Eurail Day 17: Strasbourg to Frankfurt, & How to Pack for Long Term Travel
Today is another travel day! Leaving the comfort and beauty of Strasbourg and heading back into Germany! So while I’m enjoying the scenery blurring past my window, there is plenty of time to pass on some packing tips for long term travel.
I have been on the road for over 2 months now, and I have been living off of whatever I can carry on my back. This kind of life forces you to pack only what you need, with nothing superfluous, because all those extra items that you probably won’t use will just take up space in your pack and add extra weight to your load.
I have blogged before about how to pack in my Long Term Travel for the Solo Woman post, but here are more tips and advice on how to fill your backpack with the essentials without weighing down your load. And also, how to keep what you have packed safe!
What to pack
-Any promotional samples you get in the mail, hang on to them! Shampoo samples, moisturizer samples, laundry detergent samples, toothpastes, perfumes, band-aids, mouthwash, leg wax ….. We are always getting these samples in little plastic packages in the mail in North America, but we never really think to hang on to them. I have been saving all of these samples for about a year, and they are perfect for travel! They fit nicely into your bag, and after you use them, you throw them away, no large shampoo or detergent bottles to carry around! So over time, your bag actually gets lighter! The mail not withstanding, sometimes we get free samples with hair dye, at department stores, during promotional events, in shops, in the pharmacies … Pay attention to who is giving away little tiny packets of something, take them, and save them!
-Pack some plastic bags, the ordinary kind you get at grocery stores and supermarkets, the sturdier the better. After a while of travelling, these bags come in super handy when you want to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean clothes, or your wet towel separate from your dry clothes. You can wrap up any flimsy bottles with them to contain spills, and then when you go food shopping, you don’t have to pay for a bag!
-Swiss army knife: this isn’t necessary and it is super important NOT to put this in your carry-on luggage! But they do come in handy when you need to open jars, tins, and cans of food that you bought in the supermarket. They can also do everything from slicing your bread to filing your nails. So this item might be worth it for you, especially if you’re camping.
-A first aid kit. You don’t need a huge one, just some band-aids, some iodine swaths, a little round of gauze, tape, and include your medication with their original labels in here too. A few of those free samples you received in the mail of Ibuprofen or Tylenol would come in handy here.
-Extra padlocks: apart from locking up your luggage, you are going to want extra padlocks to use on any lockers at train stations or in hostels, or if you use the PAC Safe as I suggested here. Also, extra padlocks are a precaution when one of your locks break. When I was still in Thailand two months ago, one of my combination locks dropped on the floor and the combination was thus reset without my knowledge. I can now no longer open that lock, and I was using it to lock up my bags! Good thin I had extra locks.
-Always carry loo roll. Aka toilet paper. Omg you have NO idea how important this is! SO MANY restrooms in developing countries do not use western toilets, instead they use squat toilets (which is basically a hole in the ground and you need excellent aim!) So toilet paper will be scarce, if present at all, in these places. Carry it with you in your day pack, you will always have a happy tush. Also, great for blowing your nose, wiping up spills, cleaning your hands, removing makeup ….
How to keep your stuff safe
After you have packed everything, it is important to keep all that stuff safe. Padlocks and PAC safes are great, but there are also some other precautions you should take.
-Never ever put important stuff in your large checked luggage! Ever! The only things that belong in there are clothes, toiletries, and things that you can do without! No money! No cameras! No chargers for your laptop! NO LAPTOP! No passports! Nothing that is worth a sizeable amount of money.
-Once on the train, don’t let anyone on the train touch it! Sure, there are lots of nice people out there who just want to help you lift your luggage onto the luggage rack, and that is awfully kind of them. But there are also a lot of thieves. Seven years ago, I was taking a train from Venice to Nice, when an Asian couple who didn’t speak English, Italian, or French got on the train with their huge suitcases. A man offered to help them put them up top in the rack, so the Asian man handed him his suitcase, turned to get his wife’s suitcase, and the friendly stranger took off with his bag. He ran off the train, down the platform, and disappeared into the crowds. The couple stood there stunned for a bit, and really none of us knew what to do. And the man had stupidly put his money and his passport in his suitcase. That theft wasn’t his fault, of course, but I never let anyone touch my bags. I hoist my own bags up onto the racks and politely refuse help. Plus, I got muscles so I don’t need help. You should feel my muscles. FEEL.
-Prey app. This is a great new app that I only found out about a few months ago and immediately downloaded onto my iPad. If your laptop or phone is stolen, usually there is very little you can do. Sure, if you have an Apple product, you can activate the “find my phone” security app, but it’s not precise. The Prey App, on the other hand is WICKED PRECISE. Once your stuff has been stolen, you log into your account from another computer to activate the app. It runs invisible in the background so the thief doesn’t even know its there. It uses the device’s camera to take photographs of the thief and send them to you. It records every key stroke too and sends it to you, so as soon as they log into their email, their Facebook, or whatever, you have their names, their usernames, their passwords….and if you are patient, you may even find their addresses and date of birth somewhere in their accounts. Armed with all this information, you can take this to the police (make sure you filed a police report when the device was stolen), and get your stuff back, plus have the thieves put behind bars. Read this mans account of having his MacBook returned to him after using the Prey App!
-Finally, a word about your Eurail pass. You paid good money for that pass and if you lose it, it could really interrupt your travel plans, not to mention your mood! Treat your Eurail pass like money! Keep it safe and don’t let anyone near it! Don’t flash it around, and keep it in a hidden compartment in your carry-on bag. Or do like I do, keep it in your money belt under your clothes.
Here’s how I spent my money today: