Overland Traveller

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The Overland Traveller overland travel checklist (Page 2)

The open road, Nubra valley, India © Craig FastPadlock and chain
A healthy does of paranoia goes a long way. Use a chain to lock your bag to the top of a bus or to the luggage rack of a train when you want to snooze, or secure the room door in dodgy hotels or sleeper trains. At the very least, it’ll act as a deterrent and give you peace of mind. If you must bring anything valuable or sentimental, keep it close to you at all times.

Paper and pen
When language and charades fail you, remember that whole conversations can be had using the humble pen and paper. It’s an earnest form of Pictionary. I couldn’t speak a word of Russian to the man I shared a berth with on the Trans-Siberian, but by the time he got off I knew he was 42, happily married with two kids, lived in the far north of Russia where he drilled holes in the ice to fish through for entertainment and he liked vodka. (The Pictionary wasn’t necessary for learning the latter; it was obvious.)

Headscarf/shawl
Travel can be a windy, dusty experience. If your bus/train/jeep/camel isn’t air conditioned, it’s guaranteed that most of the windows will be wide open – an unconditional invitation to fumes, dust and insects. Carry a headscarf or shawl to keep your face grime free, prevent your hair from whipping your eyes and protect your nostrils from some highly offensive smells.

Entertainment
Let’s face it, at times overland travel can be dead boring: even Siberia becomes just a vast expanse of grey tundra when you’ve been travelling through it for three days. When the view fails you, make sure you’ve got a good book (or three), plenty of juice on your iPod or a task to complete; learn a language, write a short story, just do something to stop your brain turning to mush and one day fading too much into the next.

Reusable bag
Environmentally friendly and practical. It’s always handy to have a spare bag on your person. Whether you need it to carry snacks and water or just to keep your pillow, gaffer/duct tape, padlock and chain, paper and pen, headscarf/shawl and book in, this is one thing I never leave behind.

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Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010