Tuesday, 17 May 2011

10 items you should not travel without

Deciding on what to take along when you go backpacking can be really difficult. You’ll find yourself sitting in front of a pile of clothes that you really want to take with you but can’t fit into your backpack. No matter how much you decide to take along, make sure you’ve got room for these 10 items you should not leave home without!

1.) Passport
When you travel outside of your home country, you have to take your passport along. Make sure you’ve got all the visas you need for your trip and always know where your passport is! Your passport has to be valid for the entire length of your trip.

2.) Pocket knife
Although you’re not supposed to carry a pocket knife in your hand luggage when you fly, it makes sense to take one along on your travels. You might feel safer with it. Every pocket knife has tweezers, a toothpick and a bottle-opener built into it, so it’s perfect!

3.) Toothbrush
Personal hygiene is extremely important, and a toothbrush does not take up a lot of space. You can even use it when you run out of toothpaste.

4.) Toilet paper
How often do you go to public restrooms only to find that there’s no paper left? Take a roll of tissue paper around with you, just in case.

5.) Cotton sleep sheet
Basically, this is a thin cotton sleeping bag. It does not take up a lot of space and is light weight. It can serve as a sleeping bag or extra sheet, as well as a blanket. Besides, you never know who slept in that dorm bed before you.

6.) Hand sanitizer
Take it from me – there is never any soap when you need it! A drop of hand sanitizer is enough to kill 99.9% of all germs, so a small bottle should last you for a while. It’s also useful when you can’t get your campfire started – hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and therefore burns quite well. Tip for the ladies: when starting a campfire, you might also try burning tampons.

7.) Sarong
This is the most practical and useful thing you can take along on your travels! You can use sarongs as skirts, dresses, beach towels, scarves, blankets, sleep sheets, roll them up as a pillow or use it to cover up bare shoulders when you step into churches or temples. I’m sure you can think of even more uses for it, so take one along.

8.) Torch
Whether you decide to camp or stay in a dorm room, a torch always comes in handy. Your camp site might not have lights everywhere, and finding your way to the showers and toilets after dark can be tricky, especially when you have to navigate around other tents as well as rain-tarp ropes. And switching on the main light in your dorm at night will wake up all your fellow travellers.

9.) Comfortable shoes
Let’s face it: blisters on your feet are the last thing you need. Consider where you are going – you do not want to run through cobblestone streets in high heels. Chucks should do the trick just fine and you can go hiking in them or stroll through the big city. Alternatively, pack Flip Flops, as you can wear them nearly everywhere.

10.) Camera
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get some great holiday photos. It does not have to be a very good and high-tech camera, throw-away cameras or point-and-shoots are fine for snapshots. Make your friends jealous and show them what a blast you had on your travels.

These essential items all fit into the corners and side pockets of your backpack, and they don’t take up a lot of space. Some of these items may be really obvious like the passport, others might sound a bit ridiculous to you, but you’d be amazed how often you find yourself in situations in which you really need them but don’t have them because you didn’t bring them along. So have them handy when you travel– it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Be a Shoestring contributor!


Fancy yourself a travel writer or photographer? Have you had a Gap Year / Career break or backpacking experience that opened your eyes and you'd love to share it? Then you're in the right place!

I'm always looking for contributors and reviewers for Shoestring! Next to features about your experiences and sound advice, I am also looking for reviews of travel books and gear, as well as simple but tasty local recipes!

I'm currently looking for stories to go into issues #5 and #6. The July issue will deal with all things festival, hippie/alternative and generally outdoors, so if you have a summer story, I'd like to hear about it.

Please have a look at the contributor guidelines before you send story proposals! Please come up with a specific topic or angle, not just a country. Please also state whether you would have photos to go along with your story - you have been there and know what it looks like, while I might have to search for photos online without exactly knowing what they should look like.

Contribution is voluntary, as Shoestring is a free and ad-free magazine. But you will get to share your experience with like-minded travellers and maybe even inspire someone else's Gap Year!

Interested? Send an email with your story idea to editor@shoestring-magazine.com

I'm looking forward to hearing about your travel stories soon.

Happy Travels, everybody!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Shoestring Language Lesson in French

The latest language lesson from Shoestring issue #4!

Have fun in France, people!