As the saying goes, when you’re planning to go a travelin’, bring twice as much money as you think you’ll need and half as much stuff. In our experience, this saying proves true. When staring at your things before a trip, it’s tough to figure out what you’ll really need – which is what makes packing the challenge it is. When backpacking, determining what’s really needed is crucially important because you don’t want to end up lugging around non-essentials for the entire trip.
Here are 10 tips on getting ready for an upcoming adventure - some we’ve learned the hard way:
1. Pick the right bag
Choose wisely, friends. On the road, your bag is your life. The better it fits your body and the more compact it is, the more pleasant the journey will be. So take the time to get the right fit in a travel pack. There are numerous reasons to purchase a pack specifically for travel: the wide opening, durability, zip-away suspensions, and more.
2. Use a checklist
In the midst of the excitement for an upcoming trip it’s easy to forget things. An extra change of clothes in your carry-on, gum for the airplane, the little things that just make life easier. Check out some of our travel lists to help you out.
3. Set everything out first
When getting ready to pack, first lay out everything you think you’ll need for your trip. If you rush right into throwing things into your bag, you won’t have the opportunity to “edit” what you are taking. It’s much easier to take an aerial view at the big picture to determine what you really need. Also, you’ll be able to easily take away items, instead of having to pull everything out and start over again. Take half of what you’ve laid out and organize it in a way that makes sense.
4. Choose clothes wisely
It’s a good idea to pick clothes in neutral colors that match with everything. You can even color coordinate your clothing so you can mix-and-match your tops and bottoms to give yourself some variety in your wardrobe. Versatile clothing options will help you get the most out of your wardrobe and prevent you from being weighed down by clothing you can only wear once (or end up never wearing). You might also want to think about bringing clothing with fabrics that don’t need much care. But if you do bring anything that needs some TLC, be sure to pack it in a way that will protect it. Try using a garment folder for items prone to getting wrinkly or a packing cube for items you don’t want getting damaged in your bag.
Making sure your bag is organized before a trip will most definitely save your sanity. There are many ways to organize the inside contents of your bag. Travelers often cite strategies such as rolling clothes or using tissue in between clothes. A more eco-friendly option is to organize and protect your clothing with reusable storage. This can be in the form of packing cubes, sacs, pouches, garment folders, and compression cubes. For a pack you might want to choose sacs.
6. Color code
Take organization to the next level and color code your baggage organization. When you color coordinate you know immediately where your toiletry items are or where your underwear is stowed. Faster packing, faster retrieval, and more convenient!
7. Pack with weight distribution in mind
If you’re carrying a backpack and using a sleeping bag, you may want to push that down to the bottom. Try to put the heavy items on top of the sleeping bag and keep them near your spine. This will help with weight distribution and make traveling more comfortable.
8. Pack your shoes right
Shoes take up a lot of space. So if you can limit yourself to only a couple pairs, this will make hauling your bag much easier. Depending on where you’re going, hiking boots can be substituted for a more backpack friendly pair of walking shoes. Try to go for one casual pair and something that can pass for fancier occasions. If you’re not doing anything fancy, don’t bring fancy shoes. Going to Europe? Skip the heels. It’s a challenge to walk in heels on cobblestone and not worth the pain. It’s also a good idea to put shoes in so the soles face up. This way your dirty (just imagine the places they’ve been!) soles won’t touch clean clothing. Ideally, you can put your shoes in a shoe sac (if you want to see what kinds of shoe storage we offer, click here) so you can place them wherever you want without having to worry about getting your stuff yucky by the inevitable spillage of dirt/sand/mud/whatever else you get on your shoes.
9. Bring a packable tote for extra carrying needs
This is a lifesaver for grocery stores and markets abroad. Many stores around the world require you to BYOB (bring your own bag) so you’ll be glad you did. Plus, it’s ideal to carry souvenirs with you on your way back home. Most importantly, you’ll have the easy convenience of a bag without the hassle of storing it. When you don’t need it, simply pack it back up and stash it in your luggage. (Eagle Creek fans can check out the different options for packable bags here)
10. Consider potential security options
Security is your friend. Locks and under-clothing solutions, such as a money belt or neck wallet, give you peace of mind when exploring new places where pickpocketing can be a problem.