There’s a lot of material out there on the travel essentials that any self respecting traveler should include in their luggage/backpack/plastic bag. An essential piece of advice is you don’t need most of it. We’re all guilty of taking things with us for the “just in case” scenario. Just in case you hike a mountain, run a marathon, build a tree house, cure cancer. The list is can be daunting and you want to be ready for anything.
A world trip of mine had 3 pair’s of shoes, electric hair clippers, bath towel, beach towel, a couple of books and far too many sweaters for just one person to reasonably need. If you haven’t guessed already, this all found a home in the garbage can at one point or another. To be sure it was great resistance training carrying all that around, but that gets old REAL quick.
Being selective is not as easy as it sounds.
It generally takes 3 practice packs and some tough selection criteria before I’m zipping up the backpack for the last time. But what if it rains? Nope, be strong. That raincoat can stay right where it is. What if my shoe colour doesn’t match my shirt? One pair is all you get, make it count. Each item destined for your luggage should be held, examined, weighed up (physically and mentally) and honestly judged. Have I worn this t-shirt this year? No? What makes me think I’ll where it somewhere else if I’ve consistently chosen something else. How about an extra pair of jeans? You must be kidding! You know you’ve only worn one pair ever, even with all the kebab and beer stains from the weekend before. As I said before, it’s still not easy. It’s like when you need something as soon as you throw it out, you don’t want this happening on the road, so you decide to include those dumbbells just in case you need to sneak in a bicep curl.
Budgets can vary greatly, depending on how you plan to spend your time overseas. That being said, money is always a consideration when traveling, whether it’s for one week or one year. You can never be certain of the cost of goods overseas and I know I like to spend my money wisely. This very notion led me to stuffing my backpack with dozens of packets of alfredo pasta meals when I embarked on my first world trip. The Customs officers in Frankfurt were a little confused when it was my turn for a full bag search. Turns out you can buy food overseas, but $1 meals are pretty hard to beat when you budget down to the cents.
When your travel takes you to a variety of different climates on the same trip, the backpack tetris reaches a new level of complexity. Dealing with 30 below to 30 above, the zip on your backpack will be tested, along with your conviction of what you will actually need, let alone wear. There will be boardshorts and singlets sharing space with beanies and sweaters. It’s the versatile options that will take priority and those that give you the bare minimum of protection for comfort and survival, unless you’re Wim Hof of course.
One pair of shorts and flip flops and he’s good. Unfortunately for everyone else, we’ll have to continue to make those tough decisions and keep things lighter than 23 kg.
What’s your tried and true method to get you packed for your next adventure? Is it a non-issue, and your luggage travels with you as a ‘set.’ Or are you a minimalist that can get away with carry-on only?
Whatever it is, everyone has their own system, and it’s time and experience that lets us find out what does and does not work. Would love to hear your thoughts, because I know I’ve always got a lot to learn.
COMING SOON: I’ll have much more for those just starting out in their travel career, so check back in the Travel menu where this post lives (“For those just starting out”) often for some tips and trick nuggets!