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Into the Wild meets: Intelligent Pelican  

Do you think that a sleeping bag and few t-shirts are the back packing’s essentials? Think again. For Mike and Louise McNeilage the list is longer, so those two experienced travellers have created “Intelligent Pelican”, the  essential gap year, festival and backpacking travel kit. In one bag you can fit six high quality, durable and lightweight items that you can use in any country you are travelling to.

Mike and Louise McNeilage, courtesy of Intelligent Pelican

How did the idea for Intelligent Pelican come about?

In 2011 Louise and I backpacked round India for 3 and half months. After £4 hostels, overnight trains, 8 hour bus rides and quite a few power cuts along the way we came back to the UK with an idea. No matter where you go in the world backpacking, gap year, or volunteering there are 6 items you must have in your backpack. You can buy them individually but no one brings those items together in a kit.

What is it about the kit that makes it so special?

Firstly, the quality. Before creating the kit we researched the best products in each category and made sure our products were not only up to their standard but, where possible, offered more added value.
Secondly, lightweight and practical. We have taken out the confusion from buying these items individually. Type in headlamp into Amazon and you will get 20 pages of headlamps ranging from £5 to £105.  You save time while knowing you are buying great quality.
Lastly, the price. Buy the equivalent products on the web and they will cost around £180. We sell our kit for £125.

Intelligent Pelican's travel kit

In what past situation have you most wished you’d had a piece of the Intelligent Pelican kit?

We had to get a train at 3am. We woke up to find the hostel and the area had no power and we hadn’t packed. Without the headlamp we wouldn’t have been able to pack or find our way to the station.

What is has been your favourite place to travel in the world?

It has to be India. The landscape is so different from the mountains of Ladakh, to the different colours and tastes of each region to the stunning coastlines. The people and customs will never leave you indifferent. You will see gobsmacking beauty and extreme poverty but no matter what, it is a country that leaves an everlasting mark on you.
What’s the biggest mistake you made as a traveller starting out? What do you wish you’d know then that you know now as a traveller?

 Two things. Packing too much and secondly, not immersing yourself in the local culture.

Image courtesy of Mahul Antani

We enjoyed the Intelligent Pelican quote cards on your website, where did the idea and the quotes come from? Which is your favourite?

We’ve seen so many quotes on travel and a lot of them are in our eyes, a little “mushy”. We wanted to get some which were quirkier. We scoured the net and found some which we also modified. One of our favourites is “Never ask a starfish for directions”, though I am putting up one soon which is “Best friends will never let you do anything stupid ….. alone”

If heaven and hell where places on earth where would they be for you?

Heaven would be Pangong lake in the Himalayas and Hell would be having to spend a month on a cruise ship.

Pangong lake, courtesy of Solarisgirl

When travelling, are you a window or isle seat kind of guy?

Window every time. For the views and something to lean on when you need to sleep.

If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Louise – a giraffe because they are elegant and free.
Mike – an elephant because they are huge and gentle wanders with a fierce sense of family.

What’s the best way you’ve seen someone use the Intelligent Pelican kit for so far?

A volunteer in Nepal where the charger helped him stay powered up when no one else had any and a traveller, who went through 18 countries in 5 months, used everything and is going again with the same kit.

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