What to take and what not to take – that is the question which plagues most backpackers. If you’re looking for some guidance before you set off on the adventure of a lifetime, you may well find my holiday checklist for packing your trusty backpack particularly useful.
My motto for backpack packing is, ‘if in doubt, leave it out’. After all, everything you take is going to have to be carried, by you, potentially for some considerable distance. So, more than most holidays, a backpacking trip has to be carefully planned out on the packing front.
When thinking about packing their backpack for an adventure away, most people start by considering what clothing they’re going to need or how many pairs of shoes they might require. Some of the most vital items to put on your holiday checklist, however, are your travel documents. Most backpacks will have ‘secret’ internal compartments so make sure you have a copy of your travel insurance, passport, tickets, credit card numbers etc. stored away here. That way, if anything happens to the originals you’ve got them as a record.
Of course you may need your passport, tickets and credit cards to hand while you’re travelling from place to place, but when you don’t need them, it’s a good idea to store these somewhere inside your backpack so they can’t be easily stolen.
Have a copy of your travel insurance details in several places so that you know who to call if your bum-bag or backpack does get stolen or lost.
What Clothes to Bring
Be very strict with the clothes on your holiday checklist because you don’t want to bring too much. As a rule, your backpack should not be full when you set off.
Leave about 25% of the space empty: packing on the road tends to be messier and therefore takes up more space, plus it’s nice to leave some room for any purchases you might pick up on your travels.
Pack a bottle of travel laundry detergent and you’ll be able to limit what you pack much more easily as you can wash as you go.
Fashion doesn’t rate very highly on a backpacker’s list of priorities, so don’t worry too much about ‘looking good’. Think about practicalities instead. Consider the weather: will it be hot or cold, wet or dry, sunny or overcast? Try to be realistic and only take the things you’ll need.
Remember you can always buy items on the road. If you’re travelling in developing countries, clothes will be substantially cheaper than they are here.
Gadgets and Expensive Items
Backpacking is about immersing yourself in the areas you’re travelling in so try to keep distracting gadgets to a minimum. A smart phone is a good idea for communication and music but you won’t need an iPad, gaming device or other technological wizardry. These things are targets for thieves on the road, so the more gadgets you have, the more vulnerable you are making yourself to theft.
The same goes for valuable jewellery, watches or sentimental items; it’s best to leave these at home. There’s really no place for sentimentality on a backpacking adventure and it’s a good idea not to take anything with you that you would be upset to lose.
How to Pack
There is a lot of disagreement within the backpacking community about the best way to pack your backpack, so it’s a good idea to discover what works for you through trial and error.
Some people like to put heavy items at the bottom, while others believe it is easier to carry if the weight is close to the top, near your shoulders. But everyone agrees that the backpack must fit cosily to your back to prevent the strain of it leaning away from you.
In the end, what you put on your holiday checklist is up to you and your personal preference. But be sure to lay out everything you want to include before you pack so you can have a last minute cull of anything you don’t think you’re going to need.
Then put it all in your pack, hoick it on your back and see how it feels. Give yourself enough time that if it’s too heavy you can unpack and take some more items out.
When you’re happy and comfortable with your backpack weight and position, you’re ready to begin your adventure.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family and annual travel insurance. Besides offering great deals on the best travel insurance for your needs, Patrick also shares valuable tips to help you tick off your holiday checklist and plan for a hassle free business or leisure trip.