So lately I have been hitting up all the travel blogs and all my traveler friends to boil down the ultimate packing list. It will have to see me through the cold, cold Northern Europe winter, and then seven months of unplanned adventure. The main advice to come out of this research is to pack light and pack smart. Only take clothes that are versatile and easy wearing. Only pack items with high utility value. Seeing as I won’t be heading off until January 29, I still have a month and a half to scrutinize and inevitably alter my packing list. So instead of giving you a well researched packing list that I probably won’t end up sticking to myself, here are five key essentials that no limitation on space and common sense can stop me from bringing…
Bullet Journal and Notebook
For those who don’t know about the bullet journal, it’s essentially a DIY life planner that works great for people who constantly find themselves making lists and jotting notes etc. down on loose paper. You start with a blank notebook, and following the guidance of the adaptable bullet journal system (Google it), you can plan out your months, weeks, days, along with any events, thoughts, goals, plans, lists and ideas that may enter your brain. I already have a series of pages dedicated to the locations I intend to visit, where I am noting down the advice the internet and real-life friends are giving me. I also use it to track money, which will be an absolute necessity when travelling. The blogs also tell me to bring a notebook to keep a travel diary, so I’m bringing a second notebook along too.
Laptop and Unlocked Cellphone
Pretty reasonable travel essential. Technology has revolutionized the way we see the world. There are so many necessary apps and websites that I can’t imagine getting by a year without, for both study and exploration. My year away is ideally about going out and experiencing new things, meeting new people and seeing all that the world has to offer. And, while it’s fun to imagine this as guided by spontaneous adventure, how I travel, where I go and what I do will inevitably be the product of extensive online research.
Diana Mini Camera
So hipster. But so much fun. Every now and again I’ll bring an analogue camera along to an outing and take some quick, sporadic snaps. It takes a few months to finish a roll of film, which means that when I eventually get the film developed, it has a beautifully random and candid assortment of memories. I have a small collection of film cameras, out of which the Diana made the final cut because it is small, light, basic and durable. What’s more, the exposure sometimes is a little off, which distorts the images in various ways. Often the colours come out much richer or hazier than they actually were. So, while my phone will be put to work in full tourist mode while I’m away, the Diana will make the trip as well.
The main thing I’m nervous about travelling to the Netherlands is the cold. Amsterdam will be at its coldest when I arrive, and I want to be prepared. Because I am sticking to the mantra of packing light, my lovely winter coat and thick, warm jumpers aren’t going to be around to keep me toasty. Instead I’m opting for wool and merino, which are effective at keeping in the warmth while also being light and breathable. With this in mind I am making the most of the winter clothing sales on right now and stocking up on merino layers of every description. I was also able to score some epic deals courtesy of my friend’s staff discount at Macpac, so now there is nothing from stopping me from exploring the city in negative degrees.
The main rule of travel fashion is stay basic, compact, and stay away from wacky everyday pieces, as you soon get tired of wearing them. Unfortunately, my personal fashion style tends to stray in the opposite direction. My wardrobe is filled with large statement tops, all of which have acquired some sort of sentimental story (#hoarder). While I’m fully aware that these are not the type of items I see on any travel blogger’s Ultimate Packing List, I can’t imagine going a year without them. So rules be damned, at least some of them are coming with me. Sometimes you just gotta find out what you’ll regret for yourself.