My Travel Essentials 


I bought a new travel backpack last month. It’s an Osprey Farpoint 70, front loader.  With my pending sabbatical in a few months, I felt it was the best type of luggage to carry, and I gave it a test run while in Iceland last month.

I remember when I first brought it home. I decided to dummy pack it with things I might need on my sabbatical. Wow backpacks are small! I was suddenly forced to pack the absolute essentials. Do I really need more than 2 styles of footwear? And more than 2 pairs of trousers/pants? While in Iceland I managed with only one pair of shoes, my hiking boots. It was perfectly suffice. 

I felt somewhat liberated with my new backpack. I knew travelling on London’s underground was never going to be the same again. I’m used to travelling with a trolley bag, packed into a car that weighs in at 23kg, or dragged up and down stairs.  With my new backpack full for a two week trip to Iceland, I couldn’t believe it weighed in at 11kg at London Heathrow. No wonder I could just pick it up with one arm and swing it over my back!

I’m sure in the next two months, I’ll learn to refine what I pack, but there were some essential items I did pack on my trip to Iceland which I highly recommend;

1. My Manfrotto tripod

Yes it’s as long as my forearm, but it’s light and fits into my day pack. I loved having my tripod with me while in Iceland. I could compose a photo exactly how I wanted and then hit the self timer button for my own selfie. While at Gulfoss Falls in Iceland, someone offered to take a photo of me and my friend De, in spite of me having my tripod set up. Out of politeness we accepted the offer. But when we looked at the photo, De gave me this look that said, let’s take another one with the tripod! I’ll never have to ask another tourist to take a crappy photo again! 

2. Brita filter water bottle

With an upcoming sabbatical to South America, I knew buying water was not only a waste of money, but all that plastic was bad for the environment. So I finally got a Brita water bottle which comes with filter discs that should be changed once a week. I took it with me to Iceland. Not that the water there needed filtering, nor did I change the filter after one week, but it was one of the most useful travel items I have ever bought. I’ll never be dehydrated again with the freedom to fill the bottle up however many times I like with any tap I find! 

3. My Hanwag hiking boots

I’ve had these boots for ten years now. They have trekked up Italian mountains with me, across Austrian snowy landscapes, on endless hiking trails across the UK, and into Icelandic lava caves and glaciers. They are well worn in, get cleaned and waxed regularly, and can be worn with just about any outfit. I highly recommend a good set of hiking boots that protect the ankle for anyone on an outdoor vacation. 

4. Waterproof pants and jacket

Ok, granted, if you happen to be hiking in pouring rain for more than two hours (as we were in the Yorkshire Dales with no shelter in sight), you will get wet. But a good set of waterproof pants and jacket are a must while travelling. I own a Quecha light blue jacket, where the water just runs off like it does on a duck. I also have a goretex waterproof jacket. Both are light and don’t take up much packing space. 

5. Headlamp

I love my Petzl headlamp! It’s literally been my beacon of light on many camping trips, especially in the middle of the night when one has to find their way to the toilet block. It’s been used on the front of my bike as we cycled home in the dark from Sitges train station in Spain to our campsite, to cook and eat dinner in the dark when out camping, and to read with, especially a road map in the car while lost in France. I’ve even  loaned it to a couple to help them see their crossword puzzle better on the bus when it was dark. It’s always in my day pack, especially while travelling on a bus. I wouldn’t want to leave anything behind once I disembarked at night.

There are many other items I never travel without, such as a pen and travel journal, my iPod full of music, my SLR camera, wax earplugs and handgel.  Now I just need to decide if the iPad will be safe to take with me! Happy packing everyone!

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