I’m in the pinterest-addicted, blog-reading, advice-absorbing, hecticly organising stage, 10 days before I fly solo to South-East Asia for the first time. I have a checklist and a to-do list that are both being hapharzardly ignored while I instead think about making a carrot cake and heading to the gym to burn off said cake…because, you know, bikinis.
In fairness, I’m not worried at all. My first 3 weeks I’m on a G-Adventures tour around Thailand, Laos and Cambodia during which everything is organised in advance and if I haven’t packed something, I’m sure I’ll be able to buy it somewhere, probably for cheaper than here! After this I have a few days before I meet my brother for another, slightly slower 3 weeks in Cambodia and the Thai islands to eat, drink and go diving.
I think I have my packing list honed, stripped and efficient. I’ve got to carry it around on my back so realistically I can’t pack the kitchen sink and my GHD’s (as much as I’m tempted). Honestly the hardest thing is finding a decent swimsuit for a lanky 5ft 9 girl living in Kent in January but I won’t get into that.
Anyway, I have to say I wouldn’t be half as confident I didn’t have access to the plethora of fantastic travel blogs and resources out there so here is a list of my favourites that have helped inspire my trip, quell my worries and advise on packing, planning and preparation:
- This Battered Suitcase – Beautifully written and photographed, Canada-born Brenna updates while she travels all over the world. After 8 nomadic years she now lives in London and continues to profit her travelling tips, lists and ideas to eager readers.
- Adventurous Kate – Another solo female backpacker, Kate quit normal life and created a dreamy blogging business. Above all, from chili-eating to shipwrecks, Kate writes fantastic stories of situations that only an open-minded, full-time traveller would find themselves thrown into.
- Nomadic Matt – This blog is a lifesaver summed up perfectly by his tagline ‘Travel better. Cheaper. Longer.’ Based on personal experience Matt comprehensively covers all aspects of long-term travel and when he hasn’t done it himself, he brings in a guest expert to fill in the gaps. Hence everyone, male or female can benefit from this site. Also see Bunch of Backpackers.
- Travel Fashion Girl – Why leave behind your personal style just because you’re travelling long-term? Why adopt the quintessential ‘backpacker look’ just because everyone else has? This blog gives practical advice on how to look and feel yourself without over-packing. Often the products featured are a little overpriced but its crazy useful as a guide either way.
- My Pinterest Travel Board – A link to my travel page, but you need only type in your destination or problem to the main homepage and pinterest will bombard you with infographics, resources and pretty Tumblr pictures of whatever you search. It’s easy to use and whatever you find and want to refer back to you can pin to a board to find again or show others. I warn you though it’s soooooo addictive. I can spend hours researching recipes and holidays, plan outfits and make shopping lists. The possibilities are endless.
- Seat 61 – Essential! Flying is fast for sure, but sometimes either for convenience or sight-seeing terrestrial travel is the way to go. But trains can be unreliable and routes can be hard to plan. The Man in Seat 61 advises on train and ferry travel across the world, helps book tickets, plan routes and figure out the cheapest fares!
And if in doubt, I sweat by a good, recent guidebook like Lonely Planet. Sure they’re often sponsored and hence biased, luring tourists to the more predictable spots but if you’re new to a place that’s what you need to know right? You’re not going to visit somewhere for the first time and ignore the stunning tourist hot spots because they’re ‘too obvious’ (that is just too hipster.)
Be prepared, do the research but most of all have fun. Spontaneity is every prepared backpacker’s best pal.