Backpacker's Edition: A few of my favorite things

Tasmania, 2012

Here are a few (favorite)things I've learned to always pack when I go backpacking (in or out of the country):

  • International phone (unlocked with sim card capability)
  • Camera (if you don't already have one on your phone or prefer to use film or higher quality digital).
  • Long cotton scarf or piece of fabric (useful as a blanket, head scarf, skirt, dress, towel, beach blanket, sun shade, etc.).
  • Bathing suit
  • Extra luggage space or small packable duffle bag you can use to check a bag with souvenirs on the way home
  • Backpack with a waist strap that is legal carry-on size
  • Rain jacket
  • GPS with base maps of country/area
  • hiking shoes/sandals and great socks
  • Quality sunscreen (small bottle)
  • A good book and a snicker's bar (my husband's suggestions when asked. He swears the snicker bar has "saved his life in the past")

Mojave Desert, 2008

best travel advice...  
don't over-pack
worst travel advice... 
this bus only takes 24 hours

Camping I've done that is....

Winter camping in
Yosemite National Park, California
Most humid: 
Big Pine Key, Florida in the summer-time
Tasmania in (their) spring
Mojave Desert, Nevada in the spring
Daintree Rainforest, Australia (anytime)


Most beautiful....
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  • Upper Peninsula, Michigan
  • Yosemite National Park, California
  • Badlands, South Dakota
  • Mojave Desert, Nevada
  • Cocoa Beach, Florida
  • Big Sur (Beach), California
  • Great Ocean Road, Southern Australia

Award for the most intense place I've ever camped: 
Cotonou, Benin 
This was actually taken in Niamey, Niger in the Sahel right before we left for Benin, 2009.
Sadly, I have no photos from our trip from Niger to Togo through Benin which was supposed to be
 a 24-hour bus ride. Everyone on that bus got the "camping memo" except us. It took us
3 days to get to Togo. We camped twice in Benin and got stuck at the border in Togo
trying to cross into Ghana. This is a story for another time. 

To be continued.....

Advice for females backpacking in Africa...

Wear clothes that cover your knees (always) and cover your head when traveling in a muslim area. When in doubt, dress as conservative as possible. Pants are not considered conservative, long skirts are more appropriate. I always travel with that yellow dress you see above this photo. I had it made when I was living in Ghana. You can easily get a skirt or dress made when you arrive. From my experience, they have incredible seamstresses in Africa.

Packing advice for cold weather or winter camping....
  • under 20 degree down sleeping bag
  • fleece, hat, gloves, wool socks, 
  • silk long underwear
  • Nalgene (fill up with boiling water and place at the bottom of your sleeping bag)
  • camp stove
For wet/cold weather....

***try to pack as much synthetic fiber clothing as possible***
 Winter camping in Yosemite National Park, California, 2008
Yosemite National Park, 2008
Camping on the beach in Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, 2012
Badlands National Park, South Dakota, 2007
Zion National Park, Utah, 2007
Bottom of the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 2007

Hiking out of the Grand Canyon. My husband switched socks with me, 
because I had packed horrible hiking socks. Hard lesson learned. 
Fell more in love with my husband on this trip.
Mojave Desert, 2008
with friends.
When we worked and lived together in the desert as wildlife biologists, 2008
My husband (then boyfriend), Mojave Desert, 2008

Mojave Desert, 2008

We never travel anywhere without... lighter/matches & knife
(you can't carry these items on the plane, so buy it if you have to when you get to where you are going)

Happy Backpacking!