In this post I'd like to cover some of the things you'll need as you get going on your trip. This list is very general since there are so many choices and, ultimately, what you choose to carry with you will depend on where you're going and what you will be doing.
I use a very basic Mountain Equipment Coop backpack that I bought for $100 and that seems to do the trick. The best advice I can give is to pick one that fits comfortably on your body. You want one with a padded â€œbeltâ€ so that most of the weight will rest on your hips and thus carried by your legs instead of your shoulders. Many come with day packs and some of the more expensive types will come with all sorts of clips and strings for your water bottle, dirty laundry, tent, etc.
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Will you be hiking in the mountains or trekking in the jungle or will you be crawling through the concrete jungles of big cities while sipping cappuccinos in fine art cafes? Where you go and what you do will largely determine that you need to carry with you. Hiking gear consists of sturdy boots, water bottle, backpack and, if necessary, a tent. Keep in mind you'll be able to buy a lot of what you need once you get to your target destination. If you're going for a short trip and know exactly what you'll be doing, then take the appropriate clothes with you. However, if you're going for an extended trip, such as a RTW or aiming for the nomadic lifestyle, then you'll probably be better off buying and selling stuff as you go. Finally, if you're going for work, then you'll have to pack some nice clothes even though jeans and sports coats have become fashionable even in professional settings.
Bring some just in case. You never know when you'll be invited to an embassy, attend a film premier or meet a cute girl that you might want to stick around for more than one night. Polo shirts are good but button-up shirts have more flare. Though many prefer the look of jeans, I prefer either cargo pants or causal dress pants. You can get a suit or dress tailored in Thailand, Vietnam, India, Ukraine, or any number of other places that do a very good job. Be sure to insist on double stitching and check the fabric before you buy just to be sure you're getting something that is not only real, but comfortable for you to wear. Above all, ask around and see where others have gone before.
I use a used towel that I took from home. But I've seen a few people carrying around those â€œswimmer'sâ€ towels, y'know, the super-thin ones that are super absorbent, dry fast, and fold up into nearly nothing? Yes, I've been eyeing those lately and am just waiting for someone to forget theirs, or give it to me, so I too can join the hip kids. If you're travelling through a place such as SE Asia, a sarong wouldn't be a bad purchase either, and it can double as a towel, coffee sieve, bed cover or blanket.
Your foot ware will depend largely on what you're doing. Beach bumming in Bali won't require the same rugged rubber that working on an Australian or Canadian farm needs. Further, city strollin is a little different from mountain hiking. I carry a pair of flip flops that double as my shower shoes, a pair of nice shoes that I hardly wear, and if I know I'll be working on farms or going hiking, then I carry a pair of boots. However, cross trainers can fit in many situations and circumstances.
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