The Top 10 Essentials for Long Term Travel
In the past ten years, its fair to say that travelling or “backpacking” to countries unknown has become a big aspiration for young people. More and more people are flocking from their home towns to explore the globe, and WHY NOT? We have such a beautiful planet resting at our feet. Why spend the majority of your life stuck in your local pub when you could be drinking with absolute strangers you met 10 minutes ago that are in the exact same position as you?
Leaving the comfort of your home town can be scary and daunting. It’s a big life choice to make, even if you decided to travel for a few months, it can still have a large impact on your life. However, the only impact it will have is a positive one. If you are reading this with the consideration of travelling in the future, my advice would simple be this; DO IT.
I spent 13 months travelling through China, South East Asia and New Zealand. It was the best year of my life and I fully intend of travelling a lot more in the future. But, now that we’ve decided that you are going to travel yourself, it would be particularly helpful for you to know what essentials you will need before you jet off on your journey. So, lets jump into it!
SIDE NOTE: I have not included plane tickets etc. in this list, because that’s kind of a given, isn’t it? 😉
The 10 Essentials to ensure you have before you Travel
1.) A good Camera or Camera Smartphone
Okay, perhaps being a Photographer makes me biased that this is my number one, but can you blame me? If you decide to travel and don’t have at least a half decent Camera or Smartphone to take with you, how are you going to capture all of those beautiful memories and amazing places? Not only will it give you plenty of memorabilia to look back on in the future, it will make everyone on your news feed super jealous! It may even inspire them to travel themselves.
Naturally when I travelled, I left with plenty of camera gear, but my main kit consisted of a Nikon D7100 DSLR + 3 lenses (Telephoto, Prime and Wide Angle) and a Google Pixel Smartphone.
NOTE: The Google Pixel Smartphones have excellent, sharp cameras that work very well in low light. I’d say they rival the later iPhone models and are much more affordable!
All in all, some form of good camera is essential to capturing happy travel memories. Invest in one!
2) A General Plan
One of the mistakes that I made when I travelled in Asia and New Zealand is that I over planned things. I had a general idea of where I wanted to end up by certain points in my journey or for how long I wanted to spend in certain places. Trust me, as soon as you leave, your plans will change. You will meet new people with plans different to yours and you might decide to do something different together. People will tell you about great places to visit that you may not have heard of before. There are many circumstances out your control that could affect your plans entirely. However, as much as you should not over plan, its essential to have a basic idea in place.
Your plan should consist of things such as; Where is your starting point? What places in each country would you like to visit? What is there to do in those places? Will you be working? What’s the easiest way for you to travel around the country?
Having answered these questions before you leave, you will ensure that whenever you feel unsure on what to do next, you will have some ideas about where you would like to go and how you are going to get there!
3.) Any Relevant Visas
With most countries that you visit, there will be Visa requirements that you will have to adhere to. Whether you are just passing through the country, staying for a few weeks or looking to stay and work, there is usually some form of paperwork you will need to arrange in advance. Some countries are stricter than others. For example, I visited China for only two weeks but had to purchase a Visa in the UK before I left. In New Zealand, I had to apply for a Working Holiday Visa before I left the country to ensure that I could work out there for the year.
It is essential for you to do some research into the Visa requirements for the country you are looking to travel to. In some cases, if you turn up on a countries doorstep with no Visa arranged; tough luck. Back home you go.
4.) Money, Money, Money
It certainly isn’t funny in a traveller’s world, but ensuring you have enough funds behind you before you hit the road is another essential to consider. In the first few weeks or months of your journey, you will realise how easy it is to spend money thoughtlessly. This can leave you in a rather tight spot further down the line, so having sufficient cash can be a life saver! One of the beauties of travelling is that you will quickly adapt and learn the best ways to save yourself some money and you can then apply this knowledge later on in life!
Another factor to consider with money is the countries you are travelling to. What is the current exchange rate? How expensive are the day to day items? Make sure you consider how much cash to take with you before you leave. Withdrawing from your back account abroad can incur some annoying charges each time you withdraw, depending on your banks policies. Anticipate this beforehand and you could save yourself a few pennies!
5.) Travel Insurance
Its always good to have something to fall back on in case you hit any kind of financial problems. Travel Insurance is a great way to ensure that you have a life line put in place for any sticky situations. Whether you’ve missed a flight, broken something expensive or have injured yourself, having Insurance can pull you out these anxious moments without any stress or worry.
I used Churchill Travel Insurance (They also provide my Home Insurance which was very convenient!) who offered me 18 months coverage for a reasonable price. This may be a good place to start, but certainly do some shopping around to find the best deal to suit your needs!
6.) Medical Kit and Information
Aiming more towards the essential physical items to chuck into your backpack before your big trip, it’s a good idea to stock up on some medical items. Bandages, plasters, paracetamol etc. are some very handy items to keep with you in case you end up hurting yourself. Trust me, moments will arise when you wish you had a plaster handy. When you realise you’ve packed some, you will want to give yourself a pat on the back for being so proactive!
As well as keeping a Medical Kit with you, it’s also beneficial to have any important medical information at hand in case you need it. If you have any allergies or medical conditions, make sure you have some physical evidence to provide to a medical professional. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a hospital that doesn’t speak your primary language with no medical information!
It’s also worth checking with your GP before you leave if there are any specific vaccinations that you may need before visiting certain countries. As I was visiting South East Asia, I needed vaccinations for Hepatitis and Japanese Encephalitis, as well as stocking up on Malaria tablets. This can all become quite costly, so make sure you check this well in advance of your leaving date.
7.) Keep a Journal!
Okay, I suppose you could say this isn’t necessarily an “essential”, but I do believe keeping a Journal of your experiences is one of the best things you can do while travelling. There’s nothing better than go back from your diary and reading about the amazing experiences you had. I don’t just mean bullet pointing what you got up to; write it like a personal diary! Write about how places made you feel, about how people have impacted your life! It can even help relief the (minimal) stress of travelling, as well as giving you something to do on long flights or journeys.
8.) A Good Backpack
Going back to the “essential physical items”, you will need something strong and reliable to carry around what is essentially your bedroom while you are travelling! If you don’t invest in a good backpack, you could end up losing precious items if they slip out of rips into the plane or coaches holding area. If its not big enough for your needs, you may end up throwing things away further down the line. Do yourself a favour and buy a decent sized, sturdy backpack!
Berghaus and Osprey are two brands that make excellent backpacks for all different sizes and requirements. Some people prefer travelling with a suitcase instead of a backpack. That’s absolutely fine if it suits you best, but I personally feel they can sometimes restrict you from easily moving around new places. Plus, why go “backpacking” if you don’t have a backpack? 😉
9.) What Clothes Do I Take??
I think most of us are guilty of packing way too many clothes when we go on holiday. Do us men really need 15 pairs of pants? Do you ladies find it essential to carry around 7 different bikinis? I can easily say that even I am guilty of this (the pants, not the bikinis). Unfortunately, it’s a little harder to get away with it when you are travelling for a long period of time.
Packing piles of clothes into your backpack decreases available space and increases weight. One of the things that you will quickly learn while travelling is that you want to PACK LIGHT. Walking around with a heavy backpack can become the bane of your life. This also applies to when you are trying to stuff that beautiful scarf that you just bought into a backpack with no room left.
Only pack the clothes you will need. If you don’t, I promise you will end up throwing clothes away not long after you have left!
10.) Entertain Yourself!
Last, but not least, on our list of essentials of travel is entertainment! This could literally be anything, but its to ensure that you don’t get bored while travelling from one destination to another. It could be a really good book (or two), crosswords puzzles, a colouring book or even an old school Gameboy! Sometimes long journeys can become very tedious, so making sure you have something to pass the time is always a good idea.
And so you have it! There are probably various other items that you consider to be an essential to you personally, but this definitely covers some of the more general important things! I hope you feel more equipped to get out there and explore. As I mentioned before, what have you got to lose?
Until next time, Happy exploring!
Take a look at all of my best travel photos here: https://jephotography.co.uk/portfolio/travel/