Story and photography by: Juvena “The Wandering Wasp” Huang
In my previous article on packing tips for motorcycle travel, I mentioned about surviving with 3 to 4 sets of clothes, finding multiple uses for items and securing stuff. In this article, I will delve into the details of what I use on a day to day basis.
My mobile washing machine comprises a few things.
- 5L dry bag
- Laundry Brush
- Laundry Bar
- Microfibre Towel
- Pegless Clothes Line
Small dry bag as Portable Washing Machine
I spent the late autumn in North Pakistan where heating amenities are not regularly available due to load shedding. For those lucky ones who have never experienced a blackout, it is a deliberate cut of power supply so that the generation system is not overloaded.
There, water is freezing cold by default! Hot/warm water is a luxury. I would not waste warm water on laundry. No electricity means no washing machine too. Handwashing clothes with cold water really hurts the hands. Here is what you can do.
Mini Laundry Brush
Personally I prefer s laundry bar over liquid concentrate. First, it cost only 40cents at Fairprice, Second, it is very very concentrated, you can get many more washes out from this 40cents laundry bar than the same volume of liquid concentrate.
Sometimes, you find even better products overseas, like this Clear & White Multipurpose soap bar (right) I chanced upon in the Balkans. It has been my soap of choice for everything – dishwashing, laundry and bodywash.
It is compact and holds up your clothes well. You can either loop it around any support or use the strong suction cups to anchor it on any smooth surfaces e.g. tiled walls, mirrors. While camping, I tie one end around a tree and the other on my scooter.
You can get these on EBay, search for “Pegless Clothesline” and there are different lengths available. I prefer shorter ones because you need to stretch the long ones out well to hold your clothes up.
If my clothes do not dry by the time I leave for the next destination, I will place them in my mesh bag and strap it to the top of my box and ride. The sun and wind will help in the drying.
DITCH THAT BULKY 3-PIN PLUG!
I have never used the UK version of 3-pin plug after leaving Southeast Asia. Bringing 3-pin plugs is just redundant bulk.
Most of our electronic gadgets, mobiles, POV cameras and powerbanks are recharged through USB ports. Bringing a universal travel adapter with integrated USB ports is a better choice for the space conscious. However, I do not recommend using this with appliances that require insulating pins. You are not going to bring an electric kettle or toaster, are you?
And since you have the travel adaptor, you might as well just bring cables with more compact 2-pin plugs. This is what I mean
For example, my MacBook charging cable comes with attachments for regular 3-pins or flatter 2-pins. I’ll use the 3-pin at home but for travel, I switch to the flatter 2-pin attachment because it is more compact, plus I can fold the pins in.
Or you can also use the 2 pin Figure 8 power cable commonly used for charging camera batteries for your laptop too… Tada… It works.
It may seem like these only help to save a little space, but it makes a difference if you have many electronic gadgets to charge.
Toothpaste and soap, you can get most stuff easily on the road. Except for ear picks as a friend Goh told me.
After spending almost a year around Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, I am a convert for using water or bidet. It is much cleaner. If you are not a convert, bring your own Toilet Paper!
For the ladies, tampons can be difficult to find in conservative countries where virginity is highly valued and still tagged to an intact hymen. Stock up on tampons or consider using a menstrual cup. I will probably write a separate article on the different sanitary options for travelling.
Sleeping Bag Liner (if you camp)
Sleeping bag liners are often made from silk. It lines the inside of sleeping bags to increase insulation. Even in hot weather, the material renders a very cooling and smooth surface to lay on. With a sleeping bag liner, the sleeping bag does not have to be washed too often, just the sleeping bag liner which is far lighter, easier to wash and quick drying .
This will not help with the weight but it will help to make space in your luggage. This is especially useful when you have bulky winter clothes. Do not keep your winter clothes or sleeping bags compressed for prolonged storage. The insulating air pockets in the clothes and sleeping bags may be forced out permanently, rendering it useless for insulation.
Most of the compression bags in the market are cylindrical in shape. This shape however, is not space efficient and not stack-able for backpacks and boxes. The cuboid shape is friendlier for stacking and therefore more space efficient for most luggage and panniers. Only Granite Gear makes them in this shape. They offer waterproof options as well.