Souvenirs– when to buy them, how much to spend on them, where to pack them in an already-full bag, even whether to get them at all– they’re one of those tricky aspects of travel that everyone does differently.
I’m the kind of traveller who has high hopes of buying something amazing for every single person I know yet is brought crashing down to earth when I realize that I’ve already spent all my money on my own adventures.
M. is the best at balancing me out in these times. On our last trip, he said to me, “No one expects you to bring them anything.”
He’s right! No one does expect anything, so there’s no point in trying to meet expectations of lavish gifts that no one actually has. Our friends and family know us– they know we travel fast, cheap, and light, and they know we often have to ship their presents across oceans once we do buy anything for them.
But when we really want to buy a little something for a close friend or family member– and we do, because exploring little markets and souvenir shops is part of the adventure for us– what kind of things can be bought that won’t break the bank or the backpack?
Full disclosure: I had no idea what to bring on this Mongolia trip. We had only 11 days, plus two days of transit time and two days in Hong Kong on a layover. I had heard that Central Mongolia (where we had to stick to because of time constraints) was cold at night, but we were also planning to go to the hot Gobi Desert and camp in Gorhi-Terelj National Park.
As far as I could see, I needed to pack light but also bring hot weather gear, cold weather gear, clothes for roughing it in the Gobi Desert but also walking around cosmopolitan yet humid Hong Kong, camping gear, etc etc etc.
I made some mistakes, but this list is the mistake-free, comprehensive, ultimate, full list of what to pack for two weeks in Mongolia. The list of extra stuff I brought for Hong Kong is at the bottom, in case you are also doing a city stopover. Ulaanbaatar is home to one of the most stylish populations I’ve seen in any city, though, so you might want to skip the travel fashion and bring some regular fashion if you want to fit in with the locals there.
Everything you need to spend (at least) two weeks in Mongolia and still pack light: