When planning a trip, there is something as important as booking your ticket or wondering where to go once you arrive at your destination: what to bring. What you bring on your trip is vital for your trip being successful.
From my time traveling around the world, I’ve seen people bring huge bags on their trip and often they never use all the things they bring. People say they may need it, but my rule of thumb is bring the most important things and if you need something along the way, buy it!
Here are a few do’s and dont’s when it comes to backpacking:
Do use a backpack when traveling multiple countries
Basically, rule #1 when packing a backpack is get a backpack! Suitcases are definitely not recommended when you are country hopping. Because suitcases are big, even when they are carried on luggage, we have the tendency to use up all the space. It is human nature to do that. The problem with that is we bring more clothes and accessories than we need. When you bring a backpack, you are limited to a certain amount of space. This makes you start to decide what you really need to bring and what you need to get rid of.
Also, many foreign countries do not have great sidewalks and have lots of stairs with no elevators or escalators. This makes trying to lug luggage up a number flight of stairs or rolling it through terrible cracks a hard task. With a backpack, you have it strapped against your back and even if it can be a little heavy, you are able to maneuver through subways, streets, and stairs easier than with a suitcase.
Do not bring more than 3 pair of shoes.
When traveling, I feel you need 3 pairs of footwear: a good pair of walking/running shoes, a pair of slippers (flip-flops) and avg. dress shoes/heels. The first two pairs are a must! A good pair of walking/running shoes is a no brainer as majority of travelers will be walking an average of 10+ miles a day.
While running shoes will help with the constant walking, who wants to walk when the sun is blazing on a beautiful beach. A pair of slippers are great for warm climates with beaches like Thailand, Hawai’i, or Vietnam. They will keep your feet cool and comfortable. Also when you are staying at a hostel, you definitely want a pair of slippers for showering. You do not know whats on the floor of them showers.
Dress shoes/heels can be debatable, but with the spontaneous tendency of backpacking, you may never know when you need to dress up a little. I am not a fashion expert, but as long as you have average dress shoes/heels and its black (black matches everything), you can pull off any good outfit.
Do bring a first aid kit
The first aid kit is normally not something someone thinks of when packing a bag. But when you are traveling, you may never know when you will be bleeding from spelunking. You do not need to buy a first aid kit. They are often too bulky and has more things you need. A DIY first aid kit is much more reasonable, cost-effective, and easier to pack. I usually pack band-aids of all sizes,antiseptic cream,sterile gloves,pain killers,pepto pills,cold medicine (preferable pills), multivitamins, and condoms (safety first!) I usually kept it in a zip lock bag and would not take as much space.
Do not bring a guitar
I have seen many people bring guitars to hostels and although it is awesome to drink beers and sing some awesome tunes, traveling with anything that big can be a pain. It goes back to the whole suitcase issue, where you have to lug another piece of luggage everywhere. If you really need to express yourself to other travelers, most hostels these days have spare guitars to you use.
Do use compression bags/roll your clothes
The art of packing is utilizing your space and one way to make sure you get your clothes in your bag the most efficiently is either rolling your clothes or using compression bags. Rolling your clothes helps keep clothes packed and creates space for other things to pack. The way to roll a t-shirt is the army roll. This method is easy to remember and will be vital when packing. Another option is using compression bags. Basically, you place your clothes in the bag and squeeze the air out of the bag. You do not need any vacuum or a machine to take the air out. You just gotta sit on the bag while sealing it and then roll the remaining air out. You can find some cheap compression bags are dollar Japanese stores like Daiso or you can get some pricier compression bags at REI.
Don’t bring a laptop
The internet has help the way people travel these days from couchsurfing to finding deals on hostels and plane rides to keeping connected with family and friends. However, carrying a laptop in your backpack can be pain as laptops tend to take some room from your luggage and an extra thing to keep an eye on from thieves. My tip is leave the laptop at home and use computers at the hostels or cafes. It’s great to be connected, but I have seen people just stay all day and all night at the hostel on their laptops just chatting with friends back home and I always think to myself, “You didn’t leave home for a trip just to sit on a couch in a hostel.” If you have to be connected, using your smart phone is a good alternative as its small and with the way Wifi is free everywhere, you can have something portable with you.
Well that’s the tips I have for packing a backpack when traveling. Anyone have any other tips on packing a backpack? Leave a comment.