The idea of backpacking is amazing. Beautiful destinations, beaches, exploration and the time of your life. And really, the reality lives up to the expectation. But there’s one niggly thing that isn’t so pleasant – and that’s the packing.
Some manage to fit their life into a 65l rucksack with ease. Others, like myself, find it one of the most difficult tasks in the world. I’m not a princess, I don’t tend to carry everything but the kitchen sink, but I do like choice. And unfortunately, choice means space.
So, after many evenings spent packing, unpacking and re-packing, I’ve realised that there are only 5 rules you need to follow. Admittedly, it’s easier said than done, but when you’re carrying your life on your back for months, your shoulders will thank you in the end. Hopefully these packing tips for backpackers will come in handy for your trip!
Rule No. 1: Less is more
You just have to think realistically. Do you really need 14 bikinis? The answer is, probably not. This is something that I have personally had to work through, and it’s definitely been an emotional time sacrificing some of my much-loved bikinis for more rucksack space. However, when you will be carrying this bag on your back day in, day out, you really need to consider whether it’s worth the extra weight and hassle.
Rule No. 2: Don’t forget vacuum bags
It’s no secret that a 65l rucksack isn’t huge. The largest rucksack I found designed for females was a 70l, but at 159cm, it was difficult to find anything larger than 65l to fit comfortably. However, losing out on space means you may have to invest in a few space-saving devices so that you can compensate for the smaller capacity. I’ve found vacuum bags a lifesaver, especially for jumpers, denim shorts and t-shirts. Let’s face it, there are some items that you will refuse to sacrifice, so if you can make use of the space you have and make your packing much more efficient, it’s definitely a great investment.
Rule No. 3: Buy everything out there
This applies to toiletries. Yes, you may be thousands of miles away from home, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find your favourite beauty brands out there. Mainstream brands like Nivea and Dove can be found everywhere, so don’t worry about taking back-up bottles of shampoo and deodorant as you will always find it one way or another. Do remember to take the essentials though – contact lens solution, for example, is difficult to find especially on the islands.
Rule No. 4: Ditch ¼ of your clothes
As a general packing rule, this normally works well. Lay out all of your packing gear, and eliminate at least 25% of your load. You’ll end up wearing the same items over and over, and as you’ll soon find your favourites, and you won’t want to be routing through your rucksack every day for a new outfit. It may sound ruthless, but you’ll definitely thank yourself in the long run. Otherwise, you’ll just end up ditching much-loved clothes that you should never have taken in the first place.
Rule No. 5: Don’t leave with a full pack
The likelihood is, you won’t always be super efficient at packing. You’ll only end up stuffing your clothes into your bag when you’re in a hurry or too busy to pack properly, so make sure you’re not full to the brim when you set off on your trip.
Ultimately, you need to be ruthless. When you’re trekking up mountains or snorkelling with turtles, the outfit you’re wearing will be the least of your worries, so bear this in mind when you’re packing your sack and life will be a whole lot easier when you’re out there!
What are your best packing tips for backpackers travelling the world? Drop your comment below!