What I’ve packed

Trying to condense ten-months’ worth of your life into a 60-litre rucksack isn’t the easiest task in the world so I’ve had to rely on some cunning packing.

A bulky sleeping bag was out of the question as most trains provide bedding, but a sleeper sheet is excellent. I’ve got one from The Scottish Silkworm.


It’s so small it slides into any pocket and has done a brilliant job keeping me cool on hot nights and providing extra insulation on cold ones. It’s £20 and you can buy one directly from the owner, Alan Calder-McNicoll, whose profits help fund an orphanage in Zimbabwe. Click here

An iPhone is great for telling the time, but don’t rely on it for adjusting to time zones. It’s regularly told me the wrong one which is particularly dangerous when catching trains. And if the battery dies overnight you’re stuck. I went old-school and bought a Swatch for £38 which is plain enough to not draw attention to myself, is water-resistant, and best of all it glows in the dark so I can see the time when everyone else is still asleep, and jump off the train in the small hours without bothering fellow passengers by turning on bright lights.

Sir Blue Swatch: glow-in-the-dark

Sir Blue Swatch

For shoes: in addition to a pair of flip-flops and some Merrell walking shoes, I needed a smart pair for the evening and those rare moments when I might get invited somewhere fancy. I was hunting around for travel shoes and came across these ingenious foldable ballet pumps from Cocorose London.

They’ve got London-centric names like Highbury Blue, Paddington Orange and Fulham Black but being a Norfolk-born gal I went for the Sandringham Polished Lilac.

sand copy

… which fold up like this…

Sandringham CR0392 Polished Lilac - FoldedAnd fit into a tiny pouch like this!


Now I just need to wait for my invitation to the ambassador’s ball.

15 thoughts on “What I’ve packed

  1. Sally Atcherley says:

    brilliant packing! You will never want luggage in the hold ever again – off and away. Continue to enjoy …Sally.


    • monisharajesh says:

      Sally! Lovely to see you here. I’ve either lost or thrown out most of my clothes now so the bag is looking like a school backpack. Much better that way. Lots of love to you and Sir Harold. x


  2. Dixita Pandya says:

    I’m 3/4 of the way through your 80 Trains book and it is wonderful! Just past the bit where Passepartout comes back which was bit of a shock as I was reading and I love how you express how the locals talk – so accurate! This book as made my commute into London much more interesting and makes me want to travel on more trains! Hahahaha. Good luck on your world trip!


  3. Lorraine Morris says:

    Please…tell me what you pack in the way of medication and toiletries…I always, always, always pack way too much but fear not having the one thing I have decided I can do without!!! Thanks for all your stories, so interesting and informative, best wishes to you, Bon Voyage, Lorraine


    • monisharajesh says:

      medication: Immodium, panadol, a small pack of plasters and a tube of Deep Heat.
      Toiletries: foldable travel toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, flannel, Eight-Hour Cream or Vaseline for dry skin and that’s about it. I never take anything that I can pick up cheaply while away like shampoo and conditioner and shower gel etc. Invariably they have enough in hotels to swipe and it’s pointless to weigh yourself down with them.


  4. Rupert says:

    We have just returned from 2 months away, including 2 weeks travelling around Northern India by train, to find that my son had bought us your book for Christmas. I have only read as far as the Delhi museum so far, but I am greatly enjoying it. I agree with your packing list but generics Loperamide and Paracetamol and/or Ibuprofen are cheaper! We are in our late-60s so my wife cannot always face going to the loo in the middle of the night, or using it when she gets there. She therefore swears by her SheWee and Peebol kit. As long as there is a bit of a curtain to her bunk, she is sorted. http://www.shewee.com/ I also recommend the free OsmAnd App for your smart phone, which can tell you exactly where you are without needing WiFi. Stations are not always easy to identify in the dark, and the timetable is no help if the train is running hours late.


    • monisharajesh says:

      Ah when I travelled around India in 2010 I didn’t even have an iPhone let alone apps! I’m so thrilled you’ve got a copy of the book. I do hope it continues to entertain you.


  5. bernie says:

    I am reading your first book, and enjoying it very much!! Glad to see you are off on another bigger trip now!! Best wishes and good luck..


  6. rashiarorablog says:

    Hi Monisha,
    This is Rashi Arora. I am an MA student of documentary and photojournalism photography in London College of Communication. I did a project on the longest train of India during my 2 months visit to India this summer. I must say that your book is so entertaining that it made me cherish my experience of my journey.
    I am exhibiting my work about this train journey on the 30th November at Ugly Duck in London. Please do drop-by if you’re in London during that time.

    Looking forward…



    • monisharajesh says:

      Hi Rashi, that sounds super. Thank you so much for your kind message. I will definitely come by if I’m around. Good luck with it!


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