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, space constraint do not allow us to bring much.

How does one tell if something is important for a extended trip? It takes time into a journey to realise what is really necessary and what is not. It took me around a month or two of packing and unpacking to establish a packing system that suit the daily travelling routine. Even so, the system changes with seasons and countries.

Here are some useful products and tips I discovered and learnt during the trip and from seasoned travellers.

Developing a Packing System

A convenient packing system usually revolves around the daily riding routine and essentiality of the items.

I compartmentalised my stuff according to how frequently it is being used and the occasions when it is used. Below is a layout of items on the scooter. For things that are used frequently, make them easily accessible.


The "Check In" bag contains my valuables and day-to-day essentials. When I check into a hostel or my host's home for the night, I only bring along the "Check In" bag. If I trek to somewhere without my scooter, this is also the bag I carry with me. Most of the stuff are left on the scooter.

My expensive camping gears are locked with PacSafe Backpack and Bag Protector. I always leave them on the scooter unless I am camping a lot.

I do not secure my tools because I do not think people wants to take my greasy tools. Besides that, they are easily replaceable.

Roks Straps are very neat accessories for strapping down bags to racks. I highly recommend them over hook end bungee cords. If you have not heard of accidents involving bungee cords, read this. Thanks Motology Store for sending me Roks Straps. You may grab some from them.

Do ensure the balance of weight on your motorcycle. The weight distribution affects the handling of your motorcycle. Try to keep the weight as low and as centralised as possible. I made the mistake of carrying my heavy engine cylinder in the front until I hit a rock.

Clothes and Shoes (Not fashionista-friendly.)

This really depends on your diligence in doing laundry. Wash your clothes or find a laundrette. Ideally, 3 or 4 sets of regular clothes and underwear are enough to rotate between wearing, washing, drying. Carrying less is more.

Opt for quick drying materials and convertible clothings. Dri-Fit, sports bra and bikini tend to wick off water faster. 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.

If you are going to be travelling across seasons including winter, opt for layering instead of bringing a big bulky jacket. I stash some Uniqlo Heat Tech or Icebreaker inner wear in my winter pack. When the season comes, I wear them under my regular clothes. They are light and dry fast. And the thermal liner that comes with motorcycle riding jacket, I attach it under my windbreaker so it serves as my winter jacket.

Army Boots over Riding Boots

If you are going to do lots of trekking and walking, 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.

Don't throw away your old clothes yet!

Use them as rags for cleaning your bike or reuse them 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. 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 bar 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.

The best choice is the Multipurpose soap bar commonly found in the Balkans -  For Dishwashing, Laundry, Bodywash

Mini Laundry Brush

Our common laundry brush. Too bulky!
15baht ($0.60) Nail Brush with hard bristles
I use nail brush as laundry brush. Then I found another laundry brush at Daiso which is small and has solid bristles.

S$2 mini Laundry Brush from Daiso.

Small dry bag as Portable Washing Machine

I spent the late autumn in North Pakistan where heating amenities are not regularly available due to load shedding. For those lucky ones who have never experienced a blackout, it is a deliberate cut of power supply so that the generation system is not overloaded.

There, water is freezing cold by default! Hot/warm water is a luxury. I would not waste warm water on laundry. No electricity means no washing machine too. Handwashing clothes with cold water really hurts the hands. Here is what you can do it.

Place your dirty clothes in a small dry bag. It also helps to contain the rich aroma of sweat and mud. Fill it with water, pour some detergent, maybe add a few laundry balls, roll it shut, shake that thing like a gigantic cocktail. Your clothes will be getting a good tumbling wash while you are getting a good workout.

Drying Clothes

How to dry clothes really quick?

Lay your washed clothes on the towel. Roll the towel and wring it with the clothes sandwiched in the towel. I prefer doing this on a microfibre towel because it absorbs better. Microfibre towels can be wringed dry easily and be reused for drying more clothes again.

If weather is not too cold or wet, the clothes dries overnight. Tested and proven.


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. While camping, I tie them around trees and my scooter.

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.

Gadgets Charger

DITCH THAT BULKY 3-PIN PLUG!

I have never used the UK version of 3 pin plug after leaving Southeast Asia. Bringing 3 pins plugs is just redundant bulk.



Most of our electronic gadgets, mobiles, POV cameras, powerbank are recharged through USB ports. Bringing a universal travel adapter with integrated USB port is a better choice for the space conscious. However, I do not recommend using this with appliances that requires insulating pin. You are not going to bring an electric kettle or toaster, are you?

The Solution - Travel adaptor with integrated USB ports.



And since you have the travel adaptor, might as well just bring cables with two pins as they are more compact. What I mean is this

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.
Or use the 2 pin Figure 8 power cable for charging camera batteries for your laptop too...



It seems like it only helps to save a little space, but it makes a difference if you need to charge many electronic gadgets.

Toiletries

You can get most stuff easy on the road. Except for ear picks as Goh told me.

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.

After spending almost a year in Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, I am a convert for using water or bidet spray. It is much cleaner.

For the ladies, tampons are difficult to find in conservative countries so stock up or consider using a menstrual cup. Probably I will write a separate article on the different sanitary options for travelling.

Sleeping Bag Liner (if you camp)

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, just need to wash the sleeping bag liner which is light, easy to wash and quick drying.

Compression bags

This tip does not help with the weight but it helps to make space in your luggage. 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.

Affordable compression bags can be found in Beach Road Army Market. Most of the compression bags in the market are cylindrical in shape. This shape, however, is not space efficient and not stack-able for backpacks and boxes.

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.

Headlamps

Useful if you camp a lot and need your hands free for pitching the tent or cooking at night. 

OR having to fix a broken throttle cable on the road after sunset.


There are places without electricity for up to 12 hours a day. I had to sleep with torch next to me in case I need to go to the toilet.

Eye Mask and Ear Plugs

Long daylight hours in summer and your tent is light coloured. Room mates who snores really loud. Party-goers coming back late and making out in the toilet. Put these on if you want a restful sleep.

I hope this list is useful. Am I missing anything else? Feel free to share any other tips in the comments below.

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!

    ReplyDelete
  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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  3. thank you very much. it is very helpful for my planning. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Awesome that you are sharing your experience.

    Do you use a motorcycle cover to cover your scooter to keep a low profile and avoid theft of your belongings? What about a chain and lock? How do you secure your scooter at night or when you are away sightseeing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, do you wear a protective armoured riding jacket and motorcycle pants when you ride?

      Delete
    2. Hi Chris, I do not have chain and lock. I do use a motorcycle cover at times. But once, it did not deter someone from trying to steal my scooter in Bonsia & Herzegovina. (My handlebar was broken.) My mistake was, I thought I parked in full view of the CCTV camera of the petrol station. But it was not. I admit I was quite complacent on securing my scooter because nothing happened in my 2 years of travelling. Bike theft is more common in the big cities (which I avoid) than in small villages. When my italian friend brought a big chain to secure both our scooter when we visited the city together, I thought it was quite over the board. But no, motorcycle theft is very common in big italian cities.

      I had an alarm lock but it was damaged mid way the trip. I recommend using that, the loud noise is going to alert everybody in the surrounding. But some alarm locks are so sensitive that even the wind can trigger it.

      Yes I wear armoured jacket anad pants, saved me many times.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Juvena for your inputs. You are truly an inspiration for all budding globe-trotting motorcyclists.

      I've only done short rides (longest was 1 month), and I'm rather careful about securing my bike and wearing protective gear. But this routine gets rather tiresome and sometimes I feel like just throwing caution to the wind.

      I look at many riders who speed around in T-shirt and shorts, and leave their bikes unsecured, and wonder if it would be better to be less paranoid. But I think if you can still be careful about your bike and safety after 2 years on the road, then surely I can do the same too.

      You are taking a winter break, right? When will you continue your ride? Where do you intend to go next? And lastly, when will you end your ride? I'm curious and fascinated. Following your adventures makes me feel like I should have done the same when I was your age!

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    4. No, I am taking a fund replenishing break. My scooter is still in Europe. I am trying to gather more funds for Africa and the America continents. I have no end destinations. Just want to ride until I am sick of it.

      Delete
  5. I think this is the best packaging article that i have ever read. Love it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You gave the best accessories ideas for the long travel. Thank you so much for the great guidance blog.

    ReplyDelete

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