Advice

How to pack lighter

1. Do you need a sleep­ing bag? Sounds stupid, I know. BUT will a silk sleep­ing bag liner suf­fice? This obvi­ously depends on your des­tin­a­tion and time of the year. On a recent sum­mer trip Tur­key I was stay­ing in hos­tels across the coun­try and decided there was no need for a sleep­ing bag, simply tak­ing my silk sack. It’s small and light whilst still provid­ing a little bit of per­sonal space and protection.

2. String/​washing line. Just a few metres of nylon string allows you to hang your clothes up in a hostel or hotel to dry overnight (after you’ve washed them in the basin of course!).

3. Learn (at least some of) the lan­guage. Hard right. Try tak­ing a small piece of paper and writ­ing out key words, phrases and num­bers (you can write double-​​sided), then keep it in your pocket at all times. You’ll use it much more fre­quently than a phrase book that you have to keep get­ting out of your bag and you’ll be sur­prised how quickly you pick things up. Don’t go over­board writ­ing every phrase under the sun down, keep it simple. Hello, good­bye, thank you, num­bers 1–10, what time does the bus leave?, etc.

4. Shoes take up a lot of space. My cur­rent go to travel shoes are a pair of New Bal­ance Min­imus (other brands of min­im­al­istic shoes avail­able!). On a recent 3 week trip to Tur­key I took just the one pair of shoes, the pair I was wear­ing and used them for day to day use, tramp­ing and din­ing. They are light, super comfy, dry quickly and very ver­sat­ile (if you get a non-​​fluorescent pair — I’ve got all black ones). I also recently com­pleted one of NZ’s Great Walks, The Heaphy Track walk­ing 80k over 4 days wear­ing a pair of these, rather than my tramp­ing boots with no blisters!

5. Seg­ment your gear into sev­eral grab bags. Don’t go over­board and have a dif­fer­ent bag for everything as you’ll soon get frus­trated. How­ever, it’s great to be able to reach into your ruck­sack and pull out a bag of clean clothes when you arrive at a hostel, dump them out onto the bed, change into fresh clothes and chuck the dirty clothes into a second bag, before put­ting it all back into your ruck­sack. Easy.

6. Put a little time into your pack­ing and be bru­tal. Do you need 5 t-​​shirts? Whilst trav­el­ling, you’ve got licence to get more wear out of your clothes, it’s expec­ted, so embrace it. I don’t know about you but I find I can wear the same t-​​shirt for 3+ days eas­ily while trav­el­ling without it stink­ing! This obvi­ously depends on where and what you’re doing… Also, be hon­est, if you’ve got a shirt that you don’t wear at home, will you wear it whilst away? Prob­ably not; pick one you will!

7. Zip off pants. Nerdy I know! Mine go with me on every trip and get so much use. Whether I’m tramp­ing through a jungle or in a res­taur­ant hav­ing din­ner, they work a treat. Embrace the zip off pants!

8. On a sim­ilar note — com­pres­sion shorts. Sounds strange I know. I always take them. Mine are Skins, but many brands are avail­able. I use them for a mul­ti­tude of activ­it­ies includ­ing walk­ing, swim­ming, run­ning and even every day wear if I need/​want too (assum­ing you find them comfy of course). They are easy to clean, dry very quickly and more ver­sat­ile than stand­ard cot­ton under­wear. (I do take some of these too!

9. Pur­chase a Kindle. I know, I know, every­one loves a phys­ical book but a Kindle really comes into its ele­ment when trav­el­ling, allow­ing you to carry many books at once.

10. In-​​ear noise can­cel­ling head­phones. I don’t travel without mine. They are a lifesaver on the plane when you want to block out an annoy­ing back­ground noise or per­son! Being in-​​ear they are small, light and reas­on­ably priced. A bit of a lux­ury item maybe but worth it!

11. Setup a Drop­box account (or other cloud ser­vice) and save all your import­ant docs you’re your pass­port, tick­ets, etc. so that you’ve got con­veni­ent access to them from any­where with inter­net. You can then also save off your pho­tos to it as you go, from any inter­net café…and you can share the Drop­box folder with all your pics with one click with fam­ily and friends back home.

12. Sham­poo, soap, sun cream etc. Pur­chase this when you arrive at your des­tin­a­tion. One, it pre­vents any dis­asters of sham­poo leak­ing all over your pack, and two, you usu­ally can’t get it through air­port secur­ity anyway.

13. Elec­tric shaver? Not for me. Trav­el­ling gives me an oppor­tun­ity to exper­i­ment with facial hair and ima­gine how impressed your friends will be when you return with a beard!? If it gets annoy­ing, just pur­chase a dis­pos­able razor.

14. Be that per­son that has play­ing cards with them and knows one or two card games.

15. Finally, don’t fill up your ruck­sack! It seems obvi­ous, but whilst you are pack­ing I can guar­an­tee that whilst there’s free space, you’ll be temp­ted to keep adding stuff until every com­part­ment is bul­ging. Res­ist the tempta­tion! You’ll regret it when you have to lift the pack, carry the pack, lug into on and off trans­port­a­tion and also when it comes to find some­thing, the less you have, the easier things are to find!

Published: April 9, 2015