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Many dream of the freedom of living on the road, with just a backpack on hand, their lives crammed in one place whilst they explore the world. It’s an exciting concept, and one of the best ways to see so many sights over a long or short period of time without wheeling around a suitcase.
However, no one can fully prepare you for the stress of packing you live up in one big rucksack and then living out of it for months at a time. But what if I need those jeans I haven’t worn in 3 years? Will 7 pairs of shorts be enough? What about my hair straighteners? Living the minimalist life is hard to crack sometimes - but here are some handy hints and tips to make preparing for your adventures with a backpack that little bit easier.
Until you use them, you won’t realise how you could have possibly lived without them before hand. Packing cubes are small bags made of fabric used for packing clothes. They zip closed keeping everything compact and perfect to pack into a backpack or carry on bag. Gone are the days you had to take all of your clothes out, just to find one pair of pants to then have to painstakingly fold everything up and pack it back in the bag. With packing cubes everything is kept neat and organised, and pulling out things means just taking out a few cubes rather than your entire wardrobe item by item. Thank me later.
I have been in this situation too many times, even on short city breaks. You start sifting through your wardrobe discovering things you forgot you own, clothes you think you might need, panicking that you might need a second jumper even though you are travelling somewhere which is consistently high 30s. Do yourself a favour and empty half of your clothes, you will be glad when you realise you wear the same pair of shorts 5 days out of 7.
It’s all well and good having all your gear packed away neatly, but when you get off your flight late and realise your toothbrush is in the bottom of your bag, or your VISA information is somewhere around the middle in-between your shampoo and your socks, suddenly unpacking and repacking searching for things becomes quite an ordeal. To save the hassle, pack items used most, or of significant importance, near the top of your bag, in side pockets and other easily accessible places.
The digital age is amazing. Now we have things like boarding passes, VISA’s, itineraries all at the touch of a button on our phones. But what happens when you have no signal, phone dies, or worse, gets lost/ stolen? Make hard copies of all your important documents such as insurance, flights and passports so that if the worst happens, you have backups. With this, also make sure you have more than one bank card, there is nothing worse than the feeling of your only card being swallowed up by a machine with ultimate uncertainty if it will return.
If you’re a person like me, and you have the tendency to over pack, or pack to fill the bag rather than what you need, then think about sizing down. Investing in a smaller bag starts by limiting the amount of things you can take in the first place therefore making you pack lighter by default. My poor partner has had to take some of my extra items many times because of my serial over-packing.
Whenever you feel yourself panicking about what to pack and if you will forget anything important, it is good to consider a few things. As long as you have your passport and money, everything else can be bought, and they still have supermarkets, clothes shops and pharmacies on the other-side of the world. No they might not have your favourite coconut-scented shampoo or the same brand of t-shirt, but it is as good as any. When you’re living out of a backpack, is a comforting thing to remember, that if you have forgotten something, or it gets lost or stolen, there are always places you can get the essentials.
Even with these tips, if it is your first time on the road, I can be sure you will still over pack just a little. But hopefully it might make you question that second bottle of shampoo or comforting fluffy blanket and embrace the minimalist lifestyle.