In August, I ventured across Nepal for two weeks alone with a daily budget of £9 to include food and accommodation, with a rented bicycle, mini North Face duffel rucksack and snazzy red cycling helmet. Aside from the usual minimal things, two sets of clothing, one to wear, one to pack and toothbrush/toothpaste and contact lenses, I paired my bag down well, ridding myself of any excess weight.
Sound advice ‘The more you weigh, the slower you go’
Equipment all depends on where you are heading and which season, but for me in Nepal, these things came in particularly useful:
1. Flipcam Video Camcorder — hand held, the size of a mobile phone, with inbuilt USB charger arm, incredibly useful video camcorder that can take up to 2 hour’s footage, and be easily downloaded to a laptop or computer and uploaded onto googledrive or dropbox, depending on your space capacity. When you’re out alone and want to talk to something (some one!) turning this on and recording the highs and the lows makes for a wholesome, memorable experience, that you can listen to midway to raise the spirits (have friends record you a few minutes of messages before you start your trip) or afterwards to remind you of the travel time and accomplishments.
2. Twix Bars (or sugary delight of choice)— The more remote my route became, far up into the Annapurna circuit, the more expensive chocolate bars became. Stocking up at lower altitudes was a savior as I relied on these for my sugar buzz, and they filled me up if I couldn’t find food immediately on arrival in the evenings after a long day of cycling.
3. Bar of Soap— For times of grubbiness to wash myself or for lathering to wash clothes. The lightest, most portable and useful bathroom toiletry and now necessity. I will not revert to shower gel after the pleasing sensation of foamy soap! Invest in a little soap tin, or ziplock bag in the meantime for storage.
4. A Large Bandanna — To wrap around the back of my helmet, protect my neck from the sun or lashing rain, and long enough to reach round to cover my mouth when huge trucks drove past on the roads spluttering dust and fumes into the air. Multipurpose and useful for washing face or feet in rivers and waterfalls to feel clean quick with no other alternatives, or wipe muddy hands.
5. Small notebook with a sleeve pocket and pencils—- Goes without saying for me, that a notebook is essential to record the tiny moments, the phrases, other traveller’s details, beautiful sounding words, ideas, the schedule you’re on and daily thoughts. Pencil’s for when rain makes ink smudge. The sleeve for spare currency in case all other sources run out or go missing (/are spent..).
6. Bedsheet—- to double up as a towel, cover a questionably stained bed/prevent bedbugs, keep warm at night, as a cape on an overnight journey or to act as a picnic blanket on the road for snack time.
7. Spare inner tubes, at least two in remote areas and other bike kit— Imperative, sacrifice the extra clothing for bike extras, if you need a puncture repair kit or spare inners and you are miles from the nearest shop or public transport system, this will be more useful than the pack of cards you packed or the ipod whose charger you forgot.
8. No ipod–– Forget music. You are on this journey to soak up the sights and sounds of where you are right now. Practise the art of no plug in music by singing to yourself out loud and improvising speeches you might one day make as a leader. Far more ideas and memories emerge from moments of stillness and tumble bountifully from your mind as you charter new terrain.
9. No makeup–– (except eyeliner) Practice the natural look, enjoy the lack of effort involved in getting ready, but packing a single eyeliner pencil just in case is never a mistake. It takes up practically no space and can double up as a writing tool if needed.