Need help deciding what to bring and what not to?
Stop packing right now! Get rid of all that crap in your backpack , please.. yes, I’m talking to you. Toss everything out and let’s start over together. No more dilemmas and almost panic attacks. I’m here to help..
First of all, it is a backpack you’re trying to pack. Think about it. That means everything you put inside of it will be carried by you and you alone on your own back. That will stop you from trying to stuff more useless objects in there, will it not?
Okay, now that you realized the most important rule, we can go over the basics. Clothes, toiletries, camping gear (optional), electronics (optional, although I doubt that these days there’s still people traveling without a camera or cell phone). Long term travel or short term travel, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll still need all of the same things.
Let’s talk clothes first. Most of you take half of your closet with you on holidays right? You should see some of those girls and their backpacks, I’ve encountered in hostels before. They carry like 10 pairs of shoes around with them! Why? I’ll admit it’s definitely everybody’s biggest problem, trying to pack light. Even I made mistakes in the past, but I learned from them and here are my positive results. One pair of flip-flops and one pair of sneakers/hiking boots, five pairs of underwear, a sports bra, 4 pairs of socks, 1 short summer dress, 1 long summer dress, 1 bikini, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of jogging pants, 2 tops, 4 T-shirts, one long sleeved shirt, 2 hoodies, a hat and a light but big scarf. Now this is not much at all, I know, but they are all very versatile pieces of clothing. Plus I can still look very trendy, despite what you’re thinking. For example my scarf has been used as a knapsack, picnic blanket, towel to lay on on the beach, head wrap for the sun, sarong and scarf for when it gets colder. Dirty clothing can always be washed in a sink with a piece of soap or a bit of shampoo! Don’t carry around all of your dirty clothes inside your bag for too long. It will start to reek fast! Another thing I’ve learned from my first long term backpacking trip, is to take your favorite clothing with you instead of your old, ripped up stuff. It’ll make you happy and not want to go shopping all the time .
Toiletries are also a necessity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about them! What I personally have with me at all times is a toothbrush and toothpaste, 2in1 shampoo/conditioner (preferably organic), one comb or brush, one bar of soap, 1 razor (a girl’s gotta shave her legs once in a while), tweezers, nail clipper, cotton swabs, body butter, lip balm, sunscreen, hair bands, mascara, tampons (of course!), baby wipes (they’re good for everything, especially during camping trips), small first aid kit, Iodine tablets (for producing drinking water), anti-mosquito spray (preferable organic), painkillers and anti-histamines. I can swear to you, I don’t need anything more than this. I am, after all, traveling non-stop. I can always go to a local department store if I need anything.
If you plan to go hiking and camping, you might want to make your pack a bit lighter of course. Make some space for water and food. We decided to take camping gear with us this time around and have found it very easy to make the extra space available in our backpacks. A marvelous tip for finding discount topnotch camping gear is going to your local specialized Outdoor’s shop and check if they have garage sales. This means returned items from unsatisfied customers for less than half the original price. Sometimes there is something wrong with it, but usually it’s more because it’s too small or short or the wrong color. That’s where we went looking (REI, Seattle) and got a super fancy tent,
2 sleeping mats and 2 very comfy and warm sleeping bags for a total of 300 bucks. I can tell you that the price of it all together new would have been more than double that price. We also have a flashlight, pocket knife, a small one burner gas stove and one small pot and recently acquired forks. You don’t need more, well maybe a book, but that’s pretty much it.
By now, we have gotten the electronics part down as well. You could easily travel without a laptop but I personally can’t, so we have a netbook and a small external 1TB hard drive that we carry around with us. Connor can’t go without taking fabulous photographs everywhere we go, therefore we have a fairly new digital camera with us as well, plus a cell phone. Don’t forget the most important part. A internationally convertible adaptor for charging your batteries. We have a wonderful little thing that does it all in one.
Time for the last tips. A couple of things you wouldn’t think you’d need, but will prove to be super useful. Rubber bands (multiple uses), ziplock bags (for waterproofing or just space saving), pillow cases (separate the inside of your backpack into compartments or just as a laundry bag), a rain jacket is never a bad idea either or a journal to keep track of your adventures. Have a small rucksack with you as well for carry on purposes or as a day pack. We also save a lot of money on having or own water bottle. Instead of buying water all the time, we fill ours up pretty much anywhere.
Well, I think that’s about it. I hope this was helpful and please, if you have questions.. ask away!
May you all have many grand adventures without too much back and/or shoulder pain!
Love and Peace,