Tuesday’s Travel Essentials: Having a Base

Jonny Blair Parramatta Australia

Tuesday’s Travel Essentials – having a base – by my old flat in Parramatta, AUSTRALIA

Today’s Tuesday’s Travel Essentials this week is all about having a base on your travels.
Although I travel light when I actually travel, I often have travel books, warm clothes and souvenirs which I pick up from my travels. These can be a pain to cart around everywhere with you so something I have relied on during my travels is having a base. If you saw my travel book collection you would wonder how I manage to fit it all into my backpack and rucksack – I don’t!

Jonny Blair at Nyugati station

My European adventures in days gone by meant using London, Dartford and Bournemouth as my base for the most part – here I am getting a train in Budapest, Hungary.

What do I mean by ‘having a base’?

What I mean by that is a safe and free place to store some of your belongings while you are away travelling the world. Somewhere to put your bulky items. There is also the option of posting items you don’t need. They can be posted to friends or family, or if you’re a traveller that has your own flat, post them home to yourself! But posting things should be the last resort – having a base is a great thing to have.

Jonny Blair on Inca Trail Peru

Flying my Northern Ireland flag at Warmiwanuska, the peak of the Inca Trail in Peru in 2010, but I used Cusco as my base to store my massive bag!

What ‘bases’ have I used over the years?

In the past 10 years, I’ve been thinking about what places I used as my “base” and realised you can have a base even for just a few days of a trip (for example hiking the Inca Trail – use Cuzco as your base and store your stuff there).

When it comes to travelling and how much stuff to take, the longer you have travelled for in life, the less you will bring as time goes on – it’s a learning curve. However I found a great alternative in travelling light, by storing your extra stuff somewhere safe and easy to get to. For the last 2 years being based in Hong Kong has meant I have accumulated a bit more stuff than my previous 2 years in Australia. I have used Australia and Hong Kong as my main two bases for the last 4 years, yet everytime I have travelled I have travelled light – leaving some of the stuff I didn’t need at my ‘base’, with a plan to return there to pick it up or live again temporarily.

Jonny Blair in Lam Tin

Having a base is important on your travels – this is the first ever photo of me in Lam Tin, Hong Kong – and that bag and two boxes was all I had. It became my base for a year!

What are the Pros and Cons of having a base?

The best thing about having a base is flexibility – you can leave your stuff at your base and travel with the bare essentials only.

Pros of having a base:
– You can travel light when you leave your stuff at your base
– You can get away with accumulating more stuff as you can leave it at your base
– You don’t need to post stuff, saving money
– You don’t need to constantly throw things in the bin
Cons of having a base:
– Your stuff may not be safe
– You may not return to your base that soon as travel plans change (I left a tent in New Zealand with a mate once, and haven’t been back since)

– The place where you had your base might not exist anymore! (the people may have move, the area rebuilt etc.)

Jonny Blair's bedroom in Montevideo Uruguay

Bliss and relaxation – my bed in Montevideo, Uruguay while I studied Spanish. Amazing!

Where have I used as my ‘base’ on my travels?

Any place that I have used for more than 4 days has been included in this list (I may well have forgotten some). These places have all been used by me as a base over the last 10 years of travel:
– Bournemouth, England (I lived there for around 6 years, so it was my base for my European adventures)
– Dartford, England (I spent a year living here as well)
– London, England (I have been to London countless times and have used friends and family’s flats there for my stuff while I travelled)
– Bangor, Northern Ireland (My family live there, so I have stored a lot of my belongings there)
– Auckland, New Zealand (While touring the North Island, I left my stuff in a hostel in Auckland)

Jonny Blair living in Parramatta

“The flat” in Parramatta that was once my home and base in AUSTRALIA

– Parramatta, Australia (I lived here for 1 and a half years and it was very much my base while living in Australia, plus I stored some stuff there while in South America)
– Montevideo, Uruguay (I studied Spanish there while checking out the south coast of Uruguay)
– Shinying, Taiwan (This was my base in Taiwan while I toured the island)
– Hanoi, Vietnam (For the Halong Bay trip and hiking in Sapa)
– Hong Kong (For a lot of my Asian adventures, My stuff has been stored in Hong Kong)

Jonny Blair backpacking in Shanghai, CHINA

Travelling Heavy in Shanghai, CHINA – now where’s my base again??

– Debrecen, Hungary (travelling in Hungary)
– Cuzco, Peru (for the Inca Trail)
– Soweto, South Africa (I left my stuff in Soweto Backpackers while doing Botswana and Swaziland)

Jonny Blair sleeping in South Africa

Another base on my travels was Soweto in South Africa. Here I’m having an afternoon nap in a hammock.

How to find a base for your travels

1. The best way to find a base is always ask a friend – if they own a flat, or even rent one, they are likely to mind stuff for you (especially if it’s only a few bags) – you would do the same for them. And though you never expect to pay, getting them a gift or some kind of token gesture is a nice way to say thanks.

2. Ask a relative – again they will usually be happy to store some of your stuff for a period of time while you jaunt around the world.

3. Pay a company to put your stuff into storage – admittedly I did this once and it worked, but it’s pricey and means you have probably accumulated too much stuff.

To be honest this is just one of many things that you need to sort out on your travels and I look forward to writing about a lot more of them. Others include exactly what you should pack, visas you need, injections etc. There’s a fair amount of organising in fact, but as travellers these are part of the routine and the experience of travelling.

I’ve just booked my next three trips but I’m using Hong Kong as my base for the next 6 months or so. Loving this lifestyle of travel and hoping to inspire you all to get out and see the world! Check my advertising page if you have an idea for a product for my Tuesday’s Travel Essentials.

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