Return to site

The Process of Packing: Part 1

· Tips and Tools

With each trip I take, my backpack becomes increasingly smaller. When I travelled to Kenya in 2010 for 3 weeks, my backpack was 60L. During my 3 month trip in Asia this summer I carried a 38L backpack, and it was more than enough. Every time I get on the road again I realize quickly that I don't need nearly as much as I think I do. A couple pairs of shorts, a few tank tops, some bathing suits and two pairs of shoes is about all you need (location and weather depending). If you've never traveled before this may seem like nothing. And it is. But it really is all you need.

Packing is always a struggle. From how big of a bag to get (I've personally always been a backpack kind of girl, so I can't testify to travelling with suitcase), to how many outfits to bring, there is actually quite a bit of thought that goes into the process. I've put together a list of tips to help with the first step in the process of packing - luggage:

1) Decide on a type of luggage: Suitcase or backpack? In my opinion, there's really not even a choice to make here. Backpacks fit comfortably and have more storage space than it seems. They are easy and light to carry (the weight sits on your hips, not your shoulders), and easy to store. Here are a few of my favourites:

I met a few people on the road who also really enjoy Mountain Equipment Co-op's Flair Backpack - $$

Prices vary by size.

I have the same motto about backpacks that I (and many people) have about tattoos: Good backpacks aren't cheap, and cheap backpacks aren't good. You will have to invest some coin into a good backpack, but it will keep with you through many of your adventures. I personally purchased the Mistral Backpack ($144) for my Asia trip, and have been very happy with the quality so far. It was definitely worth the pennies and looking back, it really didn't set me back much!

2) Consider the length and destination of your trip: Someone who is travelling for 3 months in Asia's dry season can afford to pack a little lighter than someone who is travelling for a year through Europe's winter and summer months. It is important to consider a few things when choosing what size of bag to use, as well as what to put in it:

1) Weather: Monsoon season? Winter months in Canada? Dry season in Thailand? Be sure to check the weather for the destination/s of your trip, and purchase a bag that can store all essential items of clothing.

2) Activities: During my time in Lombok, Indonesia my travel buddy and I decided on whim that we were going to endure a 3 day hike up Mount Rinjani. A 3,700 metre summit before sunrise is not exactly warm, and I was definitely not prepared for the weather. Of course there will be activities that come up last minute, but doing your research ahead of time will help you to pack accordingly. Even if you think you may do something or go somewhere that requires heavier clothing, it never hurts to make room for it. If you don't end up using it or are finished with it, send it home or donate it!

3) ROLL, Don't Fold: It's a space saver. Enough said.

4) Compression bags are a beautiful thing. Use compression bags to save space (rolling your clothes in the compression bags = double space saver), and keep your clothes organized.

5) Side pockets are great shoe holders: One pair on your feet, and a pair in each of your side pockets. Running shoes can also tie onto your backpack to save space inside. Good to go!

6) Pack your heavy items on the bottom: Items like sweaters and jeans should be at the bottom of your bag, especially if you won't be wearing them as frequently as other items. This will allow the heaviest weight to be carried right at your hips and make your lighter (and probably more delicate items) easier to access.

Bonus tip: Luggage under 7kg can be used as a carry on: I was able to bring my 38L bag on as a carry on. I had access to all of my stuff and skipped baggage claim! Be sure to check dimensions and weight allowed as carry on items for your airline, as they do vary, but 7kg is quite standard. In fact, Air Asia didn't care that mine was 8.2!

As I mentioned before, the length and destination/s of your trip will determine the size of the bag your use, and the items you put in it. It's also important to remember that mail is international. If you're done with your heavy items of clothing, send them home!

I hope these tips were helpful. Feel free to send me a message with suggestions for posts or just to chat! Happy travels!

Caylie Smith

Not Your Average

Next post: The Process of Packing: Part 2

"Whatever is good for your soul, do that"

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly