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Recently I read a story that made me write this blog post to spread awareness of something your future you will thank you for. It’s all about dry bags and island travel.
When I flew from Australia to Fiji, my backpack’s flight bag didn’t survive. And it broke my backpack and I was SO happy I had bought a flight bag before my trip, because I’m sure the damage would be worse if I hadn’t. I know, investing before your trip isn’t something that you look forward to, but once you’re on the road you’ll be happy you did and in my experience, it always paid off. A flight bag is a colorful bag (YES I picked the brightest color and was able to see it getting load in the plane, from a distance on the luggage belt etc.) you put around your backpack, so you have one zipped bag instead of a bag with thousand of things that can get lost, break etc.. As you might know, the peeps throwing with suitcases and backpacks don’t take your stuff too serious, they have to move the luggage from A to B and fast, and you’re lucky if your luggage survives. I also noticed that a flight bag is the best when you went a little crazy with the shopping and you’ve no space in your backpack left for your new stuff. Just throw it all in the flight bag and you’re set for another move.
As you might know, the peeps throwing with suitcases and backpacks don’t take your stuff too serious, they have to move the luggage from A to B and fast, and you’re lucky if your luggage survives. I also noticed that a flight bag is the best when you went a little crazy with the shopping and you’ve no space in your backpack left for your new stuff. Just throw it all in the flight bag and you’re set for another move.
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The flight bag is a small package wrapped in your backpack, but can be a dealbreaker if you have a really small backpack. Mine was a small package like my sleeping bag and there were times I really hated it because it took so much space.. but afterward it was all worth it and I was even scared to fly without it!
So back to the flight where my bag didn’t survive. I arrived late – too late (let’s call it Fiji-Time) and it was already dark. I picked up my bag as quickly as possible because I was scared my pickup had left. When I found my bag it was totally broken, I don’t know how they did it but even my backpack inside my flight bag was not the one I left. I could not close my backpack properly anymore now because one of the clips broke, but okay. Uhm. let’s go, pickup! In the end my pickup never came (lol, Fiji-Time), I got another ride to my hotel (Fijians are super nice) and everything was fine. Until I got in contact with my travel insurance, they didn’t pay anything because I didn’t fill in a report immediately on the airport… bummer. Lesson learned twice: always buy a flight bag before your trip and always fill in the form at the airport if you want your money back! (it’s not the end of the world but as a traveler most of the time you’re short on money ;))
I’ve been to ‘real islands’ and let me tell you, most real, tropical islands are situated in a place where everything is a little bit different organized than at home. Real islanders take their time, as they say in Fiji ‘Everything is on Fiji Time’. And Fiji Time can mean literally everything, from 1 minute, to tomorrow to relax and hello. Same goes for safety in a lot of places or care for your personal belongings. It’s not that people want to be rude or anything, they just don’t care. I really like that attitude once I’m on a tropical island. I have time to relax and only care about that day but unfortunately, usually I’m a little bit more uptight, especially when I’m traveling alone and depend on my stuff.
There’s only one-way normal people can reach an island and that’s by boat. And every time I took a boat to a new island (literally anywhere in the world) my bag fell in the water at one time or another. Luckily for me, I had a flight bag that covered my backpack and most of the time it was only 1 sec in the water, but it’s really annoying because all your clothes are wet. By the way, I always wear my valuables like laptop and cameras on me if I bring them and in a smaller backpack, so they never got wet. Every time I thought: I wish I had a dry bag. A large bag to cover my backpack completely and that’s water resistant. But I’m like you, I put it off and never bought one. And now? I have one now, I immediately purchased mine after the next story.
When I was in Indonesia I heard about the ferries and boats to the other islands. It crossed my mind to take the ferry a few times to other islands but in the end I took a plane or small bus (ugh, 11-hour drive!). In the travel guides I had, I read about warnings about Indonesian boats and that they shipwreck a lot. What I didn’t know back then, was that a fellow travel blogger, Adventurous Kate actually got shipwrecked in Indonesia on her way to Komodo Island. Last month it happened 5 years ago, and I – totally random – stumbled upon her post about how she’s doing now. I read the original post and was shocked… it happened in the middle of the night, there weren’t enough life jackets, they had to jump and swim to the island. I remind you, it was Komodo island and Komodo’s are called Komodo Dragons and are quite dangerous animals. Long story short? She stressed travelers to re-think their travel itinerary, to learn to swim and to get dry bags for your bags and valuables. And I can’t agree more! In Indonesia I took the boat to the Gili Islands in Lombok, and it was ok, but yes, my luggage got wet too.
So be smart, and get your dry bags and travel bags now! If you don’t want to get three bags or two, just get one for your small value bag. ‘Value bag’ is something I made up, it’s where you put all your valuable stuff like laptops, passport, and cameras. You can get a day hiking backpack from a travel brand to be sure it’s the best quality (water resistant, build to travel etc.)