Packing for a week’s holiday doesn’t usually call for extensive brainstorming or planning – after all, most of you have gone on a decent number of trips in your life and instinctively know what to toss into the suitcase and what to leave out. Many of you are probably also guilty of packing just a couple of hours before your flight takes off and you probably have gotten away with it scot-free too.
If you’re going to be on the road for months or even years though, you might have to leave these habits behind and do some proper planning before you even start packing. First of all, if you’re going to be living a nomadic lifestyle, you can’t pack with one specific destination in mind, whether that’s the warm beaches on the Bahamas or the chilly Himalayas. You have to pack for a wide variety of conditions and a whole array of adventures, so you have to be somewhat minimalistic in your packing.
Give yourself a few weeks to pack before you take off on your extended journey and make sure you don’t bog yourself down with frivolous or fancy items and forget to bring along the actual gear that’ll sustain and protect you while you’re away from home. Some of the things to consider when packing are travel health and safety!
Clari Health has put together a non-exhaustive packing guide for nomads or those of you who’ve been inspired by Around the World in Eighty Days and will be on the road indefinitely.
Luggage and Bags
While rolling luggage and wheeled suitcases may look sleek, convenient and perfect for traipsing through Hong Kong or a city in Japan, but they may not be the best for rural areas where the ground is often unpaved and rocky. If you’re going to be adopting a nomadic lifestyle, it’s probable that a good portion of the places you’ll come across in your travels will not be very metropolitan.
Which is why a durable backpack that is both roomy enough and lightweight would be the ideal choice for your travels. You can bring this backpack along virtually anywhere you go, without worrying whether the ground in your destination town will be even or not. It’s good if the backpack has numerous compartments and pockets – you can keep anything from your house keys to your malaria tablets handy.
Go easy on the packing though, especially if this is your first time going on a nomadic adventure and you’re not in the best shape – anything above 15kg will be very difficult to lug around and will most definitely decrease the quality of your travels. Don’t buy the biggest bag you see on the rack either, as you’ll want to stuff more things in just to fill it up. You don’t want to be huffing and puffing and have the fun sucked out of your adventure because you’re drained just from carrying your monstrous backpack around.
It’s best also to keep a daypack that is compact when it’s folded inside the backpack in case you need to unburden yourself for a day-long hike or an afternoon of kayaking. This pack would ideally be a smaller backpack, but can also be a messenger bag depending on what sort of places you think you’ll be heading to and activities you think you’ll be doing. The daypack shouldn’t take up too much space once folded and tucked into your bigger backpack.
A laptop is a necessity for most, as nomads might be working on the go, would need to book tickets and make reservations using the internet, and would want to keep in touch with friends and family members across the globe using Skype. Naturally then, a laptop case is one of the essentials that you have to pack. Choose one that is light but hardy enough to protect your laptop from wet weather and falls.
Most importantly, remember to invest in travel locks that can be fastened onto your backpacks and daypacks since you’re likely going to be carrying them around for most of your journey and might have to leave them unattended for a quick second.
Clothes and Shoes
Your primal instincts may be telling you to stuff virtually all the clothes in your wardrobe into your travel pack, but heed the rational part of your mind instead and take only what you need. If you’re travelling to countries such as Vietnam or India, you can go easy on clothes as you’ll more than likely be able to buy clothes for cheap virtually anywhere you go. If you’re traveling to cold places or areas which have a high cost of living, then you probably can’t skip out on taking the essentials with you.
If you’re predominantly going to be spending your time in countries with a cold climate, bring jackets or coats that are both suitably protective and lightweight. Don’t bring too many of these – one good quality, durable one is sufficient for the entirety of your travels. You also can’t go wrong with protective gloves, socks and boots. Items like scarves may sometimes prove to be bulky, so considering buying them when you get to the country.
For countries with a warm or hot climate, packing is far easier and clothes will take up less space. Throw in a decent number of tank tops, cargo shorts and pants as well as long sleeves for forested areas in which you might be at risk for dengue and malaria. Dry fit or synthetic clothing which can easily be wrung out to dry are infinitely preferable – especially in countries which are warm and wet. Cotton tends to become heavy and bog you down when it gets wet.
Take into consideration the places that you think you’re going to pass through. If some of these countries or cities are particularly conservative or have restrictions on clothing, make sure that you pack in accordance with these.
Remember also to bring along comfortable footwear as well, especially if you’re going to be walking for long distances while carrying that heavy backpack of yours. You can never go wrong with a pair of well-fitting sports shoes.
Toiletries and Medication
Depending on the sort of countries that you’ll be in, the type of toiletries and medication that you bring along could make or break your nomadic adventures – travel health, is after all vital.
In less developed or rural areas, it may be difficult for you to locate stores or pharmacies wherein you can purchase those drops for that ear infection or a bottle of shampoo. So before you pack, make sure you’ve researched the places you’ll be heading to. Or if you don’t have a definite itinerary, just make sure that you stock up on medication and toiletries every time before you head over to your next stop.
Soap and shampoo are essentials – when you’re heading out though, small travel sized bottles are the most you can take along, so stock up on these when you get to a city or a town with a department store or pharmacy. Moisturiser and sunscreen are very important if you’re heading to places with extreme climates, be it hot or cold. You don’t want to end up with a nasty sunburn or dried out skin.
Of course, travel medication such as malaria tablets, charcoal tablets and even eye or ear drops if you have any pre-existing infections are of utmost importance. Never underestimate how helpful a simple painkiller could be when you’re faced with testing situations. It’s best if you make an appointment with us to get your malaria tablets in advance and receive the appropriate vaccinations based on your itinerary so that you can protect yourself from any endemic diseases.
Women will most likely be able to buy pads or tampons in stores and pharmacies but remember to keep an emergency supply in case you’re visiting a rural area or even scaling a mountain. For men, good quality shavers and back-up cartridges may be hard to chance upon in certain areas, so make sure you bring those along.
Nail clippers will also be important as will contact lenses and solution in case you’re engaging in sports or other such adventurous ventures which restrict the wearing of spectacles. Make sure you bring along a toothbrush and a small tube of paste as well!
One of the items most people tend to look past is a durable and large enough water bottle or container – ideally with a capacity of at least one litre. In the case of developing countries, you don’t know where or when you’ll be able to find reliable potable water so make sure you stock up on it before you head out of one town and go into another.
Ziploc or compression bags come in very handy because they help you to save space in your backpack – bulky piles of clothes can be flattened into neat and manageable parcels with these compression bags and you can maximise the space available.
A travel line for hanging clothes out to dry may come in useful in countries where laundromats are difficult to locate or expensive to use.
Torchlights are a must-have for nomads because you never know if the power is going to go out in an apartment in the city or if you’ll need the light while navigating a village at night.
Umbrellas or ponchos are also very useful because as you know, the weather is unpredictable these days everywhere in the world. You don’t want to be caught in a downpour without any sort of cover and fall ill the next day from remaining wet and cold the whole day.
Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means – it’s more of a guide to get your packing started for the adventure of your life. Before you head out on your nomadic adventure, remember to go to the GP for a check up to make sure you’re in good health and make an appointment with us to protect yourself with the necessary travel vaccines.