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What to take

This section provides a live example of what we decided to purchase and what for, with the prices so you can see how much things add up to.  We found no such source and thought it would be massively useful to other travellers.

What to consider:

A balance must be struck between what you need to take and what you should take.

At the end of the day travelling exposes you to a wide variety of risks and new elements of the world. Most of these elements we are not accustomed to, nor prepared to deal with in our home country.  As a result travelling around the world could lead you preparing for the most remote of situations and risks, but the trouble with this is that you could easily fill a bag full of precautions, leading to an overly heavy bag that becomes a burden and leads to added risk.

Most travel advisors and travel companies will reccomend a massive list of things that are necessary to take with you, tailored to each situation that you will face. The jungle requires different equipment to travelling in the desert or overland, which is different to what is needed in the mountains.

Important decisions need to be made that are based on the length of time you will be staying in each place, the kind of conditions you may face, your personal fitness level and the kind of conditions/ expertise you have with a given scenario.  What you take will also be governed by the company you carry.  If you travel alone then you will need to take extra precautions than if you are travelling in a group with a guide.

Cost : benefit

Cost also becomes a factor.  If you are travelling through malaria zones for extended time periods, for example 2 years, then taking the expensive Malarone will cost thousands of pounds (Average £3.60 per tablet), which is unrealistic for some.  Instead, a much greater focus might be placed on bite prevention, with additional equipment being taken to minimise bites and risking the lack of malarials in non-pandemic or high risk areas.  Again, the balance here is risk versus practicality.

There are many convenient products that are now available for most needs, from washing lines to sinks, blow up beds to quick drying towels.  Ask yourself:  Do you need all this? I would argue not.  Many of these products are born out of convenience and are replaceable through cheaper practical solutions e.g. DIY.  Washing line!?  Come on… take some string….

Below is the list of essentials and products that we recommend through research carried out from numerous travel guides and Internet sources (blogs etc).  We have broken down what we needed to take into a few areas to ensure everything that we needed/wanted was there.

1.  First Aid kit

2.  Practical stuff

3.  Comforts

4.  Vaccinations and Anti-malarials

What is Essential?

We asked around 25 people who travelled extensively and collectively 3 items came out on top.

Good boots are crucial

1. Boots (even if you are not trekking much):  Hard boots and blistered feet makes travel so painful and ruins any sense of enjoyment. Buying boots abroad may save £ but are often poorly fitting due to the UK’s larger feet (as opposed to Eastern countries).

2.  Ear Plugs: “Transport in developing countries are VERY loud and sleep is very difficult without them. Do you want to starve yourself of sleep for something so small?!”

3.  Mosquito Net: “Waking up looking like a sieve is just not fun and is the single most effective way of malarial avoidance”.  Makes sense.

1.  First Aid kit

Item Description/ Info Av. Cost Our Cost
Iodine For water purification. 5 drops/ liter, leave for 15 mins after adding. Biodegradable. £0.69 £0.69
Germoline For rashes, bites and sunburn £2.50 £2.50
Savlon Cream For cuts and wounds. £3 £0
First Aid Kit Gauze, plasters, bandages, disinfectant, sling, scissors. £10 £0
Anti-diarrhea tablets Immodium or own brands works. £2 £1.95
Ibuprofen Brand or supermarket’s own works. Avoid all additives like Caffeine. £0.50 £0.35
Anti-sickness For extreme boat journeys and unsettled stomach aches. £2.50 £0
Rehydration Sachets Esp. for high altitudes and dry heat. £2.50 £2.50

TOTAL =  £23.69 vs £8.72

2.  Practical stuff

Item Description/ Info Av. Cost Our Cost
Passport Photos (x10) Number depends on the countries you are visiting. Generally needed for Visas when issued on arrival. £10 £10
Boots Crucial to get a good pair, due to extreme use and ideally with anti-bacterial action. £90 £38.50
Camera One that has a decent range of light exposures (good at night and bright daytime), but cheap enough not to cry if it is stolen/ damaged. £75 £70
Hammock For sleeping on boats, jungle and rooms without a bed. £20 £20
Mosquito Net Soaked in insect killer (check chemical to match length of travels) as malaria prevention. £20 £15.50
Mosquito net hanging kit Hooks and ties for hanging a mozzie net in different situations £3 £1
String For washing line, securing stuff and repairs. £1 £0.50
Carabineer (x 3) 2 large and one small. Use to hang things above ground level, suspend hammocks, nets and attaching things to your rucksack. £6 – large

£4 – small

Pad Lock (x 2) To secure bags and other things down to avoid theft £4 £3
Security Wire To secure rucksack when sleeping and on top buses/ train. £8 £3.50
Money Belt For security in case you are mugged/ have wallet stolen. £15 £12
Waterproof wallet Useful for passports, travel docs and anti-malarial drugs. £6 £4
Penknife With knife, scissors, can opener, pliers preferred (used with other kit) £15 £0
Duct Tape To secure anything to anything, esp. washing line. Fixing holes in things. £5 £5
Deet (50%) 100ml For skin. Use every 2-4 hrs £5.50 £4.40
Deet (100%) 100ml For clothing mainly & skin ONLY in extreme conditions e.g. Assam tea plantation during monsoon. £7 £5.80
Permethrin Spray 150ml Insect killer for clothing. Generally for mosquito prevention. £9 £7.20
Solar-power Torch We opted for a solar power, which charges in low light to avoid cost of and carrying of batteries. £6 £0
Whistle Especially for Jungle. Standard whistle should work fine and much cheaper. £2 £0
Vitamin C To remove taste of Iodine when purifying water. (add in a separate bottle to the one you added iodine to). £2 £2
Sewing Kit To fix holes and clothing. Only needle, strong thread and safety pins of different sizes needed. £4 £1
Disinfectant handwash For when there is no water and you need to eat or prepare food. £4.50 £4.50
Sun Cream Factor 40 and 20 £9, £7 £7.20,  £5.60

TOTAL= £335.35 vs £219.90

3.  Comforts

Item Description/ Info Av. Cost Our Cost
Trekking socks Quick drying ribbed socked designed for trekking. £5 £0
Inflatable Pillow For sleeping in all situations. £5 £2.99
Cotton Sleeping Bag To protect you against unsanitary beds and bugs while sleeping. £14 £14
Ear Plugs Sleeping on overnight trains and in the open. £3 £3
Base Layer (Warm) Moreno Wool layer for extreme cold. £45 £15
Base Layer (Jungle) Anti-bacterial, thin layer for jungle £20 £9
Quick dry towel Thin towel reduces weight and prevents dampening inside bag. Can double as a sarong or pillow. £18 £0

TOTAL=  £108  vs  £44

Practical Items to take travelling

4.  Vaccinations and Anti-malarials

Item Description Cost
Rabies 3 injections. 2nd 1 week after 1st. 3rd 3 weeks after 2nd. £135
Yellow Fever 1 injection. Can cause fever. £45
Hepatitis A and B Combo injection available on NHS. 3 sessions. £22.50 (£7.50 ea)
Malaria Dioxycycline for long-term, cost effective use. 1 per day, 2 days before entering area and 4 weeks after. £245

1 year @77p ea

Typhoid Gives you an arm ache… but good to have cover for many areas. On NHS prescription. £7.50

TOTAL=   £440

Note that the real cost factor here is the Anti-Malarials and so the prices need investigating the most to ensure you obtain the best cost at the time you are travelling.

Nomad travel sell anti-malarials and do not need a perscription and charge a lot more as a result (e.g. £750 for Malarone for 6 mths versus £660 from Boots or Lloyds Pharmacy).

We spent a grand total of £712.62 when it could have been £907

We probably could have reduced this further, but again the cost:benefit meant all of these items were considered worthwhile.  Where we state that an item cost us 0, this is due to being given it as a present or having that item already (as with a few medicines).  We arrived at the average prices from 3 sources to ensure this was reflective of what you could pay without investigating the prices and shopping around.

As you can see planning can save you a fair amount of money and the cost of these items are often overlooked when budgeting.  So hopefully this has provided enough warning that buying necessary items can eat into your travels before you have even started!