Travelling with nothing but a bag on your back, not knowing where exactly you’re going or who you’ll meet is one of the best things you can ever do. This being said, when there are no tuk tuks around (ironically this always happens when you actually really need one and then an abundance of tuk tuks appear when you don’t) or you need to run as fast as you can to jump on a train, carrying a rucksack can be a massive pain in the arse.
It doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking for one month or twelve months, when you have to choose and squeeze the contents of your life into a rucksack you need to do it well! Now let me just say that by no means am I a packing pro. Actually my friends would probably laugh if they knew I was giving packing advice. I’ve had to learn the hard way by carrying unecessary kilos on my back for hours at a time and have consequently acquired some tips from other travellers. So here goes!
1) Buy a good rucksack
Don’t scrimp on money when it comes to buying a strong and durable rucksack. Make sure it’s at least water resistant or even better if it has an additional waterproof case. Another tip is to buy a bag that unzips all the way around instead of a pull string at the top. It’ll save you rifling through every item when all you want is a pair of shorts (probably at the bottom of your bag!)
2) Where are you going?
Beach, city, mountains, temples, workaway? Be mindful about where you’re going or potentially going so you can pack the right things. You can always buy things when you’re away but it’ll save you the expense.
3) Think, really think, do I actually need this? (Girls, I’m not stereotyping but this applies mainly to us)
Ah I love this cardigan it might come in handy if there’s a slight chill in the air of an evening. Oh and and this kimono I can wear this if I go for drinks. And this sparkly top, I’ll definitely wear this over Christmas (that’s me). Be brutal! Most of the time you’ll end up wearing the same clothes all the time anyway and won’t care because you’re too busy having fun.
5) Packing cubes
These are very nifty wallet type things which allow you to separate your clothes. You can keep all your tshirts, shorts and bikinis etc in separate bags to make getting ready a lot quicker. They stack nicely in a rucksack too.
6) Stock up on important things like sun cream
When we were in India is was so difficult to buy legitimate suncream. Most of it was fake and did a rubbish job at protecting our skin and if it wasn’t fake it was ridiculously expensive. So stock up at home while you can. Mosquito repellent is another one.
7) Padlock do’s and dont’s
Do bring a padlock with you to use in hostel lockers. Most hostels have them but don’t supply the padlock.
Don’t padlock the exterior of your rucksack. It will only draw attention to it and make others curious about what’s inside.
8) Bring as little as possible
Be brutal and bring as little as possible! I’m saying this again because carrying up to 20k on your back is graft! Try to utilise mix-and-match clothing. You can do laundry every week if you need to.
Don’t bother bringing more than one pair of flip flops and one pair of trainers. Unless you’re going hiking or trekking your feet won’t need anything else. You’ll probably go through multiple pairs of flips flops as they’re so easy to break/lose/be stolen. I think I’m on my 4th pair now!
10) Don’t forget about a day bag
A good day bag should be big enough to hold all your important stuff but small enough to wear comfortably all day.