Time is the ONE thing in life you cannot buy more of. Your minutes are granted. Do not waste mine. – Andrea Vlad
One of the best pieces of advice I received prior to setting out on this amazing journey came from a friend that I first met through Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum from a post I threw out to the online community of budget-minded travelers. Jeff is an experienced backpacker from the States that surpasses me by more than 8 years of continuous travel and we have continued to maintain a good friendship as well as meeting up in person for the first time almost two years after our first initial exchange of online messages and emails in Lima, Peru in March of 2013. His advice to me when purchasing all of my items for my extended travels was, “don’t go cheap.” By this simple statement, he meant that when every material possession you own fits into a bag and can be carried on your back you certainly get what you pay for, and while most every item can be found around the globe there are certain things that are more difficult to come by or at the very least will be much more expensive (double or triple) than if you were just to purchase them in the United States (sorry international readers, this may also be true in your home countries). This is my personal list of five items I wish I had invested in and brought with me prior to my extended and ongoing travel adventures, because these items as a travel blogger or a person of any type of tech skill can be used to save you money with service exchanges for free accommodation or meals to earning you paid work for your skills or just having this equipment with you. As much as I understand some travelers want to limit their amount of electronics or expensive gear, which is what I attempted to do from the beginning, if I would have had these items with me there would have been an even greater possibility for saving money through my travels, which speaking with most backpackers on a long term travel plan, “we are all hustling our way to stay on the road,” and this is one of the best ways of making that a reality.
#BACPACKERTIPS 5 ITEMS NOT TO GO CHEAP ON
5. WATERPROOF WRIST WALLET
Even though I found a similar item such as this in Bali, Indonesia, the cheap material caused the wrist wallet to fall apart in less than a week. This item will come in extremely handy whether you are at the beach, swimming under waterfalls, or exploring the nightlife where pick-pockets or the lack of secure pockets on your clothing are available.
4. BETTER BACKPACK
The item that tends to take a larger pounding than anything is your smaller backpack that not only carries your valuables while in transit, but this is also constantly being opened and adjusted. When choosing a backpack, I personally look for multiple pockets with zippers including one specifically for my laptop, overall comfort as this bag may weigh the same if not more than your larger backpack and with that I want strong durable straps, zippers, and I evaluate the material on the bottom of the outside of the bag for long-term abusive use.
3. MACBOOK PRO & LAPTOP HARDCASE
Since I use my laptop outside of surfing the web and watching movies (as many backpackers utilize their laptops in this manner), I actually use my laptop for professional video editing, graphic design, blogging, as well as the usual backpacking up digital materials, researching, and communication. Once again don’t go cheap with hacking a netbook for the sake of price or weight, go with the real deal! And since this will be the most expensive possession you own protect it with a hard case and always lock it up.
2. LACIE RUGGED 1TB EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
Even though I currently have an older MacBook that has been ugraded with a 1TB HD, you can always use more memory and I would suggest the LaCie Rugged HD. When I was working for HDNet (AXS.tv) in the States, these were my favorite drives that we constantly shipped to clients both domestically and internationally and I felt they held up very well.
1. DSLR CAMERA & CASE
This will be your second most expensive item and while I chose to go with the cheaper option of a point-and-shoot waterproof camera, this in the long run has a terrible lens, video quality is poor, and once again whether you are blogging or shooting video a DSLR is the way to go even though it does seem bulky or you are concerned with pulling it out in some areas. That’s why having a iPod or smartphone will be your next best electronic because the size and the multiple functions for use over Wi-Fi. Having a solid camera will allow you to negotiate shooting video or photos for events, parties, charity organizations, etc because electronics are more expensive everywhere else in the world, including Asia, surprisingly!
I apologize in advance for condensing my entire month spent in Vietnam into a single blog post, but I feel that I’ve fallen so far behind that the memories are beginning to fade and I would like to be more recent with my writings now that I am back to a country where Wi-Fi connects are consistent, South Korea. My last few months in Southeast Asia (#SEA) have been filled with sparse connections to say the least. Everywhere from Indonesia, Singapore, and Cambodia, these countries have left me out of communication with many family and friends, and entering my 34th country of Vietnam this continues to follow the same trend. The short two-hour bus ride from Kampot, Cambodia to the overland border crossing of Ha Tien, we arrive just after 5pm in the evening. Since Vietnam is one of the few countries that does not offer visas upon arrival, this document was secured in Cambodia several days before, but I have heard that recently Vietnam is offering visas on arrival at the airport for those that enter the country in this method. After learning that the bus to Ho Chi Minh City, which most Vietnamese still refer to it as Saigon, will not be departing until 7:30pm I decide to walk around the small border town and stretch my legs before the 8-plus hour journey to the old capital.