What to pack. Or in my case ‘what not to pack’.
I am notoriously known to over pack. Even after all these years.
I pack a lot of things ‘just in case’.
- Backpack fixing kit, in case my backpack rips – It has never happened in all these years.
- All kinds of medication, in case I get sick – Have never needed it and you can buy medication just about anywhere.
- Swiss army knife, in case I need to cut, screw or pick something – Again, I have never used it.
- A sleeping bag, in case the hostel has no sheets – Which they always have.
I pack too many clothes. Again ‘just in case’.
- 3 Sweaters, just in case it gets cold in South East Asia
- A rain coat, just in case it starts raining in the desert
- Hiking boots, just in case I am gonna climb Mount Everest
- 2 Pairs of jeans, just in case I feel like wearing the other one.
So maybe I am not the right person to give you advice on what to pack. But I have gotten better (not much) and learned a few helpful things from other backpackers and through my own experiences.
So I would still like to give you a few tips on how to pack.
How to pack
Once you have decided what you will take, without my help, it is time to pack it into your backpack.
Don’t just put everything all together in the backpack, divide clothes into different smaller bags, separated by tops, bottoms and underwear. That way, when you need a shirt, you just need to take that bag out of your backpack, get the shirt and put the bag back in the backpack. Without using the bags you have to take every item out of your backpack, because you know the shirt you want is always at the bottom of your backpack, and then have to re-pack everything.
*Please do not use plastic bags for this, there is nothing more annoying as somebody packing their backpack at 5 am in a shared dorm with noisy plastic bags. You will not make friends this way. I would advice mesh bags drawstring backpacks. They are cheap and light and easy to use.
Colours to Take
Now this might be more of a problem for the girls.
If that 1 great top only goes with 1 pair of shorts. Do not take it.
Make sure all your tops, go with all of your bottoms. You will get more use out of them.
I mostly take darker clothes, it is easy to mix & match and if it gets dirty it won’t show.
And this is also easier with doing laundry, you only have to do one load. You do not want to have to do 1 load of washing just for 1 top.
Less is More
Gather everything you want to take with you. Now half it.
It is really that simple.
Best advice I have gotten for packing.
I just need to actually do it.
But I have managed to cut it down to about 65%.
Items that can be used for more thing. This will save you space and weight.
Sarong: My favourite multi-purpose item. Can be used as a pillow case, blanket, (beach) towel, dress, skirt, scarf, bag or hang in front of your (bunk) bed for a bit of privacy.
Tablet/Smart Phone: This can hold so many things. Music, movies, travel guides, books, pictures, travel documents, maps, calendar, note book. To many of you this may sound needless to mention, but things were so different to when I started travelling. I needed to bring all these items separately.
Shampoo: Shampoo a multi-purpose item? Trust me, it is. I use it as a body and facial wash too. It works perfectly as laundry detergent. And I once did the dishes with them.
Tree Tree Oil: My little secret bottle of perfection. It works great as a mosquito repellent. It also helps with cuts, bruises, infections, and a few other not so nice fungi
. And I love the smell, which helps if you are ever staying in some old and mouldy hostel.
Drawstring backpacks: So simple. They are cheap, light and easy to clean. And can be used for a day out or as a toiletry bag to take to communal showers. Also use it as laundry bag or to keep in your wet beach clothes after a day at the beach.
- Passport – You really cannot go anywhere without it.
- Credit card – To book your flights, accommodations, trips and well, just in case!
- Power bank – Running out of battery on that long train ride? A power bank will help you out.
- Chargers – Everything needs a charger these days. Phone, tablet, camera. Do not leave home without your chargers.
- World Travel Adaptor – So you remembered to bring your chargers, but European plug does not fit in the Asian sockets.
- Combination padlock. They come in handy in hostels where you get a safe without a lock. I use one with a combination, because keys are easy to loose.
- Wet wipes – Freshen up during a long bus trip or in case you are in a country with very few showers.
- Inflatable pillow, sleep mask and ear plugs – Great for overnight journeys, but also if you are staying in a noisy hostel.
- Elastic hair ties. No, not just for the ladies. They are great for compressing larger items in your backpack, like your fleece jacket or raincoat and you can use them to tie things to the outside of your backpack.
- Selfie stick. Yes, I said it! Bring a selfie stick! I travel alone and have surprisingly short arms. I cannot take a good picture of myself and sometimes there is no one around for me to ask to my picture. Selfie stick to the rescue!
These packing tips work for me, they might not work for you. In the end, you can buy anything you need wherever you are. But just in case, I try to bring what I know I will need.