I’ve actually been asked this question about 3 times in the past month, so I thought it was about time I wrote up some tips I have picked up along the way. Whether you are going on a 6 month round-the-world adventure, a 2 week holiday to Majorca or a weekend away with the family, one of the most annoying aspects will be carrying your bag around. Whether its the weight or fitting everything in, there are a number of tricks you can try in order to save space and protect your back.
Roll & Vacuum
I hear so many guides talking about folding neatly, but did you know that rolling your clothes helps to reduce space used, while also reducing the need to iron your clothes once you arrive. An added tip after this would be to purchase vacuum packs, which will compress the air out and help you to really ram those items in.
Debate The Necessities
Write up a list of everything you 100% require. Consider everything else off this list a bonus IF there is space. You don’t want to be completely full, as you might want to pick some stuff up along the way.
The biggest learning curve people have when travelling is that they didn’t need as many clothes as they first thought, with new clothes being bought and old ones being lost along the way.
The first time I went backpacking I packed some truly bizarre stuff, such as juggling balls and trump cards. I was trying to think of odd things to keep me occupied, but you will be constantly busy and this was all an unnecessary weight added to my back.
Collect The Medicine
I say this one loosely, as sometimes it can be good to keep the packaging in case it offers advice or you need to show it to a pharmacy, however you can save space by combining medicine bottles. You could keep your painkillers and vitamins together, rather than all in half filled bottles.
Buy A Water Purifier
We tend to pack our rucksacks with heavy bottles of water, however if you have a water purifier then this can be used inside tap water (something I always used to be too scared to say back in the day). Bottled water can cost a bundle while travelling around, as they milk the tourists for an extra buck, however there isn’t necessarily a need to spend this extreme amount, unless you REALLY don’t trust the tap water.
You want one that will filter out bacteria, meaning no E coli or any other harmful bacteria found in dirty water. The Sawyer is quite well known for this, but you might want to look around as it has been a couple of years since I bought one. Spender extra is worthwhile in this scenario.
Pack A Lock
You will arrive at hostels and hotels that don’t have a safe bagging area and have communal lockers in which you can either purchase a padlock at a ridiculous price or you just use your own one. I often forget to bring a lock and just leave my bag on my bed, however I know I’m taking a risk and I’ve spoken to a large number of people who have been robbed, so ignore me and bring a lock with you.
Consider The Size Of Bag
People can go to both sets of the spectrum here. I know people who have bought £300 backpacks with more sections than you could ever fill, however they end up with serious back pain as they are dragging it from hostel to hostel or even on treks. Don’t be tricked by the employees in those stores, an average sized backpack will almost always do the job, unless you are tackling a mountain climb, at which point your needs are different to the average traveller.
On the other side, I know a number of people who have bought mini bags, thinking they look stylish, yet are completely unfit for purpose. With bits flying out everywhere and items getting broken, it feels like fashion should fall out the window when bording a plane and your focus should be on the experience at hand.
Consider The Cubes
I have never bought these, but they have been making the rounds. The travel pack cubes are perfect for separating out your clothes or different items, so you can easily find them and store them in the right place. You can get them in different colours, so you can easily spot the one you are looking for, e.g. red contains important documents such as passport etc.
Unwinding cables is an absolute ball-ache! The moment you put them in your bag, they seem to combine into one evil pile of confusion. Use some dead cheap cable ties to ensure they remain in a neat condition and you aren’t tearing your hair out once you arrive at the hostel.