Castaway and author Lucy Irvine may have survived island life, but she'd still pack a few essentials

I wouldn't leave home without my three sons - or at least photos of them. But, of course, the most important thing to take with you when you travel is an open mind.

I wouldn't leave home without my three sons - or at least photos of them. But, of course, the most important thing to take with you when you travel is an open mind.

I'm essentially a minimalist packer, but because the places I've tended to go to are so remote, it has been difficult to keep this philosophy at times. When I was packing for the trip to Pigeon Island in the Solomons, where we were going to live for a year, I shipped out four kayaks because I was taking the children with me. The boats had large empty hulls that I filled with reminders of home.

Funnily enough, food was one of the main things that leapt to mind when packing. Although I knew that the boys would soon be spearing their own fish I was worried about the transitional period.

I always take plenty of paper (often waterproof), and pens and pencils as I'm constantly losing them. And I'd be lost without a gripping book for its pure escapism value. I was lucky in the Solomon islands as I had access to Captain Hepworth's extensive library (I was there to write his biography). Unfortunately, the resident white ants had already feasted on a few of the books and some of the pages had been totally devoured. However, I was able to re-read all my favourite Forster and Waugh.

As far as possible I try to pack light but when I'm being a "mum", I tend to take little things that might bring the children comfort if disaster strikes. Before we left for Pigeon Island, I had secreted away a little bag of books. These proved invaluable when Cyclone Danny hit the island in 1999, keeping the children occupied as palm trees were flattened and the wind howled around us.

Lucy Irvine's book 'Faraway', her latest desert island adventure with her children on Pigeon Island, is published by Doubleday (£16.99).

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