What to bring?
Isn't it "gay" that our packs
look so much alike?
What to bring?  Our answer to this is simple -- as little as possible.  Seriously, we know this might sound simplistic, but it's the best advice we can give you.  Almost everything you are going to need you can buy along the way, and usually these things are going to be much more inexpensive in other countries than they would be at home.  For example, we invested a lot of time, energy and money into getting all our travel vaccinations and travel medications before we left.  Before we left Boston, our arms were sore (from shots) and our bags were filled with malaria pills, diarrhea pills, etc..  When we first paid for these health precautions we had health insurance, so "paying the piper" wasn't that bad.  But then disaster struck.  Before we had even left the states, we got ripped off, twice, within 24 hours!  All our travel medication was stolen.  We had to pay for a doctor's visit and new medications out of our own pockets, without health insurance!  You could say we should have had travel insurance (we don't agree), but even if we would have, we discovered that health care and medications are much, much cheaper in countries outside the U.S., even if you have excellent health insurance.  In most other countries, health care is a god given right and is totally free.  Plus, you can buy all the prescription travel medications we bought in the states, in other countries without a prescription and the cost is pennies on the dollar.  So, unless you are going directly into a country that requires vaccinations and medicines right away, do yourself a favor and wait until you get overseas to take care of it.

Another tip we have for you deals with travel guides.  We loaded up on travel books for the places we were going, before we left.  Almost everywhere we went we discovered high quality copies of the same books we had purchased in the states, at a fraction of the cost.  Combine this with a foreign currency exchange rate that was in our favor and we could have saved hundereds of dollars by waiting to buy our travel guides overseas.  Plus, we wouldn't have had to lug around a bunch of travel books..

Waiting until you get overseas before you make purchases of things like clothes, travel gear, even your backpack, can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on what you buy.  Not to mention it's so much easier to travel light.  Stuff will stick to you like glue as you travel.  You will be picking things up all along the way.  Don't ever worry that you are not carrying enough and when things start to get too heavy, just mail some things back home.  Once we wised up to the traveling light concept we began sending things back home all along the way.  Most postal services in other countries are very reliable.  Ask for a bulk rate, or book or printed matter rate (even if it's not books).  Since we aren't going to be back for a long time, we have been sending stuff by sea mail.  If you can wait 2-3 months for your shipment to arrive, it's much cheaper than by air.

With all this said, there are some things you will need.  Whether you pick them up along the way, or buy them before hand, here's a list of what we think is important to have when you are traveling the world.  This list is in no way meant to be all inclusive.  You have to individualize what you bring, based on your travel plans and how you like to travel.  Hopefully this list will help get you on the right track.

In Money Belt (on person)
passport
visas (you can get these along the way)
international driver's license (get one, they come in handy -- try to get a motorcycle endorsement)
birth certificate
health immunization card
youth hosel card (they can save you some cash)
student id cards (we got fake ones in Bangkok, student discounts can save you some cash)
airline itinerary
airline tickets
frequent flyer mile cards (might as well take advantage)
cash
credit cards (the best way to get cash, there are ATMs or banks that do cash withdrawals everywhere)

Pretty Important Stuff
Backpack (your home away from home -- make sure all openings are locked with small padlocks)
Sleeping Bag
Swiss Army Knife (you will use it more than you ever imagined)
Camera (bring plently of extra batteries, they drain fast -- you can also buy these abroad)
Toiletry Kit
Padlock and Chain (great for locking up backpack on trains, buses, etc. or use padlock to lock room)
Calculator (for figuring out exchange rates)
Medical Kit
Wet Nap Wipes (stay clean to stay healthy)
Sewing Kit
Sunscreen
Sunglasses
Toliet Paper (many countries just don't get the concept -- bring your own or buy along the way)
Watch (with alarm)
Duck tape (fixes anything)
Whistle (if we get sepearted in big crowds, we just blow!)
Ear plugs (great for noisy buses or planes)
Flash light (don't forget the batteries -- duh!)
Address book
Business cards (you will meet so many people who you will want to exchange contact info)
Bug dope
Universal plug-in adapter

Clothes (again, less is more)
Underwear (2)
Socks (2) (Smart Wool socks are awesome!)
Swimsuit (sometimes this is all you will wear for weeks)
One pair pants and one pair shorts (you can get pants with legs that come off to make them into shorts -- cool!)
A few T-shirts (bring some extra shirts with writing on them from your home country -- they are great for trading or for gifts)
Hiking boots or tennis shoes (depending on if you need boots -- we went with boots)
Tevas (we wear these 90% of the time)
Gortex Outershell Coat
Fleece Top
A dress up outfit (if you plan on going out and partying)
Sarong (great item! -- acts as beach towel, bed sheet, window covering, clothing and so much more)

The most important item!
Travel Journal (any life worth living is worth recording)

Really, the most important thing to bring with you when you travel is a positive attitude and an abudent amount of patience.  Happy trails!!!