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4 November 2011 / leggypeggy

On what to take—travel light

All that went in to these two cases, plus two backpacks.

Quite a few people have asked for a rundown on what is/was in my luggage for our seven months of travel from London back to Sydney. Unless you’re going on a cruise and need formal clothes so you can sit at the Captain’s Table, you don’t need to take much. We spread our stuff across a largish suitcase and a 65-litre backpack. We also had two smaller backpacks.

Here’s a list of what I took and a few comments.

• 1 tent shared with Poor John (weighs 3.5 kilos)

• 1 three-season sleeping bag (might consider a four-season next time)

• 1 Therm-a-Rest sleep mat (buy the best, you won’t regret it)

• 1 merino sleeping bag liner (for the cold)

• 1 travel pillow

• 1 pair rubber thongs (flip-flops, not underpants)

• 1 pair runners/sneakers/whatever you call them

• 1 pair sandals (never worn and sent home from China)

• 1 pair Crocs (bought in Austria and worn rarely, may ditch soon)

• 4 bras (have only used two, but glad to know there is at least 1 spare)

• 5 underpants (have only used three)

• 2 pairs long pants, one with zip-off legs

• 3 pairs shorts (have managed with 2)

• 3 sleeveless merino tops (have managed with 2)

• 4 long-sleeve merino tops (loaned one out permanently)*

• 2 short-sleeve merino tops (never worn)

• 1 skirt (worn twice)

• 1 sarong (indispensable)

• 1 bathers/swimmers/swimsuit

• 1 belt

• 3 pairs sport socks (used 2)

• 2 pairs thermal socks (used 1)

• 1 travel towel (stolen in Turkey and replaced with a loaner)

• 1 Goretex rain jacket (which has lost its waterproofing) 😦

• 1 pair warm gloves

• 1 warm beanie

• 1 head torch with 2 sets of spare batteries

• 1 MacAir laptop with Hard Candy case and charger  (indispensable)

• 1 Mac charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter (another indispensable)

• 1 external hard drive (for back-ups)

• 1 Canon 450D camera with case, charger and spare batteries

• 2 plug adaptors (both 2-pin round)

• 1 electric toothbrush, extra brushes and charger (indispensable)

• 5 tubes Colgate Sensitive toothpaste (easy to buy replacements)

• 7-month supply of blood pressure tablets

• small selection of antibiotics, water tabs, cough lollies etc (none used yet)

• handful of plasters (bandaids) (easy to buy replacements)

• toiletries (easy to buy replacements)

• 1 notebook (easy to buy replacements)

• 1 Swiss Army knife

• 1 heavy-duty nail clipper

• 1 sunscreen (extras not always easy to buy)

• 1 bug repellent (extras not always easy to buy)

• 3-4 pens

• 1 gadget that told the time and temperature

• 1 soft-pack tissues

• 1 sewing kit

• 1 plastic bottle of laundry soap

• 1 length of clothesline

• 20 clothespegs (bought enroute)

• handful of rubber bands

• oodles of books and more bought on the way

• 1 packet zip-lock bags

• 1 larger waterproof bag

• 1 mobile phone and charger (not used after Turkey)

• 1 iPod with charger (another indispensable)

• 1 nutmeg grinder—go ahead and ask! 🙂

Without ransacking my bag, that’s all that comes to mind. Keep in mind that Poor John and I shared lots of basics. For example, we took 1 pair of nail clippers and 1 sewing kit, not one each, and 5 tubes of toothpaste between us. When we left Australia, our luggage together weighed 37 kilos.

The sandals, pants and most of the cold weather gear got posted home from China—only $32 to send 6 kilos by sea to Australia.

I kept the two lightweight long-sleeve merino tops as the nights were still quite cool.

You may notice that I didn’t take a warm coat. By layering, I actually got away with not having one. In China, I did buy a couple of el-cheapo, all-purpose head wraps, that kept my ears and neck warm, but otherwise we were well equipped for the cold. Lots of our fellow passengers had to buy blankets and warmer clothes, so we were pleased that our training in Africa served us well this time.

As you can see from the notes above, I think we took too much—stuff I never used or never really needed, or stuff that could be purchased enroute. So restrain yourself when packing. Remember, at some stage, you’ll have to carry it.

* A note about merino tops. I wore the lightweight sleeveless merino tops all through the hottest days of the trip (even the 45°C in Turkmenistan). They may be wool, but they breathe and wick away the sweat. You won’t regret taking these in summer. The long-sleeve tops were of varying weight, with one being an Icebreaker 320 (super warm).

What do I wish I’d taken?

One of our companions had an altimeter. I was so jealous and will buy one for our next travels. Otherwise, we did very well, but I’ll let you know if I forgot to mention anything critical.

I also wish I had taken a spare pair of specs. Travel and my eyeglasses don’t mix.

The nutmeg grinder

I don’t usually travel with a nutmeg grinder, but a dear friend, Malou, gave me one when we visited her in Belgium. I’ve had many crappy grinders. Most break on the first use. But I had hankered after Malou’s streamlined, heavy-duty one ever since I first saw it about eight years ago. A few years back, she found one—perhaps the last one ever sold. It’s a Peugeot. Who knew Peugeot made nutmeg grinders?


Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / Nov 4 2011 6:22 am

    Hi Peggy,
    That certainly is travelling light! I’ll have to get you over to consult when I eventually get to travel to Europe. I have a dreadful tendency to take nearly everything I own just in case. You’d be horrified at what I take for three days in Sydney! But then again you are, comparatively, an international-travel expert.

    Say ‘hello’ to Poor John and keep being safe.

    Best wishes


    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2011 10:23 am

      Hi Louise
      I do know how much you take to Sydney. I’ve dropped you off at the airport. 🙂 But the need to travel light internationally is directly related to the need for you to carry your own bag. If you can manage, take what you like.


  2. Sy S. / Nov 4 2011 11:41 am

    Hello Peggy,

    When I started to do camping, I bought a lot of items and lugged it around. And as the years went buy, I would bring less and less. So that is the rule of thumb for traveling, don’t bring to many things, but important ones. When I went traveling in Europe and Asia for one year, I had two Nikon camera bodies and two lens (& film), two pair of pants, to shirts, two pair of shoes, 4 pair of underwear, sweater, jacket and a towel. Also, a bar of soap, toilet paper and can of tuna fish LOL!

    Plus it is important to carry two pair of glasses, a photo copy of your passport (carry with you and the real passport back at the hotel safe…. or carry the passport and a photo copy at the place you are staying at). Plus medications, an extra credit card, extra money (US Dollars hidden for emergencies). I also had a hidden belt pouch for papers/passport (lined w/plastic or aluminum foil so sweat does not soak the papers) which was around my waist and hidden under my shirt/sweater, etc.

    And finally as you mentioned, dental floss (comes in handy as a string) and duck tape…. and if you are as old as me, try carrying a “Good Luck” rabbits foot LOL. Hummm, a bible if you are religious.

    Sy S.
    Metro NYC


    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2011 7:06 pm

      Photocopies of your passport and insurance are so important, and I SHOULD have brought a spare pair of glasses. Hope my only pair last the distance. I’ve found that meds are pretty easy to buy in the developing world, but that reminds me, I should do items about meds, water and money.You keep me busy. 🙂


  3. Derrick / Nov 5 2011 12:19 am

    This isnt much different to what I took with me to Africa, and with a few other things, not going to be much different from what I am taking on my trip

    Probably extra trousers, extra shorts, maybe a few less tee shirts,an exrtra sweat shirt, I did get my washing done while I was in Africa, but it came back worse than I gave it to them, so I’ll be doing it myself, so washing powder (in a ziplock bag)

    As regards money, I only took out what I needed for the day, if we went anywhere, the rest was in the truck safe, I always took my passport photo copy with me, never needed it though, CC were in the truck safe, but debit card was with me, never knew when I would find a ‘hole in the wall’ and a bit of local currency

    I’m taking a pair of boots, 1 pair sandels, 1 pair of crocks, but not really sure about the crocks, I dont even own a pair of trainers, always ran/trained in boots, I dont like flip flops/thongs

    I am definately taking a wash cloth or sponge, I didnt last time out, 😦

    I have a sarong, but only wore it once,(and that was to visit a temple/mosque) do blokes wear sarongs ?

    Just how cold did it get ? (do I really need gloves/beanie ?

    I have 2 rolls of duct tape, and a couple of rolls of electrical tape

    Definately taking a sewing kit and spare buttons (they broke the buttons when they washed my trousers)

    Still got the ‘meds’ I took to africa, never used them, apart from the anti malaria stuff

    always carry DEET 🙂 the real 100% stuff

    Thanks for the list, I’ll modify my bergen, put stuff in, take stuff out (the bulk of it is my sleeping bag/tent

    Just out of interest, when the truck makes it’s way back to the UK, can stuff be left on there and some one pick it up in the UK (I dont live far from thgeir offices ?


    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2011 7:11 pm

      I’ll do blog items on the truck safe, meds and the cold soon. As for sending stuff back on the truck. I think that is a possibility, but best to check with Will.


      • Derrick / Nov 5 2011 8:45 pm

        I have Will’s mobile number (I got it when I went to see him and the truck, but I dont think he would appreciate a phone call (its not cheap for both people)
        I’ll give Karen an email

        I just re-read your blog about stuff, I think I’ll sort out some spare glasses 🙂



  1. On what to pack for an overland—travel light and don’t forget your toothbrush (and charger) | Where to next?

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