Most backpackers have a love-hate relationship with packing. It can be a long and boring process, with a lot of trial and error when it comes to figuring out what you need. But nothing beats the satisfaction of the moment when you’re finally able to fit it all in after playing hours of real life tetris with shampoo and shoes. Plus, the packing stage is the first time that your trip feels like it’s really happening!
If you always struggle with perfecting your packing, then this article is for you. As well as some essential packing tips, you can also download my ultimate packing list that you can use for as your next trip away. Whilst I can’t guarantee that this article will make you love packing as much as I do, it will certainly make the process both easier and speedier!
1. Use packing cubes
This is by far one of the best packing tips I can give you. How many times have you got lost in your backpack and had to pull everything out just to get that one pair of shorts? And how many times have you ended up shoving everything back in again in a huge, crumpled mess because you couldn’t be bothered to pack again? Don’t worry, I’m with you. It’s impossible to pack effectively when everything goes into the endless void that is the backpack. So rather than shoving it all in and hoping for the best, get organised and invest in some packing cubes.
These simple but wonderful cubes turn packing into a breeze. They allow you to group items together so you don’t have to spend hours searching through your bag for that pair of shorts. This does require you to be organised whilst you’re on the road, so that means no more shoving everything into your bag at the last minute. But it’ll save you so much time in the long run when it comes to finding what you need.
And if you’re looking to save yourself some packing space too, make sure to invest in some compression cubes. Gonex are king of the (pretty niche) compression packing cubes market, which means that they can be pretty pricey. Fortunately, there are some reasonable deals for Gonex cubes on eBay, so make sure to check them out.
Of course, there are ways to organise your suitcase without shelling out for packing cubes. I’ve always gone down the simple route and used plastic bags to group my things together. Whilst they don’t look quite as stylish as packing cubes, they’ve always done the job for me!
2. Roll with it
When I discovered that rolling was superior to folding, the packing became a whole lot easier. Rolling your clothes not only creates more space, but it reduces the risk of them turning into a wrinkled mess in your backpack. And it takes a lot less time to do! The rolling technique is really handy if you’re travelling with breakable objects too. For example, if you’re travelling with a glass bottle, you can roll clothes around it to keep it protected.
However, despite it being far better than folding, rolling will still leave your clothes with a few wrinkles. To prevent it, make sure to pack travel friendly materials that don’t wrinkle much, like polyester and denim. If you’ve tried your hardest and you still end up with crumpled up clothes, hang them up in the bathroom after you’ve had a hot shower to make them wrinkle free
3. Bring easy layers
No matter where you’re travelling to or what time of year you’re going, you’ll never regret bringing a few layers. Even if it seems that the climate at your destination is completely predictable, the weather can always change, so you have to be prepared. Plus, it isn’t just about the outside temperature. If you’re going to a super hot country, the chances are that the AC will always be blasted inside restaurants, hotels, and most forms of transport that you’ll take.
I learnt this the hard way the first time I went travelling. Whilst the temperature in Vietnam was consistently upwards of 30°C outside, the AC inside left me freezing, to the point that I managed to catch a cold in the hottest country that I’ve ever visited. So don’t make my mistake and remember to pack plenty of layers with you! Hoodies, cardigans, and light jackets always come in handy.
It’s also a great idea to bring a scarf, as it has so many uses. You can use it as a shawl to protect your shoulders from the burning sun, you can wrap it around your waist to get into temples if your shorts are too short, and you can even use it as a blanket on the plane! Opt for a cotton scarf that’s lightweight and easily washable — the chances are that it’ll end up getting a lot of use!
4. Make the most of your hand luggage
Packing your backpack is important, but getting the right stuff for your hand luggage is absolutely crucial. This is what’s going to be with you on long bus journeys, train rides, and flights that seem to last a lifetime. You’ll want to make your journey as comfortable as possible, and the best way to do this is to make sure your hand luggage is full of the stuff that you need. Make sure to pack plenty of snacks, layers, all your electronics and some ear plugs for when you want to get some shut eye.
But packing your hand luggage is about security as well as your comfort. As scary as it is to think about, luggage goes missing all the time — 25 million bags a year to be precise. You’ll want all of your valuables with you, plus a change of clothes just in case the worst happens and you’re stranded without your luggage. If you have no idea what else to pack, make sure to use my ultimate packing list for some guidance.
5. Make some space
If your backpack weighs a tonne and you have to sit on it just to get it to close, then you’re definitely packing too much. Even if you miraculously manage to fit it all back in again, you still won’t have enough room for all the souvenirs you’ll have to bring back, for both yourself and your friends and family. So make sure to leave a good chunk of space free, since you’ll always end up bringing back more than you think! And don’t forget to bring a spare packing cube for your momentos too.
6. Don’t forget your list!
Last, but by no means least, make sure to bring a packing list with you. It’ll make the packing process a lot less chaotic and you can use it on the road to keep check of all your items. No longer will you end up losing your favourite shirt halfway through your journey!
Even if you know all of the ultimate packing tips, making a packing list can be tough. It always feels like you’re leaving something behind! That’s why I’ve made you the ultimate packing list to use for wherever you’re going and however long for. Click the download link below to check it out!
What are your ultimate packing tips? Let me know in the comments below!