Great Items for Easier, and Light Backpacker Travel

Things to make long term travel easier

Travelling is the ultimate thrill, and long term travel will open you up to new cultures and experiences like nothing else on Earth. If you are looking at going backpacking for the first time, I envy you. There is nothing as exciting, and unnerving, as preparing for your first trip abroad. Whenever friends, of relatives of mine ask me for tips, its so easy to go off on a tangent with excitement about places, and experiences that they will experience. The one bit of advice for any traveller new or old, is to travel as lightly as you can and make your life as easy as possible so you can enjoy the experiences you travelled for in the first place; whether that's a backpacker trip or an extended vacation to relatives or to study overseas. So in that spirit, below are some amazing items that you may not have heard of but will help you be more productive and less stressed, allowing you to enjoy your trip to the maximum!

The Ultimate Travel Coat – ScotteVest Tropical Jacket

The ScotteVest Tropical Jacket is the ultimate coat for any traveller. Featuring 18 pockets specifically designed for common items and shapes, e.g. passport and wallet. The most impressive feature is not the sheer size of the pockets or the possibilities for space saving from this, but the lack of bulk. Even when you load up every one of the 18 pockets, you get absolute minimal bulk. Not only this, but the vast majority of pockets are all on the inside of the coat.

The ScotteVest Tropical Jacket is great for travelling for a variety of reasons;

  • The ScotteVest looks smart and you could easily get away with wearing this at a decent restaurant (if your budget allows) but because of its usefulness you could also wear it whilst trekking in a jungle.
  • Despite its looks the jacket is relatively cool in tropical temperatures. Some people have reported comfort even above 100 degrees. 
  • Other great features of these ScotteVest jackets are that they organise your items so well. Earphones are normally an afterthought in coat design, but ScotteVest have a quality system with loops, which is superb. It has loop holes near where your ears are so if you take out your earphones, you can get them back in easily. 
  • Another great offshoot of having the pockets hidden away on the inside is that it makes it harder for pickpockets to do you over.
  • The Tropical Jacket doesn't stop with pockets as features either. Its sleeves zip off which means if the climate allows you can be a bit cooler without having to bring another top. Also it gives you another look which is also handy for anyone looking at travel longer than 6 weeks. If you have never done that before, you will get bored of your clothes fast! 
  • To top it off it folds into its own back pocket for transportation or to double as a travel pillow. The ScotteVest does what any gadget should and that is make life and travel, easier. You get to the airport and you can just take off the jacket, put it in the x-ray machine, walk through, pick the jacket up and off you go with everything exactly where it was. Superb jacket for backpacking, general trips and days out in any country!
Although the thought of being so minimalistic may scare some, this is an excellent item for any traveller - whether a novice or experienced! Highly recommended.

Eagle Creek / Eurohike Packable Daysack – Small foldable backpack

This item is ideal for two types of travellers. Those who want to pack extremely light and only have a small bag, and for those wanting an additional day bag which is small and light. There are two brands to recommend. For the UK, Life Venture or Eurohike are huge brands in outdoor equipment, whilst in the US Eagle Creek is a great brand offering an identical product, and this 20 litre Pocket Bag is genius.

The Eagle Creek / Life Venture Packable Daysack is quite simply a bag within a bag.

1) Its starts off as a small folded up bag the size of your hand.

2) You then unzip it and it becomes a full sized 20 litre back pack. The material is also showerproof. It features a decent amount of compartments, and looks very simple and stylish when out. This is ideal for people looking to take some of their items out for the day in a bag they dont have to carry around all the time in the traditional sense, i.e. Attached to their main bag, or even on your front!

3) As I said, it's a simple design which doesn't require a degree to fold away. Simply stuff it into the zip on the top!

Very useful bag for anyone and everyone, anywhere and everywhere in the World.

iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard for PDAs and Smartphones

Ok, this is a luxury item, but read on as what you can save in your time is incredible with this device. This item is perfect for anyone wanting to use their smartphone abroad for keeping blogs, websites or web based businesses up to date. If you have been lucky enough to go abroad but then had to use internet cafes to try and update a blog etc., you are aware of how painfully slow they can be. Normally this is due to the computers being full of viruses and the computers are so bugged up that half of your paid for time is wasted on trying to open up web pages and applications because the computers are so slow. This makes taking a laptop very appealing, but even a netbook with its charger and accessories can be quite bulky. A much simpler idea is to take your smartphone with you.

However while the screens are usually good enough, the keyboards are slow and fiddly for a long blog post, email or website update. This is where the iGo Stowaway Ultra Slim Bluetooth keyboard comes in. A great idea executed with superb craft, check the reviews on Amazon for proof. It's a well made solid product which does exactly what you want. Plus it has the great addition of a detachable stand for your phone or PDA.

The keyboard is near full size (est. 85%, similar to a netbook), and it unfolds and locks in securely and easily. Perfect example of this is it's ability to use it on your lap with no problems or fear of breakage. Despite this it folds down to a real small size, and only weighs SIX OUNCES. Amazing bit of tech. Even small details like powering on and off is done automatically when you fold it open or closed. It's ideal for casual users and essential for professionals looking at long term travel / backpacking with a Smartphone.

Lonely Planet On a Shoestring – Guidebooks to the world

Most people know about the Lonely Planet series of books. They are arguably the best set of guidebooks you can find for backpackers, looking at travel on a budget. My favourites in the series are the “...On A Shoestring” set of books. They cover a continental area, and give you a rough guide to the areas they think worth visiting. E.g. Europe, Central America, South East Asia. The South East Asia on a Shoestring was my bible for my first trip. It stood me in good stead throughout Cambodia and Thailand, and my friends throughout the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam.

My recommendations for Lonely Planet isn't to stick to them religiously. Use them as a guide in the literal sense. Every city in the world has its area for backpacking and hostels. E.g. Thamel in Kathmandu, Khao San Road in Bangkok. When you arrive at a place, if it's a city, look at the maps in Lonely Planet, and see where the hotels they recommend are. There are always many more nearby. If you stick to staying in Lonely Planet hotels, you will meet the same people over and over again in less travelled areas, believe me I've done it. This has advantages and disadvantages obviously. However once a place is in Lonely Planet and they find out expect prices to rise. Same with restaurants. Perfect example of this is in Pushkar India. We went to a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant and it was fairly busy, we looked at the prices and were horrified. The food didn't look that amazing either. We were hungry so we went next door to a restaurant called Sanjay's. It was near empty, had a rooftop terrace looking over a lake in the centre of the town, and prices were in some cases 40-50% cheaper. While the guy took a while to cook, as with most places in India, the food was so good we went there everyday for nearly a week!

Lonely Planet is a great resource for sights and finding out the areas to go to, but try to think and go outside the box when you become more comfortable with travel, and being abroad in new locations. It will only enhance your experience. You can get guide books to specific countries, even regions within countries, and they obviously offer more detail, but if you are looking at a long trip its not viable financially or physically due to the size of each book to carry all of the books you will need! ...On a Shoestring is what this type of travel was made for, and I, along with probably hundreds of thousands of other travellers would highly recommend every single book in the Lonely Planet On a Shoestring Series.

And don't forget, if you are heading to more than one country don't be scared to advertise your lonely planet for sale or to swap as there will be other travellers heading in the direction that you have just come from and it could mean you getting another Lonely Planet book on the cheap for another exciting adventure!

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” - St. Augustine

Have you got any products that you recommend for easier or lighter backpacking travel? What is the one thing you can't go away without?

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