Packing may seem a lot less important than the memories you’ll make on your next big travel adventure, but getting it wrong can turn a fun experience into an inconvenient one. Think of packing and travel gear as a pair of shoes; while your casual slip-ons won’t technically stop you from traversing the epic Inca Trail in Peru, there are certainly shoes better suited for the job. Similarly, you can chuck your belongings into any bag if you wish, but you need to consider your location, planned activity, and climate before beginning the process.
For extended trips (generally anything beyond four weeks), packing is an even more daunting exercise. The trick is to get the most bang for your buck from each item you take along with you, be it clothing that can be worn or combined for different weather scenarios or bags that serve a dual purpose. Still confused? Read on.
Choose the luggage
Assuming you will be on the move often on your long trip, we recommend a backpack over a suitcase. They’re simply more practical across a wider range of scenarios than a suitcase, especially if you are visiting a place without the benefit of tarred roads or spacious taxi cabs.
The type of backpack is a matter of personal preference, but we’d recommend sticking with the traditional, top-opening version with side pockets and a front-facing zipper. That’s three easily accessible points, and by assigning the same things to the same compartment or pocket, you’ll save yourself a lot of fuss. Don’t buy a backpack without spending plenty of time trying it on; a stylish design won’t matter to you if your back is aching! Always select a backpack with a smaller, lighter daypack attached which you can use as your carry-on luggage and for day trips.
Toiletries: Buy as you need
Even a month’s worth of toiletry supplies can take up a lot of space. Even worse, they create a big mess if spilt. Be sure to purchase travel-sized toiletry bottles, and as far as possible, stock up on the road.
A helpful hint is to do a trial run before leaving to figure out how long a small, manageable amount of product will last you.
Clothing: Think versatility
Shorter trips may allow for a new outfit each day, but this isn’t possible for longer expeditions. First off, try to pack in clothing items which can be used for multiple purposes, such as shorts that wouldn’t look out of place whether hiking or perusing the city. Durability is a factor too, so pack in decent quality t-shirts and jackets that won’t easily soil or look scruffy - think denim, synthetics, and textured cottons.
The basic nature of travel - and unreliable laundry services - mean that it’s best to leave white clothing at home. Don't forget to think long and hard about footwear choices as these take up a huge amount of space!
- Go digital – cozying up with a book while in transit is a great comfort, but you can do the same with a space-saving tablet
- Invest in a quality power bank which will keep its charge for a good couple of days
- Use packing cubes and compression sacks to organise your belongings
- If you’re not rolling your clothing, you’re not doing it right
- Try to pack so that you can wear every shirt with every skirt or pair of shorts/pants
By carefully planning what you’ll pack in and what you’ll leave at home, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters once your holiday gets underway.