I must advised you that if you have opened this post expecting to find a “never disclosed before” tips on how to elaborate the perfect backpack for a long trip, then you better stop reading now and search the tips of those who really know what they’re talking about! (meaning everyone else but me)
But if you have ever felt that packing for a “backpacking” trip brings the worse in you, you’ve felt full of desperation and wanted to scream and send the trip to THAT place, I’m your girl. Keep reading because you and I have lots in common J
Seems that your last trip happened millions of years ago and the living prove that it all happened for real is your beloved old dirty smelly backpack that has been cornered in your wardrobe for what it seems forever. Every time you see it you feel an intense desire of packing it up again and head for the door or more likely, for the closest airport. All previous bad memories erased, that backpack that you have hated intensely during your travels symbolizes now freedom once again.
We idolized the moment of packing; it is the beginning of better things to come, adventures, the unexpected!
And the moment finally comes where the preparation begins. It is that exciting time pre-trip; buying and gathering all the necessary items, ticking off useless items from your list and awww…the satisfaction of it!
Now read me carefully because I can for real enlighten you with the following tips of what you should NOT do when packing just because I have done them all before and suffered the consequences too late, too far.
Here’s an easy list of my most memorable (read “un-memorable”) ideas when packing;
Underwear: (this section may be of more interest to female readers for the obvious reasons but if you are a man, you should still read it and learn something)
Why oh why we women feel like we can never take less than 10 pairs “at least” of underwear? It may be your first time going away for a long period of time and well, too right you think that nothing can possibly be more necessary than to carry plenty of underwear? WRONG!
Not only you will realized soon enough that your underwear is taking a whole lot of vital space in your backpack but also why you never thought that soap bars are your best friends and they can be provide you with multiple uses AKA leaving you pristine and your underwear, too. You get the idea, right? It is called STOP BEING LAZY AND WASH your own clothes and I must say it works quite well 🙂
And here’s when you are most likely to notice how much the comforts of the first world have influenced you unless you have been carrying a backpack around the globe longer that you’ve been working.
What a dilemma…I can totally relate to it even now when I have a fair bit of travelling on my back. Backpacking and clothes happen to make the most laid back woman go crazy; less space in favor of more clothes or the opposite? Too much or too little? Will be cold or hot or both? Beach or hiking? Dress to impress or not to care? I know, I know….is hell!
I agree it’s super difficult to choose from when the space is so limited, the kilos adding up too quickly but I promise you, it does get better with time and experience… well ok… just slightly better.
I guarantee you something; with extreme temperatures hitting, many kilometers of your journey still laying ahead and the (almost) real feeling that the kilos in your back are growing by the minute, you’ll start hating every single item in your backpack and regrets will appear every single time you have carry, pack and unpack. You will, without a doubt, develop a strong love-hate relationship with your backpack. More times than none, you’ll end up wanting to throw it out of the window.
Remember that in some parts of the world, like SE Asia, clothes are cheaper and even cheaper if you know how to haggle so don’t over packed. It is unnecessary because we both know that whether you need clothes or not, you will end up purchasing them, anyway!
Let’s be honest, us women we’re all guilty of wanting to improves ourselves with little make-up tricks here and there. Been there, done that.
Of course depending of which destinations you are going to visit I would not advice you against make-up. For instance, a trip to Las Vegas is not the same as a backpacking trip around SE Asia or a Safari in Africa, you get the idea? But if you are heading to a warm backpacking paradise, the last thing you want is not to see well a precious landscape because the melting make-up is getting in your eyes. Besides, the sun will tan your skin making you look beautiful and wealthy, what’s not to like about natural beauty?
Please tell me that you are not thinking to take a pair of high heels or any uncomfortable beautiful pair of sandals for the matter for a backpacking trip? Just not a good idea, forget it.
Think laid back style, fitting with the crowds, beach and mountain and lots of kilometers to be walked, occasionally in difficult conditions. Enough said; a pair of trainers or mountains shoes (my choice as I love hiking) and comfortable sandals for warmers weather and stony streets. Other than that and absolutely necessary, common sense applied, a pair of sandals to wear in any shower that is not your own, no more explanations needed.
Books & Guides:
Long gone are the days when I used to take with me heavy guides and books. Of course I have done it back in the days and I’m here now to tell you not to help yourself with a guide BUT of course, exceptions apply.
Are you heading to more than one country? Do you even know where are going to head to? There are two things that I can honestly advise you here and it goes for both guides and books; E-books and/or buying used ones on the go. The magic words are “download before you go” (I have downloaded a few LP guides for my upcoming trip in my E-book, easy, simple, weight free except for the Kobo itself) Of course it has taken me years to do this, I have tried to live without technology but it wasn’t quiet working…At the same time, if you are heading to the adventure and not knowing exactly which countries you are going to visit, don’t start downloading for your life. There is WiFi pretty much everywhere in the world! Log in and research for your next destination and so on.
In my last trip that lasted seven months where I ended up visiting countries that were not initially in my itinerary, I realized that improvising was not only fun and adventurous but provided me with an increased feeling of freedom. If I was ever unsure of anything or lacked vital information, a quick connection to the web and all the information was there available through blogs and other websites to help me continue preparing my next destinations. If Internet doesn’t for you, then just talk to people, more often than not the best advises come from fellow travelers and that is the beauty of it. Sharing is caring 🙂
If you do not have an E-book, that is absolutely not a problem as during your travels sooner or later you’ll be passing backpacking spots and whenever backpackers has put their feet, they have left books and guides. There are always around, whether it is at your chosen Guest House/Hostel or in a shop selling second hand books. If the guide is a really old version, just add a few more dollars per year to any price information provided in the book since the edition year that was published and that should do.
These are just some ideas, but I could come up with many more but in reality many things are common sense, think that no place in the world is so isolated that they have never seen shampoo, toothpaste or soap and if you have been, then I would love to hear about it but until then, believe me and thousand of others; you do not need to carry your life in your back, build it up to your own necessities while your travel J