Choosing what to bring on your first backpacking trip can be tough. It’s almost too easy bring an excessive amount of belongings, which inevitably end up getting left behind after a bag reshuffle or a souvenir purchases means there’s no longer room for everything. Travelling light is essential, making it easier to make the train on time on an InterRailing trip or squeezing onto a packed bus. Read on to discover the five best ways to stop your bag bursting at it’s seams.
The power of three
With space at a premium, It’s important you only pack the essentials. Packing light on clothing can be especially tough for any roving fashionista – naturally you’ll want to rock up in an new city in your finest threads.
Clothes are probably the bulkiest of things you’ll bring with you, however, so this is an important area to limit yourself. The fact is that no matter how long you’ll be travelling for, you’ll only really ever need up to three of each item of clothing. Regardless of where you go, you should be able to access a launderette or at least a sink at some point every three days – if you’re really heading out into the sticks then clean clothes are probably not going to be a priority.
Most people will only need three of everything – three tops, three pairs of underwear, three pairs of shorts, and so on.
Buy travel detergent
Travel laundry detergent is ideal for any backpacker, allowing them to hand wash their clothes with little more than a bucket of cold water. Many brands even work with sea water!
Travel detergent usually comes in 100ml containers too, so they’ll get through security in your hand luggage with no problem, taking up minimal space. It’s ideal for anyone looking to save money, as you’ll be able to avoid local laundrettes.
The only other things you’ll need is a universal sink plug and a travel laundry line.
Leave the laptop and paper map at home
If you’re travelling for a long time, you’ll want some gadgets with you for entertainment in your downtime. If you’re blogging about your travels, you’ll also want something to write your posts on.
As internet cafes are gradually being phased out in favour of wifi hotspots, it’s best to bring along your own device, however even small laptops can add some considerable bulk and weight to your backpack.
Consider what you’ll actually need to do while your away. Can a small 7-8 inch tablet suffice? An iPad mini can do almost everything a laptop can do, yet weighs under 300 grams. Add an external bluetooth keyboard, and you’ve got the perfect combo to write your blog en-route.
Similarly, leave the paper maps, magazines and guide books at home, replacing them with apps.
Google maps now has an offline maps function, allowing you to download maps over WiFi and track your position using GPS. Similarly, booking.com also offers offline maps, and if you book accommodation through them, you’ll get a free local guide to the area that you can download to your device.
Use the space you’ve saved to pack a portable battery pack to keep your devices juiced up. You’ll be glad you did if you have to spend more than a couple of days without access to mains electricity!
Store your things in freezer bags
See-through freezer bags or zip-lock are an ideal way to categorize your things while taking up minimal space in your backpack. Ever tried to dig out something at the bottom of your bag, having to take everything else out first? Freezer bags mean its much easier to keep related items together, so it’s easier to find what you’re after.
If you’re especially organised, you can even label bags by category so you’ll have no problems finding whatever you need.
Fold and roll your clothes
Clothes can take up a lot of space thanks to having a large amount of air pockets. The image conscious traveller will also want to avoid getting their garments too creased.
The best way to pack in clothes as tightly as possible in your bag is to first fold them, then roll them up. This helps to squeeze out any air pockets and can help keep clothes crease-free.
Better still, try wrapping larger pieces of clothing around smaller ones, which will keep your clothes packed tightly without air pockets.
Featured photo credit: Josiah Weiss via unsplash.com