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Don't Leave Home Without....Top Packing Tips
1. Take Earplugs
Essential. Every hostel and journey you will come across will be noisy and you know sleep deprivation is a killer. Head to Boots or Amazon UK and buy the blue squidgy gel earplugs… DO NOT try the yellow foam ones – hopeless, always fall out.
Also, while we are on the subject of ears — take headphones which are the noise cancelling type — not everyone will like your taste in music and you will need them for the inflight entertainment if you want any chance of hearing the movie. A bonus packing tip.
The Digital Silence DS-101A is a rare example of an affordable, noise-cancelling, in-ear headset that actually works relatively well but don’t expect the quality you’d get from the £260 Bose-manufactured equivalent, but at just £18 it’s so much cheaper so you can’t really go wrong.
2. Pack a Duvet Cover
This packing tip comes with my love – and was the best piece of advice I was given back in the day… and yes the cover only, I know you were visualising lugging your whole duvet around …Literally, take the cover, climb in and button up… mozzie and bed bug proof. When you’re buttoned-up you won’t worry too much about borrowing the old, smelly blankets that seem to be the usual offering in standard hostels or trains.
3. Use a Money belt
We know they’re not cool BUT hey, they are so practical. Get one immediately. Go for the slim, under the t-shirt version and you will be good to go. The Gap Year Travel Storehas a great selection — the deluxe option gets my vote.
4. Ditch the Walking Boots
Really work out whether you need to take a pair on your gap year as they are heavy, hot and take up so much space. A walking shoe or sturdy trainer usually do the job brilliantly for all forms of treks unless it’s a technical trek or climb. Try something like this from the hip lifestyle brand Ridgemont.
5. Photocopy Your Passport, Flights and Bank Cards
Essential packing tip. Photocopy and put in the bottom of your ruck sack and leave a full copied set at home. You will be amazed how many travellers lose these essential items and don’t know where to start. This will take the pain out of the replacement horror.
And while you are at it take some extra passport photos with you just in case…
6. Side loader Ruck Sack
Normal top loading ruck sacks are really annoying and everyone knows that however hard they try to pack the essential items on the top — it never works out and the desired item is always at the bottom.
A side loading ruck sack is the way forward. Also, while we on the topic of ruck sacks — so much better to take one than a suitcase. Ruck sacks are soft so they can be squished into corners, used as pillow, popped on the back to give you 2 free hands and easier to run with when you late for the bus. Just saying.
7. Bags within Bags
A life saver once you get into the swing of things. Buy ‘dry bags’ or ‘cube bags’ in an assortment of sizes. This will allow you to keep dry, wet, clean and smelly clothes in separate places to prevent cross contamination. A packing tip to help you keep friends…who likes a smelly friend?
8. Back Up Charger
The power monkey is a life saver – this is a portable battery pack that uses solar energy to charge phones, laptops or tablets. Amazingly, it holds its charge for up to a year. Brilliant back up packing tip. You can buy your PowerMonkey from Power Traveller for £85, or head to a decent high street outdoor shop like Millets.
9. Universal Plug Adaptor
Take just the one. The Lindy All-In-One Travel Adapter is the best of the bunch. You can pick it up from Lindy’s website for £15 or get it on Amazon for marginally more.
10. Blow up Pillow
Essential and don’t skimp on this – you will use it the whole time. Amazon sells all shapes and sizes but I have found this website for a luxury evolution option!
11. Sports Bra’s
A packing tip for the girls. Sports bras are the way to go on your gap year — they are more comfortable, practical and easier to wash than normal bras. Think long bus journeys, long treks…which would you rather be wearing?
12. Quick Drying T-Shirts and Towels
You will thank me later for this, when you realise you can have a clean t-shirt everyday. All sports shops sell the quick drying t-shirts — sport t-shirts and an excellent towel review is here from the Gap Year Travel Store.
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