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What is Essential?

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

As I am packing today for the next six months, and as the anxiety and excitement of my departure is growing, I have to carefully review every item I am bringing with me in order to not forget anything “essential” while limiting the weight & number of items to my real ESSENTIAL needs. Essential? Essential? I am thinking “What is really essential and how do we define it?”. We are surrounded in our life by so much stuff that it is often hard to let go of things we think are essential, while we never use them. The exercise here has been interesting and in line with my goal to reduce the stuff I own. And I find that the more I let go, the more free and happier I feel. There are many studies which corroborate this in case you want to join the crowd of minimalists.

On this picture you will find the following:

1. Solar Charger + Rechargeable BatteryThis one can charge my GPS, my phone, and my headlamp in less than 6 hours in full sun.

2. Cables, Chargers, and Plugs – To connect everything to everything, everywhere (includes a USB, mini-USB, Internet, and VGA).

3. Water Filtration & Sterilization System – Essential in all the countries I am going to visit, as even the tap water is often contaminated and the primary cause of death for young children. (Check out my campaign to raise awareness on this issue while traveling.)

4. Sleeping Bag with Insect Repellent Barrier – India and Southeast Asia have mosquitos. And mosquitos carry malaria. So despite taking preventive medicine (which does not have 100% success rate), it’s good to sleep with additional protection.

5. Some Spiritual Companions – I am bringing an XVIIIe century bronze Buddha (travel size) and a little Ganesh, both to set a little alter next to my bed and remind myself to practice meditation daily as I travel.

6. Headlamp – A very useful item as many countries are still suffering a lack of electricity and shortages are frequent.

7. Poncho – Yes, it will be the monsoon season when I arrive in Asia. A blessing for nature.

8. Medicine & Emergency Supplies – Here you’ll find the typical pain killer, bug bite soother, allergy pills, diarrhea pills, bed bug repellents, Malarone (malaria prevention), and Super Glue (yes, to glue the skin in case of emergency) among other items. Despite a long list of vaccinations, these supplies remain essential travel companions. As I pack I can’t help but to think how difficult it must be to live without any of the vaccinations I have and the inability to buy what we consider “basic medicine” here.

9. My Epic S**t Manifesto!!! – Check out and my fundraising campaign #GGEpicShit

10. GPS Tracker – A powerful little device that is going to report my location 24/7, allowing me to GeoTag all my photos and have an emergency button to report my location to specific emails/phones.

11. A Camelbak – As I plan long days of walking, it will supplement nicely with my other water gear.

12. A Laptop & My iPhone – Will be used to continue reporting on my adventure and uploading photos. I have also downloaded over a dozen Apps that will definitely help a lot along my travels. (Look for a specific blog post on this coming soon.)

There are a few additional items that I will carry with me: from laminated copies of IDs and international insurance cards to traveler checks and my debit card. What a blessing it is to be in a developed country and realizing how lucky we are to have access to all those “little” things that make our lives easier. As I will meet the poorest of the poor in Kolkata in a few days, I will remember this.

Did I forget anything? Or is there anything on this picture you think I could have left home? Please share in the comments!

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