If your bag looks like this after just a few weeks on the road, then you’ve probably failed “the great cloth-thing audition”.


“Packing a bag” is something people do for a 2-week vacation in Mauritius.

“Selecting outfits” is that other thing that happens when have two or more conflicting reasons (beach and city break) or seasons (mountain cold and beach hot) to cater for on your trip.

But “auditioning” every item in your bag, now that’s reserved for the really long haul…the three month plus expedition across more than one country (or continents) where you will cross as many climatic zones as unusual diseases

Biking, hiking, cycling, walking, beach, city, mountains, malaria and meningitis. These mismatched ideas are all vying for  a corner or side pocket in your backpack/slackpack. And they mean to get in.

So yes, I do mean audition. Before I set off i “interview” and review every item in my bag, asking them to justify/sell themselves to me.

“Why will i want to carry you up three flights of stairs?”

“What can you do for me when i am feverish in bed and unable to keep my food down?”

One use wonders don’t make the cut. Even bikinis need to dig deep and  double up as lingerie if the going gets dirty.

Neither do ones that are heavy and awkward to carry. I learnt my lesson carrying a pair of hiking boots around India for 3 months “just in case” i headed into the mountains. I dumped them two weeks before i flew home. If the activity isn’t already on your itinerary list before you leave, remind yourself that there really isn’t anything you can’t buy/borrow or rent for this “just in case” moments. For Nepal, i knew i was hiking, so yes i took the shoes and left the beach/city slicker options behind.

You also have to remind yourself that for every item you take, that’s one less gift or trinket you can buy. That hurts me deep.

So when my audition goes down, it usually gets nasty.

“Only one use? What? you’re outta here.”

My aesthetic city sensibilities come against my lesser understood practical side. It’s brutal.

You have to understand that I really hate packing purely practical items, like raincoats and big floppy hats that are made for cricket fans and twitchers.

So i work hard to marry a bit of style with function.… I’ll take a shirt dress that functions as a evening dress, day shirt and sun jacket to protect from burning. And it has to have pockets. Pockets are a trump card unto themselves.



  • Colourful summer pants should become scarves and pillows when called to task
  • Sarongs should function as carry bags, scarves, hats and towels
  • And we all know what the hippy headscarf can do…. (see previous blog)
  • As for shoes, one pair of slip slops and one closed travelling shoes will do just fine.

Around the halfway mark in my travels, I start to chuck out those paranoid medical items that your mom seems to slip in when you’re not looking. that said, mom’s also have a way of slipping in items that save you from slipping into delirium, even if dehydration or sunstroke is usually the cause.

As for my beauty bag, this is usually when I start to question why I need different creams for different parts of my anatomy and then also instruct my body wash that it will henceforth be used as shampoo, and laundry detergent for my delicates.

It’s amazing how creative you can be when your back and street cred are at stake.


cat country 2

Still musing on…

Categories: TravelVietnam

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