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  • Locked thread
raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


First, a few words...

These first few posts are about travel gear. They're not about hiking gear, safari gear, camping gear, or moving equipment. You're free to ask about those in this thread, but please realize that those are different pursuits and somewhat different gear is suggested for them. You should also probably know that most of the advice here is for at least somewhat extended trips -- if you're just visiting the other coast for five days then you probably don't need any of this stuff.

Even when you're planning a longer trip and it comes time to consider what else you're going to buy specifically for the trip it's good to keep in mind that people buy way too much ridiculous poo poo to "prepare" for their vacation. If you give any experienced traveler twenty minutes to pack and five thousand bucks he or she could be out the door and traveling until the money ran out (maybe a year) using what was in their bedroom and an old Jansport bookbag. When you decide to bring stuff with you when you travel you do it not because you "need" anything, as, aside from medications, there's probably nothing that fits in that category. You bring stuff with you because it improves your traveling experience so much that it's worth humping it through airports and up cheap rear end hotel steps just to have it with you.

George Carlin said "What about these people who tell you, 'My needs aren't been met.' You know what I tell these people? Drop some of your needs!" I couldn't think of a better overall travel maxim. I'm going to be stressing this because the next post in this thread is going to make it look like I'm telling you to buy a ton of poo poo. I'm loving not. The stuff I've listed (and that other goons will list) is pretty much only to be purchased if you decide that it's the best loving thing to have with you in the entire world and you wouldn't live without it. Anything not like that is going to drag you down -- being able just grab one very manageable sack and go is a serious game changer for travel. The smaller the better.


Then an example to get things going...


Reason v. Insanity

The gentleman on the left is wearing what's called a Travel Pack. It's carry on size and it holds absolutely everything you could ever need to go traveling long term -- and by long term I mean years. There's no such thing as "oh I'm going to need more space than that!" unless you think you're a professional photographer and are bringing two cases and five lenses with you. No human being needs more space than one single carry on bag. That's 22" x 14" x 9". Or, if you live in an actual first world country, 55cm x 35cm x 22cm (max of about 45L).

There are further advantages to the travel pack. The biggest one is that you don't have to check it meaning you no longer spend hours waiting for your checked luggage upon arrival. Now, sometimes waiting for your luggage isn't bad ("It was right there when I got to the conveyor Mr. Goats you're being ridiculous!") but eventually in your traveling life either your checked luggage will go to an entirely different city than you did or else you will be waiting, like I did, at Seattle's international airport for three hours, after spending 24 hours in airplanes and airports coming back from across the Pacific, before my bag came around the carousel. And then I had to go wait in line at customs. Of course, the permanently furious people they hire to deal with your checked luggage may not have been so kind to it, either, plus sometimes making a connection requires getting your luggage and going through customs a second time (like when you fly back into the US from abroad but don't live in the first city you fly in to) and in that case carry-on-only could easily save you a missed connection.

There's one other option that I won't talk about much and that's the wheelie bag. It's a travel pack but it has wheels on the bottom and usually no backpack straps. The missing backpack straps aren't a big issue but the space taken by the wheels is space that stuff can't go in, the wheels break off a lot, and wheelie bags are a real burden if you're going somewhere with less than optimal sidewalks (which can include some nice locals -- the whole world isn't set up to be Rascal scooter friendly believe it or not). Wheelie bags are easy to find, just search for "carry-on" on Amazon or something. In my personal opinion they're mostly for the chronically lazy, old or infirm, but then maybe I'm just Dwight Schrute. You won't spend much time actually carrying your bag either way you go and the travel pack is, in the end, much more flexible, and flexibility is paramount in what you bring with you when you travel.

The last longer trip I took was a month in Thailand. I brought a bag that's slightly smaller than the one pictured above on the left. In it fit four shirts, one extra pair of pants (I wore the others), my underwear and socks, one pair of shorts, one swimsuit, all of my bathroom poo poo, documentation, and my electronics plus a sarong I used for a towel when necessary. And it was less than half full, so if I was going somewhere cold there would have been plenty of room for a stocking cap, gloves, a few undershirts and maybe a pair of longjohns (and I would have worn my jacket).

If you need more than that, drop some of your needs.


And some general advice on what to bring vs. what not to bring.

It's a lot easier to pack a fifty dollar bill than it is a fleece jacket. I'll get into the specifics of how to bring your money with you in the next post -- what I'm talking about here is that you don't need to plan ahead that much unless you're literally going into the jungles of Borneo or the middle of Mongolian steppes. Even in those locations you would mostly be able to find more suitable (and much cooler!) equipment locally and cheaper than you ever could at home and while Anglo-Saxon folk are larger than most you'll almost always be able to either find something that will work or pay for a tailor to fix something that almost works.

This means you concentrate on what's hardest to get. Here's a little quiz to help you out. Of the next three pairs of items, which of each pair should you buy at home vs. waiting to get when abroad? Long sleeved shirts / T-shirts. Underwear / hats. Deodorant / toothpaste. Got your answers? Hope you picked the first one of each pair. It's a piece of pie to find T-shirts, hats that will fit any head (and which sometimes double as a great souvenir) are available anywhere you'd need a hat, and of the deodorant / toothpaste pair the first one is definitely something that exists in abundance in the US/UK compared to elsewhere, whereas everywhere has toothpaste.

In fact, if you go back to the previous section where I listed what I fit in my pack, you might be interested to know that I didn't bring all of that with me. I only brought one extra shirt, no shorts or swimsuit, and almost no bathroom items. I just bought all of that poo poo after I checked in to the hotel in Bangkok, apart from the clothes which I went and got the next day or picked up along the way. This isn't Demon's Souls -- you don't have to warp in strapped for battle. In fact, the shirt I brought was my current least favorite shirt -- I wore it when I bought my clothes on the second day and that night it went from my back into the trash.

After a week there I realized that I was staying at nicer places than I had the last time I was in Thailand, the kind of places that supply towels, and that therefore my sarong/towel would be unnecessary. So I dropped some of my needs and placed it into a strange looking trashcan on a ferryboat on my way to a tropical island. Never needed it again, haven't even thought about it until now.

raton fucked around with this message at Feb 25, 2014 around 23:37

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raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Logistics: Money, Documentation, Medication, Comfort, Guides/maps/prasebooks

Clothes and Gear: Pack, Bathroom bag, Shoes, Socks and underwear, Swimwear, Towels / Sarongs, Shirts, Pants and shorts, Jackets and rainwear, Cold weather equipment

Electronics and Entertainment: Camera, Phones and computers, Adapters and charging, Entertainment and interaction aids

Miscellaneous: The right packing method

All example items are the exact ones I'd order if I had decided I needed that particular item. I've tried to select reasonably priced high quality items available easily online. You can, of course, go to your local travel store and spend 75% to 100% more instead.



===================================================================



Logistics

Money - Traveler's checks blow no one buys those goddamn things any more. Outside of the US no store will take them at all and even most banks will look at them like you're trying to pass Monopoly money. What people do is bring their ATM card plus about 500 in actual paper US dollars and call it good. If you have the wherewithal to plan ahead, open a joint account with mom or something before you leave -- then she can put money in your account if it comes to that and just as importantly she can mail you her card if you lose yours if you're sure it doesn't need to be cancelled. US dollars are by far the preferred currency for travel. Despite the rumors you hear in the news about the decay of the dollar as the international standard even pound sterling and euro is going to get you worse rates and be harder to change. In many very poor countries (Cambodia is a good example) vendors actually prefer to be paid in US dollars despite there being a local currency. The US is also just about the only country in the world where you can use a credit card in every store you walk in to. In a lot of countries when you go to buy a car you bring a shoebox with money in it still -- even first world countries like Japan are strongly cash oriented places. Additionally, the US is also the only place where you can whip out a hundred dollar bill in a corner store and the guy won't look at you like you're an rear end in a top hat -- you need to carry lots of small bills when abroad because many vendors carry startling small amounts of change, so when you get money from the ATM don't get 4000 Baht get 3900, foreign ATMs also frequently carry more than one bill denomination. If your ATM card has a MasterCard or Visa logo on the front (or Cirrus on the back) you're good to go, but do check with your bank as to what their fee is for using your card overseas, sometimes it's ludicrous, although gouging is less common than it used to be. You should carry your cash separately from your ATM card, and you should carry your backup 500 in bills split into two locations among your person and your pack. The goal is to never lose all of your money at once should you get robbed / get your pack stolen / whatever.
  • Moneybelt - There are two kinds, an actual belt and a neck pouch. I don't use these any more but some people prefer them, they also leave you a safe place to keep your passport and whatnot. The neck one is more comfortable and useful in my opinion, but it's no protection against being drugged and having it lifted or whatever. Buying these things doesn't make you invincible. If you do use them take them into the shower with you (bring a plastic baggie to stick it in) and when you sleep throw it inside your pillow case, not in your pack.

Generic money belt, Rick Steves' neck pouch



Documentation - You need a passport. You need a photocopy of the ID page of your passport that you fold into your wallet and use for ID purposes at hotels and bars and stuff (they usually don't care about seeing the original or not). On the back of that photocopy you also need to write whatever info from your visa or landing card that hotels keep asking for, just write it on there after you check in for the first time. The only people who ever "hold" your passport are foreign embassies while you're applying for a visa. Don't hand it over to rent a bike, don't hand it over to get a hotel room, if you're working overseas don't let your boss hold it. You also need to get a piece of paper and on it write "In case of emergency please contact: BILLY MAYS HAYS, my father. He lives in the US. 1-888-555-1234. billm@shouting.com" and then make a copy of it and put that under your shoe bed and then make another copy of it and put it in your pack. If you have allergies or medical problems (diabetes, etc) you should also mention them on the card -- if your native language is not English this card should still be in English. On a third sheet of paper you write down your ATM card number and the 800 number on the back of your card so you know who to call if it gets stolen. Don't buy a loving passport holder / wallet. It already has a cover, just keep it in your pack / pocket as appropriate. If you're planning to find a job overseas or move overseas you need to bring a lot more in this department and should check another thread for advice about that. How do you get a passport? You Google for "How do I get MY COUNTRY passport." How do you know how long it takes? You Google for "How long does it take to get a MY COUNTRY passport." Dumbass. I'd also suggest tucking a pen and a small notepad into your pack somewhere as well. By the way you get a cheap ticket by going to kayak.com and doing a search -- buy it about two or so months in advance for optimal fares.



Medication and health - If there are meds you need to live then you better loving bring them. Most countries have pharmacies but you'll be surprised how hard it can be to find the meds you need even if you bring the script and know the generic name. Don't bring vitamins, you'll be okay for the duration of your trip without them. I bring my over the counter meds in a pill sorter these days as detailed below. For help on whether you should bring prophylactic meds (like for malaria) or not or which vaccinations to get you should post in this thread or find another relevant thread for that area on this subforum. I just buy condoms locally (except for a few I toss in my pack) but if you need a monster condom for your magnum dong then you should bring lots of those, or, I suppose, if you're going to some backwards wastewater place that doesn't have them. You should also bring condoms if you're a girl -- those dusky Spaniards and pasty French you're so excited to jump on will probably be less than excited to put a jacket on lil' Pepe. A handful of bandaids and a small tube of antibacterial cream isn't a horrible idea either.
  • Pill sorter with meds - I buy generic ibuprofen for pain (it's the strongest OTC one and easiest on your gut if you've been drinking), generic diphenhydramine (Benadryl) in case I have allergy issues and as sleeping pills for the airplane (they're quite effective at that, take two), and generic loperamide (Immodium AD) to stop the liquid shits in case I get them, sort them into the pill sorter, and then put a piece of scotch tape across the bottom with the names, dosages, and expiration dates. Maybe this is a bit much but I've never been on a trip where I wasn't glad I had that stuff along and it's small and light anyway. Many traveler's add motions sickness pills (I'm apparently immune to motion sickness so I don't know the drug name) and once they get to a country that sells over the counter antibiotics they add those too (generally to treat really bad food poisoning -- ciproflaxin or amoxycilin will both work for that). Another popular addition once you find it over the counter is valium (diazepam) or ativan (lorazepam) which are anti-anxiety pills people take in order to chill out more easily on nasty bus trips, plus whatever chemicals people take for fun which are sometimes available easily overseas (go check TCC for suggestions there I guess).
  • Moleskin - Not necessary for casual travelers really, but if you plan to go on a long hike or plan to be walking a lot (like four plus hours a day) this stuff can be a real help. Sometimes this stuff comes in rolls, or you can just buy one or two packages of the Dr. Scholl's stuff from your local pharmacy -- you don't have to buy the eight pack I linked to on Amazon, I just couldn't find a smaller sales unit. Basically, this stuff serves as a second tough, flexible skin that you slap over blisters and the like so you can keep going. Some hikers / climbers / bowlers absolutely swear by it. If you bring this bring some tiny, harmless looking scissors as well -- it's kind of hard to tear. Stick with name brand moleskin, the off brand stuff doesn't stick very well and obviously that means it's poo poo.
  • Allergy Cards - If you have food allergies people often won't listen to you overseas. A peanut never killed anyone, right, Somchai? These cards allow you to not die. Keep in mind that if you're a vegetarian or on a low-carb diet and you're traveling loving CUT IT OUT. Jesus. If you're going to go halfway around the world and not eat every single thing you get a chance to then why don't you go there with a blindfold on and your ears stopped up too.
  • Toothbrush cap - It's a little plastic lid for your toothbrush that keeps the functional part from touching other stuff and also has vent holes to let it dry out. I love my little toothbrush cap.
  • Malaria prophylaxis is a contentious issue among travelers. You can't get a vaccination against malaria (which is a disease that gives you really nasty recurring flus at decreasing intervals from the day you catch it until the day you die once you do catch it) but there are pills you can take that will usually (90% efficacy) prevent you from catching it if a malarial mosquito does bite you. The old school ones had absolutely intolerable side effects but the newer lines have "only" generally unpleasant systemic side effects. You have to start taking them for like a week before you enter a malarial area and usually keep taking it until four or so weeks after, depending on the drug. You can list of pros and cons for the different types from the CDC, in general the one I'd choose is Malarone. However, for 99.5% of travelers malaria prophylaxis is totally unnecessary and the side effects can be really burdensome and will probably spoil a huge portion of your trip due to the pre/post dosing requirements of most antimalarials. DO NOT GET ANTIMALARIALS unless you're literally going to be in the jungle for a week straight -- I'm not exaggerating here, I lived and traveled in SE Asia for two years and never had an issue with malaria nor did I ever meet anyone who did. In fact I hesitated in putting this section in because goons will be goons. It's pretty much a wildlands trekker / extremely rural area disease only, and don't forget that preventing bites (long sleeves, repellent, mosquito net at night if camping) will do more to help you than any prophylaxis would. You'll need a prescription for this so visit a local (travel) clinic and tell the doctor what you want -- he won't know anything more than you if you read that CDC link above so you should know what you want before you go in.

Generic pill sorter, Dr. Scholl's moleskin, Select Wisely's allergy cards, a generic toothbrush cap



Comfort - There are five items I travel with in a sort of jump kit (cheap plastic bag) that I slide out of my main pack before stowing it. These five items are a book, earplugs, an inflatable travel pillow, an eye shield, and a travel pack of baby wipes. I think they're worth it. If you're one of those gargantuan sweaty people that falls asleep automatically upon sitting down and leans up against me then you might not need any of them. Except the earplugs -- you never know if your hotel is going to be across the street from a ridiculous religious festival involving fireworks or a Tijuana Donkey Show with an amplifier when you just want to sleep. You really need something to wipe your rear end with in here too -- a packet of kleenex, a roll of tissue, a small package of baby wipes, whatever. They often don't have toilet paper in public restrooms in third world countries. Seriously. There's none. There ain't even a holder where it's supposed to go.
  • Earplugs - Don't get those dumb hundred dollar molded ones. These cheap foam bitches are great, don't cost much, and come with a good little case. For the love of god read the instructions on how to put them in, and if you're a light sleeper buy some in advance and practice with them at home as all earplugs are uncomfortable until you get your ear canals used to them -- your feet would be the same way if you'd never worn shoes. You can reuse the foam ones three or so times (for an overnight span) before they don't expand like they used to and don't block sound that well any more. You can also wipe them off really easily making them easier to clean than those plastic flanged ones that look like little Christmas trees which are the worst sort of earplug ever.
  • Sleep mask - You tell me why they can't just leave the loving lights off on the bus. You tell me why they have to play a movie every two hours on the airplane. You tell me why the sun has to come up every day even when I've been drinking the day before. Just tell me. Please. If you're one of those Hat Guys then you probably don't need this as you can just probably just cover your eyes with that upper part of your Halloween costume and be good to go.
  • Travel pillow - I can't sleep sitting up unless I take some benadryls and use this thing. If you can't sleep sitting up either it's worth a shot. Being able to sleep on the plane/bus is a godsend.

Hearos brand earplugs with travel case, a generic sleep mask, a generic inflatable travel pillow



Guides, maps, and phrasebooks - People used to get really worked up about this kind of stuff, having a map, having a guidebook, having a phrasebook, etc. Now they just have their phone or netbook and go look for a wifi spot. If you're out somewhere where there's no wifi though this stuff again becomes more important. Guidebooks are only marginally helpful as the info is always at least a few years out of date and what information is still accurate will be beset upon by hordes of other people carrying the same guidebook. If you bring one you should probably destroy it as you go, tearing out the page with a map and some recommendations and stuffing it in your pocket before you go, reading ahead for what to do while in transport -- that is when you don't have access to wiki travel, of course. Maps are usually available locally although it's sometimes hard to find ones that are in dual English/local language -- maps also make good lightweight packable souvenirs. Phrasebooks aren't useful when people try to use them like you see on TV, instead treat them as bound flashcards and try to learn a bit of what you need to say while on the airplane or whatever. If you're going to be in one place for a long time you should buy a dictionary locally, and if you're in a place with a non Roman alphabet you want one that has English to Phonetic Local, Phonetic Local to English, and most importantly Local Script to English all in one book if possible. This way you can hand it to someone who lives there and he can use it too.
  • Guidebooks - Lonely Planet is by far the dominant travel guide for younger and more adventurous travelers. This means that if you follow the LP trail you'll be stank full of hippies and scum, but hey, that's better than finding out that "midrange" means three hundred dollars a night like it does in some other guides. Moon brand guides are also popular. IMO the best use for a travel guide is to assist in planning/fantasizing about your vacation while you're at home, but if you want to bring one, fine.
  • Phrasebooks - While people sometimes take issue with the Lonely Planet guidebooks being traveling on easy mode and/or guaranteeing you won't see anything unique, no one knocks their phrasebooks. I like 'em. Again, these days you'd probably be better served looking for an app for your phone (they have one for China where you can take a picture of a Chinese sign and it translates it into English for you...), but maybe you're old fashioned I don't know.

Lonely Planet's Europe on a Shoestring, Lonely Planet's SE Asia phrasebook



===================================================================


Clothes and Gear

Pack - As mentioned above, you want what's called a travel pack. They're carry on size (max of 22" x 14" x 9", many packs are also sized by how many liters they can contain and the absolute maximum you'd want there is 50L), more than enough space for all of your needs, and very convenient. Most outdoor type companies and backpacking companies offer a travel pack or two. In my opinion the most important features are a rectilinear design (it's rectangular wherever possible rather than round) and a zipper that goes around three of the four edges of the front of the pack. The camping style backpacks that are round and have a drawstring at the top are terrible for travel because that makes using the pack a nightmare -- every time you want something you're going to have to take everything out. I also like to have at least two decently sized external pockets so I have a place to put a book or my tickets or point and shoot camera or whatever. I often get a couple of decent sized carabiners to clip onto the outside of the pack so I can add a plastic bag on or clip my flip flops onto the bag if so desired. It's also really important to me that the pack has at least one handle, either on the top or the side, so I can carry it around like a suitcase easily. It doesn't need to be waterproof at all (throw a garbage bag in the bottom if you're that worried about it) and it doesn't need a waist belt -- in fact I've cut some of the bulkier hip belts off of otherwise good travel packs because they do get in the way a lot (some travelers swear hip belts are super important for long trips but you shouldn't hiking with a travel pack so a travel pack shouldn't have a waist belt). I've listed some popular packs in no particular order below, however I got my last pack by going to REI's website (a big outdoor supplier in the US) and clicking on the Clearance section and just picking a travel pack out of the two or three that were on clearance there, so don't feel like this is a major decision where you have to think hard and spend money. It's just a goddamn bag. Locks, by the way, are worthless (a knife or even a pen will open most bags) and those chain nets are ridiculous, anything you don't want stolen stays with you or in your room. Don't get a pack with one of those ridiculous zip off day packs, for my solution to you needing a man purse everywhere you go please see the next post under "the right packing method." Try to get a pack that's a muted color so you don't stick out like a sore thumb in places that are filled to the gills with scammers and pickpockets. Lastly, if you put a Canadian flag on your backpack I hope you get six different kinds of loving Japanese Encephalitis, I don't care if you're Canadian or not.
  • Cheaper Options - [Campmore Essential - $30] [review] || [eBags Weekender - $50 to $70] [review] - Since I first made this post other goons have supplied me with a number of less expensive travel pack options. They've all looked like totally suitable and reasonable bags to me and so far the people that have ordered them have had no complaints. Some of these bags can be had for as little as 30 dollars and with that being the case it's hard to justify spending 200 or whatever on a pack -- remember, whatever you spend on gear is money you can't spend on your vacation. Past experience has shown me that the makers of these bags changes and they come and go pretty rapidly, however, so I'm just going to link to the variety of options as they come up. Some of these will be slightly smaller than max carry on size, so before you pick one check the descriptions. If you're planning a trip of two months or less I would always recommend you pick up one of these cheaper options -- more than two months and the heavier built bags below might be worth the price.
  • Red Ox Skytrain - Overall "best bag" probably but it better be with the astounding price of one full supply of rupies (255 bucks). Bullet proof construction, nice internal features, reasonable external pockets, and good looks too. I'd personally probably not get this one because of the price, but if you have the cash and are hard on gear this is probably the way to go. It's also manufactured in America and comes with an unconditional lifetime warranty that covers even damage by personal negligence and retardation, so that's nice -- all the hardware on it is metal too (instead of polycarbonate) and it uses those tooth zippers instead of the nylon chain ones so this bag really is a bit more sturdy than anything else I've listed.
  • Patagonia's MLC - This always looked like a reasonable bag to me and Patagonia always makes solid stuff. At 159 bucks this one is really popular. You probably won't get any "far out man" approving head gestures from the the hippie backpacker sect for bringing this one, but then if you're carting anything around other than a rattan basket you've probably already lost your shot at those brownie points anyway.
  • MEI Voyageur - This is the bag Mr. Bearded Guy is wearing in the OP. That doesn't mean I think it's the best bag, it just means it's the first picture I found with someone actually wearing a travel pack instead of it sitting there on a white background. It's a simple bag, it has external compression straps which are nice (better than internal IMO), and it's reasonably priced at 139 bucks. Note that that's the reseller price. You maybe can get a better price by ordering directly from the manufacturer but you have to do that at least eight weeks before you're set to depart so you can get your bag with plenty of time to spare. The manufacturer's name is Ahmed Hassan, his phone number is 888-818-3505 (California location), his email is the hilarious mei-legacy@netscape.com, and he can give you more details as to the price and whatnot if you contact him. His official site is here, don't be shocked by it's 1990s appearance, it's just been that way forever. Dude seriously needs a real website and an online payment processor. Oh and I actually prefer the "Convertible" pack on his lovely website to the Voyageur, mostly because it's a bit smaller and because I like the pockets more, but if you're reading this long rear end paragraph about packs it's probably your first one and you're probably scared to get anything but what anyone else gets, and in that case stick with the Voyageur. I think there's just something about the simple aesthetic of the Voyageur that makes it so popular, it's a good piece of equipment though, don't get me wrong.]
  • Tom Bihn Aeronaut - The most Ikea looking of travel packs. Personally I think this is a good one if you're one of those travelers who insists on bringing more than one pairs of shoes (or those that basically have to bring an extra pair due to being a girl or doing adventure activities) due to the end cap sections available to hold them in a segregated way. I'm rabidly "one pair only" so the 220 dollar price on this one is an issue for me. It comes in lots of different colors and there's an option to buy a shoulder strap for it for 30 bucks -- I say don't bother with the shoulder strap as you're never going to use a it on a bag that has good backpack straps already. Tom Bihn also makes a couple of slightly smaller travel packs for us Travel Pros(R) (Tri Star, Western Flyer) that look good.
  • Other sites and manufacturers offer a variety of similar products. Some major players are REI, Osprey, Arcteryx, and on and on. Eagle Creek used to make a lot of that kind of stuff but all I see on their site now are hiking bags and wheelie bags. In the counterfeit goods centers of Asia you'll see a lot travel-packish bags with North Face stitched into them in the tourist ghettos, but I don't think North Face itself actually makes a true blooded travel pack any more. Qirex posted links to three more bags on page three.

Red Ox Skytrain, Patagonia MLC, MEI Voyageur, Tom Bihn Aeronaut



Bathroom bag - I like to have a small bag that contains all of my toiletries and I think most travelers are the same. The shape of this bag doesn't matter much, I currently have a shaving kit style one I got at a "44 baht" store in Thailand that has two compartments, but really all you need is something about the size of a thick book with zipper down one side and maybe another zipper across the face for condoms. I segment my to-the-shower toiletries (soap, shaving cream, toothpaste and toothbrush, etc) from dry use things (mosquito repellent, meds) by putting a cheap disposable plastic bag inside of my bathroom bag with the shower stuff in there, and I just drag that whole shower bag out and take it with me to the shower. Girls might want a third bag or a ziplock for makeup, and please, ladies, don't go nuts with the loving makeup -- the only guys who like seeing a girl with a ton of makeup on her are gay guys. Soap is the major issue here. These days I just have a small three ounce screw top (don't get those ones you press on to open, they'll open themselves up in your bag sometimes...) plastic bottle that I fill with body wash and use that as body wash and shampoo/conditioner. However, when I get to where I'm going I often just buy a bar of soap or a small container of body wash type stuff at whatever corner store is nearby and use that while I'm in city A and toss it when I go, leaving my 3oz thing as backup for when I'm too lazy to go to the store. It currently has a mix of about four different bodywashes in it as I just top it up before throwing out a new tube and give no poo poo about the cloudy greyish mess in there now so long as it's functional. If you plan to be washing your own clothes (this is mostly a Europe thing, elsewhere laundry ladies are usually plentiful and cheap) throw a clothesline in here too -- I would just use a piece of old lovely cord because I know how to tie a few knots, but if you don't just search on Amazon for "travel clothes line" and I'm sure you'll find something.
  • Transparent Toiletries Bag by Conair - This is pretty much what I have now except mine cost a dollar. Walmart probably has something like that that you can get cheaper locally, basic items like this are often more online than they are in person.
  • Dakine Men's Groomer - Looks like exactly what I'd want if I had 20 bucks or whatever to waste on a bag for pills and soap and razors.
  • La Poche Toiletry Kit - It's a hanging kit and it's got little slots for your stuff and some padding. Pompus Rhombus likes it a lot he got it for his mom and sister. His sister is a hottie too.

Generic transparent toiletry kit, Dakine Men's Groomer, La Poche Toiletries Kit



Shoes - I really, really want to stress how nice it is to have to worry about only one single pair of shoes. A second pair of shoes is a nightmare -- they're huge items to lug around, if they're used they're dirty as poo poo and therefore hard to pack, and they obviously can stink up your pack. Traveling with two pairs of shoes isn't as bad as traveling with more than one bag, but I'd put it at a firm second. Now with an appreciation for how important a choice your shoes are, let's talk about what your shoes need to do. They absolutely need to be chameleon like -- they need to be okay to wear in airports, look passable in a nightclub (so if you get brown leather shoes get slightly dressier ones), and be comfortable enough for walking around in cities. It's nice if they also can handle like a day hike in rougher terrain (which means they need a decent sole basically) and if they're slip ons for airport checkpoints (and for general use if you're going to Asia). Now, with that being said, if you're going to be traveling in hostels you also need to bring one pair of cheap thin flip flops with you that act as a barrier to foot fungus in shared showers -- what counts as a virtue for your flip flops is that they're thin, cheap, and packable -- it's a bonus if you can also handle wearing them on the beach. You will meet some travelers who tell you "oh you're going to SE Asia just wear sandals all the timmeeeee maaaannnnn" but you shouldn't listen to them -- you can't wear sandals into real nightclubs in the city even in SE Asia, mosquitoes will feast on your goddamn feet if you're not in shoes (tropical mosquitoes rarely fly more than a foot off the ground), and hiking sandals are an absolute moronic idea anyway in places where your hiking trails are going to have hundreds of mud leeches waiting for a chance and because when your feet get rubbed raw by them you're going to put on socks and then you'll become THAT GUY. If you're freaking out about hiking shoes it's important to keep in mind that they have shoe stores there. I went on one longer (four day / three night) jungle trek in Thailand and before I went I just popped off to the store and bought hiking shoes for like 25 bucks and tossed them out after I was done. Absolutely do not ever, and I mean loving ever, bring hiking boots with you traveling unless you're literally going to a frozen tundra and will be outside of cities more than 90% of the time. Similarly, tennis shoes or jogging shoes or other athletic shoes are generally not acceptable for not-in-the-gym usage outside of North America, this is a particular issue in Europe -- do not bring running shoes thinking they'll be okay, your shoes don't have to be formal blacks but they can't be white and they can't be athletic shoes either. Leather, on the dressier end, that's what you need. One last word for the ladies: You should probably bring a reasonable pair of dressy flats or tolerable heels in addition to your general use shoes -- please pick something that's easy to pack, so if you insist on heels go with something mild, not your favorite four inch hooker heels. Your clothes are smaller than ours but this extra pair of shoes (and a few bits of makeup) you'll likely bring will mean you'll end up with about the same size overall pack.
  • Shoes for Crews' Lotus - A slip on with a no slip tread that makes it possible to hike in them with okay looks. I don't think they make this particular shoe any more but you can go poke around on their site and find something acceptable. About 50 bucks.
  • Clarks Norse Tip - A simple brown leather shoe straddling the dress line (it's perfectly fine to overdress on your shoe most of the time) that also has a hiking worthy Vibram sole. About 110 bucks, Clarks has other shoes along this line.
  • Some generic flip flop - Your flip flops should be all plastic so that water won't soak into them, cheap, flat, and easy to pack. You can usually get these locally, so I'm just adding a link here just in case you're a prepare in advance ninny. Also keep a large plastic bag to stuff them in inside of your pack, or, if they're wet still, clip them to the outside of your pack with a carabiner as I described in the Pack section above. You can probably get these locally at Target or whatever for two bucks.
  • Broad upper flip flops - The broader straps on the top will make them more comfortable for extended wear so it might be worth it to get something like this instead of the usual thin upper flip flop that you find in 7-11s near beaches in most tropical countries. American Eagle used to make a good set with plastic uppers (plastic is good because it doesn't absorb sweat / seawater which means sand doesn't stick to it as badly), maybe they still do, but they moved them on their site.
  • Going on a hike? - If you're talking a few days you can hopefully handle it in your normal shoes, if you're just walking around a city you really don't need hiking shoes. One trick that helps some people that plan hikes while they still have soft city feet is to either buy liner socks or some of those nylon footies that girls sometimes wear under their flats or heels instead of socks. You wear the liner thing (sock or nylon) next to your skin and then your sock rubs against it instead of directly on your skin which will greatly slow the development of blisters -- and blisters are what will ruin your walking day, not "oh noes my feet are tired." If you're primarily going to be hiking then of course you will have to bring hiking shoes with you. Don't bring boots unless you're going to be in the snowy mountains. Also, if you're going to be hiking, please invest in some decent socks, they're just as important as the shoes.
  • Ebay often lists used dress shoes sometimes with good multipurpose (eg: Vibram) soles. You can get a 300 dollar shoe for 60 this way that will keep you looking sharp.

Shoes for Crews' Lotus, Clark's Norse Tip, some generic plastic flip flops, American Eagle flip flops



Socks and underwear - This is the clothing area that usually gets the least consideration by causal travelers but it's also one that more experienced travelers get fairly picky about. Like everything else in this thread, if you're going somewhere for two weeks it's often better to make due with what you have than get loaded to the gills with new special stuff. However, I initially made changes in this department for travel and now will not go back to the socks and underwear I wore before -- they make a much bigger difference than you'd expect, especially the socks. Now is also a good time to briefly discuss clothing materials. The first thing to know along those lines is that cotton loving sucks -- it's an absorbent non insulating material. The absorbent part isn't bad (that means its comfortable) but the big problem is that it dries really slowly. Wet cotton socks stay wet forever and feel like bunched up bullshit on your feet. Wool, on the other hand, oh let me sing the praises of wool. Wool is naturally antimicrobial (doesn't stink), naturally wicks moisture away from your feet, and retains its shape and feel and even insulative properties well when wet. But, I hear you cry out, WOOL IS SO HOT!!! This is absolutely false, you think wool is hot because the wool you find at home is half a centimeter thick. Thin wool is as cool as thin cotton but has all the other benefits I listed before, yet when you layer it it does a great job of insulating (not true for cotton) making it serve two purposes. Wool is the best. Wool is also, however, somewhat scratchy (how much so varies by the type / finish of the wool) so often times your best cotton substitute is a synthetic. Synthetics aren't as absorbent (they feel plasticky to varying degrees) but offer even better durability and moisture wicking than wool.
  • Smartwool socks - I like to think I was the first goon to talk about Smartwool socks and since then I've seen posts about their wondorousness spread across the forums. These are the only socks you could wear twice in a row in SE Asia and not have to cut them off your feet on day three, they're machine washable, and I have pairs in my dresser that I've been using on heavy rotation for almost five years now. At 15 or so bucks a pair they're also very expensive, but they are quite literally the best. Get lightweight ones (hiking or casual doesn't matter, just wear two pairs if cold) and get them in black (allows them to double as formal wear). These socks are the only socks I wear now and of all the products I've listed in this post they're the ones I believe in most strongly. Ladies sock here, they also make those little bootie things for your dressy flats or whatever.
  • ExOfficio Give'n'Go Underwear - [Boxer] [Boxer-Brief] [Brief] - These are made of a lightweight very breatheable nylon material which means they wick moisture incredibly well and dry almost instantly. They're also really durable. ExOfficio makes a lot of retarded over the top safari-esq travel poo poo but I really like these underwear (I wear the boxers because I don't like having my garbage mashed into one spot all day long, but you do what you want). These are also quite pricy, but the hardcore lightweight traveling people who bring only two pairs of underwear (of sometimes just the one they have on!) bring these most of the time. You can wash them in the sink, wring them out, and then "burrito stomp" them (roll them up in a towel and then step on the towel) and they'll be bone dry in the morning. I bring four pairs because I'm lazy and don't want to bother washing my poo poo too often -- I usually have a laundry lady do that for me anyway. Oh and I lean toward black underwear when traveling -- other colors seem to bleach / fade / discolor inappropriately at a more rapid pace.
  • Under Armor Compression Shorts - I don't wear these myself but lots of people like Under Armor stuff so I'm including it here. If you read claims on their site that wearing these will make you cooler / more comfortable than not don't believe them, however they are probably great as underwear.
  • Ladies of SA: I need your help in suggesting bras and panties. The only advice I have now for female travelers in this department is that bras are different over seas, in Asia for example the whole "lift and separate" ethos is supplanted by "lift and mash" and, obviously, cup sizes run quite a bit smaller. Make sure you're well stocked in terms of bras, being unable to find the bras they like is a very common complaint for women travelers.

Smartwool Express socks, ExOfficio Give'n'Go boxer-briefs, Under Armor men's compression shorts



Swimwear - There isn't much for me to say here. Some people don't bring swimwear and just swim in their undies or shorts instead. I usually bring (or buy once there) a pair of what's called board shorts. These don't have that stupid nylon net liner in them, usually have a velcro pocket for whatever it is you're bringing into the water (room key), and look okay. Some lady travelers make their swimwear serve double duty as backup underwear, which is fine I guess I don't really give a poo poo. One thing I will say is that when swimming in tropical waters I usually keep a long sleeved shirt on as this drastically cuts down on the amount of sunscreen I need to use -- it doesn't, however, alleviate the need for sunscreen entirely due to my hands, head, and lower legs obviously not being covered. I don't like to get white board shorts because people can see your junk through those. They make board shorts for ladies too but I imagine most of the girls reading this thread will be excited to put their bikinis to use and don't really want to bring something else anyway.
  • Board Shorts - It's what people wear. Those mesh lined things are weird.

O'Neill Santa Cruz board short



Towels / Sarongs - There's a neverending debate among travel people as to whether you should bring a sarong to use as a towel or one of those special travel towel things, but what we all agree on is that you should never bring a loving normal bath towel from home. They're way too big and despite your hopeful thoughts they won't be useful as a blanket or pillow. Now, as to the debate, I'm firmly on the sarong side of the aisle. The sarong can be used as cover while you walk from your room to the bathrooms if you're staying in a place with separate bathrooms (like many hostels), the travel towels are far too small for this. The travel towels also feel really nasty when you're rubbing them on your skin. The sarong also has a few more ancillary uses than a travel towel, plus they should be cheaper. The biggest secret to traveling and towels, however, is that on the last night you stay anywhere you should bring your bedsheet with you to the shower and use that to dry off rather than your towel -- this keeps you from having to pack a wet towel, which causes mildew to sprout inside your bag and makes all your stuff stink. Another good thing to know is that a lot of hostels actually have towels for you, but will only give you one if you ask!
  • Sarong - IMO it should be rayon so it dries quickly and so whatever color it's dyed doesn't wash out (synthetics hold dyes better than natural fabrics).
  • Pack Towel - Also called just "travel towels," these are basically shamwows made of a fibrous feeling synthetic material. Even the "large" size will probably leave a gap down your thigh and may not go low enough to cover your dong (insert Asian joke here) when worn wrapped around your waist, so basically these only function to dry off by. They're good for that, though.

A generic printed sarong, a pack towel

raton fucked around with this message at Mar 28, 2014 around 08:05

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


Shirts - Before I give specific recommendations as to shirts, let's make a list what the ideal travel shirt should do. It needs to be comfortable, it needs to be presentable in a variety of settings from the beach to museums to nightclubs, you have to able to pack it without it wrinkling too much, it should protect against both mosquitoes and sun, it should be good in hot and cold weather, and it'd be nice if it were easily washable and cheap. Now, there's no single shirt that does all of this, but the one that comes closest by far is the classic button up collared "dress" shirt. I'll detail some more casual options in the list below for those that refuse to convert, but when I travel I only have one t-shirt with me (for long plane or bus rides only, it usually sits in the bottom of my bag to be honest) and four dress shirts. If you're American and reading this you might think I wander around horribly over dressed, but one thing you'll notice on your first major trip is that outside of the USA (and Canada's western provinces) it's okay to leave the house looking nice, no one gives you questioning glares because you don't look like you're headed to that Taco Bell inside the Walmart on laundry day. The second thing you'll notice is that often times a reasonable shirt plus a good attitude gives you access -- it wasn't the four screaming beach-ware clad Canuks that my island tour guide offered to smoke up on my last trip around Koh Phangan, it was the quiet guy who spoke some Thai and a few words of Burmese who happened to be wearing a reasonable dress shirt (with the sleeves rolled up). The last thing you realize is that the goddamn things are actually more comfortable than t-shirts most of the time. The whole front can be opened for ventilation, the sleeves roll up or down as the heat, sun or mosquitoes dictate, and the material is usually nicer than what's used for t-shirts. Now, I realize that some of you won't go full retard for dress shirts like I have, but these should be looked at as staple travel items, not night on the town accessories. Whatever shirts you do bring, in my opinion they should all be light colored. This is because the sensical thing to do with your pants is to bring darker colored pants (so they get stained less easily by sitting or kneeling on surfaces you didn't realize were dirty) and therefore you want lighter colored shirts so you can wear every shirt with every pair of pants.
  • Dress Shirt - You want at least two of these. For travel get ones that are wrinkle resistant or wrinkle free, don't get polyester shirts (which means cotton will be your material for your shirts, which is okay), and if you want a shirt that remotely seems to fit you will want to get one that's labeled with "fitted" or "slim fit" or has something on there that claims it's a European fit of some sort. If you're going to a third world country (or Hong Kong) you'll probably find that tailors are fairly cheap and may just opt to get shirts made there. Nobody I know has dress shirts with pockets on them, and for travel you should avoid shirts with a "French cuff" which means the bottom cuff folds onto itself and closes with a cufflink instead of a simple button. If you're just out of college you probably don't know what all the numbers mean when you buy a dress shirt as, usually, they aren't labeled with S / M / L. The first number is the collar size -- 15 is fairly small and 17.5 is fairly large -- the rest of the shirt is generally sized proportionately to the collar for off the rack shirts so if you feel like every time you put on a dress shirt you're wearing a tent try some with a smaller neck size -- you won't be wearing a tie when you travel so getting too small a neck isn't an issue in itself as the top button will always be open. The second number is the sleeve length -- 32 is shortish and 37 is quite long. You should probably go to your local department store and try on shirts until you find out what the right combo is before buying anything online -- also many stores will have a lot of shirts that cost 50 bucks a piece but will also have a bargain bin with perfectly good shirts for like 10. When you put on your shirt the sleeve should touch the back of your hand when your wrist is straight (it would cover your watch up entirely) and if you grab ahold of the material over your chest and pull it out it should only come four to six inches off of your body -- not a goddamn foot and a half. When the shirt is tucked in it shouldn't "blouse" which means make a muffin top type shape at the beltline, it should stay fairly near to your skin all the way around. If you can find dress shirts with flat bottoms (instead of the usual undulating tail shape) that would be great as these look better when worn untucked, however these are extremely hard to find. Because this is SA let me assure you that the normal way to wear your shirt is with the top two buttons open. Get normal, decently fitting dress shirts.
  • Patagonia Capilene T-shirt - If I had to pick one T-shirt to bring it'd be this one. It's especially good for hotter temperatures and, in my opinion, is the best sort of what's often referred to as "golf shirts" meaning a comfortable feeling synthetic T-shirt (or polo shirt) that wicks moisture well. You will, however, find lots of T-shirts for sale wherever you go and if you find a good one you might end up throwing this nice capilene away so maybe you should have just brought a poo poo shirt to begin with. Oh and I know this is technically polyester but what makes it good as a shirt is the way the polyester is made and then woven -- you still don't want a dress shirt that's made from polyester as they don't take that kind of care in the dress shirt world when employing polyester. At least not yet. A few goons have told me that these shirts start retaining body odor after using them for a couple weeks on heavy rotation and that this BO is hard to wash out. That's okay, if that happens while you're in Guatemala just throw the bitch out and get yourself a brand new two dollar T-shirt locally.
  • A few special DON'Ts for shirts - The golden rule for what to wear when traveling is to look at what locals are wearing and try to emulate them if conforming to their dress wouldn't obviously be out of place for you because of where you're from -- don't look at other travelers. Don't wear a shirt that has the name or strong national symbols of the place you're traveling in, or of the places you're traveling near. If you wear a red star = Vietnam shirt anywhere in SE Asia you're going to look like a douche. You'll have a lot of company, but they'll all look like douches too. Don't buy sleeveless shirts if you're a guy even if you're going somewhere hot, a half foot of fabric isn't going to be a life or death difference and most places are more formal about what adult men wear when going about in cities than the US is. Don't buy shirts that have local liquor brands or soft drink brands or energy drink brands on them even if all you care about is drinking on the beach. Don't buy a shirt that has a cartoon about being drunk, your dick, a list of beverages or sexual positions, or refers to how locals mangle the English language. Don't get something Afflicition-esq, and if you're looking at something "tattoo inspired" you should probably get someone else's opinion before spending your money. Don't get a safari shirt from REI or whatever that has some weird loving vent cut into the back and two chest pockets and some kind of stupid button on the sleeve for pinning up the cuff -- those are dumb and will make you look dumb. Don't worry about any shirts with SPF numbers on them, any shirt at all will provide totally adequate sun protection on the places it covers and the SPF ratings on clothing are just a gimmick. Don't bring/use undershirts, I know your favorite rapper would have you believe that you're supposed to wear an A shirt under your dress shirt but normal people just wear them next to their skin.
  • Hey ladiezzz - You don't have to go with four dress shirts (though you could). Bring your usual lady clothes. As per my more masculine advice above, however, try to pick tops that work seamlessly from a nightclub to a museum to a beach and that will go with all of your pants / skirts universally. I realize this is a harder task for you to pull off, but make sure everything you bring can serve at least a few purposes even if it can't serve all of them -- if you have a shirt that's beach / nightclub friendly and goes with two of your three bottoms but won't work in a museum or whatever because it's too loud then that's good enough. However an asymmetrical backless blouse with sequins on it is only going to see use if/when you make it to a fancy bar so don't bring it.

A reasonable man in a reasonable shirt, Patagonia capilene T-shirt



Pants and shorts - Out of all of your travel items pants are the ones that can be reworn the most without washing thanks to your underwear taking the brunt of the assault from your smelly rear end. This means you'll bring fewer pants than anything else (I usually pack four shirts total and only one pair of pants and one pair of shorts, for example) which means you should probably be very conservative with your pants choice as it has to go with everything. One thing that I'm strongly opposed to when traveling is jeans. People in the US think that jeans are the only possible pants option, that you have to wear jeans when you're dressing casually and that when you go out you're supposed to wear fancy jeans -- it's almost absurd how prevalent they are. But those same considerations haven't precluded me from recommending a travel pack for travel. The real reason I suggest you never bring jeans is that they're incredibly bulky and heavy and if they get wet they take forever to dry which makes them almost unwashable on a travel schedule. With that said, many people in this forum travel with jeans despite my howlings and if you want to you can too. But you are going to suffer for it, I guarantee it. The other big no-no in my book as far as travel pants goes is "convertible" pants -- these are pants that have a zipper in them so you can turn them into shorts. They look atrocious and are only suitable for the jungle, don't fool yourself into thinking they're okay to wear around a city because they're not. Shorts are another semi-contentious issue among travelers. Did you know that in a few European countries only children wear shorts and if you wear them as an adult male other local adult males may come up to you and pull your leg hair to point out the absurdity of your dress? Did you know that if you're visiting temples in SE Asia it's frowned upon to wear shorts as they're too informal and that a few temples will not allow you on the grounds in that kind of garb? What I'm getting at is that shorts are seen as basically being beachware in many places and while dress standards are forever becoming more and more casual across the globe there will be some situations when traveling that you probably shouldn't wear shorts despite wanting to because of decorum issues. This leads into the ridiculous debate about what sorts are the right ones to buy -- ones that look dressier or cargo shorts so you have somewhere to keep your point and shoot camera. In my opinion, since shorts are completely informal to begin with, you might as well just go with cargo shorts.
  • Plain lightweight wool slacks - These are excellent travel gear. They look good, if you get cheap ones you won't mind machine washing them, and the light weight makes them serviceable in heat and you get all the great benefits of wool that I went into in the Socks section. Just go to your local Walmart or Target and pick up a pair, read the label so you get mostly woolen pants (a blend is normal here, don't expect 100% wool -- something like 70/30 or whatever is fine), try them on to ensure they fit. Be aware, however, that using a machine to dry wool can shrink it fairly quickly, so if you machine dry them use low heat. Hang drying won't shrink them at all. I'd suggest avoiding pants with a crease down the thigh as that makes them look like your sport coat is missing, get the uncreased ones if you can find them. You also want what's called "flat front" slacks which has nothing to do with the crease I just talked about -- the alternative to flat front is "pleated" which means they've added little expansion areas near the waistline in case you're a fat fatty, but pleated pants are definitely old man pants these days.[list]
  • Outlier - People bring up Outlier these days as the good travel pants. Slimmer, more modern look with four way stretch and other techy features in the fabric. Pretty pricy at about 200 for a pair! Video 1 Video 1
  • Cargo Shorts - Similarly, just get a pair of shorts you're comfortable in. You wear these when it's hot and you don't give a poo poo about looking sharp. If you're going somewhere cold obviously there's no reason to bring shorts. If you don't already have some get something cheap and not too douchey looking -- you probably don't want eighteen zippers and a big orange logo and whatever. Also don't feel like you have to bring shorts at all, I brought a pair with me to Thailand but only really wore them on days when I knew I'd just be shopping or on a boat trip around an island or something. If you're going anywhere where there's bugs you'd probably rather have your pants on, and if you're going somewhere where it doesn't get over-the-top-hot (most of Europe) there's no reason to bring shorts at all, really. You can, of course, get regular shorts -- staple stores like J. Crew or Uniqlo have tons of them -- a 9" or 7" inseam is what people seem to get most of the time.
  • Quirex gave me a short list of some other popular pants that you can read here if you don't like what I have to say. He even has some suggestions on which jeans out of the jean world you should bring -- if you're going to be bringing jeans. You jeans wearer.
  • NOTE: Previously I heartily recommended REI Adventures pants here. They suck now. The zippers give out, the pants are no longer 100% nylon but an awful poly/cotton blend (worst possible option for travel pants, or any pants really), and they hosed up the signature leg zipper on the left leg which was the feature that made me like the pants so much to begin with (they removed it and made it part of the the main left pocket).

Generic wool slacks, Obama wearing cargo shorts



Jackets and rainwear - The first thing to mention is that if you're going somewhere cold the default travel jacket is a black fleece -- see the next section for how to make it warmer if you're worried about that. The second thing to mention is that this is something people often overpack on. I have never in all my time traveling needed a rain jacket and I've never been anywhere that I couldn't find a good cold weather coat if cold weather was around. What you need to remember is that even if you have a rain jacket if it starts pissing down on you while you're in a city it's almost always going to be smarter to duck into a restaurant or shop and wait it out than to put your jacket on and keep going. That's miserable travel and everything else is going to get wet if you go that route. If you're going to be out of cities a lot doing things where you're going to have to be on the move or in the elements (extended hiking, basically, I don't know what else I can put here other than archeological expeditions or something) then a rain jacket becomes important. As for warm jackets, wool and down are too hard to clean and those puffer coats that black people in Baltimore love so much are way too bulky for travel. If a fleece isn't enough you should probably go with a compressible down for casual cold weather travel.
  • Columbia Fleece Jacket - You could easily substitute something by The North Face or whatever. A simple black fleece is such an adaptable and smart choice for travel that it's ridiculous. The only downside is that fleece is somewhat bulky, but if you're talking jackets for warmth bulkiness is basically what you're buying and there's no way to fix that.
  • Marmot Precip - This seems to be the default rain jacket in the travel world. It's lightweight and packs small. People tell me it isn't breatheable so if you're going to be wearing your jacket a lot you might want to try some other, more expensive options. The waterproof/breathable fabrics are all really expensive -- GoreTex is the second gen waterproofing technology, there are third gen products now that last longer/repel better/breathe better/cost even more. I suppose if you're really going to be in the jungle monsoon you might want to consider getting waterproof pants as well. There are lots of these sorts of jackets for girls, as well, just search for "lightweight rain jacket" or whatever and pick one that doesn't make you look like a guest star on The Deadliest Catch.
  • Emergency Poncho - They come in a ziplock and sit in the bottom of your bag just in case you get rained on. I bring one of these along with me but have never had to use it. I figure it's better than buying a coat that I'll never use and bringing that. You can't really expect these to last for more than a few days, if that's what you're looking for then spend a little more. You can often get these in the camping section of your local big box store for a dollar. These aren't hard to find overseas, either, and often materialize on sidewalk stands right along with the rain.

A Columbia fleece, Marmot Precip rain jacket, a generic emergency poncho



Cold weather equipment - Your first instinct when it starts getting cold at home is to throw a coat on. This is a problem when you're traveling as a coat is, by definition, a huge bulky item with but a single purpose. When you travel in colder areas you need to think from the outside in instead of the inside out and you need to think about coverage. A stocking cap for your head and some woolen gloves will do more to keep you warm than anything else will. If that in addition to your fleece isn't enough then your first instinct should be to go for long underwear, a top at first, and bottoms if you're going somewhere truly cold. If you need more than that I honestly think we're starting to get into expedition territory.
  • Stocking cap - Also called watch caps or beanies. These cover everything, keep your head warm, pack easily, and don't look bad either. The wool ones are nice and were what the army used for the longest time but are a bit itchy. They used to make Thinsulate lined ones that were both warm and not itchy but those are hard to find online. I like the "long cuff" ones so I can have a little extra over my ears but whatever, if you don't like how those look fine.
  • Gloves - Usually I find that a liner weight glove does more to keep my hands warm than a thicker glove as the lighter ones allow me to also stuff my hands into my pockets. If you're going to be working outside in the cold you obviously need a heavier glove here. I actually have these which are really super high quality like everything Filson makes, but they're pretty drat pricy for what they are too.
  • Long underwear - Also called thermals or "a base layer." People usually like either silk or polypro for these, in my opinion polypro is the right choice here as the silk ones, while nice, tend to get snagged on anything they touch (even velcro) and get ripped up and turn into poo poo really quickly whereas the polypro ones are pretty tough. There are also merino wool ones but those are much pricier even than silk. If you're going somewhere cold you should bring the pants too, they're often sold separately online. These are often cheaper at your local sporting goods store. Avoid cotton for your warm base layer, obviously.
  • Extreme cold - I'd recommend buying a coat when you get there, probably some army cast off gear available for cheap. Anywhere where it's cold there are usually big people running around and you'll be able to find something in your size. Be aware that down, while light, also totally stops being warm if it gets wet and, in truly dire situations, gets colder and colder as the down collects ice crystals (which ruin its insulating properties) from your body's escaping water, so if you're going to depend on down it needs to be in a situation where the coat will completely warm through almost every night. For true polar conditions there are lots of good manmade options these days but honestly your important gear, like your gloves and hat, will probably be made of fur -- there isn't a more reliable manmade option yet.

Generic wool beanie, generic wool liner gloves, generic polypro long underwear



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Electronics and Entertainment

Camera - Models come and go and most of the cameras out there now are pretty good for travel. The real decision to make here is whether to just use the camera on your phone, bring a point and shoot, or go all out and bring a DSLR. Like a lot of stuff in the electronics section what you bring here depends a lot on what else you plan to bring, but let me offer a few guidelines. First, don't bring a DSLR unless you've already used one enough at home to really know how to get the most out of it. If you're reading this and don't know what a DSLR is you flat out shouldn't buy one for your trip and should bring a small point and shoot camera instead. Second, if you bring a point and shoot the one you have at home now is probably fine, but if you're going to buy a new camera for the trip (maybe it's time?) make sure you get one that has both a good optical zoom (3x is the bare minimum -- if you can find something with 5x or 7x that'd be great but it can be hard to find as bigger zooms necessitate bigger cases) and functions well at night (you have to look through camera nerd reviews on Google to figure this out, this mostly has to do with how good/large an image sensor is in the guttyworks of the camera) -- these two things aren't nearly as hard to find together as they used to be. If you're just going to roll with your phone camera then okay, however it not having a flash will make night photography almost impossible, even of neon lights and scantily clad Australian chicks. No matter what camera you bring you should buy a humongous memory card (or two) for it and if you're going to a photo heavy destination (some ancient temple city, some place you always wanted to photograph, some vast national park or other natural wonder, whatever) an extra battery is a good idea as well. I'm a fairly spare photographer when I travel, taking maybe 20 pictures or so a week, but when I went to Angkor Wat I took about 150 pictures a day and had to find a spot to recharge my battery (literally) in the middle of some days. Your memory card filling up can also be an issue no matter how big it is (it doesn't help that you'll probably also shoot some video), but most locations will have internet cafes which you can go into and have your pictures burned to DVD. I'd suggest doing this occasionally anyway, even if you brought a portable hard drive or have a netbook with you that you're backing your pictures up on to -- camera gear is a huge theft magnet and while losing your camera sucks losing all the pictures you've taken is even loving worse. If you travel mostly for photos you may even wish to look for some cloud based online backup service.
  • The Dorkroom is SA's photo and film oriented forum. Look around in the stickied threads there for guides on how to make pictures as a little lighting and compositional knowledge will do you far more good than any 800 dollar camera. This is a camera nerd primer but don't let it trick you into buying a DSLR if you have the compositional skills of a twelve year old girl.
  • The Point and Shoot thread - This is where you can go for picking out a P&S camera and will demystify what you should care about (the sensor size and quality and the lens) and what you shouldn't (TEN GILLION MEGA PIXELS!!!!). A P&S is typically a pocketable camera that automates most of the functions needed to take an acceptable picture in most conditions. The favorite son for this sort of camera right now is the Canon s100 which is a fantastic camera -- wide angle, good low light shooting, a 5x zoom, CMOS sensor, it's perfect; and goons have been religious purchasers of Canon P&S cameras since the Digital ELPH Powershot s200 days (my very first digital camera back in 2002 -- available online for four dollars today). It's 400 bucks, but if you want you can get whatever their most recent ELPH is for like 150 and get a really awesome P&S for a slightly lower price that you won't over if you lose it.
  • Low light and night time photography is hugely important to be able to do when you travel. It allows for incognito photos (that flash is going to gently caress your poo poo up if it means the street urchin you're trying to take a covert shot of will notice it and come running for his fee), indoor photos (I don't know how many great temple shots I missed in Angkor because my P&S sucks in the dark -- there are others that don't but I didn't get one of those), sweet action photos, and good nightlife pictures. It also allows you to not have to lug a loving tripod around. If you bring a P&S prioritize nighttime capabilities over the zoom. If you bring a DSLR your lens emphasis should be on the fast end of things, definitely not on the telephoto end. For more DSLR tips read Mrady's post on page 5.
  • If you go SCUBA diving you'll want to take some awesome fish pictures. If you are a camera nerd your first impulse will be to buy a waterproof housing. Don't. Almost every SCUBA diving operation has digital cameras for rent with waterproof cases for like 20 bucks a day. That's a super reasonable fee to keep your gear 100% safe from salt water. It's also a much wiser way to go than buying those waterproof disposable cameras -- even if you're going snorkeling I'd vastly recommend renting a digital than buying a Kodak underwater thingaroo. Two meters of water is enough to almost require a flash and deeper than that you'll just get pictures of blackness with grey blobs if you use a disposable, even with its lovely flash. So rent your fins and your snorkel but also check to see if you can rent a digital camera at a real dive shop, and if you go for a full SCUBA package always spring for a camera for the day as well! Just like people buying DSLRs and not knowing how to use them, until you learn how to shoot underwater having the equipment won't help you get the pictures you want. You have to get some experience before you get your own underwater gear.


Phones and computers - This stuff changes so fast that I don't even want to list any models or anything here. There are a few basic questions I want to address, first about phones, then about bringing a computer. For a phone the first thing you'll probably want to know is whether or not your phone will work in country X -- I suggest Googling for that information, but the answer is probably no. The US uses a different frequency range for cell phones than most other countries and the only phones that really work globally are "quad band" phones. Another concern is that CDMA phones are rare outside of the US and CDMA phones therefore won't work abroad. Most other countries use SIM cards and if you have a quad band phone that can accept a SIM what you can do is just buy a SIM card with prepaid service upon arriving locally and get good local rates for your phone usage. Many US carriers (Sprint, Verizon) only carry CDMA phones because it helps them keep you on their plans. If you don't know what a SIM card is it's a thumbnail sized piece of plastic that slips into a slot (usually under the battery) in your phone that has the phones number on it and a very small amount of memory for storing contacts. Having a local cell number makes a HUGE difference in your social life when overseas and if you're going to be staying anywhere for more than two weeks I'd heavily suggest buying a burner locally if your phone won't work there -- phones are cheaper overseas and you'll probably be able to get a prepaid 20 dollar Nokia without much hassle that you can top up at local convenience stores (the store clerks will usually show you how if you're nice). The last thing I need to say about phones is that even if you won't get service on it you may still want to bring your smartphone just for wifi access to Google (and the SA app of course hurrr) and dictionary apps. For computers the question of whether or not to bring one hinges largely on how big it is and whether or not you'll be typing very much or need it for photo storage. I would never bring any computer on a two week or less trip, but more than that I would almost certainly bring a netbook (if I had one...) with me. I would not bring anything larger than a netbook even if I was traveling for extended periods of time -- internet cafes exist in most places and if not then oh well, buy a loving notebook and type when you get home (or back to a major city or whatever). I don't see why anyone would bring a tablet, it's just a big smartphone.
  • The Gargantuan and Confusing Cell Phone forum can give you more details on whether or not your phone is quad band or what a SIM is or what carriers are CDMA only and OH GOD I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT MY loving iPHONE it is the very pinnacle of design :Steve Job's sanserif penis:.
  • IIA netbook thread. (Insert string of memes here later). If you already have a tablet you can add a keyboard to it with something like this (thanks Cheesemaster).
  • "Best practices as far as computer/account security are worth considering on the road because even if you are using your own hardware your connection may not be trustworthy. The simplest thing to do is make a separate gmail account just for that trip with a 100% unique password and forward your mail to that. This will prevent 99% of "oh man my main email account got compromised and now my whole life is poo poo" scenarios. Also if you need to check your money [and you're in the US/Canada] set up a mint.com account [again with a unique PW] so you're not typing in your online banking credentials unless you really need to." (Thanks quirex)
  • Want a cybercafe condom? -- This cafeKlysm program has been around for a while and is free. It offers a bunch of stuff that loads off of a thumb drive and maybe it helps, I don't really know.


Adapters and charging - This is a bigger issue than goons make it out to be. First of all, the stuff you might bring with you that needs a charger probably doesn't need a voltage adapter. If you look on your laptop's power supply thingie or on the charger for your phone you'll find something that says "100-240V, 50/60Hz" which means that you can plug it in to any outlet in the world and it will be able to still pump out the power your device expects. Now, if you're trying to bring a hairdryer or something and it only says "100v, 50Hz" or nothing at all on the plug then it's probably going to burst into flames if you plug it into the wall in China. The best solution there is to get a short haircut before you leave, but if that's not an option the second best thing to do is to get a hairdryer once there. Really the only problem with traveling around and trying to charge your equipment is that sometimes the plugs over there won't physically accept the prongs on your charger. Of course, sometimes there are multiplug wall sockets built to accept most any imported plug no matter it's flatness or roundness or wrong-number-of-prongsness. In any case, if you're worried about it you can almost always get an adapter once you're there and if you want to prepare in advance just search on Amazon for a travel adapter -- be sure to get one that has a USB plug-in place on it. If you feel like I'm being a little lax on the power adapter front you can look this site over.


Entertainment and interaction aids - What you bring here is really up to you. I suggest only one book for entertainment's sake, or, of course, your Kindle or whatever. If you want suggestions for books IMO the best two travel books ever written are William Vollmann's The Atlas and Robert Bryon's well known Road to Oxiana. In the old days I used to bring a small photo album with some pictures of where I was from and a few of each place I'd been once I'd had a chance to print some off which I could show to people sitting next to me on the train whether they spoke English or not -- these days of course you'll probably just do something similar with your phone. On my last trip I really wish I'd brought a headphone splitter and an extra pair of cheap earbuds so I could share my music with whoever was around if I felt like it. If you're going into the boonies an old fashioned Polariod instant camera can charm an African village like nothing else but they're pricy (unless you get a used one!) and the film for them is a bit expensive too. And, of course, if you can play the harmonica or a recorder or an ocarina or some other tiny portable non-breakable instrument that can be a crowd pleaser too -- however a guitar is hilariously too big to travel with and even a violin is a bit much, so you really have to think small here. Magic tricks are fun too, if you know your way around a deck of cards or whatever.


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Miscellaneous

The right packing method - Orient your packing mind around about a week of goods -- for me that means planning four days between laundry stop offs (so every fifth day or so). That gives you more than enough time to be a little lazy with washing or to waste a couple days before finding a laundry lady. For clothes I bring four shirts, two pants (or one pant and one short), four pairs of socks, four pairs of underwear, and I also generally wear whatever cold weather clothing I've also decided to bring plus I have one day's set of clothes on my back. If you're going to go to a cold region you will also have to pack some extra long underwear, how much I'm not sure as I've never taken a trip like that, but I'm sure you can figure it out. When packing, a fold is a crease waiting to happen, but there are two good ways to pack your clothes for traveling that avoid the whole folding error.
  • Bundle packing -- In my opinion this option is superior to cube packing because it's cheaper, there are less wrinkles and it's scalable to whatever you pick up or discard along the way whereas cubes can run out of room or end up baggy. Here's an image of what you'll be doing, an article explaining in more detail why bundling is the way to go, and a video of the process in action. The only drawback to bundle packing is that you generally have to unfurl the whole bundle in the morning to select your clothes (and then rebundle it if you're going to be leaving) but when you compare the amount of work that takes to rolling clothes and loving with zippers there's not a big difference. Always leave an extra pair of underwear and socks on the outside of the bundle so you can change those quickly if you're so inclined, and if you plan to go to the beach wrap your board shorts around the outside instead of using them to start the bundle on the inside. I generally also make a separate dirty clothes bundle and place it into a largeish plastic bag (the big ones from your grocery store are usually enough) next to the clean bundle and the clean one shrinks nicely as the dirty one grows.
  • Packing cubes -- The first thing is to buy what are called packing cubes and to roll your clothes and put them into the cubes. You roll your pants by starting with them folded in half and then roll them from the waist down, shirts you first lay the sleeves onto the chest, then lay the outer left and right edges of the shirt inward roughly halfway to the midline (which is nearly a fold but the bulk of the sleeve will help protect against creases, then roll from the bottom up to get something about the size of a half used roll of paper towels. Underwear and socks can obviously just be jammed in wherever. Generally people who use cubes have one for shirts, one for pants and swimsuit, one for underwear and socks, and then they put their bathroom kit and sarong in there outside of a cube and pack the rest of the stuff they're bringing however it comes. If you use this method all of your cubes will be roughly the same size, perhaps shirts a bit bigger than pants which are in turn a bit bigger than underwear/socks, but whatever.
  • The daypack debacle -- I also pack one of those cheapo shopping bags with me, the "Save the Earth" ones that you're supposed to reuse that they usually sell near the checkout lane in your supermarket for a dollar. If your bag is overweight and the check in lady for your flight is giving you poo poo just pop that thing out and toss your books and computer and stuff into it and then it's the "personal item" you're allowed to bring in addition to your carryon. If you're wandering around the city and have a bunch of stuff you're bringing with you just toss it in there and tote it around that way. Put your clothes in there when you take them to the laundry lady, etc. Some people get a "keychain bag" which does the same thing. Other people have a daypack they use for their excessive camera gear and whatnot -- my only suggestion for your daypack if you insist on getting one is to get something that looks banged up and lovely from a Army/Navy store or a used clothing place so people don't see it and think "CAMERA BAG I'M STEALING THAT" right off the bat. Finally, a daypack really isn't necessary when you can go into any store anywhere on earth, even in the middle of the Congo, and walk back out with your bog standard plastic shopping bag that'll hold your stuff, not look obtrusive, isn't so bad to carry around for a day, and will last for at least a week. You don't need a murse! Really. Where are you going to put your travel guide though?!? You're going to tear out the pages you need for that day and fold them up and stick them in your wallet, that's where.


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If you find any hosed up links please let me know!

Lastly, here's a Goon run travel site with mostly similar opinions about the above: The Savvy Backpacker

(sorry about the broken pictures, I'll fix them some day)

raton fucked around with this message at Mar 28, 2014 around 11:57

Arakan
May 10, 2008

After some persuasion, Fluttershy finally opens up, and Twilight's more than happy to oblige in doing her best performance as a nice, obedient wolf-puppy.

Sweet OP. You should put a disclaimer maybe that if you're planning on buying clothes or gear in country when you travel to Southeast Asia you will have to be on the lookout for fakes/knockoffs that will fall apart very quickly.

It was a real pain in the rear end for me to find a cheap and legitimate travel backpack last time I was in China, because of all the shoddy knockoffs going around.

Slo-Tek
Jun 8, 2001

WINDOWS 98 BEAT HIS FRIEND WITH A SHOVEL

Arakan posted:

Sweet OP. You should put a disclaimer maybe that if you're planning on buying clothes or gear in country when you travel to Southeast Asia you will have to be on the lookout for fakes/knockoffs that will fall apart very quickly.

It was a real pain in the rear end for me to find a cheap and legitimate travel backpack last time I was in China, because of all the shoddy knockoffs going around.

Not only that, but a Singapore XXL t-shirt, the largest one sold, while reasonably priced, fit rather snugly across my US size M shoulders. You'll have to shop at rapper-clothes stores to cover a typically American-sized rear end in most of Asia.

Less a problem in tourist areas, but if you are shopping where the locals shop, be slight of frame, or make friends with a tailor.

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


Arakan posted:

Sweet OP. You should put a disclaimer maybe that if you're planning on buying clothes or gear in country when you travel to Southeast Asia you will have to be on the lookout for fakes/knockoffs that will fall apart very quickly.

It was a real pain in the rear end for me to find a cheap and legitimate travel backpack last time I was in China, because of all the shoddy knockoffs going around.

No way man I love those shits. Sure they fall apart in a few months but the fake Diesels look almost exactly like real Diesels and they cost fifteen bucks.

A travel pack may be more of an issue, though. But since you're the fourth post in this thread I'll let that serve as a warning to everyone. Any truly important item (which are actually very few and far between, I'm not actually sure the pack is one of them unless you're actually hiking) should be bought in a place you're familiar with.

Slo-Tek posted:

Not only that, but a Singapore XXL t-shirt, the largest one sold, while reasonably priced, fit rather snugly across my US size M shoulders. You'll have to shop at rapper-clothes stores to cover a typically American-sized rear end in most of Asia.

Less a problem in tourist areas, but if you are shopping where the locals shop, be slight of frame, or make friends with a tailor.

Sizing can be an issue but in my experience (6'3" and 195 lbs) my size is more likely to limit my options than destroy them entirely. This is particularly true in tourist areas where they obviously try to carry some larger sized clothes as tourists are less likely to be savvy customers and therefore offer higher margins.

TheLizard
Oct 27, 2004

I am the Lizard Queen!

Two recommendations for your "random" part: A headlight and a dry bag (depending on where you're going).

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


TheLizard posted:

Two recommendations for your "random" part: A headlight and a dry bag (depending on where you're going).

Thanks, duly noted. I've never had a use for either of those but I could see it. Any particular ones you'd recommend?

Oh and also whenever I make a thread with a gargantuan OP like this one what happens is that no one asks questions and it sinks off the forums so if you guys could find petty reasons to bump it occasionally when that's about to happen that'd be great.

raton fucked around with this message at May 30, 2011 around 02:55

i say swears online
Mar 4, 2005

medio de fonte leporum surgo amariter




I have a $100 Garmin e-Trek Legend or whatever and this thing is not only cool, but has saved my life. I can arrive on train in a city (while holding it out the window of the train to judge exactly how fast I'm going and how long it'll be), put a waypoint at my hotel and turn it off. I'll walk all around the city, get totally lost, put in 20 miles or more on foot, and then take it out an hour from sundown and walk toward the waypoint. It seems like such old, outdated technology now, but I love it. Probably 2 solid months of traveling on one set of batteries.

e Sleep masks and ear plugs. Yes. I have a good $7 pair from the army that has little mini plugs that I can remove if I'm on a shooting range and want to hear conversation but not explosions, and fully plugged do a good job of blocking everything. Cheap ones work good too! Sleep masks look dorky and you may well do enough with a cap over your face, but in 100 degrees and humidity, that may not be an option.

i say swears online fucked around with this message at May 30, 2011 around 04:55

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Great OP.

Seconding the headlamp. That comes in handy if you go to places in the world where the electricity goes out every 5 minutes (see: most of Africa, including capital cities and urban centers). Holding your mobile phone works, but hands free is a lot nicer when it's dark at 6pm and you don't want to go to sleep yet.

I love the flanged Christmas tree earplugs :/.

Rolling clothes is way more space efficient than folding clothes.

Some rolly suitcases have backpack straps too. This is by far my preferred travel bag, because I am a lazy rear end in a top hat who loves to roll things when I can, plus I don't get paranoid about all my poo poo getting broken like I do with a backpack (broken 2 camera viewfinders with backpacks; now I use a semihard backpack/suitcase). I love everything from Timberland. Their stuff lasts forever. I've had my current suitcase for 8 years and it's still in perfect condition after being strapped on roofs on long, bumpy busrides across gravel roads, thrown into cargo holds, etc.

I've found that toilet paper is pretty handy to pack a little bit of with your medicine kit. It's easy to pick up in most airports, but not every lovely 3rd world airport has the luxury of TP, so it's worth starting out with some (and always having some throughout the trip). Plus it doubles as kleenex, bandaging, etc.

Saladman fucked around with this message at May 30, 2011 around 08:14

Ziir
Nov 20, 2004

by Ozmaugh


For toiletries, I say the only thing you need to bring are: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo (and contact solution if you wear them and/or lotion). Get one of those 3 oz refillable bottles and fill it with shampoo. I'd even argue you don't need shampoo cause you can just buy it from the place next to you hotel/hostel, but meh I like the convenience of not having to worry about it. I never use soap though because honestly I don't see what the difference between shampoo and soap isif shampoo works for my hair then it works for my body too?

If you have a smartphone, you do not need your laptop. Your smartphone will do Facebook/Skype/Email just fine on your hostel/hotel's wifi, and if they don't have wifi at the very least you could go to McDonalds and buy some fries to leech off their wifi for a bit I guess.

Also, if you're bringing electronics, check your adaptors/plugs cause chances are you don't need to bring everything. For example, you have a Kindle so you bring the cord and the USB wall plug. Did you know you can also plug in your iPhone or other smart phone USB charger into that same wall plug? No need to bring two wall plugs then because you can just reuse! And what's the chance that you'll need to charge both your Kindle and phone at the same time anyway?

Banking/Money: Global ATM Alliance. If you have an account at any of those banks then congrats, you can use any of those other bank's ATMs for free!

Bags: I really like the Patagonia MLC as my carry on. It is awesome. I also like to bring another bag to use as a daypack when I'm out and about, for that I use this REI one because it's cheap and compresses fairly small. Only 'problem' is that it doesn't have a defined shape which you may or may not like. Cool thing about this bag though is that you can cheat the one carry on limit with this because it's small enough to be your 'personal item,' good for if you buy souvenirs or whatever. I usually throw my camera equipment into the daypack and keep it next to me on the plane because I'm paranoid that someone is going to steal my camera from the overhead bin.

TheImmigrant
Jan 18, 2011


Plastic bags. They take up no space, and I guarantee you'll be glad you have them. I save my plastic grocery bags, and always bring a few of them in my luggage. They are amazingly useful when backpacking. I use them to segregate dirty clothes from clean, for makeshift waterproofing when I'm stuck in the rain, for wrapping food, or to disguise a camera while walking around a city.

Double the money and half the physical gear. I realize that isn't an option for everyone, but you really don't need that enormous backpack with three backup iPod chargers. Seriously.

nex
Jul 23, 2001

øæå¨æøåø

Grimey Drawer

Great thread so far!

I prefer to travel as light as possible as well so this is right up my alley.

A couple of things I try to keep at hand,in addition to what is already mentioned:
Pen + small notepad
A roll of toiletpaper
Small bottle of anti-bac

Nice to have:
Padlock for locking your bag or other stuff, I use one of those TSA-approved combination locks.
Small multitool - you never know when you might it, I have a Leatherman Squirt keychain version.

Simple, but with multiple use-cases is my mantra.

nex fucked around with this message at May 30, 2011 around 18:03

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


Keep the add-ons coming, guys. Some of the stuff (like toilet paper) is was going to get written in anyway, just further down the list than I've managed to make it to so far. Maybe the first posts will be filled in in a week or so.

nex
Jul 23, 2001

øæå¨æøåø

Grimey Drawer

Quick point about power adapters.

Who haven't bought those lovely adapters that come in multiple parts, cost a poo poo-load and does not convert current? This has always been my bane and I ended up buying a new one at the airport each time I traveled.

That was until I stumbled across a earlier version of this at Walmart:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Adapter-w...B-Port/10983767

The thing has been with me for the last 3 years and has worked all over the place without a hitch. Cuba, Japan, US, UK, you name it.
This version has USB, which is really nice, I think I might upgrade.

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


Oh and recommended your travel apps too.

Saladman
Jan 12, 2010


Sheep-Goats posted:

Oh and recommended your travel apps too.

Navigon is a pretty decent GPS app that works without a data plan on iPhones and probably Android too. It only serves the first world (US, CA, Europe, Aus) and it's hilariously expensive ($120 for Europe, probably 120 too, and a standalone GPS costs the same), but if money is no issue or you don't mind pirating, it's much more handy than a separate-deviced-GPS.

Usually I start with Wikipedia/Wikitravel for a broad overview of a place, then Lonely Planet's forums for more in-depth stuff. TripAdvisor is good for in-depth reviews for first world locations, like if you want to find the best restaurants in London or NYC or something, but I've never really liked it for anything other than restauranting, and it's useless for anywhere not-first-world.

Saladman fucked around with this message at May 30, 2011 around 20:33

tzz
May 15, 2005
COLD

Europe: Just go to a Decathlon where you can find most of this for a fraction of what it'd cost in other places, including merino wool shirts and technical stuff if you somehow need that. Sadly they don't have travel packs like the one in the op.

Their Equarea synthetic shirts cost about 5 euro, are super light and feel really great for long hikes. I use them for the gym and bring a few when I travel for those days when I know I'm going to be walking all day.


Socks: SmartWool socks are the poo poo. They transpire, wick moisture, keep your feet dry even in humid climates and don't smell.

If you go to a hot climate and want to wear shorts, buy the cycling ultra-light micro ones, which are the closest thing to a normal sock they have with the ultra-light padding (running socks have a weird shape on the ankle).


Shoes: Lose the hiking boots, please. Flip-flops and decent sneakers (preferably decent enough to even get into a club) are more than enough for 99% of the trips.


Towel: bringing a sarong is a nice idea and it doubles as a blanket for those Asian planes with freezing AC, but I prefer to bring a microfibre towel that takes no space and dries in an instant.


Travel pack: I use an Osprey Porter 46. It fits the carry-on limits for most airlines, it's sturdy, light, comfortable as a backpack and looks quite nice.

Maybe someone can comment on this, but I heard using military backpacks is a bad idea in certain countries, especially in South America.


Travel apps: TripIt is a must for me. I use it to keep all my flights and hotel reservations noted. Just forward any reservation you make to plans@tripit.com and you'll have it on your phone in an instant.

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


I've brought my netbook with me to every continent, and while I definitely understand not bringing one (and I probably wouldn't, if I wasn't taking a LOT of photos and needing to back them up as I went), there are some huge advantages to having one. Here's some tips for traveling with a netbook:

1. Many netbooks have a USB port that's capable of sleep-and-charge, which is amazing because it means you can use your netbook's battery as a giant extra battery for your smartphone. I packed mine so that the sleep-and-charge port was available in the bag, and then I mainly used the netbook when I actually had AC available to me.

2. If you're from the US, your consumer gear is set by default to only use channels 1-11 for wifi, and in some cases there's no way to change that. Lots of other countries use 12-14 as well, and if an access point is set to one of those channels you'll need to set your wifi adapter to allow that range.

3. If you're taking a netbook, don't buy any paper guidebooks before you go - just get PDF chapters of everywhere you're going from Lonely Planet. If you end up in a place where using your netbook as a guide book is too inconvenient you can still pick up a physical book there.

4. Personally, I'd consider a netbook over unsecured wifi a safer choice for accessing SSL-encrypted sites (like your bank account, Gmail, etc) than an internet cafe, as the likelyhood that someone has installed a keylogger somewhere is higher than someone sniffing your traffic and breaking SSL.

5. Your netbook doesn't need a transformer to plug into different voltages, just a physical adapter for the plug itself. I would travel with only stuff that you can charge without a transformer, so you don't need to carry around 2 pounds of metal.

6. At a minimum, you should have your netbook require a password when it comes back from hibernate. I'd go so far as to use whole-disk encryption like Truecrypt.

7. I bought my netbook based on the same principle I apply to everything I travel with: if it's too valuable to get stolen, it shouldn't come with you. A $300 netbook that's my second computer is cheap enough to be disposable for me, but a $1000 Macbook Air that's my only computer is not. I've never had anything stolen from me permanently while traveling, but I like to keep myself in the position of being mentally prepared to hand over everything on my person and my bags if I get mugged.

TheImmigrant
Jan 18, 2011


Mradyfist posted:

if it's too valuable to get stolen, it shouldn't come with you. A $300 netbook that's my second computer is cheap enough to be disposable for me, but a $1000 Macbook Air that's my only computer is not. I've never had anything stolen from me permanently while traveling, but I like to keep myself in the position of being mentally prepared to hand over everything on my person and my bags if I get mugged.

Absolutely. Your passport should be the only thing with you that's a headache to replace.

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


Here's the bag that I carried my netbook, camera, lenses, phone, and anything else that I wanted on me at all times:


Looks like poo poo, right? It doesn't even zip up, anybody could just reach right in and grab stuff in it if they thought I wouldn't notice. No one ever did though, and I like to think that's because it looks so worthless. And actually, the front pockets have zippered bags on the inside for little items, there's another two zippered bags in the main section, and everything else in it is too big to pull out when the carabiners are snapped to the blue d-rings.

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


For the books section I'd like to have some recommendations as to your best books to read, for fun, while you travel. Often these books are about travel in one way or another. My rep is going to be Vollmann's phenomenal "Atlas." Probably by some time next year the book section will be irrelevant as everyone will just get what they want for free out of some horrible Chinese copyright infringing cloud site, but still, favorites are favorites.

Omits-Bagels
Feb 12, 2001


Here my recommended travel gear http://thesavvybackpacker.com/333/u...g-packing-list/

It is geared towards travel in Europe so it might some of the recommendations might not work well for places like SE Asia, etc.

TheImmigrant
Jan 18, 2011


Sheep-Goats posted:

For the books section I'd like to have some recommendations as to your best books to read, for fun, while you travel. Often these books are about travel in one way or another. My rep is going to be Vollmann's phenomenal "Atlas." Probably by some time next year the book section will be irrelevant as everyone will just get what they want for free out of some horrible Chinese copyright infringing cloud site, but still, favorites are favorites.

I'll second anything by Vollman. Also, anything by Bruce Chatwin.

xcdude24
Dec 23, 2008


Great thread; particularly looking forward to suggestions regarding rain gear, especially in regards to tropical climates.

I'm not a computer buff, but I've been told it's smart to carry a USB on you with an internet browser downloaded on it; apparently this helps avert many of the potential dangers of browsing at internet cafes (e.g., accessing your bank account). Can anyone attest to this?

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


xcdude24 posted:

Great thread; particularly looking forward to suggestions regarding rain gear, especially in regards to tropical climates.

I'm not a computer buff, but I've been told it's smart to carry a USB on you with an internet browser downloaded on it; apparently this helps avert many of the potential dangers of browsing at internet cafes (e.g., accessing your bank account). Can anyone attest to this?

I don't think that would do all that much, since keyloggers generally log keystrokes directly regardless of the browser you're using. There may be some tools that specifically log keystrokes within an installed browser, but why an enterprising cafe owner/identity thief would choose that instead of logging all keystrokes is beyond me.

If you're going to travel without your own laptop and log in to any important accounts, my recommendation would honestly be to change your password after each time, to limit the potential access. I know that seems paranoid, but I had my credit card number stolen while I was in New Zealand headed to South Africa the next day, and that was an absolute nightmare. There's nothing like having to cut up your check card with access to all your saved up cash right before flying in to Cape Town to put the fear of fraud in you.

Fiskenbob
Mar 28, 2007

When we have more time, I'll acquaint you with the various processes of sculptoring. It's a fascinating art to which I devoted many hours of study.


Someone recommend me a day pack that doesn't take up any space in my backpack and can hold a nikon d3100 dslr+bottle of water+guide book. I have the Osprey Talon 33, and I'd like a day pack for walking around. The alternative is emptying the backpack every time I get somewhere, and use it for a day pack, but I think it might be a bit too large for that.



This is the Osprey

TheImmigrant
Jan 18, 2011


One thing to consider with flashy gear like this is how much a target it makes you appear. I do almost all of my travel in Latin America, and I make efforts not to stand out. Carry a daypack like the one above around Rio or Guatemala City, and you'll be the most obvious target for every pickpocket and mugger within eyesight. In Rio, they call tourists with flashy gear 'filet mignon'. When your backpack costs more than the average monthly wage of the place you're visiting, you're just asking for trouble.

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


Also that's a hiking pack and hiking packs are a pain in the rear end but whatever, you already bought it.

I don't use daypacks. When I was first traveling I thought one would be a necessity, but now I just look at it as "I don't need a purse at home so I probably don't need one when I'm traveling either." The pages of the guidebook I need get torn out and put into my wallet, I buy water as needed or just be thirsty until later, and if I'm bringing more than my point and shoot (or the camera on my phone) I just throw it into a doubled plastic sack from 7-11 or wherever and carry it that way. If you do want a day pack I'd suggest just getting something appropriate locally.

Anyone else out there that actually bought a day pack in advance?

Edit: Also, Macunaima, could you pick one book by Chatwin please I'm looking for specific recommendations.

raton fucked around with this message at May 31, 2011 around 15:28

Candygram
Mar 25, 2009

Flowers? Plumber? Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.

This thread could not have come at a better time. My airline just added two layovers for a total of four layovers to my destination, so I was beginning to panic about the chance of losing a bag. I'm traveling to a rural area of Bolivian rain forest for 3 months and for some reason this has been the most difficult trip to pack for.

Unfortunately if I switch to a carry-on bag, there are a few things that I can't take (according to the TSA) such as my defense spray. As a solo female traveler this is pretty important to me, is there a way to bring it without getting caught? Or should I just wing it and buy a knife when I land instead?

Fiskenbob
Mar 28, 2007

When we have more time, I'll acquaint you with the various processes of sculptoring. It's a fascinating art to which I devoted many hours of study.


Sheep-Goats posted:

Also that's a hiking pack and hiking packs are a pain in the rear end but whatever, you already bought it.

I don't use daypacks. When I was first traveling I thought one would be a necessity, but now I just look at it as "I don't need a purse at home so I probably don't need one when I'm traveling either." The pages of the guidebook I need get torn out and put into my wallet, I buy water as needed or just be thirsty until later, and if I'm bringing more than my point and shoot (or the camera on my phone) I just throw it into a doubled plastic sack from 7-11 or wherever and carry it that way. If you do want a day pack I'd suggest just getting something appropriate locally.

It was a gift, actually. But I've used it before, and I'm quite happy with it. Why do you think it's a pain in the rear end?

I guess I'll have a look around when I land, and see if there's something useful, or just go without.

Fiskenbob fucked around with this message at May 31, 2011 around 15:51

Candygram
Mar 25, 2009

Flowers? Plumber? Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.

xcdude24 posted:

Great thread; particularly looking forward to suggestions regarding rain gear, especially in regards to tropical climates.

I'm not a computer buff, but I've been told it's smart to carry a USB on you with an internet browser downloaded on it; apparently this helps avert many of the potential dangers of browsing at internet cafes (e.g., accessing your bank account). Can anyone attest to this?

For my trip to South America I got a waterproof jacket that is super thin and stuffs into it's own tiny little pouch when you're not using it: http://www.amazon.com/Sierra-Design...06857171&sr=1-3

I also ordered it in a larger size than I needed so that it covers my rear end and I don't need waterproof pants. The other rain gear I have will be some gumboots, but those are required for where I'll be volunteering anyway.

TheImmigrant
Jan 18, 2011


XXdragonsparkzXX posted:

This thread could not have come at a better time. My airline just added two layovers for a total of four layovers to my destination, so I was beginning to panic about the chance of losing a bag. I'm traveling to a rural area of Bolivian rain forest for 3 months and for some reason this has been the most difficult trip to pack for.

Unfortunately if I switch to a carry-on bag, there are a few things that I can't take (according to the TSA) such as my defense spray. As a solo female traveler this is pretty important to me, is there a way to bring it without getting caught? Or should I just wing it and buy a knife when I land instead?

Bring a carryon with the important stuff, and only the impermissible stuff in the bigger checked bag.

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


Fiskenbob posted:

It was a gift, actually. But I've used it before, and I'm quite happy with it. Why do you think it's a pain in the rear end?

Top only access means you have to unpack and repack constantly to get stuff out of the bag. Round body shape makes packing a question of jamming things into oddly shaped spaces instead of arranging them as you'd like. Hip belt is unnecessary and gets in the way for casual use. No side or top handle makes waiting in line and shuffling your bag along more work than it needs to be.

Don't get me wrong, that thing will certainly do the job for you. But what it's designed for is hiking with it on your back all day, then unpacking the whole thing while you camp, then repeating that process. Banging through airports, spending a few days in each city, adding in souvenirs now and then -- that's a somewhat different animal.

XXdragonsparkzXX posted:

Unfortunately if I switch to a carry-on bag, there are a few things that I can't take (according to the TSA) such as my defense spray. As a solo female traveler this is pretty important to me, is there a way to bring it without getting caught? Or should I just wing it and buy a knife when I land instead?

Self defense in South America, huh? I think a wad of money would be more helpful than bear spray, but as a girl I understand how you might have concerns that aren't wallet related.

That said, getting a knife or even a pistol probably wouldn't be too hard in Bolivia. Definetly don't try to sneak your pepper spray on the airplane or something like that.

You can, of course, check one bag and use a carry on for everything that's vital. Remember to leave space in your carry on for repacking on arrival, having more than one bag to haul around goddamn Bolivia sounds like an unquestionable nightmare.

I actually will make some provisions for this kind of stuff when I do the writeup for "the right packing method." The right kind of small secondary bag fixes some of these issues.

raton fucked around with this message at May 31, 2011 around 17:01

HeroOfTheRevolution
Apr 26, 2008



Please do not carry a knife unless you are prepared to die.

If you take out a knife, he takes out a knife. And you know what they say about knife fights. The loser dies in the street, the winner dies in the hospital. You can probably find pepper spray locally.

jonawesome
May 8, 2004
I was just looking for my kitten!

I've found the following things very useful:

1. Quick drying towel. A regular towel is large and heavy, takes a long time to dry, and will likely only be used a handful of times. Spend a bit of money and bring a quick drying towel that folds to the size of a handkerchief and keep it at the bottom of your bag for when you need it.

2. a Sealed Soap dish. You don't want to have to buy a new bar of soap every time you leave the hostal/hotel. Get a sealed dish, and you'll be able to keep your things from getting all soapy in your bag, and will always have soap on the go.

3. Thick Double sealed Ziplock (ziplock brand) freezer bags - You can squeeze out all the air out of these bags, keep your clothes organized, clean and dry and open up more room in your bag if you need it. These were so important and handy for me on my last trip, that I'm bringing a whole box of these with me in my pack, haha. I say get the ziplock brand because of the other no-name/control label stuff I found, none of them were double sealed or lasted as long as the ziplock brand.

4. Rechargeable batteries and charger, I find these to be pretty handy, and help save money. no explaination necessary.

5. Seconding the neck pillow, get an inflatable one if possible, so you're not carrying around a big bulky pillow. will make long rides a loooot easier to sleep on.
http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_...534374302889490


6. A money belt with inner lining to fold your bills in. This is a third type of money belt not mentioned. It's a lot more hidden, and inconspicuous and most people wouldnt be able to identify it for anything other than a belt unless they saw the inner zipper.

http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_...534374302883913

Mradyfist
Sep 3, 2007

People that can eat people are the luckiest people in the world


XXdragonsparkzXX posted:

For my trip to South America I got a waterproof jacket that is super thin and stuffs into it's own tiny little pouch when you're not using it: http://www.amazon.com/Sierra-Design...06857171&sr=1-3

I also ordered it in a larger size than I needed so that it covers my rear end and I don't need waterproof pants. The other rain gear I have will be some gumboots, but those are required for where I'll be volunteering anyway.

My girlfriend has the Patagonia version of this, and she absolutely loves it. I take a different tact, and just pretend that my hoodie is a raincoat. Obviously in heavy rain this doesn't work at all, but most of the time I'm just getting caught in a light rainstorm, and the hoodie takes all the rain for me; then when I get back inside, I hang it up to dry.

raton
Jul 28, 2003

by FactsAreUseless


HeroOfTheRevolution posted:

Please do not carry a knife unless you are prepared to die.

She is already going to Bolivia so maybe death isn't a big concern of hers

I always imagined pulling a knife to be immediately followed by his buddy smashing in the back of your head with a pipe. I suppose I could add a "try not to get into knife fights" clause up there somewhere!

(Just kidding, she'll be fine)

Candygram
Mar 25, 2009

Flowers? Plumber? Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.

I was just kidding about the knife thing, no sweat. I like the idea of checking a small bag with the items not allowed in carry on and just stuffing it into my backpack when I pick it up after landing. I agree that I definitely don't want to have more than one bag while I'm traveling 7/8 hours away from the airport.

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Fists Up
Apr 9, 2007



Why don't you like waist straps?

I found even though I wasn't hiking that sometimes the walk from a train/bus station to the hostel was a few km's and the waist strap takes a load of weight off.

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