Hey fellow travelers!

I’ve had many friends ask me how they should be packing for various backpacking trips around the world – and I figured I’d put together a guide to help you along.


Choosing a backpack

“Bring a few textbooks to the store.”

You’re going to need something to carry all of your stuff around; choose it well – you’re going to be wearing it a lot.

  • Start by visiting backpacking stores in your nearby city; bring a few textbooks with you. Stuff them in the backpack and try it on.
  • Once you’ve found one that’s comfortable, if you’re not able to afford it, you might want to try online to see if you can find the same model for a cheaper price. I’d recommend supporting your local community, but sometimes you have to be economical.
  • Look for different features; hidden pockets, locking zippers, expandable compartments – all of these will come in handy while backpacking through whatever part of the world you’re going.

What to bring

“Less is more.”

I could fill an entire other backpack with the amount of things I left on hostel floors. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your packing.

  • If you can’t stand to lose it, don’t bring it.
  • Layers are your friend – pack a zip up hoodie
  • Safety pins; in case a zipper or strap breaks

If you’re planning on taking a lot of flights where you check your pack, if you have the room, bring along a cloth laundry bag. You can place your backpack in it, and tie it up so it won’t get damaged by airport baggage equipment.

When I went on a tour of Europe, I took the following things with me:

Clothing

  • 4 t-shirts (it was plenty)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 4 pairs spandex underwear
  • 6 pairs of thick socks
  • flip-flops (thongs, for the Australian readers)
  • a pair of good running shoes
  • 1 hoodie (jumper, for my UK mates)

Toiletries

  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, retainer
  • Roll of toilet paper (if you’re going to a developing world country)
  • Bottle of shampoo/body wash combination (it’s about utility, not beauty)

Misc

  • Passport (arguably the most important thing on this list)
  • Travel wallet (basically a discrete fanny pack)
  • iPad / iPod / charger / headphones
  • Safety pins, a few pens, a good book

A note on electronics: While I do like to unplug while travelling, I always found it helpful to have some sort of WiFi capable device with me, so I could send a few emails, and book the next hostels. You’ll figure out what’s best for you – just don’t bring anything that you’re not prepared to lose.

You’ll find what’s right for you. If you think that you’ll need something, pack it. Just keep in mind that almost everything can be bought overseas. Obviously pack the weather. If you’re visiting Australia, probably best not to bring your Canada Goose jacket. Also, buy a watch.


Packing the backpack

“The heavy items go at the top.”


I was vehemently against this for my first few weeks of travelling – when I finally tried it though, it made a world of difference. Placing the heavy items at the top allows the weight to be distributed more on your hips, than your back – it makes for a less-sore night.

Roll your clothes. It will save space, while keeping them from being too wrinkled. You’ll eventually get the whole thing down so well, you’ll be doing it in the morning darkness of hostel room floors.


Wearing the pack

“Make sure you’re wearing your waist strap.”

Strap it on, and have a friend do up your straps. Check your individual pack for instructions on how to best do up the straps. Regardless of the pack though, make sure you’re wearing your waist strap. It allows the weight to be taken off your back, and onto your hips.


Before you leave

“Live for today, dream for tomorrow.”

  • Scan your entire wallet – keep in a secure cloud service you can access; passport, credit cards, etc. If you ever lose it, it will be a dream to still have the information for cancellations and replacements.
  • Make a (paper) photocopy of your passport, bring it with you.
  • Bring an open mind, a cool head, and a smile for the wonderful people you’re about to meet.

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