So the semester abroad has ended; you’ve turned in that final essay, that final project. Freedom at last! Meaning that it’s the glorious time to strap your entire closet and two suitcases to your back and start exploring… until you realize that you’d like to travel without breaking your spine. Traveling around in trains, buses, taxis, and walking around cities is a lot harder when you’re carrying a huge bag bigger than you. Fear not; it’s possible to travel for two months with nothing more than a school backpack. While every trip is different, and what you pack varies with your plans, here is a general list of tips and tricks in order to pack light:
A short trip before the big adventure can help you learn from your mistakes and pack better the second time around.
First of all, get a small backpack. Less available space means less stuff. That will help you decide on the truly essentials items for your trip, rather than burdening yourself with things that “may come in handy, maybe.” There is no one right size for everybody, but if you can’t carry it without losing your blood circulation in both arms, it’s too big.
In order to make the most of what you bring, make sure to bring multi-purpose clothing. For example, a pair of loose workout pants can function as hiking pants, pyjamas, or as a change of clothes after the beach. If you plan on going out a lot, bring clothes that can mix and match well together to make many different outfits. As an extra tip, roll up your clothes instead of folding them; this saves on space.
Only two pairs of shoes:
Going along the lines of multi-purpose clothing, really try to limit yourself to two pairs of shoes. Bring one set of comfortable closed toes shoes that work well both outdoors and in cities. Unless you plan on doing serious hiking, tennis shoes are cheaper, lighter, and smaller than hiking shoes and work just as well. A light pair of open-toed shoes can work well indoors or while doing light walking in the city.
Lose the daypack:
You only need one backpack to carry all of your things; you can use a cloth bag for the day to carry a water bottle and/or guidebook. When not in use, the cloth bag can fold easily into a tiny pocket without taking up any space. For longer day trips, you can leave what you don’t need behind in your hostel locker, and just bring your regular backpack! Having only one bag makes transportation much easier.
People often forget to pack something essential: space. If you don’t leave any empty room, where are you going to put that cute little key-chain with a llama and all the souvenirs for your mom?
Packing is like any other skill; practice makes perfect. You may discover certain needs for items that you hadn’t imagined. A short trip before the big adventure can help you learn from your mistakes and pack better the second time around.
With these tips, you will hopefully have a travel pack that’s light and easy to carry around. Happy traveling!
Brooke - Her Packing List says
Hi Oliver – Could not agree more with your tips! At the end of the day, practice is what it’s all about. I help people pack for their upcoming trips, but the real change for packing light doesn’t seem to happen until they’ve actually gone on a big trip and can learn from the real-life experience.
Oliver Babcock says
Exactly! Everyone’s different and hindsight is always 20/20, so I think a short practice trip before the real deal will always make you realize the things you wish you packed as well as the things you wish you left. Happy packing, Brooke!