Monday 2 November 2015

Asian island hopping adventures #1 - The logistics

Suitcases: Two years ago, when Trav and I decided to sell up everything we owned and travel the world, I threw out our flimsy supermarket bought suitcases in favour of investing in luggage that could withstand lots of adventurous travel over an extended period of time.

I did my research online and saw that one particular type of suitcase had come out top in a ‘suitcase survival’ survey in which ten types of suitcase were put through the kind of stresses associated with travel. In this particular trial the suitcases were even thrown off an aeroplane and crushed by a car to see if they might burst open!

I was also impressed that these roughy-toughy cases had two sections inside (ideal for keeping Trav’s dive gear separate from his clothes – although to be fair aside from a wetsuit he doesn’t actually have many clothes!) that they were easy to roll about on their four wheels and were secured with TSA approved locks. So  I bought Trav and I one each and for the past two years of our travels these cases have faithfully held and transported all our possessions – except for going AWOL a couple of times in the USA – and have performed brilliantly. I have particularly enjoyed decorating mine with stickers from all the places we have been!

Our roughy-toughy suitcases

While planning our Asian trip however, from the outset, I realised that our big hard-cased Delsey suitcases weren’t going to cut island hopping in Asia - where most of the travelling would be by boat – and by boat I don’t mean ferry.

Many of the small islands we wanted to visit in Asia are only accessible by traditional-style boats and passengers are expected to wade through thigh-high waves with their luggage before clambering on board. The same being true in reverse once you reached your destination.

Traditional long-tail boats are often used to island hop in Thailand

Most of the planning for our Asian adventure was done while we were still on the Caribbean island of Utila and although I had access to the internet I did not have any way of buying our new backpacks there. I also had the problem of what to do with our much-loved suitcases. The problem was solved when our lovely landlady on Utila offered to store our suitcases for us until we returned from our Asian trip. I was also able to buy two inexpensive, albeit rather fragile holdalls, to carry our stuff back to the UK where I had two backpacks, ordered online, awaiting our pick up.

A 'Black and Grey' backpack for Trav and a girly 'Wine-coloured' one for me!

Fully adjustable straps are important for backpack comfort and fit

The Highlander Ruckcase comes in different sizes and colours and has a detachable daypack. I found these perfect companions for our Asian Adventure

Backpacking: As with the suitcases, I did lots of research to find the right backpacks for us. When all your worldly goods are travelling with you, you need reliability and security. Trav’s dive gear doesn’t easily lend itself to the top loading style of pack so I needed ones that unzipped like a suitcase. With backpacks, I was told, you also need comfort and comfort comes from a good fit and good padding. With this in mind I soon found the right backpacks for us – they are called 'ruckcases' – and they are strong, side zip opening, fully adjustable, made in different sizes, have detachable daypacks, and are made by a company in Scotland called Highlander with a stockist very close to our hotel in Edinburgh. Yay!!

Ready to travel!

Waiting with backpacks our for our boat trip over to Krabi Thailand

In my next post I'll be choosing (agonising over!) what to pack for our four month trip to Asia!

Love, Janice xx