Ever been camping or trekking for weeks at a time? I highly recommend it!! A new trail which spans the entirety of Canada has recently opened. For long-term trekking, there are also the legendary Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails in the USA. The Camino del Santiago in Spain. Torres del Paine or the Inca Trail routes in South America, trekking routes in Nepal, and so on.
You might be going there to get away from it all. To escape the Smart Phone World we now live in.
Perhaps you’re on your way to an extremely remote locale which will lack any electricity whatsoever. It’s getting more and more rare these days, but such places still exist. Take Mongolia, for example. If you venture out of Ulaan Baatar, you very well may go weeks without encountering electricity.
Maybe you’re hitch-hiking through the Sahara Desert or Siberia, trips which will take several days minimum, and wild-camping at night? Or you could just be shipwrecked on an abandoned island! Oh dear, how will you possibly survive?!!
Chances are if you’re one of these types of travelers, you already know the ins and outs. But maybe not. If it’s your first time embarking on such a challenging feat, here’s a guide which will keep you entertained and occupied for WEEKS, without needing any electricity whatsoever.
Look at the photo above. All these objects combined can fit into your hand, and can be very comfortably maneuvered into even the smallest day-pack. Collectively, they’ll keep you going for a lengthy period. Without further adieu:
For me, this is absolutely essential when traveling. Although I rarely keep journals while permanently residing somewhere, I always maintain a travel journal when on the road. If you find yourself far off the grid, you can use the journal for countless hours of entertainment.
Catch up on your writing, read and edit previous entries, or make sketches of things fresh in your memory.
Calculate your expenses and average out what you’ve spent already.
Plot out goals and hopes for your future stops.
Really, you can write/sketch/draw about anything you please!
Spend 1-2 hours a day reading, writing, or sketching in your journal.
With mobile apps like maps.me taking the backpacker world by storm, I see fewer and fewer physical maps these days. That’s fine and understandable. If you’re going on a long camping trip to the middle of nowhere, however, it would still be useful to pick up a paper map of the region you’ve either recently traveled or are planning to travel. Such maps can keep you occupied for long periods of time when no electricity is available. Maps are cheap, they can usually be picked up for a few bucks at your nearest bookstore. You can plot future trips, or take the time to fill in the route you’ve already passed through. Looking at the cities, you can recall those you’ve been or dream of those you’ll conquer in the future.
Spend 30 minutes or so per day analyzing your map(s).
3. Playing Cards
This is a simple and effective method of entertainment, whether you’re alone or with company. I’ve recently taken to traveling with Uno cards. Often, it’s a good way to break the ice with fellow travelers you’ve just met. If you’re alone, a regular deck of playing cards would be more effective, as you could play any of the dozens of types of solitaire games by yourself.
Spend 30 minutes to an hour playing card games.
4. Pocket Chess/ Backgammon Board
I picked up this useful board for like 1 dollar, and it’s come in handy, especially on my lengthy trips on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. You don’t need to speak the same language to play a common and timeless board game with a stranger. It can provide hours of entertainment every day, and also be a great way to develop a fledgling bond with someone you’ve just met on a train or bus, or perhaps a campground.
Play a couple games a day, depending on your skill set 30 minutes to an hour.
5. Something to Study
Games are fun and all, but if you’re out in the middle of nowhere with a lot of time on your hands and no electricity to use your electronics, after awhile you’ll probably get tired of them. It’s nice to have something to challenge yourself and improve upon. A pocket phrasebook is a really effective and cheap item you can pick up if you’re in (or will soon be going to) a foreign country with a language barrier. Practice learning the language and memorizing useful words.
If you’re in the wild, you might prefer a book similar to mine in the photo. It’s packed with an abundance of information on how to survive in the wild, find edible food, wild camp, first-aid procedures, and more. Other things you may want to bring are guidebooks, to study up on the history or cultural norms of the places you’ll soon be exploring.
Spend at least an hour a day broadening your knowledge and studying something.
I prefer my kindle, because it’s a tiny fraction of the size of a ‘normal’ book, yet it alone holds thousands of books. A kindle’s battery can also literally last for weeks. However, if you’re a hardcore anti-electronics type, you might want to pack a few paperback books (as small as you can find!). The positives of having a real book is that a kindle can always run out of power, or get damaged by water and break. I’d strongly recommend a kindle with a reliable waterproof cover if you’re having space issues, but to each his/her own.
Spend 1-2 hours a day reading.
Hey, you can still bring electronics with you on your trip to the Middle of Nowhere. If you’re smart about it and limit the amount of time you spend using them, they can still last a lengthy period. This can especially be true if you bring a…
7. LCD Power Station (Portable USB Charger)
These handy gadgets are quickly gaining popularity. I first saw them in China a few years ago. Now, it seems like everyone has one and they’re developing faster than anyone can keep track of. I have a 10,000 mAh charger, which is ancient by today’s standards, but still can charge my smart-phone like 4 or 5 times (if it’s turned off). Nowadays, the low-end chargers are minimum 20,000 mAh, it seems. If you are going to be dependent on electronics and going somewhere without electricity to charge your stuff, one of these is going to be vital. When charging your electronics, make sure the power is turned off. They will charge faster and take less power from your power station.
8. Pocket Digital Camera
I personally prefer my Nikon D330… its battery lasts MUCH longer than a pocket camera’s, and it takes better photos. However, it also uses considerably more space in my backpack. It’s something you must decide upon yourself. Regardless of space issues, I strongly recommend a digital camera over a conventional one, because you can look back on your day’s photos during down-time. For me, that’s a valuable entertainment option in its own right!
Don’t spend over 15 minutes per day looking at your digital photos. It’ll drain the battery!
It truly amazes me how far we’ve progressed. Back when I started traveling abroad, in 2001, even science fiction movies couldn’t depict the magic of the smart-phone, which emerged less than a decade later. On a tiny hand-held gadget, you can watch movies and TV shows, play countless games, scan detailed maps of the entire world, read ebooks, and even surf the web. If you’re in the hypothetical “middle-of-nowhere” situation of this blog post, you probably aren’t going to have any wifi. You can still watch stuff on your phone. But be careful and ration your time… remember, you can only charge it until your LCD Power Station is dead!
Don’t spend over an hour per day on your phone. It’ll drain the battery. Besides, spend some time enjoying the remote location you find yourself at!
Other things you can do/bring:
Take a little time out of your day to exercise. If you’re camping, this shouldn’t be a problem. You can go on a long hike or perhaps a swim in a lake or beach. Other things you can do are going for a jog, doing some sit-ups or push-ups or pull-ups, etc.
Try to exercise at least a half-hour per day!
Play a Musical Instrument
Unfortunately I’ve never learned a musical skill, but I’ve met many travelers who have. The most common traveler you notice are those lugging around guitars, because the instruments are so big that you can’t miss them. Probably wouldn’t be the most convenient thing to take on lengthy camping or trekking trips, however. A good substitute is a ukulele, which is like a mini-guitar. I’ve also met travelers with flutes or harmonicas, which would be much more convenient on camping trips. If you didn’t have any instruments, get a few sticks or spoons and start a ‘jam session’ with whatever you have.
LCD Head Torch
I absolutely wouldn’t go on a camping trip without one. You can see at night while still having the use of both hands, and if its battery is fully charged, it’ll last months.
MAKE A PLAN HOW TO BALANCE YOUR TIME
Say you’re at a campsite or minuscule and remote village for two weeks or more. No electricity. You can easily keep fully entertained with only the things I’ve listed above. But remember to use time-management. If you spend all your time on your electronics, the batteries will quickly be exhausted. If you manage your time and make yourself a schedule, you certainly don’t need anything else. And above all else, be sure to go out and enjoy your surroundings!
If you managed your time like I suggested, your electronics will last several weeks before they all go dead! And you’ll have enough entertainment to easily keep yourself busy and entertained for the entire day, even if the entire day is down-time!!
Did I leave anything out? Any additional item(s) you’d recommend? Feel free to leave a comment or suggestion, and thanks for reading!