PACKED LIVES

Paul Goodyer travels the world to test products for Nomad, his long-haul travellers' shop and pharmacy centre in north London

Swan Vesta matches are great remote-area gifts; striking a flame on a piece of wood impresses. And when our children, Hannah, 10, and Elliot, seven, go trekking we pack balloons. They take no space, but blow up a few and it's party time in jungle villages.

It takes two hours to complete my packing of multi-functional clothes which are the same for every climate. I like fleece tops, which can double as pillows. A cotton scarf can become a sun hat, or a face protector against Saharan sand storms. Baggy cotton trousers with six pockets and anti-bug drawstring bottoms replace jeans. I wear a rain- and sun-proof felt trilby hat.

Cotton shirts will do for both business and rough trekking. Everything gets washed in the shower.

Cooler than a sleeping bag, my Tropical Quilt, developed by the US Army for Vietnam, doubles as blanket or wrap. Dunked in a river it dries while I drink a cup of coffee.

Since I began using a convertible travel sack instead of a backpack, I have never been searched in customs. This shoulder bag converts to a backpack and is smart enough for hotel stays. It has hideaway flap compartments and opens flat for easy access, compared with the lucky dip of conventional backpacks.

A 1941 Mark IV gas mask bag takes my camera gear. It looks battered and not worth stealing. My luxury is a soft, two layer, cotton hammock which packs down to the size of a soft-drink can. I can slip into it to sleep, and sling put it up on a beach for those special moments.

"Lonely Planet" guide pages go in plastic wallets - it's lighter than taking several books. Valuables fill an underarm pouch, where they are comfortable and accessible.

I would never be without Gaffa tape. It mends shoes, bonds on my camera back dropped while fleeing an angry elephant, will keep dressings in place, hang mosquito nets, tape up loose doors or passports in hideyholes. My pen-sized water purification pump is slow but uses any water source. I carry water in a two-litre inflatable US army bottle. Other space savers include a Shammy travel towel, shaving oil, a small bottle lasts forever and doubles as body and hair cleanser.

Our children have their own mini rucksacks and bumbags with a toy, tough torch, notebook, crayons and pens. They wear scaled-down versions of our clothes with fleece track suits for long journeys. Little "treats" are sachets of jam, peanut butter, muesli bars and stock cubes to pep up village rice and noodles.

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