Saturday, September 13, 2014

Packing tips and Useful Accessories for Long Overland Travel

Packing for long trip can be a mind boggling task. As much as we would like to make our trip as comfortable as possible, we also do not wish to carry half of our home with us. I do not claim to be an expert but I share what I know so far.

I have a strong knack for screening potential camping and travelling gears whenever I am in shops or supermarket. Put me in outdoor gear shops and I can stay there for hours! Here are some of the useful products I discovered and some advices from seasoned travellers. These tips are more catered for motorcyclists.

Clothes and Shoes (Not fashionista-friendly.)

This really depends on your level of diligence in doing laundry. You do not have to bring clothes for every single day you are travelling. Wash your clothes, find a laundrette or do your own laundry in the sink. Ideally, 4 sets of clothes and underwear are enough. Leave one set that is comfortable enough for sleep, one set for wearing, one set that maybe still be sunning, last set just in case former does not dry by the next day.

Opt for quick drying materials and convertible clothings. Dri-Fit, sports bra and bikini tend to wick off water faster after washing. My favourite is motorcross jersey. It is comfortable, airy, dries fast, long sleeved, so that the riding jacket does not stick to the skin. Convertible travel pants offers the options of shorts or long pants. You can simply zip off the cuff of the pants and get yourself a shorts.

One good pair of Jeans is enough since there is no need to wash it everyday.

Old Clothing as Petrol Filter

Unlike established petrol stations, black market petrol seller or small petrol kiosk dispense their petrol in containers. Their quality is questionable. Presence of sand and debris is detrimental to the engine. One tip I learnt from rally videos and overland travel site is to line the fuel tank opening with a cloth as you top up your tank. This way, any big particles will be trapped in the cloth. Be sure to always use the same side.

Laundry Tools

Dylon Concentrated Travel Wash. Can be found in Fairprice for around $4.65. Easy to carry.
My preferred laundry detergent costs only 40 cents!

FAB Laundry Bar. Personally I prefer this over the above travel wash. First, it cost only 40cents, Second, it is very very concentrated, I could get many more washes out from this 40cents laundry bar than Dylon travel wash. Storage can be easily solved by keeping wet soap in small waterproof box.

My FAB laundry bar in Lock N' Lock box.

Mini Laundry Brush

Our common laundry brush. Too bulky!
15baht ($0.60) Nail Brush with hard bristles
I discovered a compact travel laundry brush when I was in Khao Sok - a nail brush. You can easily find them in Guardian, Watson or Fairprice. Get one with hard bristles, some nail brush's bristles can be too soft for laundry use.

Then I found another laundry brush at Daiso which is small and has solid bristles.

S$2 mini Laundry Brush from Daiso.

Pegless Clothesline



It is compact and holds up your clothes well. You can loop it around any support or use the strong suction cups to hold it up on any smooth surfaces e.g. tiled walls, mirrors. The toilet simply transforms into a laundry area. For camping, I tie them around my scooter throttle and back rack.

You can get these on EBay, search for "Pegless Clothesline" and there are different lengths available. I prefer shorter ones because you need to stretch them well in order for your clothes to hold up.

There are suction cups at each ends to adhere to any smooth surface.

It holds up your clothes or towels without any pegs
If my clothes do not dry by the time I leave for the next destination, I will place it in my mesh bag and strap it to the top of my box and ride. The sun and drag wind may help in the drying. It beats keeping wet laundry in the box or bag and developing a musty smell later.

Army Boots over Riding Boots

This is an advice I saw from a video, plus Goh and Samantha, Wei Jie all used Army boots for their trip. If your trip is going to be filled with trekking and lots of walking activities, Army boots maybe a good compromise for not bringing two pairs of shoes. It is waterproof, protects your feet, (but the ankle support is not as strong as those of riding boots), provides good traction and better comfort for trekking. I find riding boots tend to be slippery and too rigid for long treks.

Unfortunately, I could not find any for my size. I was using Thor 50/50 ankle boots for 2 years, even wore them to work everyday, before I had to retire it. They are no longer in production. Currently, I am using Goretex Timberland Boots for my trips.

Gadgets Charger

Nowadays, most of our electronic gadgets, mobiles, POV cameras, powerbank, can be charged with USB port. Are you going to have all these gadgets sharing one USB port or bring one USB charger for each of them?



What if I tell you that you can charge up to 3 devices with just a universal travel adapter?

The Solution - Travel adaptor with integrated USB ports.
There are Travel adapter with integrated USB ports some even has two, so you do not have to carry another USB charger. One or two less items to carry! I bought mine from EBay and also found some good deals on DealExtreme.  However, I do not recommend using this with product that requires insulating pin.


This tip is from Master Goh Chun. Most countries in the world do not use our 3 pins plugs. Bringing 3 pins plugs not only adds on to bulk and you will realise that you cannot use them in most countries. In Thailand, they use the 2 flat pin or round prong. Since you will need the universal travel adapter in most of the places, might as well just bring cables with two pins as they are more compact.

VS


For example, my MacBook charging cable comes with attachment for 3 pins and 2 flat pins. I use the 3 pin at home but for travel, I switch to 2 flat pin attachment because it is more compact, plus I can fold the pin in.

MacBook Charger with 3 pin for home use.

VS

I switch to this adaptor whenever I bring it for trip. You can fold the flat pin in.
It seems like it only helps to save a little space, but it matters if you will be bringing a number of gadgets.

Toiletries

You got your shampoo, body wash, facial wash, toner, moisturiser, toothpaste, sunblock, SKII etc etc.These are day to day products for personal hygiene and beautification.What else?

I would have never thought about it until Goh said these items are often overlooked during long trip - nail clippers, ear picks. If you are going away for long enough, you will definitely need it! Your long nail will eventually transform into a scratching knife and you will risk damaging your riding gloves and making holes in your socks with it. Ear picks -  just like your bike that needs to be cleared of carbon, your gunk-filled ears need clearing eventually.

In the past, I never understood Cherie's emphasis on bringing toilet paper until I went for my own long road trip. Bear in mind, not all toilets have toilet paper. When you are savouring street food out there, chances of catching some bowel exploding bugs is high. It is traumatising when you could not find any to wipe your bump after a gigantic dump. Eh, that rhymes.

If you are heading to mosquito infested areas, bring a mosquito patch is a more compact option.

Sleeping Bag Liner (if you camp)

Samantha told me this was very useful during their trip. Sleeping bag liners are often made from silk. It lines the inside of sleeping bags to increase the insulation. Even if weather is hot, the silk material renders a very cooling and smooth surface to lay on. With the sleeping bag liner, the sleeping bag does not have to be washed so often, one just need to wash the sleeping bag liner which is light, easier to wash and quick drying.

Compression bags

This tip does not help with the weight but it helps to make space in your luggage. Compression bags are usually supplied with sleeping bags to compress them. They are also available by itself. This is especially useful when you have bulky winter clothes. However, do not keep your winter clothes or sleeping bags compressed for prolonged storage. The insulating air pockets in the clothes and sleeping bags may be forced out permanently, rendering it no longer insulating.

Most of the compression bags in the market are cylindrical in shape. This shape, however, is not space efficient and not stack-able for back packs and boxes. I used it in my Oceanpack Drysack which is cylindrical in shape, so it is fine. Affordable compression bags can be found in Beach Road Army Market.

Original Volume of clothes before compressing them.
After sitting on the bag, compressing everything down and tightening the straps.
Cuboid shape is stack-able therefore more space efficient for most luggages and panniers. The only one that comes in such shape is by Granite Gear. They come in waterproof version as well.

For the Ladies (Guys may wish to skip with part)

Hang on...

Here are some of the tips I have so far. I will add on if I come to know of more useful tips.

7 comments:

  1. I am not sure if I published the comment or not! :-P I hit preview and the comment is gone. I dont want to double post, but in case I did delete it, Patrick is Jannick's brother! Awesome how small the 2 wheeled travel community is!

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  2. I completely agree with your post. I think that these things are very important to carry if you are going to a trip. All the accessories like charger, travelling earplugs are also very important.

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