I cannot really define which item is more important during travelling or whether anything is necessary at all.
I have met travelers, who carry almost nothing. Looking at them, I think I do not really have enough skills for that yet. However, I am confident that with my skills developing my luggage will become lighter.
Based on all of this, I am creating the list of items, which I do not necessarily need but carry them anyway:
The tent is the heaviest item. I have often thought that I would be much lighter without it. In fact, it is possible to get a good night stay anywhere, at least finding some shelter or ruins; not even mentioning the stations, kind hosts or religious buildings here.
However, on the other hand, once you become weary of crowd and need some solitude, the tent turns into a crucial item. It feels nice to “open” the house in the middle of a forest or remote places. There were times, when I had even provided shelter there.
The clothes usually tell a lot about the style of travelling you are undertaking. Mine – torn and faded from the miles I walk – are keeping the burglars away from me. I usually have only a single change of clothes, so whenever I wash, I put on the clothes from another season.
Well, it is difficult to remain always clean but it is necessary, especially if you are a guest. Just when you have to live in snow and in the desert, you cannot really afford putting two pairs of clothes for each season and overloading your bag.
The bag is a house you carry on your back. It is a nice feeling, when everything you need is with you. For example, my luggage takes up 48 liters. The bag that holds everything for you to survive emits a strange feeling of freedom. I do not have a friend closer so I try to keep a good eye on it. However, I am always ready to continue my journey without it in case of any robbery.
I never leave money or documents in the bag. Taking good care of these items is a separate profession. In some countries, losing your passport, insurance card and money can be equal to life imprisonment, trafficking or even death.
My sleeping bag is designed for all seasons and takes up half of the bag. I got it twenty years ago and it served well even for two persons at 5000 meters. I still think that it is better to travel with a new and more expensive sleeping bag at least for the sake of a lighter weight.
It does not take up much weight and place; however, I am always hesitant to carrying a kit in which I cannot recognize half of the drugs.
One of my traveler friends warned me that I would need them soon after throwing away; so, perhaps it is better to learn more about medications.
You definitely have to be able to provide first aid to others or yourself, before you can reach the hospital or contact your insurer.
Therefore, staying in touch with the outside world can be the most difficult thing and the solar charging panel, numberless cables and a power saving battery take up a large part of the bag. There is a camera and a phone too. It is better not to have them on display all too often. Soon, I realized that I did not want to get in trouble because of my pricy toys. I covered the surfaces of glossy items with a white medical tape, which soon became dirty making the items less attractive for strangers. Thus, the medical kit I carried found its purpose.
My medical kit includes water filter that can purify water with any level of contamination making it safe to drink. However, I usually drink the same water the locals do. It is risky but it creates trust. It is better to have an upset stomach for two-three days before being accustomed than to make them feel that you are different in any way, or that you do not trust them. However, while in wilderness, it is better to insure yourself and use the water purifying tablets.
I always carry a knife to protect my luggage and myself, especially if I am traveling with a girl... The point is that the travelers prefer to wander together only because they feel safer this way. Loneliness is sometimes boring, while you are likely to have more adventures as a couple or a small group, you take more photos and locals are usually less worried seeing a couple than some lonely, messy traveler.
Sometimes, it is worth all the risks to be with somebody else and to share the emotions... There is nothing better than to have a travelling partner. Especially, when you are not on a low budget and you can afford paying for a bus and a cheap guesthouse. During such times, danger is at its minimal, probably as much as in one’s home country.
However, when you are alone, you should be able to protect yourself by any means. I have met the travelers that buy illegal weapons in South American territories to protect themselves while crossing the country. For me, they belong to the group of daredevils for whom even the imprisonment would be part of a journey and adventure.
In order to carry whatever is in the bag for a longer time, you we need to have good pair of shoes. I was lucky as my friend gave me best kind of sports shoes. It allowed me to walk hundreds of kilometers. It is a fact, I am 5-6 thousand kilometers away from home and have already walked in rain, snow, through the desert, swamps and glaciers. I am very lucky with friends.
I would not be able to either plan my journey or get on the road if there were not my friends. I have gathered all of the items I have mentioned with the help of these very friends, they saw me off and gave me the sea of energy. Then I met even more friends along the way and many friends from Georgia, some of them even unknown, expressed their desire to help – finding shelter for me in other countries, getting me out of troubles or helping me financially.
That is how I got here - the Center of the Indian Himalayas. Here are the Himalayas from both sides and the mountain slopes protect us from the monsoon clouds.
Yesterday I returned from the most important expedition. I had a great chance of being stuck at the 6200 meters up in the mountains. However, after surviving the avalanches, we still managed to climb to the peak and back with peace. Still with the help of friends and their support.
Perhaps, if someone asks me what is necessary for travelling, I would answer passport, good insurance and friends. If you have all three of them, you will never get lost.
Text – Irakli Gujabidze