Pulling my backpack from the closet always brings a nostalgic feeling. A familiar memory, smell, a reminder of a simple time when you were exploring another country with nothing but your backpack containing all of your most prized possessions in that very moment. Like something you know so well with a bit of fear for the unknown. The pre-travel jitters often make you question everything in a serious of rhetorical questions that take your mind no where but back to square one. Do I have everything? What if I lose my bag with everything in it? Do I have directions to my accommodations? What if I get lost? Will I meet people there? What if one of them tries to scam me? What if I end up in trouble? Will I end up in a foreign jail? What if I get hurt? Do I have travel insurance? Do I have my passport? DO I HAVE EVERYTHING?
Ok maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone… But if your slightly Type A like I am then you’ll know what I’m saying. Devan is the complete opposite. He is so laid back and carefree and would travel across the world with little to no knowledge of what he’s getting into, and with no rough travel plans. I am all about spontaneity but I like to have a good idea of where I’m going and improvise once I get there. I think that’s why I love being in a foreign country. It makes me lose sight of being in complete control and allows me to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Letting go of control is very difficult for some people, particularly for me. I am so used to having control over everything in my everyday life that sometimes I get frustrated when I can’t influence a particular outcome. This is something that I have worked very hard on and continue to work hard on. Letting go of control, and sometimes letting someone else take the reins and trust that it will be wonderful.
Not only will we be visiting two new countries on this trip but this will be our first time setting foot in Southeast Asia. We have no definite travel plans other than we are flying into to Bangkok and out from Manila. We spend so much of our lives worrying about what needs to get done, running late for an appointments or feeling guilty for not getting to those important chores you’ve been putting off. When we travel, we can throw all of those expectations and responsibilities out the door. Nowhere to be, nobody to answer to except yourself. That’s one of the things I love about travelling. Absolute freedom.
I’ve decided to go pretty basic with my packing list. The thing about backpacking is you inevitably never have enough room in your pack. My rule to live by is take out everything you want to bring with you, and when you are finished, remove half of it. Especially if you are going to somewhere warm where you’re not going to be wearing a whole lot of clothing. When we went backpacking in Europe, we had to bring some warmer clothes which cut down room in my pack, this trip things are much more compact and light. After pillaging through my gear for the tenth time, my gear list consists of the following:
- My brio 50L backpack
- Money belt and foreign currency
- Phone/life proof case
- Bluetooth mini speaker
- Passport/health insurance cards
- Journal and reading materials
- Travel planning book (So Type A of me..)
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 2 dresses
- 4 tank tops/t-shirts
- 2 bathing suits
- 1 pair of flip-flops and 1 pair of walking shoes
- Microfiber towel
- Basic toiletries under 100 ml.
- Medical tape to repair wholey mosquito nets
- Sleeping bag
- Water bottle
- Emergency medicine including pepto, ibuprofen and Benadryl
- Daily contact lenses/glasses
Just remember, anything you forgot or you wished you had brought with you, will likely be available where you are going. I personally think it’s better to bring less because you will almost always end up making some purchases along your way.
As this is my first of hopefully many times in Southeast Asia, and Asia in general, I want to push myself as far out of my comfort zone as possible. As I’ve said before, bucket lists are not lists of items you have to get through, meant to cause anxiety when you don’t accomplish every single item. They are more of a guideline for ensuring that you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and exploring as much as possible in a little amount of time. If I don’t end up being able to do every single thing on my list, well then at least I will know I gave it a solid effort, and there’s always next time.
- Visit the elephant sanctuary and spend a day with the elephants
- Take a Thai cooking class
- Swim with whale sharks/manta rays/sea turtles
- Face my fear of snakes in some way
- Learn to enjoy beer – without 10 slices of orange in it
- Try a deep fried insect of some sort
- Read as much as possible while on planes and busses
- Spend a few days having some quality R & R on the beach
- Make new friends from at least 3 different countries
- Get a bamboo tattoo
- Immerse myself in Thai and Filipino culture and talk with the locals
- Try as many new Thai and Filipino foods as possible
- Take a motorbike adventure to an unknown place
- Zip line
I could not be more excited for the adventure were about to go on. A completely new continent, with completely new cultures and a completely vague travel plan. I am going to challenge myself and push myself into new and unknown experiences and let go of things that are beyond my control. We may not be able to travel for months at a time right now, but I am going to make the most of the next 18 days. I hope that you’ll follow along on our adventure and maybe learn something about yourself along the way.
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