Buying the right clothes for a backpack trip

January is coming up which means it’s sales time here in Belgium. It made me think of the best clothes I’ve ever bought for my travels during sales time which was a Tripod bikini at Decathlon for €2. No wonder I’m thinking about the sales at Decathlon right now! You’ve got until 26th of January. I realized that over the years, many of my Quechua and Tripod clothes from Decathlon were the best and favourite items for my journeys in Latin America. Here is my list of recommendations for clothing you should buy at Decathlon, especially during the sale.

The best clothes to buy at Decathlon for your backpack trip

1. Raincoat

The Jack Rain-Cut from Quechua is the perfect raincoat to take with you on a day trip when you’re in some hot and damp place like the Caribbean and it’s rainy season.  

2. Fleece vest

Layers is what I need to keep my body warm. This fleece Quechua Forclaz have kept me warm during hikes at the volcanoes of Ecuador, but also here in Europe they are my best friend in winter time. The fabric dries quickly, and they have pockets with a zipper. Last but not least, they make them in a lot of different colours. I’m in love with it!

3. Jacket

It can be an investment buying a jacket, but if you do buy one, make sure it’s a good investment, like this Quechua’s Arpenaz 3-in-1. The zipper is sealed which keeps cold air outside. Besides you can just use the inside jacket separately or just the rain jacket. Even now back in Europe it’s the warmest jacket I’ve got.

4. Zip off hiking trousers

I never thought I would ever recommend zip off hiking trousers, because it’s the most unsexy clothing item! I still think it’s, but while travelling, the Quechua’s Forclaz hiking trousers have come in handy a lot. It’s for those trips in freezing buses when the air-conditioning is set on 15 degrees. But also when I travelled from San José, where it was cold, to the warm Caribbean coast, I could zip off the bottom parts and turn my trousers into shorts within seconds.

5. Water shirt

Going to sunny places with my fair skin is asking for trouble. In Central America this Tribord uv shirt prevented me from burning. Besides the colour matches my eyes 😉

6. Surf bikini

As a girl you never have enough bikini’s, and even though I already had some at home, I bought a new one for my trip to Costa Rica. This one is different: some of the Tripod bikini’s are designed for active girls. So if you are into swimming, surfing, or other aquatic sports it’s the perfect bikini. I discovered it in Costa Rica: one wave, and your bikini would be at ripped of your body. But not this one!

7. High hiking boots

For hikes good boots are very important. Of course, the type of boots depends on where you are going but if you are going to the Andes, I’d recommend high hiking shoes. Quechua’s Arpenaz boots kept my ankles stable, my feet warm and, especially important, dry. 

8. Socks

Your feet will love the Arpenaz socks from Quechua. No blisters even after hours of walking, and they dry quickly.

9. Warm hiking socks

You probably already noticed that I’m a cold fish: these socks are still my favourites now during European winter time when my feet don’t seem to get warm at all . But also in Latin America the Quechua Forclaz socks kept my feet warm during hikes on volcanoes  in Ecuador.

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What to do with souvenirs? Turn coins into a key chain

Get your foreign coins

Colones, pesos and cordobas are some of the foreign coins I’ve collected during my travels in Latin America. I’ve been saving them in a wallet, and they haven’t really been of much use since I’m back home. I realized I wanted to create something or either get rid of them. Luckily, thanks to my Pinterest addiction I got some inspiration, and I decided to use my foreign coin collection to make key chains. Here’s how I did it.

Coins, key chain, and utilities

Of course it’s all about the money, so get your collection of coins. I also gathered other stuff I wanted to add to my key chains such as bracelets from my university in Mexico, a small piece of bracelet I made in Costa Rica, and the Brazilian Senor do Bonfim. Besides, you’re going to need a couple of key chains. Last year two friends gave me both a key chain, and it seemed a good idea to add some more nice memories, and pimp them. Have a look at a hobby shop if you don’t have any key chains at home.

Chain

Last but not least, you’ll be needing a chain. Have a look at your hardware store to see which chain size suits best. The ring shouldn’t be too big because it becomes too heavy, but they shouldn’t be too small either because you don’t want it to break easily and you’ll need to attach the coins to it. Tools you’re going to need: two pliers. I used one with a needle-nose, the fine pliers, and one slip joint pliers. Later I’ll explain why.

Add holes to the coins

Again, I couldn’t have done this DIY project without some help. This time my neighbour made some holes in the coins. If you don’t have a handy neighbour, you either need all the right tools to drill some holes or go to a smith. The size of the hole should be big enough to put the ring of the chain through it, and at the same time it should leave a bit of space, so the coin can move around the ring.

Use the pliers to open the chain

As you can see the chain I chose is pre-cut which made it easy to open up the rings. All you’ve to do is put pliers at each side of the ring, and twist in opposite directions. If you force it enough, the ring breaks on the line. The best method is to use the slip joint pliers to hold the ring, because you can squeeze it and put more force on it, and then with the needle-nose pliers you’ll twist the ring.

Coin attached to chain

Break the chain in small parts of 7 rings by removing the 8th ring. Then use this loose ring to attach your coin to the small chain at the end, in the middle or, like I did, both. Make sure you close the ring properly otherwise you’ll end up losing your coins.

Mix and match the coins

When you’ve finished your chains with coins you can attach them, and all the other things you want to add to your key chain. The coins and the chain can be quite heavy, that’s why I ended up using just two little chains with each two coins on each key chain.

The final result: key chain with coinsAnd tadaaa! The final result. All my memories of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, and even Ecuador attached to my keys. Sometimes my key chains make me feel like a gold digger, but at least now I use the coins daily.

What to do with souvenirs? Turn flags and t-shirts into pillow cases

My collection of flags started in Mexico when my friend Mario gave me a Mexican flag. Being back home in the Netherlands again, one day my mum surprised me with a present: she had turned the flag into a pillow case. I loved the idea! Now I could use the Mexican flag pillow to decorate my couch, and think back of my great time in Mexico while relaxing. Recently, when I was cleaning out my closet I discovered I collected more flags during my travels. Also I had a couple of t-shirts I was very fond off, but I didn’t wear them. Because of the memories I couldn’t throw them away, and immediately thought of the great idea of my mum to turn them into pillow cases.

pillows2

I wouldn’t really call this a DIY project, as I don’t know how to use a sewing machine. Luckily, I’ve got a great mum that doesn’t mind doing me the favour. If you aren’t handy with a sewing machine either ask a family member or go to a tailor in town.

Stitch a piece of fabric to the flag or t-shirt

To turn the flags and t-shirts into a pillow case, my mum stitched a red fabric at the back of it. One side is left open to put the pillow in.

Pillows come in different sizes

Take into account what the size of your pillow case should be. As you can see the pillows have different sizes. The standard size of small pillows is often 40×40 or 50×50 cm, and for bigger pillows it’s 60×70 or 40×60 cm. If you already have some inner cushions at home, measure them to find out what size they are. New you can buy them for example at Ikea. Surprisingly they are called Inner 😉

Pillows add a personal touch

The great thing with these cushions is that they add a personal touch to your place without having to do a big make over. I recently moved to a new place, and didn’t want to paint my room, but with the pillows on my bed it immediately felt like home.