Currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand (06/12/2013) - 31200km cycled

4 Jun 2013

10 small things to consider taking

Posted by Will

- Whistle. Light as a feather and potentially extremely useful. I use it mainly as my ‘protection’ in the tent. If you get any unwanted attention from anybody you can scare them away with this. It may sound useless but it acts very much like a house alarm. Also good for keeping away wild animals that might bother you in the night, particularly dogs. In my opinion much better protection than something like a knife. I’ve never had to use the whistle this way but it gives me some peace of mind. Can also be used to alert other members of a group in front if you have a problem.

p1060785-800- Emergency money necklace. Something I never would have taken if I hadn’t been given it as a present at the last minute. Now, I always have it around my neck. This is a tiny metal pouch that can hold one money bill. If your bike is ever stolen along with all your luggage you have some money to fall back on. Similarly, if you’re ever unlucky enough to be robbed of everything on the road, the thieves are unlikely to see this invisible stash. I found another reason for wearing it as well. When I cycled through Iraq I fell hard off my bike straight onto my chest. The metal took all the impact and my body came away unscathed.

- Chapstick. I always advise taking it. The elements will destroy your lips at times.

- PLB device. I hadn’t heard of one of these until my friends clubbed together to give me one. A Personal Location Beacon is a one-use GPS unit that can beam out a powerful signal if you ever get in trouble. It can locate you to within 2m anywhere in the world. It sits at the bottom of my bag to be used if I ever get stuck in a desert without water or stuck up a mountain without shelter. Upon use, rescue services in your home country are obliged to contact the nearest rescue team to help you out. A clever device with a large price tag.

- Pen Drive. Applicable even if you don’t have a computer. Always useful for storing documents, images and other files you gain or are sent on the road. Can be plugged in at any internet cafe. Good for taking scans from copyshops too.

P1050541-800- Business Cards. Probably my no.1 tip. Carry a bunch of these at the bottom of your panniers and a few in your wallet for more reasons than you can count on your fingers. Give something back to the people who are kind to you, forget having to rummage around your bags for a pen and paper to write down contact details, promote your trip or website, impress potential sponsors or the media, seem like the real-deal if that’s your angle. ┬áCheck out my full-length ‘travelling with business cards‘ post.

- Duct Tape. Very useful when either your bike or gear has a problem. It’s only a temporary fix but it should give you the kilometres you need to get to a repair shop.

- Backpack. My pannier system consists of two front panniers, two back panniers and a large travel backpack that lies across the rear rack. Once the numerous straps are tied up and it is covered with a waterproof liner it works as a very effective baggage solution. Of course, you then have the flexibility to leave your bike somewhere and go off trekking or bussing (I made great use of this in Turkey and Iran). Act like a bike tourist or a backpacker depending on how you feel!

- Compass. It’s usually hanging around my neck whether I’m cycling, city-walking or sleeping. It helps with directions, of course, makes travelling into and around an unfamiliar city a lot easier, is essential for hiking, lends an adventure-chic to the vain traveller and even means you can turn a lost faithful to the direction of Mecca. Some smart people in the bicycle industry have come up with a tiny one that sits on your handlebars with a bell incorporated. ┬áHave a look at my ‘finding the way on a bicycle‘ post for more details.

p1060398-800- Photo of home and family. After where I’ve come from and where I’m going, the most constant point of interest amongst locals is my family. A picture tells a thousand words, especially when there’s a language barrier. People usually really appreciate seeing my closest back home. And there’s a pragmatic element too: locals may warm to you faster when shown a visual image of your commitment to family.

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