Complete (back)packing list

Thailand, Malaysia, Singapur

 

My mum always said “in this day and age, everything you’ll need is your passport, some money and your phone.” She’s not entirely wrong, of course, but since I don’t plan on shopping for an entire new wardrobe and accessories, here’s a list of what I’m planing to take to Malaysia with me. It’s my first real backpacking trip and I’ve never really done a proper packing list so here we go (this might also be therapeutical for me and could show me to not always take so damn much!)

Let’s get started:

What I put in my carry-on:

Passport
Prints of hostel/flight reservations
Credit card
Debit Card
Cash

Phone (and charger)
MacBook (and charger)
Camera (without charger)

Chewing Gum
Small snacks (lately I tend to get a bit nauseaous on long haul flights and meals are never that appealing to me)
Book
Travelguide
Headphones
Pen and a small notebook

Scarf
Toothbrush and travel sized toothpaste
extra pair of underwear (I’ve learned from my lost luggage incident in Morocco!)

In my trekking backpack:

Locks (for lockers)

Travelsafe
Underwater Camera
Portable speakers
Various chargers
SD Cards

2 long, wide, cotton pants
1 pair of jeans (worn on the plane)
2 dresses
2 pair of shorts
5 T-shirts
2 long sleeved shirts
1 Cardigan (worn on the plane, I tend to freeze on planes and I know it can get cold on buses too!)
2 pair of socks
Underwear
1 bikini
1 pair of sneakers (worn on the plane)
1 pair of flip flops (for gross hostel showers)
1 pair of sandals

Earplugs
Toothpaste
Shampoo
Travel sized conditioner
Razor
Menstrual cup
Facewash
Lotion
Sunscreen
Deodorant
Bug spray

Wet toilet paper/baby wipes (has been a lifesaver many, many times!)

Lipbalm
Mascara
Lipstick
Hairties and clips/bobby pins
Hairbrush
Nailclippers and file
Sunglasses

Painkillers

1 travel towel

 

I’ve linked a couple of things that I’ve really enjoyed so far or are really handy to have on travels (foldable toothbrush, anyone?).
The Hansaplast earplugs are honestly the best I’ve ever had – and let me tell you, I’ve tried a lot of them.
The travel safe is actually rather bulky and heavy but something I got to have some peace of mind when it comes to my valuables. I’ll be taking my Laptop with me, as well as my DSLR, and while the camera will be wherever I am most of the time, my MacBook won’t. I’m not sure if there will be suitable lockers in every hostel so this is a compromise. If someone really wants to steal it, they’ll probably manage it but it will make stealing my stuff a bit harder and more inconvenient for the thief ;-)
I think this is a pretty conclusive list of what I’ll be taking with me to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
I’m aware that Malaysia is also a muslim country, so I have my usual long cotton pants with me, but since I’ve been told it’s more relaxed than most other muslim countries I’m hoping I’ll also be ok with shorts or knee-length dresses :)

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Be Brave

I’m in no way an expert, but these are some things I’ve learnt through the years, so bear with me and excuse my rambles.

Know what you want out of your travels.
Do you want to see a city? Do you want to check out every museum there is? That’s cool. Do you want to lie on a beach and jump into the sea whenever you feel like it? That’s cool too. Are you an avid mountaineer? Awesome. Just know beforehand and don’t be disappointed when you might not be able to pack all of the things you want to do into one single trip.

Choose your travel partners wisely.
Traveling can be a real trial of friendship. Choose your partners carefully. Do they want the same things out of the trip as you? What kind of attitude do they have towards other countries and cultures?
If you think that you are too different from each other you might not be happy during your travels if you constantly have to cut back on what you want out of it.
If there are only minor differences, don’t let them deter you. Compromise on some things and you might be surprised to where this will lead you. This leads to my next point:

Embrace the unexpected.
Be spontaneous. Be daring. When can you if not now? Where if not here? Go out and try to see where your limits are. How far can you go? What can you endure and what not?
It’s exhilarating. Scary, yes, but it makes you feel alive.
It’s important to make plans. However, it’s equally important to be flexible enough to let the plans you made go and make new ones at the drop of a hat.

Take care of yourself.
In more than one way. Be careful with your money and who you trust. Get to know your surroundings and get a feel for what is safe to do and what not.
But also, take care of yourself on another level. Say you meet people along the road, you quickly befriend them but then realise you can’t see eye to eye on some things anymore, don’t be afraid to go your own way. In the end you shouldn’t hold back on what you truly want just because of others.
You need to be at peace with your decisions and experiences. If they’re being rude, if their  attitude towards other cultures doesn’t match your own, tell them. If nothing changes, go your own way.

Pack, cut in half, pack again.
So far I’ve never, ever worn all of the clothes I packed for a trip. I always came back home with a couple of still perfectly folded T-shirts or pants which I just never even took out of my suitcase or backpack.
You don’t need much on travels. And you know…. people know how to wash clothes in other countries as well….

Get to know the country you travel to.
What is the religion? How’s the weather? What is the political situation? Learn everything you can before you go there and then learn even more once you’re there. Be open and not afraid to be proven wrong. Being surprised is a wonderful thing.

Talk talk talk.
To natives, to other travelers, to the cook of the roadside restaurant. It doesn’t really matter. Ask questions. Never stop asking even what you might consider to be a stupid question because you will get a whole new experience out of it.
Still, be gentle and aware of cultural differences. Don’t come on too strong and respect the opinions of others.
Try to learn at least a few words and standard phrases in the local language. This will open you doors you’d never expected. People will view you differently. Even small words like “Hello“, “Please“ and “Thank you“ will make a huge difference.
Know when to accept, but also when to challenge and question.

Be patient.
Know that you’re not at home. Things will take time, things will most likely not go as planned but you will get to where you want to be eventually. Don’t stress. There’s no point in complaining that a bus is late or a merchant ripped you off. These things happen. Learn from them, embrace them,

Be open.
Try new things. Eat something you never have before. Reinvent yourself. This is your chance. Take it.

Windsor – Stonehenge – Bath

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K. and I are somewhat “go our own way” kind of girls, so when we realised we still had one day we could use for a trip out of London, we checked to see if we could do another trip just by ourselves. We quickly realised that the destinations we wanted to see were hugely inconvenient for us to reach without a car. So we looked up alternatives and finally decided on booking an organised tour. This turned out to be a huge success. Really.
We booked the Windsor Castle – Stonehenge – Bath tour two days in advance. It was a matter of maybe 10 minutes of research followed by 3 minutes of online booking. We booked the tour by Evan Evans.
This agency provides you with a complimentary pick up, so we managed to find a location that was literally just across the street from our hostel and saved us a lot of time coming to the station by ourselves.
The tour included the bus ride to the sights, a guide, and entrance fees as well as audio guides for Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and the Roman Baths in Bath. Our guide was a lovely lady named Fiona who talked in a casual and funny way about general history as well as the sights we were going to see. Within the sights we were left to our own devices and could divide up the time as we saw fit.
Sometimes the time we had in certain points was a bit short, and I know I would like to return to Bath and explore it a bit more but all in all it was a great trip.
We also managed to save quite a lot of money, booking this trip, as train tickets and entrance fee for Stonehenge alone would have been around the same price of what we paid for the whole trip.
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[Above: Surprised face while trying the water from the hot springs in Bath.]
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[Above: We unleashed our inner tourist and did some hardcore posing in Stonehenge. My pained expression in all other pictures we took is because of the wind and funny enough: being annoyed with fellow picture-taking tourists. I’m a traveling hypocrite, apparently.]
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Sally Lunn’s

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Though we didn’t have much time while we were in Bath, we couldn’t help but stop by Sally Lunn’s for afternoon tea. Located in the oldest building in Bath (dating back to 1482) this a quaint, bakery and café (if you want to call it that), full of nooks and crannies.
We were advised to try one of the famous Sally Lunn Buns – kind of a mix between a bagel and a brioche. After much consideration we ordered half a bun toasted and served with clotted cream and jam. That and a pot of tea made for an utterly delicious afternoon snack.

I loved the house and the decorations, I could have spent the entire afternoon there, but sadly, our time was limited. Make sure you have enough time to fully enjoy your meal in this cute little gem!

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London Travel Diary: Day Three

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Our third day in the United Kingdom took us out of London and across the beautiful (but very dreary) English countryside to Dover.

Writing this may be a bit hard as opinions obviously vary and I don’t think we got the best impression of this town as it was super rainy, windy and cold, but it’s safe to say that one day, or even afternoon is more than enough.

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Upon arrival we made our way to the tourist office to get some maps and folders about activities. Then we made our way up to Dover Castle. You can easily get there by foot. It takes around 10-15 minutes from the town centre. At the castle you can do various tours.
I’d recommend the tours that lead you through the Secret Wartime Tunnels that were used during WWII.
I did the one of the wounded soldier. It took around 20 minutes and you follow the story of a wounded soldier who’s brought in to the infirmary. The tour is complete with sound and light effects. They also use chemicals to recreate the original smell, which can be nauseating at times. There’s a second one that takes around one hour, which we decided not to take because the wait would have been too long. The tours are included in the entrance fee you pay and definitely worth doing!
When you go further up the castle, you get to know more about the earlier history of it. The insides are done very nicely and it’s fun and educational for children as well as for grown-ups.

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Afterwards we meant to hike around the cliffs for a bit to a lighthouse, but the horrendous weather thwarted our plans. There are boat tours around the harbour offered as well, but this too, might be nicer if it’s not pouring cats and dogs ;-)
When asked where we’d get the best view of the cliffs, we were told that it would be from down at the boardwalk. This was partly true. We got a nice view but still had the port in front.
After that, we still had a few hours left in Dover but nothing to do really. The city centre also seemed to lack nice, cosy cafés or restaurants. (At least we couldn’t find them. If you disagree and have some tips and cool locations, please let me know!)

All in all we had a nice day, saw a place we haven’t been to before and, in the end, even though it was lacking in some aspects, we didn’t regret our choice of going to Dover.
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How to get there:
Initially we looked up trains from London to Dover, but found that taking a bus was much, much cheaper (one way train tickets would have been 75£/person whereas the bus ticket was 12£/person for a return ticket). The bus ride takes around 3 hours and I’ve only ever had good experiences with National Express. The buses are clean, comfortable and barring any major traffic jams they’ve always been on time.