Buying Supplies

The last week has been a maddening blur!

Goodbyes, packing, writing, photo shoots, more goodbyes…

Amidst all the madness and seemingly non-stop errand running, I did manage to finally do one of my favorite pre-travel activities:

Buying supplies.

I made my once-yearly appearance at a Wal-Mart here (a frightening prospect when you see the people that roam the aisles at 4 a.m!) and managed to spend over a hundred dollars on supplies for this upcoming trip.

Although an $800 ticket is sitting nestled in my inbox, the fact that I am leaving the country for six months doesn’t really hit home until I do my supply run. Just filling the basket with things that I am going to need for the coming months seems to drive home the fact that YES – I am getting on a plane soon.

As much as I enjoy pre-trip shopping, I am an advocate of buying whatever you can locally at your first destination.  Not only are you helping an economy/family that needs it (more so than the Wal-mart CEO anyway) chances are that the stuff you buy will be cheaper.

Things I DO buy at home rather than abroad:

  • Sunscreen: If the locals are brown where you are going, it will probably be ancient and expensive to buy.
  • Deodorant: Also very expensive. Axe, the only brand you can find in Thailand, doesn’t work anyway.
  • Drink mix: After six months of drinking 4 – 6 liters of water a day to replace sweat, you would want some flavor too!
  • Shaving supplies: Asian men don’t have to worry about looking like ZZ Top after one week of not shaving.
  • Misc items: Some things such as vitamins, face wipes, dental floss, a nice journal, and batteries you just can’t easily find when abroad.
  • 100% DEET spray: Yes, it will melt your skin, but it does a hell of a job on the nasty things you encounter in Southeast Asia.

Throw in purchases such as fuel stabilizer for long-term parking my truck, snacks, Lithium batteries for the camera, etc, and suddenly I just spent five days worth of living expenses.

My tab went over $100 because I finally broke down and replaced some travel paraphernalia that wouldn’t possibly survive another trip. I’ve had quite a few field losses while traveling the last four years and so decided to invest in my gear for a change.  Some new items for this trip:

  • Small travel umbrella: Because the monsoon season is drowning most of SE Asia.
  • Waterproof bags: Same reason as above.
  • Compass: I go through one cheapie a year and am lost without one. Literally.
  • 8 GB SD Card: To use for backing up laptop files

Some things that you will NEVER catch me buying at home before a trip:

  • Travel-sized bottles: What a rip-off. Buy the regular size and fill some small travel bottles yourself.
  • Sunglasses, T-shirts, flip-flops, or anything else that can be bought dirt-cheap at markets in Southeast Asia.
  • Pre-packed first aid kits: Half the stuff in these things is useless. Besides, its fun to pack your own.
  • Survival toys in the camping aisle: 90 percent of the Coleman stuff I own either never gets carried or never gets used anyway.
  • Stuff in the “travel” aisle: The small locks in the hardware section are far cheaper than the colorful ones made for “travelers.”

Here’s a peek at my usual backpacking packing list.

Three days until Orlando…then Bangkok…woohoo!

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One Response to “Buying Supplies”



  1. Hi, just wanted to say your websites have been awesome in helping me plan my first backpacking trip. im going thailand from 28th june till the 1st of august.

    i just noticed that you may be in thailand around this time?

    also any advice on what to expect for a noob?

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