I love traveling light.
Most people I know don’t understand how I manage to leave for weeks with just a backpack. I think the key is to ask yourself what you’ll need during your trip. Not what you think you might need. And believe me, you don’t need that much to get around.
As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure if you made a draft list of what you think you really need, you could then drop half of it and still do great.
And why travel this way?
- No chance of losing your stuff. We’ve all heard about people who had to spend half their vacation waiting for a lost suitcase that didn’t make it to the final destination. And of course, the lost luggage is always the one that you packed your favorite clothes and most important items in. Your carry-on backpack is guaranteed to follow you no matter what!
- No useless waiting at the airport. Unless, of course, you enjoy spending an hour looking at suitcases going around in circle on the carrousel. I prefer to spend that time starting to have fun, but that’s just me.
- Easier time at the customs. Let’s face it. There’s a lot less chance you are trying to carry something illegal in a simple backpack, opposed to two large suitcases, right? And even if you get selected for a random search, it takes a lot less time looking through a bag.
- Less struggle when moving from town to town. Unless you are planning to stay in the same place during your whole trip, you probably have one or more train and/or bus rides ahead of you. And, yeah, you get it…
- Less time spent getting ready in the morning. I know many of you ladies like to look your best at all times, and having an outfit for every occasion. But if you’re not spending two weeks in a resort, chances are slim you’ll see the same people day after day. People won’t notice if you wear the same top or pair of jeans twice. Save that precious prep time to go sightseeing instead!
But traveling light also means having to be clever about space and weight. Especially if you travel by plane. Here are a couple of tricks I use to make my trips more comfortable, and practical, whilst not losing space uselessly.
Good ol’ flip flops
Even if you don’t plan on going swimming, or spending time at the beach, these can come in very handy. Almost weightless, and taking no space at the bottom of my bag, I am always glad to have mine, when I stop in a place, like a youth hostel, where I wouldn’t be comfortable going barefeet.
If you stay in a hotel, you’ll have your clean towels everyday. But if you use Airbnb, CouchSurfing or stop in a hostel, you might need your own, if you don’t want to pay extra fees. These space-saving towels can be bought in any outdoor stuff store, and are both incredibly absorbant, and fast drying. I wouldn’t leave without them.
I always tell the people I travel with, that most little things can be bought at destination, if needed. But there are a couple of things I keep with me at all times; a couple of plasters, blister bandaids, elastic bands and q-tips are easy to take with you, and you just might need them in a hurry, or just not want to buy a whole bunch of them just for a one-time use.
To be perfectly honest, I even carry these in my purse, on a daily basis. Wether it is to bring back leftovers from restaurants that don’t offer ”doggie bags” or store wet or dirty clothes, ziplock bags are super useful, and there’s always some space in your backpack for them. I even used to stuff some of my clothes in them and vacuum the air out, to save space and protect my things from humidity… Which brings me to my next item!
This is new to me. I just bought this set of two bags, and I have yet to try them, but I think it is very promising. It is amazing how much space is lost in a backpack, just because of air. By storing your clothes in these bags and vacuuming the air out, you get to save at least half of the place they would have taken if you had just folded them. Plus, if anything leaks on your bag, or if you get caught in the rain, all of your things remain perfectly dry… Win win!
I love this compact backpack. Folded, it can fit in your pocket, but when you are out for the day and decide to go shopping, you can unfold the 10 liters bag and carry everything your looth home. With all the stores that now charge you for plastic bags, you’ll be glad to have this with you at all times.
If you are taking your backpack as carry-on luggage, you’ll have to respect a maximum of weight to be allowed aboard the plane. If this is not a problem when you leave home, it might become one, when you are getting ready to fly back. Unless you are really good at gauging the weight of your bag, this can save you cold sweats when you get to the airport. I like to weight my stuff once in a while, to make sure I don’t buy souvenirs I’ll have to leave behind, or pay an astronomical fee to keep them.
I know that most cell phones now have a flashlight mode, but I still like to take this tiny thing with me. It was a gift from Mom, and she seemed to think that my safety would be significantly increased if I carried it. Traveling as a solo woman, I am very cautious. But I admit that when I occasionally find myself in a dark neighbourhood, I like to keep it in hand. The stroboscopic mode can be surprising, and the compact light could always be used to hit someone, or throw it if I felt threatened.
I’m sure I could make a ”part two” to this post, but I think it will be enough for now… I hope this can help at least one traveler thinking about going backpacking! And if you are a backpacker too, and have other tricks to share, please do so in the comment box below!
Via today’s Word of the Day Challenge: Trip