Caught short in Ghana: how I learned to be a better packer

The victorious hunters ran towards town, the stunned deer slung over the big man’s shoulders. Panting heavily, draped in kit and soaked in sweat I managed a few shots with my DJI Osmo before nearly collapsing. The zips on my bag were coming loose, I was burning because I’d forgotten both my sunhat and cream and I was panicking because my passport was wet through from sweat. Oh, and I’d managed to lose my new iphone in the chaos. I realised at that moment that my travel game had become weak, I was out of practice.

Anybody who knows me or my book will be aware that over the years I have travelled a lot. Often to hostile and extreme locations. But, travel intelligence quickly fades when one gets a bit too used to working in urban areas and in moderate climates. For the last year or two most of my work has been in South Africa, Kenya or India and most of my stories have been in easy locations.

If you are interested, the film I made is below:

On this trip to rural Ghana, I had also forgotten to pack my mosquito net/repellent, my power strip (i.e multiple plugs) and powerbanks for charging phones etc on the go. As soon as I got back to Johannesburg I set about reorganising myself.

I’ve always been a fan of a “modular” packing system, with multiple bags and pouches. I’ve now taken that and enhanced it. I have an electrical pouch that stays with me at all times and includes all my required cables and chargers as well as a spare phone and card reader. I have “hiking” pouch with water filters, blister treatment kit, insect repellent and an extra Leatherman multi-tool. I also now have power banks, plug adaptors, a travel towel, a sleeping bag liner and a well kitted out toiletries bag all kitted out and ready to roll.

I learnt some hard lessons in Ghana and with upcoming trips to Madagascar and Niger I’m sure I’ll get to refine my system even more.

I plan on posting an updated video of how I pack soon, watch this space.

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