CHECKLIST Being prepared for a trip is a given, but each trip requires its own set of necessities. So make sure you double check. KASHIF ALI
Travelling brings its own set of challenges, long after the backpack has been set, the gear checked and the stomach cast in iron. While one can’t control everything that might and most probably will happen on a trip, one can always prepare well. Then again, a country as diverse and vibrant as India demands you pack accordingly, with each region and activity entailing its own set of requirements. So, let’s cover the broad areas of travel and assuming that with the impending summer you will be heading to a place which falls under one of these areas, we suggest you take notes.
A sturdy backpack will be your best friend, whether on a gentle walk through the valleys or a demanding trek across the high passes; which is why, it is important to understand the difference between water proof and water resistant. Any material that is water proof will not allow water or moisture to seep in, whereas water resistant always runs the risk of seepage and in some cases, outright flooding of the backpack. Assuming you are covered on the clothing front with thermal wear and your feet are safely encased in mid-weight, ankle length hiking boots, we move on to what goes inside your water proof backpack. The first aid kit should be the first item on your list. Medication for pain, diarrhoea and altitude sickness should be top priority. A good sunscreen and if you are very particular, water purification tablets should be next on the list. Toiletries should contain toilet rolls, hand sanitizer, preferably bio degradable soap and a small towel. Rain can catch one off guard, so a small umbrella or a water proof / breathable windbreaker should do the trick. Head lamp with batteries. While they are life savers, it is also important to dispose off the batteries responsibly and not leave them lying around at campsites. And yes, a Swiss knife.
If safaris are your thing and amateur photography your poison, then the backpack changes quite considerably. There are a whole range of rucksacks which have compartments for your camera equipment and then some for items of a personal nature. Safaris demand a lot of patience and waiting to spot the ever elusive tiger soon becomes second nature. This is why, a good sunscreen lotion and mosquito repellent should be the first things to go into your rucksack. The first aid kit would change a bit, with motion sickness tablets replacing the high altitude medication. Energy dissipates fast in the heat, so make sure you carry energy drinks and the occasional banana or chocolate bar – both of which are sources of instant energy. Along with comfortable hiking/walking shoes, pack light, cotton clothes that give your body room to breathe and remember, the eye can only see so far — make sure you pack in a good pair of binoculars. So, if you are an avid bird watcher, supplement those binoculars with a suitable bird guide and you are good to go.
If camping and rainforests are two things that merge in your head, then we suggest you arrange your rucksack around two things - mosquito repellents and cotton clothes. Armed with water proof hiking boots, and while swatting at mosquitoes will seem like the only constant activity, it helps if the rucksack is light, and contains the first aid kit, head lamp with extra batteries, toiletries, and some salt to deal with those leeches. These are of course the bare essentials of what one must carry, regardless of where you go, however, do add and remove to suit your level of comfort and proficiency. But above all things else, remember to practise good and sensible eco tourism. Take little from where you go and leave behind even lesser.
On the Edge
For some people, summer compels them to seek out the nearest water body and dive in head first. Scuba diving can be a fun and adventurous way to beat the heat. However, being in the water for long periods can take its toll on the skin, so yet again, sunscreen and hydrating lotions are a must. Clothes that dry fast, which means materials like polyester are a strict no-no.
- Waterproof rucksack
- Waterproof windbreaker
- First aid kit
- Swiss army knife
- Head lamp / Extra batteries
- Local area map
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