I’m finding out slowly that some things are simply a “given” when back/flashpacking. Number 1 for any self-respecting male traveller is… cargo shorts. Some Aucklanders may screw their faces up BUT, as unsightly as they are on any catwalk, these puppies are GOLD. Practical, comfortable and… pretty much mandatory, there’s enough pockets for your room key, cash, malaria pills, map, pen, compass, iPhone, spare pair of shorts…? Yes, you will be another typical tourist, but you’ll be all the better-prepared for it (especially when you designate an “emergency snack” pocket).
Other Necessities include:
• Padlocks for your pack. I’ve yet to feel totally suspicious of anyone at a guesthouse/hostel yet but the peace-of-mind is well worth the added security. It’s also worth getting some zip-ties for check-in luggage.
• Hand Sanitizer. Convenient (one might say “hand”y – bah) and, again, good to have as many bases covered in an attempt to stave off any potential for undesirable bowel/gastronomic side-effects.
• Insect repellent. Get some. Use it.
• A good book. So far I’ve finished “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (really good!) and I’ve made a start on Nick Hornby’s modern classic “High Fidelity” which I picked up second-hand in Langkawi for 10RM (NZD4.30).
• Plastic clothing. Sporty, “dry-fit”-type tops are the way forward in Asia. Yes, combined with your awesomely-practical cargos you’ll hope you’re going nowhere within cats-swing of a fashion show, but you won’t have to worry about your newly-sweat-drenched cotton t-shirt being wearable the next day. Do the math.
There are also a number of useful (maybe not quite “necessities”) things that can help you along any back/flashpacking adventure. These niceties include:
• Netbook. These are AWESOME – especially if you plan on blogging (iPhone keypads suck). I almost bought one at the crazy plaza that is Lo Yat in Kuala Lumpur – but I got a little “dodged out” by all of the crazy vendors/hawkers and their promise of a “genuine” product. A few funny conversations were had with different vendors – some that offered me a “special price” because they hadn’t sold a laptop “all day” and some that showed very unconvincing body language when questioned on the genuine nature of their branded product…
• A Diary. My very thoughtful ex-flatties got me a nice travel diary (and Parker pen… ooooh) as a leaving gift and I’ve been dilligently recording a day-by-day account since we left Auckland. Very good for re-tracing steps and bringing back fun memories. I call my diary my analogue blog… or “anablog” (not to be confused with a blog about a girl called Ana/Anna).
• “Cuddle Buddy”-type neck pillow. Amber got one of these from a friend (shout out to Clare!) and swears by it. I, however, can’t justify handing in another “man card” for one. They are sold in almost ALL airports now in all sorts of colours/patterns and seem to be taking the world by storm (a friendly, non-destructive, extremely-comfortably-soft storm). I’ll make do with my inflatable version… for now.
There you go, a little advice from a novice flashpacker. I was supposed to do a bit on Kuala Lumpur in this post but that’ll have to be in a separate one. Also, adding photos/links etc via iPhone is a very arduous process so I’ll add these later. Chur!