Packing for any trip can be a bit overwhelming. Traveling or backpacking can include any scope of time from weeks to months to years as well as many diverse climates, depending on your plans or perhaps lack thereof. Needless to say, you want to be as prepared as possible to help your journey whilst keeping items to a minimum and keeping your packs relatively light. Remember, you will be carrying these bags often enough and you want your backpack to be your friend, not your enemy. So do yourself a favour and pack wisely. Less is more.
The feeling that less is more is appreciated and you feel liberated by carrying ‘everything you own’ sort of speak on your shoulders, knowing you have absolutely everything you need attached to you. It’s freeing.
So it goes without saying that every adventure starts with a backpack, usually two, with a daypack as well, that you will wear on the front of you. Often times, you can find backpacks used from friends for a lot cheaper, often they are just laying around not being used. To keep things relatively light around a 40L bag is ideal. Be sure to adjust your packs correctly for a proper fit.
So after the obvious backpacks, are clothes of course. But that is a separate list, perhaps for another time. So let’s begin:
- Money Belt & Cash. Always have some cash of the local currency, which is easy usually to attain upon arrival from the nearest ATM. I also always carry some $US with me for back up as it is widely excepted and can get you out of a pinch. Store your money, cards, passport in a money belt, wear it under your shirt. and prevent theft before it happens.
- ATM Bank Cards. This is probably the most important advice – Be sure to take at least TWO different bank cards, that are Cirrus, Plus or Maestro compatible, which most are. Banks cards often get ‘eaten’ by atm’s or simply don’t work for some reason. Have two bank cards from two different accounts (or three) and keep them in different spots. If you have backup card(s) you are preventing yourself a potential huge headache. Unfortunately I find that Cirrus/Plus compatible bank cards from credit unions often don’t work.
- A guidebook. I am mostly familiar with Lonely Planet books but Rough Guides, Foder’s, and Frommer’s are all viable options as well. Reading books. Pick one only, okay maybe two. Read it along the way and then exchange it at a hostel or book store. Of course an E-reader is ideal for traveling for it’s compact size and endless library of books. I have yet to go digital in this department, call me old fashion?!
- Journal or Notebook. I started writing a journal when I left on my very first backpacking trip in August 2003. I still write. It can be anything you want it to be, just write and see where it takes you. Even notes. Mine isn’t a typical travel journal necessarily, it’s more personal with the many thoughts, and emotions I faced throughout my journey. I am definitely an advocate of writing. It has helped me tremendously when I struggled by offering some clarity and perspective, and even company; And just as important, I also like to celebrate the good times via paper to pen. It’s a great healing tool.
- Wifi Device & charger. Yes today wifi is everywhere in every country, and most people wouldn’t leave home with it. It is an easy way to connect with loved ones, even to avoid that inevitable bout of homesickness. Not to mention, the plethora of uses it serves. So I would definitely recommend something. You of course have many options – laptop, smartphone, tablet depending on your needs. Keep it small. I only started traveling with a laptop because of my needs as of a photographer and blogger, and it works for me but be sure it is necessary, otherwise perhaps just a smartphone. And be aware to not spend a lot of time on these devices, you are traveling! Go explore!
- Reusable Water bottle. I recently invested in one with a filter built in, so no need to buy bottled water. I can fill it up anywhere, it’s fantastic. Otherwise bottles made of tin or hard BPA-free plastic are durable and safe, and just as great.
- Multi purpose pocket knife or tool. Many tools in one small device, what more do you want?!
- Waterproof jacket. A half decent outdoor rain coat, not only for rain but also for wind and cooler weather.
- Or at least a flashlight/torch. Great for those dark nights and those dark rooms. A headlight is better to keep your hands free.
- Combination Padlock. A small solid one used for your bag as well as for lockers. Cable lock to securely attach your bag in a station, train, bus or hostel. Attach it to the outside of your bag.
- One pair of good hiking/trekking shoes. Be sure that you like them and they are comfortable. Wear them in before your trip. Sandals. A pair of attachable, water-proof, sporty sandals that are sturdy and good for walking.
- Travel Power Adaptor. This is for your electronics to covert power and voltage. You can get universal all-in-one adapters or single adapters. For global travels, universal ones are ideal and are just as compact as others.
- Keep it simple and basic. An easy yet unnecessary way to take up too much space is too many; stick to the true essentials. Try to use all natural handmade products on your skin, full of yummy natural oils rather than poisoning toxins found in many products.
- Health & Travel Insurance. Find what suits you best. There are some exceptions when it’s not necessary. Do your research on the countries you’re traveling to. WorldNomads.com is convenient for world travelers as you don’t have to be in your home country to purchase it.
- Passport, the obvious don’t forget it or to renew if needed. It must be valid for at least another 6 months. Driver’s Licence if you have one. Great simply for a second piece of official i.d.
11 MORE THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD PACK….
- Camera (and accessories). This is a definite for me. I carry one DSLR camera, 2 lenses, a flash and a few accessories. I suspect this is not a need for many as all mobile devices have cameras now that may suffice most. A mobile is a very multifunctional tool of course.
- These are really essential and take up no space. You will no doubt encounter some noisy nights whether it’s snorers or traffic noise
- Toilet paper. Always have this. You don’t need to pack it initially for the flight but certainly remember it find a roll afterwards.
- Photocopies of Documents. Passport, credit card numbers, travel visas – Be sure to leave photocopies in different spots, whether with a friend, or stored online.
- Rain covers (for your backpacks). These are pretty essential. Most new backpacks have covers built in usually at the bottom of the bag tucked in a pocket. Otherwise, they are cheap and come in many sizes.
- I recommend a ‘quick-dry’ or ‘fast-dry’ travel towel, not only for the drying factor, but just as important is the compact size. I use a large ‘beach’ size travel towel that is still very compact.
- First aid kit including essential oils. Include some basics that will get you by in a pinch such as bandaids, tension bandage, guaze, etc. Lavender and tea tree oil are both very versatile oils fantastic helping many ailments. Hide this at the bottom of your daypack to carry always. I rarely use it but good to have.
- Chop sticks. One of my key items. Takes absolutely no space and so handy.
- Travel Sewing Kit. I sewed my old backpack many times, not to mention clothing; so very handy.
- Sleeping bag or Sleeping Liner. Backpackers will argue this one for eternity. I do carry a sleeping bag now. I didn’t use to. It is great if you seek places a bit more ‘off the beaten track’ and you hop around quite a bit via different transit not knowing where you’ll end up automatically. I don’t necessarily use it often but when I do I am very grateful. However, it essentially depends on the type of traveling you’re seeking. Touring more developed countries, hopping city to city and staying on the main ‘backpacker’ route, staying at hostels you don’t need a sleeping bag at all.
- So versatile. It’s divine for many uses, and fabulous protector from the sun. Lightweight and compact. Wait and buy one along your travels, now you have a souvenir as well.
TOP QUICK TIPS:
Try to keep your bigger backpack no more than 15 kg.
Take preventative steps to ease your journey…Such as the money belt, back up bank card, rain covers, photocopies.
Take mix ‘n match clothing, and items that can be layered.
Cut the number of underwear…you can handwash them in the shower each time
Cut the toiletries. You really don’t need all those products.
Take items that are dual or multi-purpose.
Take only one pair of shoes. Then one or two sandals. That’s it.
Take only one coat, a wind resistant water-proof coat ideally.
Rip sections out of your guidebook as you go to lighten your load. (I have to admit I do have problems doing this one…I get attached to my guidebook)
5 ATTRIBUTES THAT WILL MAKE YOUR TRAVELS EASIER….don’t worry we all have these traits, you might just have to dig down a bit..…
- Open mindedness
- Open heart