The Little things
that make all the difference
The are two philosophies toward travel gear which are prevalent: "Bring the bare minimum for your needs", or "plan for all eventualities." Both are limited by a myopic view of travel. This essay is intended to bridge the gap by recontextualizing travel planning into an awareness of events and prior planning to accomodate those eventualities. The curiosity is that when one is travelling exactly anything can happen, for the idea "travel" is not fixed in space. Since one can literally be thrown in a burlap sack tomorrow and wake up anywhere imaginable the next day, yes, anything can happen. How do we plan accordingly?
Whereas, one is but one individual, a solo traveller has a much narrower range of contingencies to keep in mind. Adding additional travellers to one`s personal conceptions increases logarythmically the complications inherent, and contingencies possible. The sequence 1-12 people is X raised to the number of people present, or X^n. Past 12 you have a coven, or quorum if you will, and the range of possibilities actually deminishes unto the nation-state, which follows a somewhat deterministic course. But small-group travel is outside my field of specialty, as I`ve never done it successfully. However, I am well experienced in the trvails of solo travel, and hence, hope to be taken for speaking of that which I know.
A careful analysis of a method resting on experience, is the quality of the force generative of said experiences. My personality will determine the nature of the experience arisen before me. Simply put, An experience will not occur for which I do not have the personality or desire by which to recognise it. Henry Miller would have thought so differently than me last night, walking by "The Crazy Rabbit," and being greeted warmly by seven beautiful girls. I slammed shut the door to my heart and bolted it fast. Okay, maybe that part would have been the same.
Thus, the individual is the quintessential starting point for planning what one should bring. One`s perception filters an infinite field of possibilities. My best and closest friends, for example, are all conditioned to expect purple dragons lurking around every corner, and would not be surprised to encounter one. Others are conditioned to expect muggers. Others still see only Buddhas. Its all relative to the mental construct of personality which has developed from roots over the course of ones life to be the tree of possibilities available going forward. Each of us stands at the center of an infinity radiating outward in all dimentions concievable, and several in---. We all know this. When we are packing our bag "to go" whither one knows not where, the fundimental question to ask oneself is that, "who am I."
In the end, this is the question you will keep coming to on the road. So best to flesh it out up front. But not here. This is about "what to pack." Now in my experience, I have been a boyscout and packed accordingly. I`ve been a Himalayan Trekker, and packed accordingly. I`ve been a hitchhiking hippie, and packed somewhat accordingly. But over time, there has been a balast to my pack, a few several things which have remained with me the whole time. These are the things I want to talk about. Those things which for me are essential, that others might not have considered.
for me the essential item are these:
The Olive Green/metalic Silver, Emergency Space Blanket
knife(ves) and multi-tool (local varietals)
StarChart, Atlas, Regional and local Maps.
Notebook and Drawing Pencils
Sleeping bag or bedsheets, as latitudinally approrpiate.
- Sewing kit; (thick high-test black polyester thread, needles, sundries)
- rolling papers
- wet napkin packet(s)
- fastex buckle replacement(s)
- Black Gaffers Tape
- Sturdy length of 1000+#-test braided rope (12m)
- Compass with signal mirror, square plastic base, ruled edge.
- keychain compass
- Tarot Deck
- Symbolic Stones
- Extra pair of Glasses
- muslim skullcap
- electric water boiler (heat element on a stick)
- emergency teabag and sugar packet
- several small lengths of parachute chord or other braided 1/8 shockchord.
- elastic chord
- mini solar calculator (a little work up front will save headaches on exchange rates down the line. The trick is to learn the value of each piece of currency in the one you are familiar with. For example, 10,000 yen note is a hundred dollar bill. A 1000 baht note is a 20 dollar bill. A 1000 riel note is quarter. Not really, but close enough. But this will allow you to make a quick pass between three or four currencies for a sanity check if you get confused.)
now there are other small things you might also consider picking up when you see them with a mind on future contingencies
- B, SE, sundry power adaptors, going every way imaginable. 3 or 4. I mostly use B.
- Lightbulb -> Power splitter, screw in variety, and two pronged plug
- power -> lightbulb, if you hate flourescents and want to do something about it
- 60 watt bulb
- yoga mat
- MP3 Player
- Amplified Speakers
- T.V. out and audio out wires
- external H.D. for monthly data backups (kept seperate from Laptop or camera)
- white kurta-pyjamas (formal wear on one side of the world, nightclothes on the other. Why not?)
- a hand towel, though I stubbornly refuse and stick with my bandana for some reason.