Backpacking and Adventure Travel

Backpacking in the jungle in Burma

Traveler’s Tales

Some random thoughts on backpacking and adventure travel.  But first, some background . . . . 

I did my backpacking and adventure travel in the time before the internet. 

Back when nothing was meticulously planned and letters sent Poste Restante were the best way for the folks back home to keep in touch.  (If that’s a new term for you, it basically means your Mum would write you a letter and send it to a post office in a city where you planned to be in a couple of months time.  The Post Office keeps the letter and when you arrive in the city you go and pick it up. Simple – assuming the letter didn’t get lost in the post. )

And if you wanted recommendations of places to go or good local restaurants, the best way was to read the guest book at the guesthouse where you were staying or see notices pinned to their wall. 

For example, I probably wouldn’t have quit a job and bought a return ticket to a random Caribbean island had I read about the supposed dangers of landing in a foreign country where you don’t have a clue about the culture or what to expect. Other than there will be sunshine and reggae. 

On that trip I walked around Antigua and slept on deserted beaches and in resorts that were under construction. Often sharing a bottle of cheap rum with the night watchman.  I also got a few dollars cleaning luxury yachts in Nelson’s Dockyard and tips for trying to explain the rules of cricket to American tourists. 

Another job I had, in a bank, allowed me to take a few weeks off in the winter, so I headed to central America.  Flights to Nicaragua were cheap, no visa was required.  So I headed there.  And only found out when I landed that Managua had been mostly destroyed by an earthquake a few years earlier, places in the obviously now out of date guide book no longer existed and that no tourists went there now.   It was pretty hard to travel the country as bus services were unreliable.  So I headed to Costa Rica and hung out with Quakers in a cloud forest for a while. Which turned out to be a great experience.

I also probably wouldn’t have decided to take a year off and go and work on a Moshav in Israel for a year then travel for 3 months in Egypt and north Africa, if I had spent weeks analyzing the political situation or reading countless experiences of others.  Analysis paralysis would have set in and I’d have had doubts about doing it.  But it worked out fine. 

I had a great time working for two families at Ma’ale Gamla in the Golan Heights.  I had an old caravan overlooking the Dead Sea and could sit and watch the fighters flying just a few hundred metres above ground level on their way to and from bombing Lebanon. 

Whilst there, the only book I had to read was an old Lonely Planet Guide to India.  I decided that a good way to see India would be by bicycle.  As trains were always 24 hours late and overcrowded, buses always crash and I couldn’t ride a motorbike.  The fact that I hadn’t ridden a bicycle more than about 15 miles (20km) before wasn’t an issue. 

So I spent 8 months cycling about 15,000km around Asia on a $10/day budget.  Back then I just relied on the kindness of strangers, a good map and the Lonely Planet in order to plan a route and not to get lost or get into trouble. 

Although I did inadvertently cycle into a war zone in Sri Lanka when I tried to head down the east coast road from Trincomalee past paddy fields full of soldiers. Eventually reaching a checkpoint where no-one was allowed to pass.  That marked the border of rebel held territory. A friendly Captain took me in his jeep to the nearby army base.  In proper colonial tradition, we had afternoon tea and a chat and he had a driver take me a to a town on the main road.  From there I headed back to Colombo, and saw the news that the base where I had tea a couple of days earlier had been overrun by insurgents and most people killed. 

Also had a few fun experiences in Burma. 

Sleeping in many police stations and soldiers home’s in small towns as there weren’t any hotels licensed to take foreigners.  Back then western tourists had to take specific trains or buses to get around the country.  But I was on a bike, so could go, or at least try to go, anywhere.  Way up in the north of Burma, in Myitkyna I had a policeman come to my guesthouse to tell me it was time to go back to Mandalay.  There was one train a day around 7am. I managed to get up late three days running and miss it. He wasn’t too happy about that and followed me on his bicycle wherever I went out exploring the area. 

I also listened to the 1997 FA Cup Final on the BBC World Service with a group of monks in the Buddhist monastery atop Mount Popa.  I stayed there for a couple of nights as it was free.  

Cambodia was also far more interesting back then.  They’d just been a military coup when I got there so there were virtually no tourists. I had to fly in to Phnom Penh, as land borders were closed.  Planes landed over the wreckage of a Vietnamese airliner that had crashed a few days earlier –  due to all the radar and lights at the airport being looted. Places such as the S-21 jail and the Killing Fields hadn’t been tidied up for tourists and sanitized.  They really were extremely eerie, thought provoking places. 

Back then you couldn’t go by road to Siem Reap as it was still too dangerous.  The only way was by boat, up the Mekong and over the vast expanse of the Tonle Sap.  And in Siem Reap itself the first luxury hotel was still under construction.  I rode around the temples by bicycle and had the place pretty much all to myself.  I remember a group of Japanese tourists being there, but other than that Angkor Wat and the town were almost deserted.  

And during all of this I didn’t keep a blog or feel the need to take selfies every day.  At the end of my bike ride, in Bangkok, I was down to my last $100 travellers check and my total luggage was 7kg plus the bike.  It was time to cut my hair, buy a cheap shirt and trousers and get a job teaching English.  That led to the founding of the site for foreign teachers in Thailand – which a friend of mine now runs. 

Everything changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse.  Backpacking and enjoying some adventures on the way is no exception.  It’s much easier nowadays to travel anywhere.  But fewer people seem to want to get off the beaten path. 

So are you cut out for the life of a backpacker?  How should you plan your trip?  What should you take into account nowadays?  This article aims to answer that.  Or at least give you something to think about as you plan your travels.

Mount Popa

Is Backpacking Right For You?

If you check out a lot of Facebook pages or even Twitter photos, it seems that more and more people are opting to travel in Europe and many parts of Asia with nothing more than a backpack. A lot of backpack travelers seem to have adopted some sort of uniform.

Indeed, you can see them a mile away if you travel in certain parts of Thailand. You can tell them from the “normal” foreign tourists by their dreadlocks, unkempt hair, sandals, tie-dyed shirts, and, of course, the sizable bulky backpack they’re lugging along.  

Many backpack travelers have irritated the nerves of locals in many spots around the world because it turns out that they pay for their travel by begging. They would ask other tourists for money so they can get to the next town, and they would then sit by the roadside and beg until they get to the next point in their itinerary.  The idea of working, saving money and then travelling isn’t popular for some reason.

Well, it turns out that a lot of these beggars with backpacks are quite well off. Maybe they have middle-class parents or come from relatively comfortable backgrounds in Western Europe or the United States. What’s going on?

Rightly or wrongly, this is why many people, both within and outside of the professional tour industry, have a reasonably low or conflicted view of backpacking travel. This guide helps you decide whether this form of travel is right for you.

What is Backpacking?

Before we get into the key questions, you need to ask yourself whether backpacking travel makes sense for you. We first need to define it. 

Backpacking travel is a form of traveling that cuts down on the creature comforts of travel. First, you are using public transportation, and you’re carrying all your possessions in your backpack. You mostly walk along with travel spots once you reach your destination.

But you get from one different itinerary destination to the next using public transport. Not only do you commute so you can get to rub shoulders with the locals, but you also don’t go to hotels when it comes time to turn in.  Instead, you look for hostels or very low-cost accommodations like bargain rate Airbnbs or, better yet, you find a local contact that would let you crash on their couch. The essence of backpacking travel is all about immediacy, authenticity, and mobility.

When you are traveling in a typical commercial travel package group, it’s effortless to feel like you’re cattle because they herd you from spot to spot. There’s a guide waving a colored banner. You look at your chest, and there’s a colored plastic sticker on it, so you know which group you’re in.  In case you get lost.

Backpacking travel is the antithesis of that. You set your itinerary, and you are unguided. So, whether you go with a group of friends or go alone, you guide yourself. So, you know where you’re going, you read up on what that place is about, and you ask the locals and interact with them.

There is a sense of “in your face” authenticity to it. The idea, of course, is to strip away all the creature comforts and fluff and enjoy where you’re going on a profound, personal basis. The question is, “Is this the kind of thing that would make sense to you?”

To answer that question, you have to ask yourself the following:

How Important is Comfort to Me?

Backpacking travel is not easy. Not by a long shot. You basically would have to trek on foot not only from where you’re staying but among all the different locations within your itinerary stop. The whole idea of backpacking travel is to understand and appreciate the local culture from the ground.

It’s unfiltered, unchecked, and unvarnished. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I can handle the heat. Humidity is not a problem for me. Mosquitos, I can live with.” That’s fine. But are you ready to handle the rest of reality that you may be facing because you’re shunning creature comforts?

There’s a possibility you might get robbed. Your physical safety is not assured, depending on where you’re going. Of course, a lot of these issues and risks can be planned for. With the proper itinerary, you can sidestep a lot, if not all, of these problems. But the thing is, are you physically willing to go through such an experience?

How Open-Minded Am I?

A lot of travelers, especially from highly industrialized countries, have a very high opinion of their open-mindedness. But as soon as they see something jarring like local food that they, in a million years, wouldn’t consider real food, they think twice.

Are you that type of person? It’s okay to admit this. There’s no shame in this. The key is to be as honest with yourself as possible because backpacking travel puts you front and center. It is real travel – not air-conditioned. It doesn’t happen in a pressurized chamber.

You get out there and rub shoulders and get sweaty, and you smell what they smell, and you see what they see on a day to day basis.

Am I Ready to Get Real?

Backpacking travel is a class-free form of traveling. What do I mean by that? A lot of travel packages are packaged to maximize their luxury. They market it to appeal to the very human need to be rewarded for all the hard work that we have put into building our careers and family and making us more comfortable in life.

Backpacking travel is the complete opposite. You get to see what’s ugly. You get to see what other people would run away from or try to hide. The reason for this is backpacking travel doesn’t prioritize the sweet-smelling, good looking, and “beautiful” parts of a city.

Instead, it aims to see the whole city. It’s like appreciating somebody’s face. Most people would instead look at what that person has going for them. Maybe she has beautiful eyes or a great set of lips, and they just focus on those.

A person looking for authenticity looks at the whole face. There may be warts, different tones of skin on the same face, or a lot of oil or pimples. That’s how they define beauty. It’s rooted in authenticity and what is real.

The question is, are you ready to do that? In any city, there will always be beautiful, shiny objects that people desire. For example, in Sydney, I can guarantee you that most people depicting Sydney would present you with a picture of the Opera House.

But Sydney also has a rough part of town. It applies to any city or town in the world. Are you interested or willing to see that part of town as well? 

The bottom line: Backpacking isn’t for everyone

If you are looking to fully understand your world and learn more about who you are and how far you can go.  Or discover how much you can learn from the outside world.  Then it may be worth trying at least once in your life.

Selfie on a hillside

How to Plan the Right Way for Solo Travel

The majority of people doing big trips still do so solo.  If you do this then you’ll have to learn to be more reliant on yourself and have faith in your own abilities. Plus understand your strengths and weaknesses.

As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. That saying is so prevalent and popular precisely because it’s true. A little bit of preparation can go a long way. Bu proper planning is the key. 

The problem is many people don’t plan properly. So, certain unexpected things happened, and their best-laid plans go up in smoke, and they become disappointed or discouraged and head home early.  You either have to have better preparation or quickly learn to overcome unexpected adversity in a foreign land.  It’s much less stressful to do the former.

If you are planning to go on a solo travel tour, in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, parts of Africa, or the middle east and Latin America, your trip can be both memorable, safe, and fun. A lot of people are under the impression that solo travel is necessarily expensive, unsafe, or stressful. None of those situations need to be true. You just need adequate preparation. Follow the framework below so you can come up with a solution that makes sense to you.

Please note that I used the word “framework.” I didn’t say “blueprint” or “steps.” I did not say “checklist.” Everybody is different. Everybody has preferences that make sense only to them. Use this framework and customize and tweak it to fit your circumstances.  This way, you will be able to pull off solo travel regardless of your budget and how much time you have available to you or your itinerary.

Make Sure Your Itinerary Truly Makes Sense to You

Many people make choices as far as travel destinations, itineraries, and product choices go, based on what other people think. If you don’t believe me, take a look at your Facebook timeline. Chances are many of your friends travel all over the place.

Some people travel to Europe while others go to South America, Japan, and all points in between. What kind of pattern do you see? What do they all seem to have in common?

Well, it turns out that a lot of your friends tend to go to the same places. For example, if somebody is going to France, it is hard to believe that most people think that the only way to prove that they’ve been to France is to stop by Paris and take a snapshot of them in front of the Eiffel Tower?

Similarly, if people visit Florence, no visit to that Tuscan culture would be complete without a picture of David’s statue in the background. The same goes for the leaning tower of Pisa. The problem is when you travel this way, you are setting up your itinerary based on what’s important to other people.

Do you want to go out of your way as you go from Milan to Sicily to stop by Pisa so that you can take a corny snapshot of yourself “holding up” the leaning tower? That’s quite an expensive side trip.

When you go through your itinerary, ask yourself these central questions:

  • Is this who I am?
  • What am I going to look for, and what do those places mean?
  • What do those places say about me?
  • What do I stand to learn not only about that place and the people who live there but about myself?

You have to understand that travel, ultimately, is not external. It’s not a physical geographic trip from point A to point B. Real travel is all about the journey that’s happening inside you. It’s about being aware of how the things that you smell, taste, touch, and hear impact who you think you are.

When you approach this from that perspective, you will then be able to come up with an itinerary that would be a lot of fun and personally exciting and life changing. Please understand that you’re not doing this to make an impression. There’s nothing to prove. There are no people to impress.

Instead, you’re doing this as a form of self-discovery. Act and plan accordingly.

Pack as Little as Possible

While it’s essential to be prepared, and this means having the basics like a suitable footwear; a smart phone; a good quality backpack and your favorite toothbrush. Everything else can be bought on site.

The problem with a lot of travelers is that they feel that they have to bring as much of the stuff from their home to wherever it is they’re going. It’s as if they’re in a mad rush to recreate the creature comforts of where they come from to where they’re headed. What’s wrong with this picture?

The essence of traveling is to step out of your old routine. It’s all about taking a break from who you are or who you think you are. That is real traveling. Nothing defeats that more than bringing all this stuff and clutter that already stifles you back home.

Do you see the disconnect? Do you know why it doesn’t work? Do you know why it fails? Pack only what you can put in a small fanny pack. Everything else should be picked up along the way. This situation forces you to focus on the experience, not the trappings.

You’re not there to impress people, nor is it a fashion show. People are not there to judge you. Instead, you’re there to find yourself. That is what’s incredible about solo travel because you’re traveling deep within you and your values and who you are.

Travel to Listen

There’s a reason why human beings have two ears and one mouth. It makes a lot of sense to listen first before talking. People don’t care about what you think you know. All they care about is whether you care.

As the old saying goes, people will only care about what you know once they know that you care. Stick to that and focus on listening to people. One of the worst stereotypes of the American traveler is the “ugly American.”

It is the person who would go from any corner of the world, asking the people who live there “Why isn’t your country more like America?” Unfortunately, or fortunately, people do not have the patience for that kind of attitude, and rightfully so.

It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter how much you have going for you. None of that matters. That baggage is something that you can safely leave at home. Solo travel is all about you escaping or stepping out of your daily routine, and yes, this includes your old identity.

So, do yourself a big favor and open yourself up to broader learning, enlightenment, and transcendence by merely listening. You’re not there to judge, compare, or stack people up against each other. You’re not out there to come up with some sort of ranking.

You’re there to simply observe, take everything in, and enjoy the place with the people who already live there. A pretty simple mission. Very hard to accomplish.

The Final Word on Solo Travel

Solo travel can be one of the most life-changing things that you could ever do. The best part of all of this is you don’t have to have a lot of money. You just have to have the right plan and, most importantly, the right mindset.

Solo travel is all about self-exploration. You may be physically going somewhere, but ultimately, it’s the journey you’re taking deep within you that counts the most. Enjoy your trip.

Sunset views

Is Adventure Travel Worth It?

One of the most ridiculed groups of tourists in the United States and Europe are those which use tour buses, tour guides, and tour groups. You know exactly what this means. If you work or live near some sort of tourist trap you have probably seen such travel groups. You will need to have a smile on your face or you must have been quite irritated.

Whatever the case, there has always been a negative vibe surrounding travel groups. They seem tacky, contrived, and something shallow or superficial and even downright exploitative about how they work. The idea is to get a bunch of random strangers who are interested in a particular country’s tourist attraction, herd them on to buses, planes, cruise ships, and then call it a night.

These packages are then sold on the internet and through travel agencies. There’s really no customization in it much less personalization. A lot of the color, customs, traditions, and culture are reduced to talking points spit out by almost robotic tour guides.

I realise that this is a stereotypical view of the regular travel group experience.  But it’s no surprise that a lot of people don’t want to see themselves as a package tour tourist. Many prefer to take things into their own hands and do DIY travel tours. In other words, they would round up their friends, check out local tour guide books, plan a trip and head off.

The idea behind this organic form of travel is to really see the country or locale from the perspective of the people who live there. As commendable as this idea maybe, in the end, just because you have a backpack and you’re wearing flipflops or sandals hiking all the way through Thailand or Laos, you’re still not a local.

A lot of people who try to see exotic locales from the ground level but can’t let go of creature comforts like air-conditioned hotel rooms, 24/7 wireless internet connections, the whole package. There is still something lost in translation and it doesn’t seem as genuine, real, and “in your face” as it could be.

Enter Adventure Travel

Adventure travel drops all the pretenses of Westerners going to a developing country and assuming the native perspective by simply choosing to travel by backpacking and using sandals.

Instead, adventure travel focuses on specific challenging areas of otherwise tourist destinations. Let’s say that you’ve always wanted to visit Thailand but instead of hitting the tourist traps and hotspots like the floating wet market or zigzagging through the wide range of Buddhist temple itinerary, you go straight to river kayaking as well as volunteering in a hilltribe farming family. Welcome to the world of adventure travel.

This type of travel marries the exotic locales of interesting cultures throughout the world but at the same time puts you in a situation where you can actually interact with that environment. It can be done in a continuum. You don’t necessarily have to be a farmhand, you don’t need to learn how to herd sheep in the Middle East to get into adventure travel. Nor do you have to live like a caveman.

Adventure Travel in a Nutshell

Adventure travel is all about letting go of some of the creature comforts of the modern tourism industry so you can get am unvarnished look of what it’s really like to experience nature or the great outdoors in that exotic place you want to visit.

It is also a great way to save a lot of money because a lot of those luxuries cost quite a bit.

Adventure travel is for people who are willing to experience life on the ground at first hand and at the same time avoiding backpacking and other gimmicks. You then actually get to live in a specific area that people doing the things that the residents do.

It’s a great way to pick up a new language, make new friends, but it’s realistic enough and obvious to everybody and to yourself that you are not really trying to become one of the members of the local culture you are interacting with.

You are still traveling but you want to travel in such a way that is respectful at the same time helpful to those around you. There are again many different gradations of adventure travel because it can be defined in a continuum.

One extreme involves people who roll up their sleeves and work at a farm or at a fishing village. The other extreme is people who live in a National Park and help forest rangers and live in some sort of commune. There are many various types in between. Whatever the case may be if you are looking to truly travel and step out of your normal routine, adventure travel is right up your alley.

Organizing Your Adventure Travel Bucket List the Right Way

It’s very easy to jump on the adventure travel bandwagon. It really is because it has a lot going for it. 

You don’t have to jump from one bus to another as you go from one local tour to the next. It doesn’t have to be like that nor do you have to go to the other extreme and strap a backpack on, wear sandals, and vow to never use a hotel as you go through a particular country. Adventure travel is really all about experiencing the local culture.

It’s like a hybrid between DIY travel and roughing it. You don’t need to lug around a big backpack to take from city to city or town to town. You can just bring the bare minimum. In fact, a lot of people who do adventure travel pack as little as possible. It’s all about going to a new place and making do with whatever resources are available to you there. This might sound rough but the good news is live in the modern world is interconnected.

This means that should you decide to do adventure travel by just packing one credit card, you’re free to go. If you have a small pack with your passport, phone and your credit cards, you are good to go because those are pretty much all you need. Keep this minimalist perspective in mind as you go through the adventure travel bucket list below.

Ditch the Junk

Don’t bring heavy luggage or items that you think you should have ‘just in case’ . They become a hindrance to making your way in the local country that you are visiting.

Just bring yourself. More importantly, bring an open and welcoming attitude. This is an anything-goes attitude that will be richly rewarded because you are not bringing your hangups, expectations, and assumptions that can ruin your experience.

One way to spoil your experience is to bring all sorts of accessories, clothing, toiletries etc that can be found at your destination. Sure they might not have the same brand but that’s part of the appeal.

Be Prepared to Learn Something

A lot of people who become discouraged with any kind of travel for that matter, fail in their objective to have fun because they brought the wrong attitude. It’s that simple. It’s not because they ran out of money, traveled with the wrong people, or not because of any other factor outside of them.

You need to have the right approach because even if it rains or a logistical screw up happens and things get stalled, you’re still bound to learn something and this is worth celebrating. This builds resiliency, self-control, and discipline.

Guess what? Those are the kinds of traits that you cannot put a price on because those attitudes can help you with the rest of your life and thanks to this adventure travel plan that you put into action, you got those encounters. Whatever money you spent on your trip was well worth it.

Don’t Expect to Buy Your Way Into a Good Time

A very common mindset among travelers from highly industrialized countries is the idea that they only need to throw money at any kind of problem they run across as they go through their trip.

If they’re not having a good time because the place they have visited is somewhat boring or lifeless, they whip out a credit card and go to the city center to live it up at the night clubs. This is not the way to go. It’s only boring because you chose to be boring. It’s only lifeless and dull precisely because those are the things you chose to focus on.

If anything, adventure travel is really an internal form of travel. By stripping away a lot of the excess and the fluff that makes life so convenient, easy, and pleasurable you end up with something more raw, honest, and sincere.

If you play your cards right, adventure travel offers a gateway into your soul. I know that sounds a little metaphysical and it seems quite highfalutin but it’s true. A lot of the reasons why people are prone to anxiety, depression, and all sorts of personality and emotional issues nowadays are not because of what’s going on outside. It’s what they’ve allowed themselves to become on the inside. Adventure travel is a distinct opportunity to strip away and peel back what is fluff and unnecessary and to separate those from what is real, worthwhile, worthy, and substantial.

Focus on Your Relationships

It’s a good idea to compliment an adventure travel plan with a good friend or partner. When you travel with someone, not only do you learn more about that other person and your relationship improves as a result but you also learn more about yourself.

You also give yourself the opportunity of rearranging your priorities. At the end of the day and at the end of your lives, we all know deep down inside, it’s not who dies with the most toys who wins.

No. It is the person who comes to the end with a sense of satisfaction in having loved, given, and shared enough and who has lived enough. It’s not the stuff that you have but it’s the stuff that you give and that’s why traveling with your loved one is a great way to really reconnect on a deep level and see each other soul to soul.

Keep This Bucket List in Mind

You’re probably thinking that an adventure travel bucket list should include a lot of exotic locales or amazing natural trails and attractions. However, you can easily find that on the internet.

Instead, the adventure travel bucket list that I’ve created for you strikes at the heart of real travel. You see real travel is not about exploring an external flat space that is out there. Instead, real travel is all about what you learned about yourself and how you get along with others as well as the value you give to them as you move around in space.

That’s real travel.

It’s internal growth because the reason why so many people have traveled historically is on its surface about satisfying curiosity but when you peel this back, it all comes down to discovering more about yourself and what you have to offer and give and who they are. Focus on the right adventure travel bucket list and your life regardless of how much you travel would be the real adventure.

Baobab tree

Some Handy Backpacking and Adventure Travel Kit

Whilst you should aim to travel light, There are items which can prove very useful.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a veteran who’s been all around the world or a complete rookie. You have to make sure that you are adequately prepared for the journey ahead.

This requirement is not just about mental preparation, although that is extremely important. Your assumptions and expectations of what lies ahead can determine whether you’re going to have a good time or not, and whether you’re going to walk away with great memories.

But with that out of the way, there are practical steps you could take to make sure that you will be ready for whatever is around the corner. The list presented below gives you all the adventure travel equipment you need so you will have a good time.

Adventure travel can be DIY where you set your itinerary, or you could choose to have your trip planned by a company specializing in this type of travel. Whatever the case may be, you are sure to get a firsthand experience of the raw colors, smells, tastes, and emotions of a distinct part of the world.

With that out of the way, it’s a good idea to pack the following so you can be fully prepared for what lies ahead.

Motion Relief  Wrist Band

Let’s face it. Even if you haven’t experienced motion sickness in the past, there’s no telling what is in store for you in the future. If you are going to an island or you’re going to be spending some time on any kind of potentially choppy water, the risk of motion sickness will be part of the mix. 

It’s a similar situation if you plan on taking a lot of local transport. Be prepared to be driven on mountain roads at breakneck speeds.  Not so bad if you can sit up front and can see upcoming corners.  But if you’re in the back of a pick uptruck and can only see out of the side, your stomach can start churning. 

A motion releif wrist band works by applying pressure on one spot on the inside of your wrist.  This has been shown to reduce or eliminate the effects of travel sickness. Popular bands, such as the Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Acupressure Wristband sell for just a few dollars online. 

A Camera That You Can Afford to Lose

Let’s face it. Sometimes, people lose stuff while they’re out traveling. Maybe they got distracted. Perhaps they were put in a situation where they just left stuff behind. In regrettable situations, perhaps they got robbed.

Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea not to bring a costly camera. If you have shelled out so much money for your camera that you will lose many nights of sleep agonizing as to where your camera went and why it was lost or taken from you, you have a safer option.

The safer option is just to buy a  good quality camera that is up to the job but, at the same time, doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. One right candidate for this is the Canon Power Shot series. There are models in that series that are waterproof, have wifi and a GPS tracker and are temperature resistant.

You’ll get much better quality photos than you do with your phone and can also easily copy them to your phone for uploading or editing. 

Use a Money Clip

There are many different types of money clips out there. It’s essential to bring a money clip, so you are not wearing a wallet. Thieves and pickpockets can tell if people are wearing purses, and you become a target when it’s visible to a potential thief that you have a wallet in your pocket.

Use a money clip that is made of stainless steel so it can withstand a lot of pressure and tension while at the same time doing double duty. If you are going on a non-flight trip, try the GDC money clip.

It can keep up to 5 cards, and it has a proper stainless-steel construction. It means you can use it to cut up fruits and it can even double as a box cutter. 

Smartphone Case

There are many different smartphone cases out there. When you’re doing adventure traveling, pick the right smartphone case that fits your itinerary. For example, if you’re doing a lot of snorkelling and swimming, you would want a full waterproof case to show your screen even if you’re underwater.  In the busy town you just need a case that protects your phone from dust, scratches and being dropped accidentally.   

Bring a Headlight

You don’t have to bring a big bulky lamp when you go on your travels. A little bit can go a long way. Just a small LED headlight.  Yeah, they aren’t the most stylish thing to wear but are great for putting on when walking home in the dark, or reading at night-as most cheap guesthouses don’t have reading lights.   It saves having to take your phone out and use that plus keeps your hands free. 

Wear a Watch

Always handy to know the time and an inexpensive watch means you can keep your phone safely packed or hidden.  Plus if you’re doing any outdoor activity or it’s raining, then you won’t want to take your phone out to look at it. Just glance at your watch.  A cheap waterproof Casio or Fitbit or budget Garmin which are designed to take a beating and keep on ticking outdoors   

Pack a Solar Charger

Let’s face it. If you bring a phone, camera, Ipad or notebook with you they will all need charging daily.  They’re going to run out of juice when you need to use them. It’s not a matter of if, but when.  And spending half the day wondering if a 33% battery on your phone is going to be enough gets stressful and detracts from what you’re supposed to be doing.

A good quality solar charger, such as the Goal Zero Nomad 10 recharging kit is powered by foldable solar panel that keep your electronics always powered wherever you go and however long you stay outdoors.  Very handy to set up on the beach and charge your phone or camera while you swim or have lunch.  Or set up on a hotel balcony if there’s a power outage. 


Thanks for reading this far. I hope you’ve enjoying this mix of random thoughts and some practical advice.  Make the most of your travels wherever you go.


Koh Chang Island Guide For Independent Travellers