What goes into your backpack for a big trip? Socks and jocks. Do you opt for functional travel-wear or fashion when you’re on the road? Sneakers, thongs (flip-flops for you non-Aussies out there!), a towel, travel toiletries. Pots, pans and a mobile burner. Cutlery, cutting knife, a couple of plates and bowls?
Well… that is how we travel. Thanks so Monique’s allergy, we travel with a full kitchen in our backpacks. Literally. We could get off a bus and whip up a meal if need be. Her allergy is so severe that we do not use the pots and pans in hostels due to cross contamination. She also struggles to eat in restaurants in a lot of countries and street food is pretty much off limits. It sucks… but you gotta work with the cards you’ve been dealt, right!?
It does takes up a bit of space in the old backpack, but is light and in the end for us it is necessary. So this is what we carry:
Mini Spider stove by Doite (see here)
The stove is small and weighs nothing. Just but your gas bottle when you land and the cooker part is safe to take on a plane. It’s a naked flame so easy to control and is small enough to not even notice that you’re carrying it!
We picked this set because is compact (literally 20cm x 20cm) and it is incredible quality. A ceramic and Teflon mix is better quality that the stainless steal, massive old pots we had in our home kitchen. We have used it nearly everyday for over 2 years and it is still going strong. It has been banged about by us and by luggage handlers as we travelled Chile, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and New Zealand and it still going strong.
The set comes with two pots, one pan (all with lids), four small plates and four cup-sized bowls as well as cooking accessories (a ladle and a plastic stirring spoon). These, combined with two small plastic bowls has seen Monique able to cook and safely eat in every country we have visited. When we were on the road in Australia we had the luxury of a car to carry our shit about, so we had a larger kitchen set up, however these items were still the only pots and pans we travelled with. When Monique took a solo trip to Japan we used these items everyday to cook her breakfast, lunch and dinner! We used them across South East Asia in hostels and airbnb kitchens, plus everyday in New Zealand in our little campervan.
We also carry a set of cutlery, just one fork, spoon, knife and teaspoon, as well as one chef/kitchen knife. Monique also stocks up on the basics just to get through the first week or so. Items such as pasta, cous cous and nut bars or snack bars can be a great help when you are finding you feet a new country and trying to figure out what is safe to eat and what is not. Having that small pantry in your backpack can save you a LOT of stress and angst in the first few days of your trip.
If you’re finding this overwhelming, you’re not alone. It is overwhelming… and annoying. But this is the reality of the nomadic allergy sufferer. I would recommend that anyone looking to backpack in a country where allergies are not well documented or diagnosed think about carrying a similar set in their pack. It could save your life is you’re anaphylactic, like Monique, plus it will ease your mind – which is worth a bit more weight in your pack.
Looking for some easy recipes to whip up on the road? Check out our Food section.