Where is Vietnam? Lightweight travel tips.
When I go car camping (which I do often), I bring all I can with me. Water, ice chest, stove, mountain bike, climbing gear, skateboard, crash pads and camera gear. This has been my method since just about everywhere you travel there are many different things to do… and I have a really hard time sitting down and relaxing.
This winter I’m planning to travel through Vietnam and Laos in Indo-China, also know as Southeast Asia. What do I know about traveling through these countries? Not much. I have been reading blogs about traveling in different parts of the country, the must-see locations, and searching for all known climbing destinations. It’s looking to be around 70F near Hanoi during the day with 65% humidity. I have heard from people who have been to the North that it is cold in the winter – “Bring layers” they say. Colder temps can’t be that bad for climbing, unlike in Tonsai, Thailand where the humidity almost spit you off.
So this past winter I traveled through Thailand and Cambodia on a 7 week journey. During that time, I fine tuned my backpack for travel along the way. It’s not the lightest, but I can carry it fairly comfortably on my back (and take it as a carry-on on the plane) when I’m traveling around the country. This past trip I used a Deuter ACT Lite 50 + 15 liter pack (that’s 65 liters total, the extra 15 is a sleeve). This is my primary backpack that fits everything I need. Attached to the outside are compression straps that the Deuter Speed Lite 30 fits perfectly into. This pack has some modifications so I could make it fit. To make it easier to roll and attach to the outside of the ACT, I cut the top of the supportive frame (a single looped frame), and then filed and taped the remaining sides. Doing so leaves a still supportive and easy-to-roll pack.
HOW TO PACK
Bottom Layer: (climbing gear)
- 60 meter 9.4 Bluewater dynamic climbing rope (I find a single coil is the best for space)
- 18 quickdraws (some shoulder length slings and a double length sling for belays)
- Locker w/ BD Guide, Locker w/ Gri Gri 2 (Comfy belays at the crag, or for multi-pitch)
- Two extra lockers (belays, use w/ BD Guide)
- Bag of Chalk (Avg. 3 blocks, crushed) It’s expensive to buy chalk in SE Asia
- Climbing shoes (I prefer a pair of 5.10 Anasazi VCS, perfect for limestone and some Moccasyms incase of DWS)
My shoes of choice for this trip are the Fiveten Aescents, while on the plane and traveling around. They are super durable, light and comfortable for walking miles on roads and mountains.
This takes up about the lower half of the the space in the pack.
The next layer is formed like a donut. No doubt that climbing gear adds some weight, but to be a carry-on, remember it has to be under 50 pounds. When I fly, I use the Speed Lite 30 for the important gear and to shift a bit of that weight (electronics, books, food, water).
So, back to the Second Layer:
- all clothes are carefully rolled tightly and put into a Vargo Driseal bag (25 Liter). This bag can be used for clothes (compressed with the valve) and for keeping your gear dry on kayak trips. Once this is filled and the air is out, it fits along the back, creating a donut hole for your other gear to drop into.
- Gear bag with toiletries
- Gear bag with books, extra journal, pens… I have been using the Pilot G-2 10pt. The best for lasting a long time.
This leaves you with the 15 Liter flap that is not used. This will be used later when you gather items on your travels.
The top flap contains toilet paper, first aid kit and other things that thieves (who will go through your pack unknowingly) will not care for.
Keep your money and passport on you at all times, this all goes for things like your iPod, headphones and anything valuable. NEVER leave these items in your room.
Other Travel Tips :
I will be traveling with an Ipod Touch. I just picked up this awesome device and can’t wait to put it to use. It only works with wi-fi if you needed to do so, but can also allow you to watch movies, listen to music on trains, planes and buses.
Some Must have Apps:
Whatsapp : This app allows you to text for free using wifi anywhere in the world, and send pictures or videos. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with friends you meet while traveling and makes it easy to connect in new cities. Ipod will not allow you to upload, but watch this to learn how to upload… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDOR9GyXPxc
CityMaps2Go : No internet (wifi) needed. You will need wifi to upload the maps of the areas you are traveling to. This gives you an up-to-date map of the city or country you are traveling, and allows you to find hostels, restaurants, bus stations, etc. This past year I walked many miles through side streets in Bangkok using this app. It allowed me to see the back streets of the city and save some money on taxi’s.
Pick your music wisely, because you will be listening to it over and over.
As far as I know, Facebook is banned from Vietnam, but Instagram I believe is not.
TripAdvisor : This is an important app to find clean hostels with good recommendations. I am a huge fan of this app because real people write reviews, so they say.
These are just a few things that help start the ball rolling… what you make of the trip is always a mystery. Learn as you go, enjoy all experiences and always remember you are a guest. Learn the local language, meet great people and take tons of photos.
Author: Eric Odenthal, Core Ambassador