“Ever since my childhood I’ve been scared, I’ve been afraid,
of being trapped by circumstance, of staying in one place,
and so I always keep a small bag full of clothes carefully stored,
somewhere secret, somewhere safe, somewhere close to the door.”
That’s a great line from Frank Turner’s “The Road” that exemplifies the need of wanderers to be prepared to leave when the wanderlust hits them. You feel the urge to go, and after it becomes an established pattern, it just makes sense to have a bag that’s always ready. The term “go bag”, isn’t applicable since that’s gained connotations from the “prepper” demographic, and that’s not the situation here. This is more a collection of the things that should go in a bag to make it versatile enough that no matter where that urge is going to take you, you’re ready. It’s a hard thing to prepare for since your destination could be something outdoors related (a day hike location, an overnight camp site etc.), or a city whose street’s you’d like to wander for a few days
It should be stressed that this isn’t something that should be applied to a long trip. My ramblin’ bag has everything I need for a week at a stretch but is really more appropriate for a weekend trip. It’s something to encourage spontaneous trips, as opposed to those that take planning, and a specific set of gear, clothing etc. This list instead aims for versatility, and with the items in it, you should be able to adapt to whatever location has wormed itself into your mind and started calling to you to it. A lot of these are things people pack anyway, but what I’m advocating is picking up extras of those daily necessities and NEVER taking them out of this pack, so you don’t have to jump in your car and wonder “aw hell, did I bring soap”.
- Clothes; this one goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning. Go simple. I usually have two pairs of jeans, three or four plain black or white undershirts and a button down. The button down doesn’t get much use since the places I visit are usually for hiking, but if I stop into a city to see friends it’s nice to have the option. Shoes are another example of this. I’ve got a pair of boots I wear every day, but I usually bring along a pair of nicer shoes for the same reason as the button down.
- A Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Soap ; I use my teeth like a goddamned multi-tool, so at the very least it’ll get the taste of whatever I just cut in half with my chompers out.
- $250; Look, things happen. I was hiking and camping in Tennessee with a friend, and when we got back to the cars I realized that at some point my wallet had fallen out of my pocket. Luckily, I was with friends so wasn’t stranded for gas money, etc. However afterwards I started this practice of having some cash always in the bag, just in case I wasn’t around friends the next time.
- Notepad; I scribble things down constantly, so this goes without saying. The other fun bit with having a pad that’s ONLY for this pack is that on the next trip you get to see all the thoughts you had on the last one, that you may have forgotten. It allows your spontaneous trips to build on each other in a way they wouldn’t without those reminders.
- Phone charger; An extra one. Don’t ever take it out of the bag, even if it means buying a new one when your everyday charger breaks. Your phone fills in for a lot of items someone a decade ago would have needed. It’s a great tool for orienteering, emergency situations, photography etc, and it can only do all these tasks if it’s charged.
- A utility knife; I don’t care if you’ve got an everyday carry that never leaves your pocket. Find a swiss army knife, or something similar and leave it in an outside pocket of the pack. If you think you need it, I also recommend a “hobo” style tool. If you’re eating on the road, or trail its a nice little bit of comfort, and definitely beats looking for plastic forks in gas stations.
- Something to read; I’ve got a big book of poetry that goes everywhere with me, maybe you’ve got a book that you can read over and over, or a textbook of some kind you’ve been trying to slowly learn. Toss it in, you’ll appreciate it.
If you need other things, go ahead and toss them in. I travel pretty simple, but if anything jumps out at you that I haven’t discovered, and has made your travels easier chime in below and let me know about them.