10 Ways Travel Inspires Me

I write this as we’re about to complete another inspiring adventure in South East Asia. Soon we’ll be returning home for a little while, enjoying the comforts of our own place – our soft and familiar bed is calling us! Whilst we’re looking forward to catching up with friends and family, our excitement is tinged with sadness because we’re saying goodbye to one of our favourite parts of the world.

One of the reasons we love to inspire travel is because it inspires us, and it affects us deeply. Once again, travel has gotten under my skin and dug deep into my soul. It’s not necessarily changed me as a person (not as much as our first adventure anyway), but it’s affected me greatly, and I’ve tried to put these feelings into words.

If you’ve been on any kind of adventure of your own, you’ll probably empathise with these feelings below. Or, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge and booking that flight to Bangkok (or wherever!), I’m hoping that this will inspire travel in you and cast aside any doubts to just go for it!

Inspire Travel In Your Life!

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Just swingin’ and hanging out in El Nido, Palawan

10 Ways Travel Inspires Me

1. Travel Heightens My Senses And Makes Me Appreciate Natural Beauty

inspire travel, el nido philippines

It was whilst admiring the beautiful variety of trees lining Boracay beach in the Philippines, that I felt inspired to write down these reflections. So it seems appropriate that this is my first one. It might sound strange, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated nature until I started travelling.

Maybe it’s because of the weather at home (which is often cold and wet!), but when I’m ‘on the road’ I find myself paying so much more attention to my surroundings. Travelling, especially anywhere new, has that effect on me. Whilst I’m trying to soak up everything around me, new experiences heighten my senses and draw me into my new environment.

Whether it’s waking up to the sound of birds singing in the morning (or more likely a loud cackle from the neighbour’s chicken in S.E. Asia!), or taking in the awe-inspiring view of a dramatic volcanic landscape, travel makes me love and appreciate nature, in a way I never knew before.

2. Travel Gives Me Time To Think, Really Clearly

inspire travel to vietnam
Admiring the lush green rice paddies of Ba Be National Park, Vietnam

It might seem obvious, but the most precious gift of all that travelling gives you is time. Time to be in your own thoughts and time to think, clearly.

By switching off from my routines in daily life, such as chores, to-do lists or even just the normal distractions of the TV and phone, I can think more clearly, especially about my goals and passions in life. What do I want to achieve this year? How am I going to do it? What do I want to make more time for?

Whether it’s riding the bumpy 8-hour bus to our next destination, lying on a tropical beach with beautiful palm trees swaying above my head, or trekking through a scenic rice paddy in Vietnam, travelling gives me a LOT more time, and therefore room to breath, reflect and dream.

Simply by changing our environment, I feel inspired and new thoughts and ideas seem to spark into life.

3. Travel Teaches Me Something New Everyday

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A rice harvester in North Vietnam

Every day is a school day, as they say! From history to geography and culture, travel constantly teaches me something new every day. From how noodles are made, or rice is harvested, to the difference between a young coconut (typically green on the outside and white on the inside!) and a mature one (the brown ones we’d typically see in a UK supermarket!)…I never knew how amazingly delicious young coconut juice was! Or from how the famous chocolate hills of Bohol were formed and the fact that the Philippines has over 7,000 islands!

It’s not just things or people we learn about though, travel teaches me about myself too. By being constantly thrown into new environments and situations, everyday is a lesson in self-development! I’ve feel like I’ve learned more about myself in the last 4 years than I had in the previous 27. 

4. Travel Encourages Me To Be Patient And Maintain Perspective When Things Don’t Go To Plan

inspire travel in myanmar

One of the most important things I’ve learned (and continue to learn every day whilst travelling) is the value of patience. Something you realise quite quickly when you start a new adventure, is that as soon as you step into that airport terminal or bus station to take your first journey, you’re no longer in control of everything, and the best thing you can do is accept your new reality as quickly as possible, and go with the flow.

After all, what’s the point in getting annoyed if your flight is delayed by 2 hours, or your tour is cancelled due to bad weather. There’s nothing much you can do about it! And so being patient is the best way to handle it – something we’ve learned after numerous delays and extra-long bus journeys! Rather than get annoyed, we just shrug our shoulders and grab another coffee, or enjoy a few more chapters of our books. It’s to be expected occasionally along the way, and is usually not a major issue. Delays and relinquishing control will only spoil your adventure if you let them!

Something we’ve noticed, and love about the locals on most of our travels, is their incredible patience and ability to not get frustrated or annoyed in tricky situations. We always try to take a leaf from their book.

For example, when we first arrived in the Philippines, it was a Saturday in December, nothing too innocuous about that you would think. We’d arranged for a driver to collect us from the airport and take us directly to our homestay accommodation, north of Manila city near Mount Pinatubo. The journey was estimated to take around 2-3 hrs, but after 5 hours or so, we found ourselves still stuck in a traffic jam in Manila city, and hours from our final destination!

It turned out, as our driver calmly explained, that as it was the first Saturday in December, we’d arrived on one of the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year! Hence the bad traffic as everyone was commuting in and out of the city. We couldn’t believe our bad luck as we could’ve flown in any other day of the week!

But it was our driver that we felt sorry for, having to concentrate hard in the crazy traffic for such a long time. Amazingly though, not once did he come across annoyed or display any kind of ‘road rage’, despite knowing he had to make the long return journey that evening. He kept his cool, and slowly navigated us through the city with various detours along the way to avoid the jams. Of course we took a lead from his behaviour and tried our best not to be bothered either, despite what was supposed to be a 2-3 hour journey turning out to be 8 hours! However it was a good lesson in patience, that was for sure! Thankfully our long journey was totally worth it as our Mount Pinatubo Tour was spectacular! (Follow the link above to read more about it.) 

5. Travel Encourages Me To Respect Others Through Greater Cultural Understanding 

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Riding through the Mekong Delta with our local guide and fellow travellers

The best thing about travel for us is the people we meet along the way. From sparking a simple conversion or showing thanks to a local who helps us along our way, it enriches our experience and helps us get to know and understand the local culture.

Some of our most rewarding experiences have come from homestays. Either arranged through a company, or independently where possible, this usually involves staying with a local family for a night or two, in order to learn about their day to day life and experience it first-hand, whilst also sharing our lives with them. We’ve had some wonderful homestay experiences along the way, most of which we’ve shared here on the blog (article links: Peru, Morocco, Laos and Vietnam – Sapa & Ba Be National Park).

One of our favourite homestay experiences was in Ba Be National Park, and was a highlight of our time in Vietnam. After trekking through the stunning countryside of Ba Be National park, we spent the night at a local family’s humble home, deep in the countryside surrounded by rice paddies, and water buffalos for neighbours! We spent the evening eating delicious home-cooked Vietnamese cuisine and drinking local ‘rice wine’ whilst getting to know Mr Hung and his family. After visiting the local school and witnessing the hardworking locals on the rice paddies, we left with the greatest of respect for the local people, and a desire to share our experience. (For the full story, click on the link above!)

6. Travel Takes Me Out Of My Comfort Zone And Makes Me Try New Things

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Sunrise at the mighty Mount Rinjani, Indonesia (approx. 2,500m altitude)

One of our other favourite things to do when we travel is to try as much of the local cuisine as possible, even when we’re not too sure about it (remember the sheep’s head in Morocco?)! We absolutely love discovering great local food and it’s especially exciting when we discover a delicious new dish!

As you’ve probably gathered from our blog if you’re a regular reader, food is a passion of ours. It’s one of the main reasons why we love Vietnam (hands down our favourite foodie destination!), with India coming a close second (well in my opinion – Barry would probably argue Mexico or Japan!).

However apart from trying new foods, I love the fact that travel constantly takes me out of my comfort zone and encourages me to try new things and experiences. For example, I would probably never have hiked a mountain over 4,000 metres high in Morocco (in winter!), climbed an active volcano in Chile, or even imagined taking a polar plunge in the icy cold waters of Antarctica! Travel has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone and with it, provided the most rewarding experiences!

7. Travel Encourages Me To Be Honest With Myself

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Sunset in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

It may sound a little cheesy, but travelling definitely makes you find your true self – there’s no shying away from it.

When planning an adventure, sometimes the huge range of choices and decisions to make can be overwhelming. Should we book a tour or travel independently? How long should we stay there? Should we book an activity or just relax? It’s hard to know how you’ll feel in the moment, but the best way to answer all these questions is to be honest with yourself. Do you enjoy trekking enough to book a 4 day trip or would it be better to book the 2 day option? Do you really want to spend days touring all of a city’s museums or would you prefer to grab a coffee and watch the world go by in a local cafe?

I love the fact that travel gives you these choices. However, when in doubt, we always revert back to asking ourselves what do we enjoy most, and ultimately, what makes us happy. Personally, we love a great adventure, and get a great buzz and sense of achievement from a tough scenic trek, or roughing it a little to camp under the stars, but we also know how much we enjoy a little comfort and relaxation. Especially AFTER an adventure. So we’ll ensure our adventure is based on these preferences. By being honest with ourselves, we know that a mix of adventure and relaxation is how we like it, and will make us most happy.

8. Travel Makes Me Appreciate What I Have And Encourages Me To Help Others To Do The Same

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A local family we met in North Vietnam

It’s easy to take what you have for granted, and travel reminds me of this constantly. 

We regularly witness the struggle and hard times of living in a developing country, and it’s a humbling reminder of how lucky we are. It makes us appreciate what we have, and reminds us that we were simply lucky to have been born where we were. 

One particularly eye opening experience was when we learned about The UXOs bombs of Laos. Before travelling to Laos, we weren’t aware of the huge effect that unexploded ordnance (UXO) had had, and continues to have on the population as local people still live in danger of UXOs. Remnants of the Vietnam war, Laos is still plagued with buried bombs, causing hundreds of accidents a year as they are discovered by children or farmers in the countryside. It’s hard to comprehend people living in such danger, decades on from a war fought in another country. Therefore, discovering the brilliant charity organisation COPE during our visit to Laos gave us hope for the locals, and encouraged us to share an article about their amazing work providing prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation to victims of UXOs. Again, we left with a whole new understanding of a country we didn’t know much about previously, and an appreciation of how lucky we are not to be living in danger like that. 

9. Travel Inspires Me To Be Creative

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Travel inspires me to be more creative, it unlocks skills I forgot I had. Away from the burdens of modern life, and with time to think and reflect, my inner creativity is awakened. Sometimes I feel like travelling takes me back to my childhood creativity. To skills that were somehow lost or buried in the maelstrom of ‘growing up’, or perhaps pushed aside when spending too much time memorising facts for exams.

There’s a chance that you think you aren’t creative, or that’s a skill other people have. But travel gives you the head space to explore your creative mind, and you may just find yourself writing, or drawing as you sit on that bus, or on that beach. Travel gives you the chance to reawaken those skills and desires. Believe me, I’ve experienced it. And whilst I love a good book or a gripping movie, I get even more enjoyment out of creating something of my own (such as this blog!) and travel inspires me to do so.

10. Travel Digs Deep Into My Soul And Makes Me Question Life 

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Mrs Thai, a wonderful and inspiring war widower from North Vietnam

Last but not least, travel touches my soul in a way I never expected it could. It might sound a little cheesy but it’s true. By seeing and experiencing other cultures and ways of life, travel opens my eyes and makes me question life (in a good way). It inspires me to aspire for more from life.

Travel helps me put insignificant tasks or routine into perspective. It makes me want to complete them quicker or abandon them altogether if they don’t really matter. Hell, does that dress really need ironed or can you just hang it outside for an hour to let the wind blow out the creases naturally? Yes it might not be perfect, but I could spend that 15 minutes doing something that will actually fulfil me or better still, make that phone call to a friend or family that I’ve ‘not had time for’.

One recent travel experience that dug so deep into my soul that I’ll never forget it was our 2-day homestay experience at Yen Duc Village in North Vietnam. The whole experience was amazing (full article coming soon) but in particular, it was our touching and inspiring meeting with a local war widower, Mrs Thai, that affected me the most. So much so that we decided to make a documentary (with her permission) of her incredibly sad but inspiring life story, and you can watch it here.

inspire travel worldly nomads

So that’s it, 10 ways travel inspires me and 10 reasons why I shall keep on travelling! Hopefully this has either reminded you why travel is an awesome thing to do, or provided the catalyst to inspire travel in you!

How have your travels inspired you? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. Or, send me a private message via our Facebook page, Instagram account or email to laura@worldlynomads.com.

The 7 Emotions Of Planning An Adventure

“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”

– Pat Conroy

Sometimes, as we sit on a train, or take a road trip, our minds wander back to some of the things we have been privileged to witness on our travels. We know we are fortunate to have been able to see the world, and we love to write about, and share, our adventures with you on this very blog.

But something we very rarely share is the emotional rollercoaster we go on as we prepare for an extended journey away from the people we love and the places we call home.

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The rugged west coast of Scotland

As we sit here, in Scotland, and complete our final preparations for our next adventure, we are reminded of all the upheaval and planning that goes into an extended journey.

Many people are put off from travelling for an extended period of time due to the difficulty in being able to achieve it. From getting time off, saving money, sorting out your home rental or apartment, to packing up your things, planning your trip and saying your goodbyes. The simplicity of your life when you’re travelling is preceded by a bout of complicated weeks and months as you frantically try to get your life in order before you go.

So as we prepare for another adventure, we wanted to share what we experience before a journey, but more importantly, how we (and you) can cope with the emotional rollercoaster of planning the adventure of a lifetime.

Stage 1: Unbridled Excitement & Energy

There is no better feeling when the spark of a travel idea bursts into your consciousness. Perhaps you’re watching a documentary on the Amazon, perhaps a film about Everest, or perhaps you’ve just walked by a world map, or glanced at a globe, and something has sparked inside you. A deluge of thoughts run through your head:

Wouldn’t it be amazing to go there and see that? I wonder if I could do that?

Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu was one of our very first adventures – it ignited our wanderlust!
Mount Fuji, Japan
Japan had always been a dream of ours to visit, in particular Mount Fuji which was incredible!
salt flats
When we first heard about the salt flats of Bolivia, we knew we had to go. It was one of the highlights of our time in South America!
Sahara Desert, Morocco
Another big thing we wanted to do was camel trek in the Sahara, and we achieved this in 2014 under a hot, beating sun in Morocco!

You begin daydreaming about all that your adventure could be, and there is nothing else you can think of. It is an incredibly exciting time, and can occur years before you actually get the chance to experience it.

Our Tips

Never rule anything or anywhere out. Seriously, if you’ve decided to go on an adventure, and you think you can afford it, the world is quite literally your oyster.

Start by thinking long and hard about what it is you want to get out of your adventure. Are you looking for an active adventure? Or a cultural one? Or both? Are you looking to relax? To unwind? To trek? To see wildlife? To help people? To climb? To dive? Be really strong in what you want to do, and think about this before you begin choosing where you want to go.

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One of our hardest climbs, conquering the active Villarrica Volcano in Chile! Yes that is lava down there!
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An unbelievable sunset over the temples of Bagan was a highlight of our time in Myanmar!
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The Galapagos islands and the locals were stunning!
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Blissful beach time on Koh Tao Island, Thailand

Once you have an idea, start searching for places that would deliver on those experiences. Also remember to check the seasons and when it is best to visit these places. There is no point choosing a destination because of a 2 week trek you really want to do, only to find that you’ve chosen the exact time of year when it is impossible. So choose what it is you want to experience, and find somewhere that will deliver that experience.

At some point, you’ll move from the dream to thinking: how could I achieve that?

Stage 2: Nervous Optimism

Anticipation builds as you research your adventure more and realise it could be possible. You realise you could afford those flights if you saved for the next few months, and the accommodation looks cheap and lovely. You read about other people who have done it, and begin following blogs and travel websites. You realise that other people JUST LIKE YOU have done it, and you begin to think about WHEN you could do it, rather than IF. Suddenly your dream is a serious possibility.

Nerves may start to kick in at this point. You’ve gone from dreaming about these adventures, to actually picturing yourself on that 12 hour bus, or that tuk tuk that is speeding through exotic city streets. You picture yourself looking out over Machu Picchu, or stepping foot on Antarctica. Your dream is right there, and it makes you nervous and excited at the same time!

antarctica travel planning
Stepping foot on Antarctica for the first time!

Our Tips

It is never too early to delve into the detail of researching. Once you’ve figured out what it is you want to experience, and you’ve found somewhere you think would be perfect, check those flight/train/bus options. These are sometimes available a year in advance, as is accommodation. Buy yourself a guidebook and begin reading.

Start following travel blogs and engage with them, throw yourself into the travel community and you’ll be amazed at what other people just like you are up to.

Stage 3: Denial

This happens to the best of us. For some reason, once you’ve done your initial research and realise it is possible, a strange feeling of denial may flow over you. Perhaps it’s the sheer scale of what you’re thinking of doing, maybe all those years of dreaming have made the final decision all too much for you. Maybe it’s all just a little too much to comprehend. This can be quite an emotional time, and we certainly experienced it before we left for our first major trip, a year around the world. 

You begin to question it all. Thoughts like: “I’m pretty comfortable here at home, why would I subject myself to so much upheaval?” and “I love my friends and family and I would miss them dearly”. Then the worst thought of them all enters your mind: “Travelling is something other people do.”

Our Tips

Give yourself time. If you’ve dreamed about this for a long time, it’s only fair that you’ll feel apprehension about actually booking. Remind yourself why you wanted to travel in the first place, remember all of those experiences you wanted to have. And if that doesn’t work, wait until you have a bad day at work and your dreams will all come flooding back! 

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Soaking in the Midnight sun reflections in Finland!
Torres Del Paine
The famous granite peaks of Torres Del Paine, Chile are spectacular to see!
Taj Mahal
The great Taj Mahal, India
Curious penguins in Antarctica

Stage 4: Nervousness & Snap Decisions

Stage 3 can last anywhere from a few days to years, but at some point, for many people, it suddenly passes, and your denial suddenly turns to nervousness. Are those cheap flights still available? What about the accommodation options? Everything suddenly becomes clear. You’ve saved the money, you know where you’re going and what you want to experience. Before you know it, you’re sitting in front of a computer screen at 2am blinking at the email confirmation that has arrived in your inbox. 

Your one way flight is booked – this just got real! 

Our Tips

We’ve done this many times, we’ve put off booking something for a while, and then something happens, or something clicks inside your head. You’ve spent enough time researching your adventure, you know you can do it, you know you want to do it, so you book it.

It may feel like a snap decision, but in reality it’s a build up of the dreams and research you’ve done. Your adventure is now very real.

Stage 5: Overwhelmed

You’ve now booked and you’re researching your adventure in more detail, and you suddenly become overwhelmed and frazzled. How long do we want to spend in each place in these countries? How do we travel between different places? What will we eat? What will I wear?! And that’s just the start. 

Can we fit everything in our bags? What about visas? And currency? And medication? And injections? Suddenly this dreamy adventure gets bogged down in details. But don’t lose heart!

Our Tips

Make a list. Create a spreadsheet (if they’re your thing). Get yourself organised and plan in advance. Here’s some quick tips from us on this stage:

  • You can book accommodation and cancel for free in advance with websites like Agoda.com. Check each individual accommodation for its cancellation policy, but we like to plan our itinerary and book in advance. If plans change, we can normally cancel for free. Some travellers like to turn up and try and find somewhere, we prefer to have researched and booked in advance.
  • Check what the visa requirements are for each country a few months in advance. You might need to get a visa in advance, on arrival, or even in another country for your next country. Your government should have a website with details of visa requirements. 
  • Check whether you need specific medication e.g. malaria tablets and get them ordered. Speak to your doctor about this. If you think you might need injections, get started on that immediately. For some courses, you need multiple injections spread out over a number of weeks. Don’t leave it too late!
  • Get travel insurance way before you leave. Some travel insurance policies cover you for cancellation or change of plans in advance of leaving, so they are worth buying in advance of leaving, rather than on your phone at the airport as you’re about to board. 
  • Check our packing lists to make sure you don’t forget anything! Click here for my packing list and here for Laura’s backpacking list.

Stage 6: Apprehension

It’s a couple of months before you leave, and the anticipation builds as the trip becomes tantalisingly close. You are now desperate to get going, but there is so much to do before you can finally relax and enjoy the adventure.

Pressure mounts as you frantically try and get all your work done and handed over so that you don’t have to worry about it whilst you’re away. You dream of white sandy beaches as you email another spreadsheet/pdf off to your colleague. The reality of your adventure is sinking in, and you still have so much to buy and do. You begin questioning if this was such a good idea, that you’ll miss the simple things like being able to have a nice cup of tea or home-cooked meal. 

This apprehension leads to sadness as you begin to organise goodbye drinks and meals with close friends and family. You also stop thinking about things you could buy or do now, and a common phrase becomes ‘I could do that/buy that after the trip’. Your life is now split into pre-adventure and post-adventure.

This is an emotional time, and in the last week you hit peak exhaustion as the stress of planning a trip, finishing your work, buying everything you need, and countless goodbyes take their toll. You spend the week cleaning your place and buying last minute toiletries and medication. You know at this point you will only relax once you get on that plane.

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Stage 7: Joy!

We’ll never forget the moment we finally boarded our plane at London Heathrow at the beginning of our first ever round the world trip in 2012. The previous few months had been a whirlwind of work, planning our wedding, finishing work, getting married, packing up our flat, moving out and saying our tearful goodbyes to friends and family. We were emotional wrecks.

We placed our bags in the overhead lockers on the plane and buckled up. I remember closing my eyes and feeling a wave of relief and emotion flow over me. We had made it! Our adventure was about to begin, something we had dreamed about for years was finally here. The joy and excitement was incredible!

As I sat there on the plane, my mind drifted back to how it all began. And for us it began with the tiniest of sparks.

Koh Tao, Thailand
Finally time to relax, this time from Koh Tao island, Thailand

The very first moment of our adventures was a simple idea that perhaps we could go to Thailand on our honeymoon. But then we read more and heard about a place called Angkor Wat in Cambodia that we thought we would like to see. Then we looked at a map and thought Vietnam might be a good idea. Then Bali. Then Australia and New Zealand. Then South America, Antarctica, Central America and well, the list just got longer and longer!

And so from the tiniest of sparks came the greatest of all adventures, and all the emotional moments and stress beforehand were all worth it.

Do You Want To Go On Your Own Adventure?

The sad thing is that all of this can put people off from taking on an adventure, no matter how long or short. It can be seen as a major upheaval to ask your work colleagues for time off (or even to quit your job), pack up your home, say goodbye to friends and family and at the same time finish all your work and plan an adventure.

But the real truth of it is, it’s all worth it, every single bit.

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Castaway on Gili Meno, Indonesia

It’s all about experiencing the emotional highs and lows, often at times extenuated by being on the road. There are good times and bad times. For example, the experience of watching sunrise over Machu Picchu is contrasted against pooping my pants in Myanmar. Setting foot on Antarctica is compared to trying to eat a boiled sheep head for dinner in Morocco. Travel adds a rich layer to the tapestry of our lives, it changes us in oh so subtle increments.

Travel is a chance to de-clutter our lives, even if it is only temporarily. Decisions on what to wear come down to the 5 tops you have in your bag. Our health improves as we eat healthy local food and drink less alcohol as we don’t want to spoil any day with a hangover!

We also spend a lot less time with technology, preferring to play cards late into the evening. Without wifi life is much simpler! We’re sometimes offline for a week or so when we’re trekking, and that time away, unplugged from the world, does wonders for our ability to think more clearly about what we want from life.

Jebel Toubkal
Conquering the summit of Jebel Toubkal, Morocco (4,167m) in freezing conditions!

Whether you’re planning an adventure or just thinking about it, your decision to do so shouldn’t be based on how difficult it is to achieve. It should be based on what you COULD achieve by going on an adventure. The unforgettable sights you’ll see, the unique things you’ll experience and the amazing people you’ll meet. After all, this is why we love to travel.

How do you plan for your travels? Let us know in the comments below!

The Essential Female Backpacking Packing List

“On a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy.” Spanish proverb

How does a girl decide what goes into her backpacking packing list? At first I thought to find the biggest backpack and fill it with as many of my material possessions as possible, after all travelling for an extended period of time will throw up all situations! But, after taking advice from many other travellers, I realised that one of the best things about travelling is the opportunity to simplify your life and be free of unnecessary material things one accumulates.

I thought sensibly and selected a fairly small but realistic sized back pack, one which I could comfortably carry across all types of terrain and methods of transport that we will encounter! After all, the last thing you want is to be held back from jumping on that speed boat to the next island or that cheap tuk tuk to the bus station due to a very large and restrictive bag, not to mention having more things to worry about losing!

So here is a summary of my female packing list and how it’s worked out for me! Click here for the male backpacking packing list!

My Backpacking Packing List


This will be one of the most important decisions you make, as the size of your backpack will impact on how much you take with you, how heavy your bag will be on your back, and therefore how comfortable you will be as you hop on and off buses, boats and tuks tuks across the globe. After all our adventures, I have finally settled on the size of backpack that best suits me! For me, a 45 Litre Backpack (With Wheels) is the backpack that best suits me. Not so big that it becomes uncomfortable and unwieldy, but large enough to carry everything I need. Plus it really makes you think about what is important and not to take with you.

I chose one that is a backpack but can also be wheeled along the ground. It gives me flexibility to swing it onto my back when I need to, and wheel it when I can! It also opens up fully like a suitcase, rather than a top opener which makes accessing everything far easier than having to pull everything out to get to the bottom. This is the bag I now use.

I also carry a smaller backpack with me, and use this as a day pack when we’re out and about in a city or on a trek. This is mostly used to carry daily essentials like water, maps, guidebooks, purse, phone, camera, kindle, sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, scarf, snacks etc.

I also use this to carry my valuables when we’re travelling between two destinations. It means when you jump onto a bus, train or plane, you can put your large backpack in the hold/storage compartment and keep the most important things on you with the small bag. This includes taking it on buses and planes and putting it under the seat in front of me, or on sleeper trains I can put it next to my pillow and sleep next to it. You could always loop your arm through the straps if you wanted to me even more cautious.

Having this bag gives me piece of mind that my valuables are always close to me and in sight. It also means when we jump off a bus or train into a group of eager taxi/tuk tuk drivers, the bag can be put on my front to so no-one can access it without me noticing. This is the bag I’ve used the last few years, it was a bargain!


I’ve experimented with walking boots and walking shoes, and I prefer the lighter, breathable walking shoes for most of our treks. These Salomon Walking Shoes are most suitable for warmer climates, and they are perfect for daily activities in towns and cities as well as multi day treks. As they are breathable, I have no problem walking through rivers and streams with these. Yes your feet will get wet, but they quickly dry out. These are the ones I use!

For more relaxed walks around cities, or short day treks, I’ve used these Karrimor Walking Sandals for the last few years and highliy reccomend them. They are particulary good when its hot and you don’t want to wear your walking shoes, but your flip flops aren’t suitable. These are the exact ones I use.

A pair of flip flops is an essential item on your travels! They slip on and off easily, especially when entering and leaving temples, going in communal showers, hanging out on beaches etc. They’re also small, light and fit easily in your backpack.


Starting from the bottom up….

Trousers & shorts

When I go trekking, I’ve learned that I prefer to wear trekking trousers, irrespective of how hot it is! I’ve had some interesting interactions with various nettles, beetles and ants on my bare legs as I’ve walked through jungles (which I don’t want to repeat). These Craghopper trekking trousers have looked after my legs very well, they keep me relatively cool in hotter climates, and they’re lightweight for your backpack.

You also save on sunscreen as well, trust me you don’t want to be slapping on sunscreen on your legs every few hours on a trek, especially when the bugs are attracted to the smell!

    • 2 x pairs of shorts

Pretty self explanatory really, it’s up to you how many you take but I find 2 pairs to be enough (you can wash one pair whilst you’re wearing the other pair).

Dresses & skirts

  • 1 x kaftan (over the swimsuit type dress)
  • 2 x day dress (I went with a black cotton comfortable one)

travel packing list


  • 4 x t-shirts
  • 2 x vest tops
  • 1 x nice top (to wear going out in the evening)
  • 1 x long-sleeved Berghaus trekking top
    Just like the trekking trousers, a long sleeved top is essential for me on treks and when we’re out and about exploring in the day time. It covers you from the sun (saving on sunscreen), and also protects from nettles, plants and insects.
  • 1 x thermal leggings and top
  • These thermal leggings and top are an absolute must if you’re heading to cooler climates, or if you are trekking up a mountain. It’s amazing how cold it can get on a trek, even in warm countries during summer, espeically if you’re getting up before dawn to trek. They are also good for sleeping in as well.

Cardigans & jumpers

    • 1 x black cardigan (goes with everything!)
    • 1 x fleece

It’s all about layers when you travel, and sometimes you’ll need a fleece under your waterproof jacket. These are lightweight and roll up small for your backpack!


how to pack for a year out

Underwear & PJs

  • 10 x underwear (I recommend small light ones which are quick drying!)
  • 4 x pairs of trainer socks (mixture of trainer ones and slightly thicker walking ones)
  • 2 x pairs of thicker socks (mixture of trainer ones and slightly thicker walking ones)
  • 2 sports bras & 1 bra (2 straps and 1 strapless – in hindsight a couple of sports bras would be better than normal bras for the heat and comfort when travelling!)
  • 2 x bikinis (probably only need a couple but I like having the choice!)
  • 1 x thin cotton long sleeve pjyamasshorts & vest top PJs


  • 1 x flexible belt (1 without restrictive holes to fit on every pair of trousers, shorts, dress!)
  • 1 x large scarf or pashmina (very handy for when you need to cover your shoulders when visiting a temple but don’t want to put on a jumper in the heat.  Also good when there is an unexpected tropical rain shower and to cover up from the sun if you’ve forgotten your sunscreen on an outing!)
  • 1 x travel towel (very handy on longer journeys when you just want to wash your face or have an unplanned dip in the sea or swimming pool!)
  • 1 x silk liner (for dodgy looking bed sheets or even just to protect yourself from the mozzies when no bed net is provided!)
  • 1 x sunglasses (inexpensive ones you won’t worry about losing or breaking and can be easily replaced at a local market!)
  • 1 x sunhat

The important administrative stuff!

  • Travel insurance (THIS IS IMPORTANT – don’t leave without it! We strongly believe if you’re going on an adventure of a lifetime, you should take out insurance to cover you. Use the form here to get a free quote from the insurer we use for our adventures! If you need persuading to take out insurance, click here)
  • Passport Tickets/booking confirmations (though we haven’t bothered printing many as most accept electronic reference saved on i-phone!)
  • Bring a few passport photos ready for use for visas (something we forgot and had to buy!)
  • 1 x Insect Repellant
    (with 50+ ‘deet’ to fend off the mozzies!)
  • 1 x Toiletry bag (with miniature shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, deodorant stick, linen wash, spare sunscreen, face wipes, face cream)
  • 1 x small make up bag (couldn’t go without my mascara and lipstick of course!)
  • 1 x anti-bacterial hand liquid
    (very handy to have in your bag to use before meals!)
  • 1 x first aid kit
    (a proper travel one from Tiso for example) Then other essentials such as malaria tablets (need to buy in advance for visits to malaria affected countries you’re visiting – we went for malarone as least side affects though expensive. Good tip is to order from Lloyds pharmacy online and collect) Ibuprofen, aspirin, rehydration tablets or powder, Diarrhea tablets, Savlon cream (to help soothe bites etc) and obviously make sure you get your vaccinations in advance!

Electronics Packing List

  • 1 x iPhone & earphones (very handy for iTunes/Spotify for music and for keeping in touch with home via facebook, emails, ‘whatsapp’, ‘viber’, Skype etc – we’ve had no problem finding free wifi in most places so far!)
  • 1 x Kindle (loaded with good books and travel guides!)
  • 2 x plug convertors


Looking For Accommodation Somewhere?

If you’re looking for some accommodation ideas for your travels, we recommend you use Agoda.com to check your accommodation options! Whenever we’re making plans for a new destination, we always research the accommodation options first to check what’s available. That’s just our travel style. If you want to get some accommodation ideas for your travels, check out the options here!

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means if you choose to book somewhere though our link, we receive a small commission. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything more, and most importantly, we only recommend companies that we use ourselves so you can trust our reccomendations!

Come and learn more about Laura and Barry here.

So that’s it, my backpacking packing list! What do you think? Anything I’ve missed that you think I need? Let me know in the comments below! Interested in what Barry has taken with him? Have a look at his backpacking packing list!

* Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning if you click through to them from our site and purchase something, we get a small commission! Don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything more, but the small commissions help keep this site going!

The Essential Backpacking Packing List

Welcome to the ultimate backpacking packing list! So you’re going on an adventure of a lifetime? We’re so excited for you!

Preparing for an adventure can be a daunting challenge, with so much to deal with before you head off into the world! Luckily we have you sorted with our backpacking packing list, the full guide you can read below.

In this guide, we’ll cover the following topics:

  1. What type of backpack to take with you
  2. The best footwear options
  3. What clothes to take with you
  4. The important administrative tasks you must complete before you embark on your adventure
  5. What technology you should take with you
  6. The key toiletries to take
  7. Some useful tips you might not have thought of

But before we dive into the backpacking packing list, there are three key things we recommend you do NOW before you leave on your backpacking trip!

Get Travel Insurance

Book Your Accommodation

Plan Your Journey

You must have travel insurance for your trip! This for us is non negotiable, if you get sick or injured on the road (and we’ve seen it happen to others) you’ll need it. We use World Nomads insurance (recommended by Lonely Planet & National Geographic!). Click the image above for more details and a quote!

We recommend you use Agoda.com to check your accommodation options! Whenever we’re making plans for a new destination, we always research the accommodation options first to check what’s available, that’s just our travel style. We’ve booked hostels and hotels all over the world through Agoda.com!

We always recommend that you book your journey in advance, so you have peace of mind that your seats are booked! We recommend using 12go.asia as they offer train, bus and ferry ticket booking online in advance! Check out your journey options and prices here and get your seat reserved!

When you’re making your final decisions on your backpacking packing list, the key question to answer for yourself is:

“When it is 35 degrees and we’re running for a train/plane/taxi/tuk tuk/elephant, what do we want on our backs?”

Sharpens the mind towards the essentials, doesn’t it?  We always take as little as possible with us on our adventures, why take stuff that you can buy en route for a fraction of the cost?  With that in mind, here is our tried and tested travel packing list, and we’re delighted.

So what do we take?  We’ve got two lists, one for Barry (male backpacking packing list) and Laura (female backpacking packing list).  First up, Barry!  A quick note to say that Barry carries the small carry on bag for planes which will be where we store our electronic items, thus the electronic items in this list are for two people! Read on for his comprehensive backpacking packing list!

My Backpacking Packing List

travel packing list60 Litre Berghaus Backpack 

We’ve used Berghaus for our main backpack for a couple of years now, and found them to be rugged and sturdy, even when we’ve exposed them to extreme conditions across the world from deserts to freezing mountains. They also cope very well being thrown into numerous cargo compartments of planes, trains and buses. We highly recommend Berghaus and find them to be considerably cheaper than other brands out there.

Choosing the size of your rucksack is a tough decision, you’ll be carrying this around on your back so we wouldn’t reccomend anything bigger than 60 litres. We take this size as we carry a lot of equipment to create our travel films and articles, so if you’re not planning on doing this, you could take a smaller backpack.

We also carry a smaller backpack which is primarily used to carry our laptop and cameras, and any items we need for a day hike or day out and about. This is especially useful when we’re on a bus, train or plane for a few hours and we don’t want to leave our valuables unattended in a cargo hold.

It also means when we arrive at a destination, we can put our large backpack on our backs, and our small backpack on our front so we can keep an eye on it as we battle through crowds at train and bus stations. We prefer an 18 Litre Backpack as it is small enough to put on our front, but large enough to fit our laptop.

backpacking packing listQuiksilver Flip Flops

An absolute must for hot countries and for those beach escapes. I’ve gotten through a lot of flip flops in my time, but these flip flops from Quiksilver have lasted me years now and are really comfortable.

  • Light trainers

These trainers might seem like an odd choice, but there are times when flip flops just aren’t suitable and you don’t want to put on your walking trainers. I use these when we’re in cities, or the infrequent times we decide to go out for some drinks and something to eat in a nice place. They are light and fold away so take up hardly any space.

We choose to take walking trainers rather than walking boots when we travel. These Salomon walking trainers have taken me up mountains, across deserts and through rivers, and I couldn’t have done it without them! They are breathable, light and sturdy and take up much less space than a pair of walking boots.


  • Underwear x 7 (I particularly like this clever type of underwear)
  • White Trainer Socks
     (you need to look after your feet when travelling so good quality socks
    are a must!)
  • Wool Socks x 1 (if you are heading to colder climates, you need some quality wool socks)
  • 2 x Craghoppers Walking Trousers (I’ve found these trousers to be the most comfortable and best at allowing venitlation when it is hot, but they also work well in cold conditions with a pair of thermal underwear)
  • 2 x Shorts
  • 1 x Swimming Shorts
  • 2 x Long Sleeve Hiking Top (cover your arms when you’re in the sun with these long sleeved tops – save on sunscreen!)
  • 2 x T Shirts
  • 1 x Polo Shirt
  • 1 x Fleece Top / Zipper (perfect for layering underneath your waterproof when in cold climates)
  • 1 x Berghaus Waterproof Jacket (Combining a waterproof jacket with a fleece top has covered me for most situations on our travels. When it gets really cold you can layer up further with thermal underwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun Hat (if you are prone to burning in the sun, take or buy a hat on your travels. I always wear one on treks in case my sunscreen sweats off)


  • Travel Insurance (THIS IS IMPORTANT – don’t leave without it! We strongly believe if you’re going on an adventure of a lifetime, you should take out insurance to cover you. Use the form here to get a free quote from the insurer we use for our adventures! If you need persuading to take out insurance, click here for our reasons why you should take out insurance)
  • Passports (and photocopies)
  • Passport Photographs (for visas)
  • Credit Card (with free cash withdrawals abroad – main source of cash with direct debit set up to pay off balance each month)
  • Credit Card (for purchases and backup)
  • Current Account (for cash withdrawals with small amount of cash in as a further back up)
  • Flight Confirmations
  • Proof Of Vaccinations
  • Drivers License (for your road trips)
  • 2 x Head Torch (these will be invaluable if you plan on camping, or go on any treks that start before sunrise. You will want to keep your hands free!)

Technology Packing List

Packing list round the world trip15 inch MacBook Pro Laptop Whilst we travel, we’re also working. As we document all our adventures on this very blog, we spend a lot of time on the road editing photos, writing articles and creating travel films. As a result we prefer this sturdy piece of kit and its not let us down yet! If you’re not blogging and just want to keep in touch with people and access the internet, then an iPad mini would do the job very nicely.

  • 1 x Kindle If you aren’t taking an iPad with you, then a kindle is an absolute must if you’re planning on spending a lot of time on buses and trains. The battery life is great, and if you’re planning on getting away from it all theres no better company than a good book.

  • Canon 5D Mark III DSLR Camera with 28-300mm lens

We’ve recently upgraded to this brilliant camera to shoot our professional films, but it is bulky and heavy for those who just want a good camera to capture moments on their adventures. For something a little smaller, check out the Sony A7.

We’re not Apple fan boys, but we do love the iPhone for quick internet access, photos and video. In fact, if you don’t want to bring a seperate camera then the camera on the iPhone might do a good enough job for you!

  • Spare camera battery

  • Rocket Blower

Handy to clean lens of dust, sand and other exotic materials from your lens

Manfrotto Camera Tripod

We debated whether to take a tripod with us but it has come in handy in many situations. When we’ve reached the top of a mountain and no-one has been there to take a photo, we’ve used it. We also use it to shoot stars at night and timelapes. I’ve used Manfrotto tripods for years and for the price there isn’t much better out there in terms of build quality and weight. (this we debated for ages but decided to go with a small, lightweight, cheap tripod)


  • Crystal Deodorant rock (lasts forever apparently)

  • Razor (I want to grow a beard but Laura is having none of it)

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Hair wax

  • Shower Gel

  • Malarone malaria tablets First aid kit

Useful things

  • Silk travel sheet (for dodgy looking mattresses and sheets)

  • Duct tape (will fix everything)

 Sunscreen (very important for my pasty skin)

  • Clothesline

  • Combination lock (rather than a key padlock which we could lose)

  • Compression pack (to reduce the size of our clothes in our bags)

  • Sleeping mask

  • Ear plugs

  • Travel pillow

  • Small waterproof bag (for electronics)

  • Travel towel

Online Clever Things

  • Spotify premium account (£15 a month for a constant stream of new music which we can download onto our laptop/iPhones. Friends can also share playlists with us to keep us up to date)

  • Audio Books With Audible Free Trial (For all those long bus, train and plane journeys, there is nothing better than settling in to an audiobook to get through the hours fast! This is particularly good if you get motion sickness trying to read on buses! Highly recommended, and you get a free trial!)

  • Photobucket pro account (£20 a year to store photos and videos)

  • Prey for mac (to catch any nasty person who decides to steal our laptop)

  • Skype on laptop and iPhones

  • Twitter accountWorldly Nomads

  • Facebook pageWorldly Nomads

  • WhatsApp messenger for iPhone (great app that you can group message friends for free over wifi)

So thats it, all of my worldly possessions as we travel! What do you think? Anything we’ve missed or recommendations let us know in the comments below!

Plan Your Adventure

Get Travel Insurance

Book Your Accommodation

Plan Your Journey

You must have travel insurance for your trip! This for us is non negotiable, if you get sick or injured on the road (and we’ve seen it happen to others) you’ll need it. We use World Nomads insurance (recommended by Lonely Planet & National Geographic!). Click the image above for more details and a quote!

We recommend you use Agoda.com to check your accommodation options! Whenever we’re making plans for a new destination, we always research the accommodation options first to check what’s available, that’s just our travel style. We’ve booked hostels and hotels all over the world through Agoda.com!

We always recommend that you book your journey in advance, so you have peace of mind that your seats are booked! We recommend using 12go.asia as they offer train, bus and ferry ticket booking online in advance! Check out your journey options and prices here and get your seat reserved!

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means if you choose to book somewhere though our link, we receive a small commission. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything more, and most importantly, we only recommend companies that we use ourselves so you can trust our recommendations!