January 12th, 2016

How To Pack Lighter For Your Next Round-The-World Trip

Leave sore shoulders and an achy back behind on your next round-the-world trip with these 7 expert tips for minimalist packing.

There’s nothing quite as amazing as a round-the-world trip — and there’s possibly nothing quite as stressful as packing for one. But a big trip doesn’t have to mean a big back. The key to minimalist travel is having the lightest possible modern gear, and finding accessories and clothes that are as multi-functional as possible. It's often more about what you don't take than what you do take.

As you plan your round-the-world trip, think about packing smarter, not heavier — starting with a durable, lightweight backpack. The larger the pack, the more likely you are to try and fill it, so stay small to force yourself to pack lighter. Plus, if you stick with a carry-on size, you’ll save yourself time and hassle at the airports. Once you have your bag, follow these seven tips to fill it as efficiently as possible.

1. Layer up.

On your round-the-world trip, you are likely to encounter many different climates. Instead of packing bulky, cold weather clothes along with hot weather ware, bring a selection of flexible, lightweight clothing.

Rather than a thick jacket, pack a lightweight fleece and a wind resistant, waterproof jacket. That way, on cold days you’ll be insulated by the fleece and protected by the jacket. And if you get caught in warm, rainy weather, you can wear the jacket to stay dry without overheating.

As for bottoms, why take shorts and pants when you can have one item that does both? Convertible pants can be worn as shorts, and then converted to long pants on cooler days.

2. Bring one socket to rule them all.

When packing light, leave as many electronics behind as possible. For the ones you do bring, there is no reason to have more than one power adapter that will work in all of the countries you visit. The inclusion of a USB port (or two!) on your adapter charger means you can get away with bringing only the cord — without the bulky plug — for many of your devices.

3. Pack a compact travel towel.

Regular towels are bulky and take ages to dry. Cut your towel weight in half by packing  lightweight microfiber travel towel that will not only take up minimal space, but also dry quickly between uses.

4. Take advantage of your smartphone.

These days, most of us carry seriously advanced smartphones everywhere we go. If you’re going to bring yours, take advantage of its capabilities and avoid doubling up on things. Leave flashlights, paper books, maps, and big cameras at home; your phone can stand in for all of those things.

5. Invest in a seriously light travel laptop.

If you’re not willing to live with just a smartphone for months on end, there are options for compact travel laptops that weigh as little as three pounds. Consider a Macbook Air or Chromebook that will let you keep in touch with the world back home and easily share all your amazing adventures as you go, without weighing you down too much.

6. Get rid of the hiking boots.

Unless you are planning to do some serious wilderness hiking during your trip, hiking boots are a heavy and unnecessary addition to your travel gear list. Instead, get lightweight, breathable walking shoes that are good for multiple climates. If you are expecting very cold weather, just wear an extra pair of socks to keep your toes warm.

7. Don't pack bulky formal wear.

Occasionally you may want to attend some slightly smarter events and nice dinners. Rather than pack formal wear that you'll only use once a month, though, bring some smarter clothes that wouldn't seem out of place at a nice restaurant, but that you can wear for more casual events too — like basic, solid colored pieces that can be dressed up or down. In many places, it may even be possible to rent formal clothes if you need something really different. 

You'll be amazed how easy it is to travel with less once you try it. So leave your dual voltage travel iron at home, shrink your backpack, and pack lighter for your next big trip! Do you have more tips on how to travel lightly? Leave them in the comments below.

Megsy has been a full time backpacker since April 2013. Follow her adventures — from visiting the glaciers of western Mongolia to eating tagine in Morocco — on The Travel Freedom Podcast

by Megsy

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