- Luggage is heavy, and you’re here to travel, not lift weights every time you go to a new town.
- If you’re not using it, it’s just dead weight.
- Usually you can buy it where you’re going, so you don’t have to take it with you.
- For prescription drugs, bring along a copy of the prescription, and the medicine itself in the original container.
- Keeping the luggage light will keep you more light-hearted as you go.
Packing’s a tough one, and we’re not going to try to tell you how much is too much or exactly what you should take. You’ll ultimately know that better than we can. Personally we subscribe to the “pack it up, unpack and cut by half, then repeat” rule of packing; often times we have our best friend come over to further help the elimination process. You’ll figure it out, and here are some tips from other travelers that can help you conquer the packing problem:
- How to Pack Light: Tricks the Pros Use
- Travel Tips for Globetrotters: How to Pack
- The Art of Travelling Lightly
- The First Time Traveller
The first time our former BootsnAll colleague Ant traveled abroad, he was on a student-exchange program, had no idea what he was doing, and to say that he was a bit scared of the whole thing is a little like saying the Titanic sprang a wee leak. Accordingly he overpacked, and wound up in the UK with a duffel bag on steroids, a suped-up folding garment (on wheels) and a laptop shoulder bag. The luggage barely survived the first week (and the same can be said for Ant’s back!).
The next time Ant went abroad, he still overpacked, but not as badly, and he had also bought a backpack. Life was much easier – and that was just having hands free to buy a drink or snag a Tube token or do all those little things that hands come in (ahem) handy for. He didn’t have to constantly set stuff down and pick it up; it was locked in place, and even (more or less) out of the way. He’ll never go back to a suitcase.
So, why should you use a backpack, too? Here are just a few of the big reasons.
- Less stress on your body overall, than carrying suitcases and such
- All your belongings are in one bag – easier to keep track of
- Your hands are free, and aren’t getting cramped up holding suitcases, plus you can still tend to tasks (buying a drink, flagging a taxi) relatively easily
- Hopping on and off of buses, trams, subway cars (etc.) is much easier without a suitcase to get caught on cobblestones or bus doors behind you
Backpacks make traveling easier (and when you know that what you carry, you have to carry on your back, can also help you pack lighter). We aren’t going to attempt to tell you what backpack to buy or how to choose, because we’re not backpack experts; there’s plenty of packs to choose from, and really only one good way to decide what would work for you and the trip you’re taking.
- Go to your local outdoor gear shop, or travel to a larger city if you have to (for us Yanks, the folks at BootsnAll are REI nuts, and are especially fond of Eagle Creek).
- Have your friendly knowledgeable salesperson prove their worth in terms of years on this earth, travel experience, overall technicall/backpack knowledge, etc.
- Thus proven, explain what you’re doing and what you’re looking for.
- Try on different packs, preferably weighted down with stuff like it would be if you were traveling with it, and spend some time walking around the store with each pack on your back. The saleperson will help adjust and “fit” the pack to you – the one that feels most right, is probably the one you’ll want.
- Models with zipoff “day packs” can be especially useful. This way you your main bag, full of all the stuff you don’t need when out sight-seeing, can chill in the hostel or hotel room, and you can take with you the stuff you need for the day.
Pack light, and preferably use a backpack – it goes a long way to making for an easier trip. Especially the packing light part; we have yet to hear of travelers who felt they brought too little, only too much.
>> Ladies, don’t forget that the pack that suits your brother or boyfriend may not be right for you – be sure to read A Woman’s Guide to Packing for more information!