Top tips and advice for packing the ultimate travel backpack, shared by Agness and Cez – eTramping duo.
So you’re off on your first around the world adventure – but what do you possibly pack? We’ve asked fellow travel bloggers Agness and Cez of eTramping to share their handy guide for what to bring and what to leave behind. They’ve been traveling around the world always with small luggage, avoiding unnecessary items and extra weight. They are pros when it comes to packing light!
Picture the scene. You’ve got time off work or study, you’ve got a plane ticket, you’ve sorted a budget, and you’ve got no real plan after that (which is the best way to travel, FYI). But what on earth do you put in your backpack?! GAH! NIGHTMARE! This will have you tearing your hair out while packing and repacking several times before you decide you don’t actually want to go anymore! But fear not friends, for we have put together some insider tips and tricks from our extensive packing experience to assist you in your hour of need. Read on and never fear packing again!
First and foremost, literally – what are you packing? Make a sensible choice and suit the gear to the task at hand. Are you going on a short break? Are you going for a weekend away? Or are you never going home?! Get yourself the right tool for the job. For long term travelers (such as ourselves) we recommend a tough trekking backpack that’ll hold a minimum of 65 litres. If you don’t have one, shop online to get the best deals and get the best one you can afford – it’s going to get pretty beat up along the way. And whatever you do, do not take a suitcase with wheels for trekking Tibet!
Timing is Everything
Do not – under any circumstances – leave packing until the last minute. This is just as true setting foot out of your own door for the first time as it is when you’re out there on the road. The amount of times things can get lost or go missing when you’re rushing to pack and leave somewhere – let us tell you! Don’t say you weren’t warned! Pack your stuff well in advance (even earlier than the night before you’re due to leave) and you’ll thank us later. So will other travelers in dorm rooms who you’re not disturbing by rustling plastic bags at stupid o’clock in the morning!
Just like the actual backpack, you need to ensure you’re packing the right equipment for your journey. If you’re trekking the Sahara, do you need three wooly jumpers? If you’re climbing Everest, do you need hair straighteners?! Use common sense and only pack what you’re going to actually need. You’ll be surprised how many travelers pack stuff that goes unused for the entire length of their trip! If you’ve not used it for a couple of weeks – ditch it!
So, What Do We Actually Pack?
Alright we’ll get on with it! Boys and girls are always going to have different needs, but as a rule of thumb, here’s a rough idea of what you can pack. This is based around our experience, and the experience of many fellow long term travelers. This is roughly for a typical round-the-world trip – and consists only of the clothing. Other stuff we’ll cover later.
- A week’s’ worth of underwear – socks, pants, and bras – if required
- Five or six T-shirts or tops
- One pair of jeans
- One pair of trekking or outdoor trousers
- One or two nice shirts/dresses for “going out”
- Two pairs of shorts and/or comfortable legwear
- One or two hoodies/warm sweaters
- Outdoor jacket – as lightweight as possible
BBBUT! BUT! BUT! That’s NOTHING! We hear you cry! Yes this is itno – and it’s awesome! Generally speaking, lay out everything you want to pack, half it, then half it again. That’s what you need to be taking! Don’t forget you’ll be buying souvenirs and clothes along the way – so you need room for things you’re going to pick up, and you’ll be able to do laundry regularly, so you don’t need to pack huge amounts. Please be sensible. We’ve traveled comfortably for 6 years (with regular clothing rotations) using this rough guide. Seeing tourists bring three suitcases for a weekend away is nauseating!
What About Footwear?
Now this is slightly more of a challenge, especially if you’re female! We encourage you to pack light yes, but you should also be packing good, even if you are going to such mysterious places such as North Korea! Traveling light doesn’t have to mean looking horrible! When it comes to footwear, your discretion is advised, but NO MORE than three pairs! Flip-flops/sandals, a comfortable, lightweight, all-purpose trainer/hiking shoe, and something smarter for the evenings should be all you need. Leave the knee-highs at home!
What About Toiletries?
Pack only the essentials – and once again – use common sense. Remember that you won’t be allowed on aircraft if your carry-on luggage is stuffed with a ten liter bottle of Pantene – so grab yourself the travel-sized variation! Put your toothbrush in one of those little plastic brush protector things too, and bring some clear, plastic zip-lock bags. They’re super useful for storing wet items. Remember, you’ll most likely be able to pick up cheap cosmetics and toiletries at your destination – and hostels and hotels often have complimentary products available. Top-tip – ask at a reception desk for lost and found – people leave behind all kinds of goodies when they check out – so you can wash your hair for free for years!
What About Everything Else?
That’s pretty much all the bases covered, except for the non-essentials. We know people that have traveled for years without a camera – but we’d rather have one to catch those special moments – so don’t forget to pack the most travel friendly and best camera you can afford – depending on your level of photographic interest and skill. You’d be mad to throw in a huge DSLR with telephoto lens if you’re always cutting people’s heads off when taking a selfie. Only include a laptop if you think it’s absolutely necessary (if you require it for work for example) as those newfangled smartphones can do everything nowadays! Don’t forget a sun-hat and sunglasses though if you’re going anywhere hot or at high altitude – they are essential, and pack a small towel if you don’t want to keep having to hire one in hostels. If you’ve still got room left – a travel first aid kit is a must.
There now, that was pretty painless wasn’t it?! With a little bit of care and attention, you can avoid rookie mistakes when it comes to packing and you can put together a professional, killer backpack. Trust us – this will save you so many headaches along the way and in traveling as light as you possibly can, your back will thank you! Not only this, but getting from A to B is less of a hassle if you’re not hauling a wardrobe around, and if you’re unlucky enough to be targeted by thieves, there isn’t as much to take so it’s not the end of the world! (Pack a good padlock though, just in case). As we always say – just use a little common sense and you’ll have a much happier and more productive time on the road. But while we’re at it – share with us any of your own personal tips for packing like a pro! We’re always learning too!