved me from noisy co-passengers or helped me to actually understand the text of an audiobook or the plot of a movie… Invest your money in good headphones, fellow travelers! They might save your sanity.
- Painting supplies: I love to paint with watercolours. It brings me a lot of joy and at it can carry memories like photos would do. From now on I will bring the whole shebang!
- Story telling cubes or other backpack friendly games: Those cubes are from a game that you can play with friends in which the cubes define the story you are telling. Also as a writer it’s nice to have a funny and unconventional prompt rollings those dices and have a good laugh.
- Less practical clothes: This is probably something that a lot of travellers would argument against. But! I love colourful clothes, I love hippie clothes. I don’t need many but I decided that I don’t want to just have practical stuff. I want to be comfortable and feel beautiful. Again: Who knows how long I will be somewhere… So I’d rather bring whatever I want and love!
- Always essential oils! (Lavender! Rose, orange, tea tree) Those have been a saver for me! I can’t sleep or feel anxious? Boom, lavender oil on the pillow! I ran out of deodorant? Boom, rose oil! Sour throat? Boom, gargling with tea tree oil! Of course, also that is up to your personal taste and preference. Essential oils have so many benefits and different properties so I highly recommend for you to check them out!
- Tarot deck: You don’t have to be a firm believer to appreciate tarot cards! I personally prefer the Osho Zen Tarot which can give you a good supportive insight in what is going on but also a kick in the butt if necessary. That’s why I love it. A tarot for me is not so much about mystical and obscure power but about something that works like a focus point. They let you see what is at the surface of your mind using images and keywords. And as a writer they can provide you with awesome prompts!
- Notes in PDF of what I learned to organise workshops: Because the mind has just as much storing capacity… After doing my writing therapist certificate I sat there with hundred pages of notes and texts thinking how to take them with me in case I wanted to give a workshop or help somebody with exercises. Well, the solution, my friends, is to scan that shit and to put it on a USB or on GoogleDrive so you can access it easily while on the road.
- USB stick or external drive: This one is already kind of obvious. One more reason to bring a disc or a USB stick with a lot of space is for movies, music or other data that you might want to share (and you didn’t bring a computer or tablet) or that might be shared with you! It can save you from sever boredom and mindless scrolling through social media.
- Handicraft supplies: I love to knit and to crochet! It’s one of my favourite meditations. Depending where you go the weather might not be always sunny and hot and bringing some handicraft supplies can again save your sanity from drowning in boredom or social media overuse. Also sitting together with others whilst talking and creating something is a beautiful and bonding experience!
- Scissors: Best for me would be one that works for paper and yarn. I like to cut my water colour paper so I have more to paint on. And I’m better at creating smallish paintings… It’s just a handy thing to have.
- kindle: Another handy thing to have. I love “real” books that I can eventually exchange in a hostel (isn’t it an amazing thing some hostels have?!). But reading as much as I love to do is not very back-friendly… E-books can be the solution for that (insert cross reference to bringing a USB stick or external drive because who knows which books people might be able to share with you!).
- Yoga mat: As a yoga practitioner and teacher that’s a kind of obvious one too. Still I want to emphasise how important it can be that when you love to do something that you bring your own which (hopefully) is the best.
- Recording device: Yes, I know, phones can do that. But I like to separate some things from each other (might even start bringing my camera…) and I like the idea to sit with my recorder in a forest describing what I see to write it down later or to hold on to ideas for paintings or texts. Also, to have a recorder avoids the distraction that a smartphone might have on me…
- Kalimba, egg rattle or something to make simple music with: Imagine sitting around a fire with some friends and singing medicine songs. Or being by yourself just wanting to make some music. Just because.
- Crystals: They can soothe emotions or bring intentions into focus, tons of ways to let them help you with their amazing properties. I want to put together a traveling altar that can be arranged nicely wherever I am and that will contain some crystals like amethyst and rose quartz and other beautiful things.
- Notebooks: Maybe obvious thing again. And you could buy them locally in the moment. But: Who knows what might happen and then you are stuck without anything to write! The horror!
- Power bank: Obvious life saver!
The essence of this post is: Don’t be stingy with yourself and don’t let your rational side talk over your creative passionate side. Bring what can lift up your mood, that brings you joy and that feeds your passions. Maybe you can even make money with your hobbies while traveling. Or make somebody else happy with a little painting, or bracelet or song. A little kindness often goes a long way.
Of course it depends on how you like to travel. With public transport, a rented car or hitchhiking? That makes a huge difference on the weight I am willing and able to carry. If I know I will be moving a lot around then yes, some things will have to stay behind. But if I stay at the same place for a long(er) time then there will more items that seem “useless” or unnecessary but they serve the purpose to make me feel comfortable and at home. So: Don’t listen to anybody when you make your backpack! Not even to me! Make your own experiences in what you need and WANT to accompany you while traveling.
Journey well, my friends!