Travel Stuff for Going to Dangerous Locations
What are the real travel essentials? What is the best travel stuff to pack in your carry on luggage if you are going to a potentially dangerous location? Before you hit the travel stores and buy lots of travel gadgets make sure you read this guide to the most important items you need for hazardous destinations. Remember, keep it light, simple and flexible in use.
Carry On Luggage
The choice of bag is all-important as you will tend to fill whatever you have. Something that is compact enough for taking as airline carry on luggage and light enough that you don’t need wheels is good.
A shoulder-bag that can convert into a backpack is a worthwhile investment. If it has an extendable capacity, it will help to more comfortably carry all your travel stuff.
It is wise not to carry all your valuables in one place and a money belt is a great help with this. Companies such as Lifeventure produce belts that looks like an ordinary slide-buckle belt, but with a zipped compartment on the back to slide cash inside.
Long-sleeved shirts offer the most flexibility to the traveller. They are generally smarter than short-sleeved versions and they provide more protection from the sun, cold and biting insects. There is always the option to roll your sleeves up when you want to be more relaxed or just cool off.
Pick something that is smart, comfortable and easy to clean. Plain white shirts look nice in the travel store but it is best to avoid them; you are better going for a patterned shirt that will not show up creases or small dirt marks.
Pants and Trousers
Travel stores are full of trekking pants made of lightweight materials, often with leg sections that can be zipped off so they can convert into shorts. These can be good but they are best used as your backup pair and stored in your bag.
For most travel a smart pair of jeans is the best option, as denim is ubiquitous and therefore you are less likely to stand out as a foreigner.
For smart shoes loafers are a good option as they fulfil the ‘simple, light, flexible’ criteria. Remember, nothing too fancy so maybe leave the Gucci Damo driving shoes at home!
It is also worth carrying a pair of running shoes ‘barefoot’ style training shoes are ideal as they are lighter and more compact than cushioned trainers.
Baseball caps are almost as common a sight as denim and provide useful protection from the sun and the rain. Avoid logos though.
Windproof or waterproof
These days you can get breathable waterproofs that are incredibly light. Adventure racing brands such as OMM make smocks that are among the lightest available.
If don’t need a waterproof then a windproof made fromPertex is a great idea. Smocks, such as those made by Montane, pack down into a package smaller than a tennis ball.
It is always useful to have a notepad and pencil. Whether you want to capture ideas, draw sketches or keep a journal you will always be glad you have packed one. A nopepad has the added benefit of being a place to secure excerpts from guidebooks and a good back up when trying to communicate with someone across the language barrier.
A pencil is the simplest and most reliable way to write but a cheap black ball-point pen is worth carrying too.
There are some remote places where you need a satellite phone but in most locations, even dangerous one, you can find some sort of mobile phone coverage. If you have a smartphone you will also have the added benefit of the device being an MP3 player, book library, email and more besides.
If you do have an expensive phone keep it hidden away, they really will make you a target to thieves wherever you are in the world. The best thing to do is to get a cheap handset and a local sim card for general use and as a back-up device.
You may well be able to take pictures with your phone but it is often worth carrying a camera too. The photos you take are likely to be the most enduring thing you bring back. Forget buying the Llama-hair poncho; concentrate on taking some great pics!
A compact digital camera is a sensible choice, especially if you are travelling light and don't want to draw too much attention to yourself. A small tripod, such as the flexible Joby Gorillapod, is a great accessory.
Toiletries and Wash-kit
Try and keep your toiletries list short. You can then keep your wash kit in clear zipped bag that is small, robust and suitable for airline checks.
Don’t forget to pack a pair of ear-plugs, a travel plug, nail clippers and some first-aid items.
Many places off the beaten track do not have reliable electricity and therefore it is worth carrying a small torch. A simple LED flashlight uses very little power but can provide ample light to read a book, ward off traffic and locate all of your kit when you have a pre-dawn departure. A small head torch (such as those made by Petzl) are very good but you may opt for a wind-up torch if you want to avoid carrying batteries.
If power supplies are unreliable it is not just a flashlight that is handy. A small solar charger is one travel gadget that is worth investing in. As well as directly charging devices such as your phone some versions (such as the Solio) can also acts as a rechargeable battery and can store power until when you need it. Just make sure you pack the right adaptors for what you want to charge!