"What to Take" Amsterdam by Backpackin_Mac

Amsterdam Travel Guide: 10,251 reviews and 21,503 photos

Many people who travel for the first time are often unsure of what they need to take and ultimately take more than they need. I have compiled a list (by no means exhaustive) that I hope will be of help. I recommend taking a very small pack if you travel. The best way to survive with a carry on pack is to carefully choose what to put into it. When I travel I take the following:

Clothes

- Two pairs of pants that have zippers at the knees and turn into a pair of shorts when it gets hot. You now have two pairs of shorts as well.
- 1 pair of board shorts (quick dry material)
- One compass: Invaluable both in the deepest forest and in the biggest cities. I hated reading the trusty guidebook that wrote, “Head southwest when you get off the bus…..” Where the heck is southwest? It’s the middle of the night and not a star in the sky. Thank you compass.
- One sweater
- One jacket that is made for hiking so it is very warm and also very thin.
- Hat and Balaclava
- A towel made for travelling made from very absorbent material and not too big. You will have to do without a nice big fluffy beach towel.
- As many t-shirts, socks and jocks that takes your fancy. Remember though, if you are in a bind you can wear one pair of socks for 4 days at a time. On the first day where them normally. Second day turn them inside out. Third day change feet. Fourth Day turn them inside out again. If you are really desperate you can try it with your skiddies but not highly recommended.
- A comfy pair of sandals or thongs (jandals, flip-flops) so you can have a shower without fear. Also gives your feet a nice rest at the end of the day.
- A very thin raincoat style jacket: It keeps the rain off and when it is cold and windy you can use it like a jacket by putting it on above your jumper. It also takes up virtually no space.
- A thermal top. Very small and very warm.
- Gloves: As always thin but warm ones
- 2 sarongs: We carry two so we can both use one, although I don’t wear it. Mari uses them as a dress and if the hostels sheets are not very sanitary we use it as a bed sheet.
- A very thin daypack. We carry this scrunched up in our backpack and it takes up very little room.
- Plastic bag for laundry
- A strap which can also be used as a belt.
- We don’t take a clock but just use the alarm from our G-shock. If you have to catch an early bus I advise you to not use your earplugs the night before.

NECESSITIES

Call my advice a waste of space if you will but if you take nothing else from this website except this snippet of info you won’t regret it. When you travel all you really need are these two items. Unless you are a single man going to Thailand then you might want to pack one more necessity.

- The first item is earplugs. I don’t know why but people that snore always seem to be able to get to sleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. Maybe it is Gods plan to continue to punish mankind. I don’t know. I do know that it is a sad fact of life for the backpacker in an 8-bed dorm. And once the snorer starts its engine nobody else is going to get to sleep that night. Except for you and me with our earplugs that is. Hehe.
- The second indispensable item is the eye mask. Yes, an eye mask. Trust me. Not only are they a necessity but also you can normally pick them up for free. I got mine when I travelled on Cathay Pacific and have been using it for about 4 years. They are great when you have been travelling all night, didn’t catch a wink of sleep and wish to get a couple of hours kip before you start exploring. I admit it looks a bit strange and you probably look like you should be in an episode of the Golden Girls but well worth the ribbing.

Recommended Items

- Sunglasses (with hard case): On my last trip I even managed to dent the protective case but the glasses were fine.
- A novel that has small print and interesting enough that you will be able to swap it with a fellow traveller but not so interesting that you will finish it in two days. Anna Karenina might be a good read but you try getting rid of it in the middle of a one-month trek in Nepal. Good luck. My pick would be Danzinger’s Travels. Probably the best travel book I have read.
- A portable Shogi set. It is a distant Japanese cousin of Western chess but a lot more exciting. Only useful though if you can find someone else who knows the rules.
- Inflatable neck pillow. This is another item that can make things a lot more comfortable whether you are in a bouncing land rover with no headrest for 5 days or whether you are camping out on a bus station floor. A necessity.
- A lightweight wire and a padlock so you can chain your pack to a pole or a chair. Some people carry big heavy chains but that’s overkill. The main purpose is to prevent opportunity theft and a strong piece of wire will do just that. If someone is really determined they will rob you straight out and make you unchain it anyway. Not worth the weight. We always use combination locks so we won’t lose the keys but even this method is not 100%. I bought a set of locks in China and within 2 days I couldn’t unlock it. I had to borrow a hacksaw and cut the lock off. Better to buy quality locks before you leave home.
- Universal Plug This helps when you want to do your washing (mentioned p previously) and in most third world countries you will be hard pressed to find a plug anywhere. Trying to find a plug in a $2 a night hostel is like trying to find a phone book at a public phone booth in London
- Travel clothesline.
- A fold up umbrella: I have never seen another traveller with one before and I can’t understand why.
- Storm whistle: Whenever Mari goes out she carries this for he own safety and even had to use it once in India (that incident finished with a happy ending though). If the storm whistle is too expensive or too big then an ordinary whistle will be fine.
- 1 leatherman. If you have a carry-on bag there is no likelihood that you will be able to get this on the plane anymore. At the other end you can always pick things up cheaper than what you can at home…. unless of course you are flying to Tokyo. But if you are flying to Tokyo a credit card will be a lot more useful than a leatherman.
- A camera. If you have a bad memory like I do this helps the moments last longer.
- Housewife: Point to note; I am not a fascist, chauvinistic pig. ‘Housewife’ is a brand name for a sewing kit. It contains some needles, pins and various types of cotton. I use this a lot as my clothes are always getting torn for some reason or another.
- Compression bag I also pack my clothes in a compression bag. A very simple device that you seal up and when you squeeze it all the air escapes and it compresses everything. This gives you extra room when you want to put some souvenirs inside.
- Calculator: There are a lot of exchange rates to keep track of and a calculator comes in handy. If you don’t speak the local language it can assist you during the delicate art of bargaining. Type the price you want to pay, hand it to the vendor who will type the price he wants you to pay and so on. Smiles on both parties normally mean you have come to an agreement.
- Backpack cover: Helps keep it dry and also helps to protect your pack from sticky fingers. Don’t get a fluorescent yellow cover as you don’t want to stand out too much.
- Torch
- Guidebook A lot of travellers say that a guidebook means you are a sheep but if you rock into Tehran in the middle of the night good luck finding cheap accommodation without it. Remember it is a guidebook not a compulsory book.

Medical/Hygiene

- Toothbrush
- Toothpaste
- Razor (I use soap)
- Nail clippers
- Mirror
- Water purifying tablets
- Sunscreen, lip cream,
- Stick deodorant
- Band-Aids
- Charcoal Tablets: There is a very good chance you will get the runs and so don’t f forget these
- Headache tablets: You are going to meet a lot of travellers on the road and when it is time to part a few cold ales are normally downed. The next morning you will be ready to trade your ear plugs for a Panadol. Don’t do it and take your own with you.
- I pack a few sachets of washing detergent. Normally I do my washing while I am having a shower (depending on the cleanliness of the shower) but for a proper scrubbing I do it in the sink. Normally when we have decided to hang our boots up for a few days somewhere. If you don’t have detergent then soap can be sufficient. I have seen some many travellers carrying around cartons of washing powder. That’s part of the reason for the big packs. A few sachets will be fine.
- I keep my hair as short as possible so I wash my hair (if I have any) with soap. Unfortunately (most) females don’t want to go to that extreme and so have to take a bottle of shampoo. That is unavoidable

DOCUMENTS

- Pen, small notebook
- Passport, International Drivers Licence, Vaccination certificate, Travel Insurance hotline
- Credit card (with photo), ATM card, Travellers Cheques

LUXURIES

- 1 MD Walkman (preferably Long Play). I have heard many travellers claim, “I never carry a walkman. People that carry Walkman’s cut themselves off from the local people and miss the thrill of travelling”. ***. Let that hippy sit on an Egyptian bus for 10 hours listening to a blaring action movie dubbed into Arabic, which is competing with the screaming baby sitting beside you as to which will drive you insane first. Hippy goes insane. I listen to Sugar Ray. Just because you take a Walkman doesn’t mean you have to have it on 24 hours a day. Many people think that travelling is 24 hours a day going native, skipping through open fields, meeting only friendly people, and singing songs around a camp fire. You might not believe me but when you are in your 8th month of travelling and the worlds poor are hang off every limb, begging for a penny and you haven’t seen toilet paper in the last two months it will get you down. When that happens I like to go somewhere away from the crowds and listen to my favourite music. An MD Walkman is small, strong, recordable and the long play function allows you to record 320 minutes of music on one 80 minute MD.
I would advise against a CD player as it, and the CD’s, take up a lot of room. They also break easily and you won’t be able to record other travellers’ music.
- Immersion Heater: Great small device for boiling water. This is only useful if you are not travelling to too many places as you will need a lot of adaptors. Don’t do what we saw an Englishman do in Egypt. He bought a brand new IH and then boiled milk which destroyed the heater.



All of these items will fit into a carry-on bag. The good thing about travelling in pairs is that you can divide some of the gear to allow some relief on the zippers. Mosquito coil and insect repellent just to name a couple. If you don’t need all the things I mentioned then by all means cut some items out. If I tried I could cut out a couple of items but I am quite happy with the above list.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Atmosphere, shwarma
  • Cons:Pickpockets
  • In a nutshell:A place everybody should visit once..... or twice...or more
  • Last visit to Amsterdam: Dec 2001
  • Intro Written Jan 1, 2004
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Comments (1)

  • Jul 26, 2007 at 11:23 AM

    Hotel Manofa, Damrak? Are you serious? Photos on website are completely different from the gross room we had. Electricity cut out on the last night with no TV and no shower. Staff didnt want to hear about it. I cant believe theyre still in business.

Backpackin_Mac

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