I suppose everyone packs differently. Once one decides to go travelling for a year with only a backpack worth of belongings, how does one decide to fill it?
A former me, say straight from school or uni, would have picked out from my existing wardrobe a bunch of my old favourite t-shirts, shorts and skirts, maybe a pair of jeans or two, an assortment of basic toiletries, sleep sheet, and a bunch of travel-somethings from the Korjo stand at the airport.
Apparently the difference between a backpacker and a flashpacker is that the latter has a bigger budget and an inability to part with certain mod cons. Now, we are by no means wealthy, but we have saved a bit of money for this trip and have no debts, so therefore there are a few things we splurged on in preparing to travel.
The way we pack as a couple now is certainly different. Even if we wanted to be hip and cool and join the other carefree backpackers of world, the inner geek is hard to shake, especially when there’s the chance of new toys. So with the enthusiastic encouragement of numerous likeminded travel blogs and most likely some good marketing, we ended up burning many hours reading product review forums and trialling countless models of backpacks, daypacks, shoes, gadgets, computers, even underwear in the quest to build the perfect pack. So began the mutation from backpacker to flashpacker.
For a start, we got all the lonely planet guidebooks we need on our Kindles. We decided to get all the recommended shots – Heps A, B, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, 5 months supply of Malaria pills, you name it (rabies was the worst, a thick, blunt ouch! *whimper* administered 3 times). We’ve also invested in a decent GPS navigator, and personal locating beacon. If anyone knows Ben, then they would also know that we have included both cameras (the 5D mk2 and accompanying S90) and the “bare essentials” of a landscape photographer: 4 lenses, tripod, filter sets, Photoshop on a Macbook Pro, backup storage, batteries and all associated chargers and cables. I’ve been assured that this is the minimum needed, but all this gadgetry still accounts for half our total pack weight! And so everything else needs to be lightweight to compensate. We’ve dressed ourselves in Icebreaker 150 weight merino wool clothes (surprisingly the ideal material for the tropics) soaked in Permethin. We’re using lightweight stuff sacks and travel towels, and even found paper soap and shampoo! We’ve indulged ourselves with a pair of Keen sandals and a pair of hiking shoes.
The photo shows the unexpected proportion of gadgets to clothes. I guess we’ve shamefully started this journey as flashpackers (thinking about getting a Macbook Air as I write). Not sure if things will change.