(How to pack only the bare essentials into a backpack)
Aah! The backpack! One of the greatest inventions for travellers – after the aeroplane, that is. Travel is great fun and the backpack a great travel convenience but it’s the packing that gives the biggest headache. The veteran traveller knows this problem and has devised and found his/her solution.
In this world of overweight charges and limited space, packing for a three week trip can give you that dull pain between the eyebrows. What do you pack? How much do you pack? Finally, how do you pack a backpack? It suddenly seems so small and inadequate.
In the immortal words of MAD magazine, ‘learn from the mistakes of others, you don’t have time to make them all yourself.’ Going by that sage advice this piece is an attempt to help the first-time traveller or others figure out the maddening intricacies of packing a backpack and not make those mistakes.
Make a List: This is simply a must because it helps you realise what you need and what you don’t. It is then you are able to cut out what is unnecessary. Do this regardless of the length and type of your trip or your destination.
Choose the Right Bag: There are so many backpacks to choose from with each one having its selling points. We suggest you go with either of these two options: a carry-on-size convertible backpack/suitcase with zip-away shoulder straps or an internal frame backpack. Our choice would be to go with the latter as they are good for times when you have long walks ahead of you. Besides, the convertibles are more expensive and the wheels add weight to your back and on the airlines’ scales.
Pack Outside your Bag: One of the best tips I can give on packing light is to place everything on your list on the bed before actually placing them in the bag. That will give you a visual of what you will be packing. t is one the best ways of eliminating non-essential items.
Pack Tight: There are a couple of ways you can do this. Rolling or bundle-wrapping are great ways to compact your clothes. The tighter you roll or bundle your clothes, the more space you will have in your backpack for other stuff.
Multipurpose clothing: Your travel wardrobe should be multi-purpose and interchangeable. Dark or neutral colours are ideal. Khakis or dark jeans can do double duty as hiking and dinner wear. Denim shirts, olive or brown khakis go with most or any other shirts or trousers. Dark also hides stains and food drippings, which always seem to happen on travels. Remember you can do laundry along the way so you don’t need a different shirt or underwear for every day of your trip.
Think Small: Toiletries, detergents, toothpastes should all be of the travel or mini varieties. You don’t need the large-sized containers. Also you could go with the ‘buy it there’ philosophy. Toothpastes, soaps and shampoos from universally known brands are now available all over the world so you could pick them up at your destination. Cheap, disposable shaving kits are also a good idea.
Keep it Light: While overweight airlines charges are a good incentive to keep your luggage weight down, remember that most of the time you will have to lug the knapsack on your own back. So pack light and keep in mind the dictum, ‘What to leave out trumps over what to put in – every time.
Once you have packed your knapsack sling on your shoulders and go for a short walk, you will then get a good idea of how it will feel when you have to carry it for longer periods. Believe me; doing this will inspire you to remove some things you earlier thought were indispensible.
It is also practical and good sense to pack light because you can travel happy, cheap and enjoy the freedom of mobility. You will not be at the mercy of porters and other luggage issues on the trip. Happy Trails!