October 11 2008 by Neal Mueller
In 2002 I set out to climb the tallest mountains on every continent. During my adventures around the world I found myself needing the same things over and over and over again.
10 items to bring on your next adventure:
- Baseball hat - sometimes it's easier to grab a lid than a shower.
- Audio book - allow you read a book without missing the view. Audible.com and Itunes.com have the best selection.
- Unassuming watch - you want the date and time but you don't want to attract unneeded attention. Tangential tip: if you visit the Masai in Tanzania they will happily buy your watch for gorgeous handmade objects.
- Headlamp - useful in dim trains and dank tents. The ZIPKA Plus by Petzl is portable and cheap. This tiny headlamp was bright enough to guide me up the tallest mountain in South America, and reliable enough to help me change a flat on my Jeep.
- Tilley hat - they block the sun, make you feel like Indiana Jones, and if it blows off Tilley will replace it free.
- Disposable camera - this never-fail option will ensure you don't miss any critical Kodak moments. When my main camera failed I used a disposable camera to take my summit pictures on Everest; lucky I brought it!
- Repair kit - duct tape, needle, thread, scissors - stuff breaks and this little kit will fix most of it. This kit came in handy when my friend Gary got a 1" blister on Mount McKinley - it was awful. We patched that ugly sucker with Kleenex and duct tape.
- Med kit - begins with a small kit from Adventure Medical Kits and add regional meds to it. Here a few meds that I seem to bring frequently. Advil is always good anti-inflammatory if your trip involves lots of walking. Ciprofloxacin is a good broad-spectrum anti-biotic to cure exposure to bad water or "Delhi belly". Diamox can helps acclimatize to altitude faster. Dramamine can help you find your sea legs. Mefloquine prevents malaria and will give you the most vivid dreams of your life as a side effect. Also, bring your immunization card with you in case you get real sick in-country.
- Meal kit - instant oatmeal, granola bar, tuna fish, mayonnaise. A tiny and readymade meal that you can trust. This kit came in handy for me when I was in Tanzania where sometimes the food-borne bacteria are unfriendly to foreigners.
- Luxury item. This is a strictly personal item. It's the one item you're allowed to bring even though it's heavy and unpractical. My luxury item is a Canon digital SLR camera. My friend Isaac brings the bible. My sister brings her fancy shampoo. To each their own.
5 items to forget on your next adventure:
- Laptop - either there will be internet cafes (which are a must-see cultural melting pot in most cities) or you won't have electricity to power that laptop.
- Traveler's checks - ATM cards work equally well with less hassle.
- Membership cards - just write the numbers on a single sheet to save space/weight.
- Fanny pack - just say no.
- Conspicuous clothing - my goal during any adventure is to see new places and learn something about the people who live there. The best way to do this is to blend-in and observe. I wear matte clothes with earth tones and I avoid any writing or brands on my clothes. I find that this small bit of anonymity helps me discover wonderful things that I wouldn't otherwise discover.
Talk to us. What items are must-have and must-have-nots in your adventure travel sack?