Welcome to Tools of Travel – great to see you here!
My name is Barry, and I’m an English expat and traveller. Here’s a short little background on who I am, and what the Tools of Travel blog is all about.
I started toolsoftravel.com because I’m someone who enjoys travelling like you: I like exploring different countries, learning about the history, eating the food and yes, meeting the people.
In 2008, after plenty of planning, I sold most of my gear on eBay and boarded a flight. The first destination was nearby France, then a couple of months later was a 27+ hour flight to not so nearby Australia.
It might sound a little cheesy saying the trip changed my life – but it really did, because Australia would eventually become my home.
I try not to take myself too seriously, so I’ve approached Tools of Travel with a casual, informal tone as if we just met on a flight or around the swimming pool at a guesthouse.
Information published on the blog is for you to read as if you’re my friend, although we probably haven’t met personally (if we have then thanks for reading!). I don’t know the specifics of your history, your age, your biases, marital status, education, so; therefore, I have made the following basic assumption on why you’ve dropped by:
Like me, you like to travel.
My Travel Philosophy
I like to believe whatever you want within reason you can have in life. Sure it won’t happen overnight and it probably won’t happen next week, but it will happen.
But thinking about what you want will only take you so far and only and in the end, you will have to work harder than everyone else to make it happen.
What I realised soon after leaving the UK was that travelling is an extremely rewarding pastime. You get exposed to a wide variety of situations that most of us would never experience back at home. But it can also be demanding pastime due to the fact it takes time, effort and money.
While it’s true that frequent travelling can be expensive and many long-term travellers I’ve met use a combination of techniques that enable them to travel more. And like most skills you get better at them the more you use them.
During my own journey, I’ve always sought the find the correct path to create (and maintain) a simple but fulfilling lifestyle. One where I can accomplish my goals but still have the free time to travel often and far.
Like most, I enjoy an upgrade every now and again. Whether its a hotel room with a nice view, a better spec hire car or the holy grail of flying – the business class upgrade.
Yet I do travel on my version on a budget and I’m no stranger to Couchsurfing or saving airline reward points.
From the outside, travelling for extended periods and often can appear very complicated. So many places to go, connection flight and hotels names to remember, things to forget – or worse, carrying things that should have been forgotten.
So what gives?
Well, travelling is only as complicated as you want it to be.
I found that my life became much simpler once I was travelling slowly through different countries. Out on the road, without the distractions of home, it was easy to embrace a minimalistic and less stressful lifestyle.
Travelling has actually changed my mindset about not only the world but also my lifestyle choices.
But the dichotomy is it changed it because I allowed it too.
Having all your possessions for the next few weeks or months fit into overhead a storage locker or under a seat can be a strange feeling at first – but also a very rewarding one.
Rewarding because owning fewer things means there are fewer things to worry about.
And fewer things to worry about means you can focus more of your attention on enjoying whats around you. Taking time to enjoy what we once overlooked because we were too busy.
Decluttering Your Backpack
I regularly eliminate clutter most areas of my life physically and mentally, whether that’s at work, at home and especially travel.
Yet packing light is mythical art that only a few of us manage to master.
For the rest of us, it’s something that we struggle with every time we cram our belongings into a backpack or suitcase.
On my first big travel adventure somehow nearly everything came along with me. Everything including a mini library of eight books. Now let’s be clear, I loved to read back then and still do. But eight books?
Thank goodness I now take eBooks travelling!
In fact, any items that I packed for my 12-month trip only got used a handful of times. It didn’t take many crowded train journeys and long city walks to convince me that I was carrying way too much clutter.
The dilemma is all these items in my backpack had a function to make my life easier and what I found was carrying them around was making mine harder.
Soon or later all the accessories and spare clothes that weren’t being used on a regular basis started to disappear from my backpack. Not only did it work for my backpack but decluttering was put to use in other areas of my life too.
What from the outset looked like mission impossible ended up turning around 180 degrees in the other direction.
As well as minimising other aspects of my life my travel gear has gone from:
- 65L check-in + 30L carry-on backpack in 2008
- 46L carry-on backpack in 2012
- 34L carry-on backpack in 2018
When you travel with only a carry-on backpack there is not much, correction, there is no room for unnecessary extras that have little or no use for your travels.
From my own experiences, clothing seems to be the main area people overpack on.
Yet most towns and cities have a laundry service available nearby. Some will do the washing for you, while others might be coin-operated self-serve establishments – which by the way are a great place to meet and chat with locals.
If there are absolutely no facilities nearby or its one of those hotels that charge an arm and a leg to wash a t-shirt, then how about good old-fashioned hand washing?
One of my favourite ways is to use my large dry bag.
Besides clothing and my Ultrabook, I bring along a few possessions in my carry-on that help to make my travel life a little more comfortable.
Some items which are worth their weight in gold and I wouldn’t leave home without are:
- Barefoot running shoes + workout gear
- Travel adaptor
- Noise cancelling headphone (perfect for flying, coffee shops and even running)
- Micro travel towel
- Packable rain jacket
- USB powered keyring torch
- Flip Flops
- Underarmour Underwear
- Nalgene water bottle (doubles up as a back roller)
- Sony A6000 camera
The above are just a few of my essentials but if you want to know everything I pack check out my full carry-on packing list.
Also if you want to be the first to hear about what products I’m testing then subscribe to my newsletter.
No matter if you’re planning a travel adventure for the first time or a seasoned traveller, hopefully, you get something from this blog. Maybe I can too.
Feel free to browse around, comment, share, absorb what’s relevant to your situation and discard the rest.
Tools of Travel
P.S. if you wish to help the blog financially you can also do that by using any of the below links:
- Booking accommodation? I recommend Agoda and have been using them to book guesthouses, hotels, BnB’s, and hotels since 2011. I occasionally use Airbnb too.
- Buying something? Simply buy your goods from Amazon or Amazon UK, and I get a tiny bit back.
- Want to contribute directly? You can do so by donating to my coffee shop blog fund via this PayPal link.
No matter how small the donation is, I guarantee it will be appreciated.