If you missed my last blog entry about packing, where were you?! Fear not, you can recap “RIP Material Girl” here. Following on from that one, as a fully experienced bag-packer extraordinaire I thought I would share my seven pearls of wisdom on how to improve your technique for packing for a massive, life changing adventure:
Make yourself a list, be that a scribbled note, a pretty, neat typed one or may be a mobile app. Whatever method you use, simply write down things you will need. Note the word “need”; this is your must have items like your underwear, any prescriptions etc. It is not frivolous items like chocolate (it melts – they sell it in other countries – eat that bar you’ve just bought). Once you can make all of your must have items fit, use your extra space for any luxuries or better yet, leave it so that you can fill it with souvenirs.
Think about the countries you’re visiting, the tours you’re booked onto, what style you want (yes, you can be stylish whilst travelling. I’ve never achieved it, but I’ve seen others). Imagine the places you’re staying. If it’s a hostel chances are you won’t be having a bath, so forget those salts and bubble bath, and pack the shower gel instead (or better yet, leave it out and buy a small one once you’re there). If you’re hiking up a mountain at some point on your trip then you’ll need your walking boots. Try to visualise the things you’ll be doing and what you’ll be wearing. Obviously, don’t forget to use the prompt lists tour companies usually issue.
It sounds obvious, but you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to chuck in your fave t-shirts or dresses and then when you get there realise you don’t have any shoes or trousers that match. I’ve done it before, so learn from my mistakes. If you can be bothered, try on your outfits and then pack them. A really good tip is to pack items that can be used for more than one outfit. Hello tip below…
♥ Learn your Staple
My staple is black leggings; wear them with a dress if it’s a bit chilly or if you need to cover up for a visit to somewhere religious. Wear them with a baggy t-shirt if you want to be comfy and not faff about with trousers. They never need ironing, they’re cheap, you can get waterproof ones…the list goes on. For guys, my staple would be a zip up hoody (just one though, unless you’re travelling to quite a few cold places). Unlike a pullover one, you have the choice to zip it up for keeping super warm or just draping it around you on those fresh mornings. It’s a good chat up line – offer it to a girl when there’s a breeze. It doubles up as a super comfy pillow (trust me, if you’re backpacking, there will be some places that you don’t want to put your head even if you are uber tired)
♥ Think Outside the Box Bag
Buy one of those bags that has an extra cover that is folded away (think pac-a-mac) and can be pulled out and zipped round your bag. Basically you pack your bag, zip it up and then lay any extra items on the front of the bag, pull the cover over and zip that to your bag. It’s like having an expandable bag. Genius. As well or if you haven’t got one of those bags, tie smelly walking boots to the outside of your bag to save precious space (and the cleanliness of your clothes!). Just make sure they are securely tied. The Inca Trek with one boot might be a bit tricky (though a good story). Also, make sure you pack some underwear/swimwear/a t-shirt in your carry-on bag so if your backpack is lost you can survive for a few days.
♥ Organised Chaos
Some say you should roll your clothes, others say fold. I’m not sure which I prefer, but either way, do not simply throw things in – it does not work. Again, I’ve tried it (probably during attempt 15 of packing my backpack, commonly known as the melt down). Use your backpack’s potential to your advantage – you could roll items in the little pockets most have (you know, those bulging pockets on the side) and then fold the items in the main compartment.
You only live once (yes, that’s what YOLO stands for) so if after reading the above tips you’re still struggling – forget it. Who cares?! You’re going on the trip of a lifetime. So what if you haven’t got six t-shirts, you can buy one out there (probably for a lot cheaper than the UK). Don’t worry if you can’t fit your hair dryer in – if it’s somewhere sunny go au natural (just pack the frizz-ease in my case) or better yet, there’s bound to be someone in your hostel room with one so make friends and borrow theirs. Once on your trip you will soon realise that your prized possessions are not really that important and you can live without them. People, places and experiences will undoubtedly outshine any material item. I promise.
Let me know how you get on with your packing. I’d love to hear your techniques and tips (especially on improving my Quasimodo stance that I mentioned in the earlier part of this blog entry – RIP Material Girl”!). X