So, I went on a month-long trip to discover the wonders of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and of course it was amazing! It was my first month long trip though, and looking back there are a few things I learned from the experience, which I want to share with you. If you’re contemplating a month or longer trip then read my tips and advice for some inspiration and pointers that will hopefully help you along the way.
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For the love of god do not take a top loading backpack
At first, I was pleased with my bargain backpack which I picked up for a steal in a local moderately priced supermarket (Aldi). Lime green and grey I thought – job done. Oh, how wrong I was. Travelling through these beautiful countries staying in hostels, guesthouses, travelling by boat, bus and train the lime green novelty, quickly wore off. It is so much more difficult to organise all of your precious belongings, whenever you want to get something you have to go rummaging, and then most of the time you have to just pull all of your life out of your little back pack to find that one item.
If you haven’t bought your luggage yet, please go for a suitcase style back pack, where you can unzip the whole pack and get in and out quickly. Watching my sister smugly do this throughout the month cemented the decision in my mind. Top opening bag – never again. If you’re going on a shorter trip I’d say don’t worry so much but a month or longer invest in a decent suitcase style backpack. Here are some examples below of front loading backpacks that have had great feedback – Osprey Farpoint or Berghaus Motive.
Bring some travel size games
Bring something with you to pass the time, on long journeys it will help to break up the sometimes monotonous journey and help break the ice with fellow travellers. I didn’t do this, but fortunately, on our organised tour there were some more seasoned travellers who came well prepared. A pack of playing cards, pocket-sized game, or phone app or game can really make a difference. I have great memories from falling about laughing playing ‘heads up’ on one of our overnight trains through Vietnam, or playing cards on a long day trip boat journey along the Mekong river.
Only pack what you absolutely love.
Throughout the month-long journey I know there were items of clothing that I maybe only wore once or twice, because I just didn’t really like them that much. This meant I was carrying unnecessary weight, and that I wore the same items of clothing more often than I wanted to. Not that I became a smelly traveller, I just ended up paying for laundry more often than I needed to. Do lots of research about your destination, what the weather could be like, are there any requirements i.e. covering up for temple religious site visits, will you need to have particular active wear if your hiking or exercising?
I’d also recommend really trying to plan what you pack and having a capsule wardrobe that you can use interchangeably. A lot of my outfits I couldn’t really do this, and after a month of travelling around I felt like I was wearing the same old outfit all the time (which granted I was most of the time). It is so important to take the time to really plan what you need to pack. Check back here soon for my upcoming blog post on capsule wardrobe ideas for a year of travel for more Inspo.
You might feel home sick.
I remember my sister and I running through Heathrow airport on our way home because we were just so overloaded with travelling around and just wanting the familiarity of our own beds. We were having to keep up with different currency and conversion rates, different languages, customs, foods it was all a massive sensory overload. I don’t regret it at all – the trip was an amazing introduction to these countries and something we could squeeze in whilst working full time. I would like to go back and wander slowly through each country though.
Be prepared to get addicted!
Even though we were glad to be home after living out of a backpack for a month. It was the most unforgettable experience, and after that, I was addicted! I managed to save up and spend 3 weeks in India and then a month in China the following year. Taking with me some of the lessons I learned from the first time round! Next up I’ll be embarking on a 9-10 month trip all around Asia so I’m hoping I can keep getting better at this travel malarkey although I’m sure I’ll make mistakes along the way – after all who doesn’t right?
What have been your experiences? Do you have any tips or advice to share? Please share them in the comments section below.
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