Packing to travel the world can be a daunting task. What will you need on the road? What can you afford to leave behind? How will you fit everything in your backpack? My Destination is here to offer some travel advice, and cover the what, when and how of packing for a RTW trip – the who and the why is up to you.
What to Pack
The biggest mistake first-time travellers make is packing far too much. The urge to cram your entire wardrobe and bathroom cabinet into your backpack may be strong, but try to resist, for your spine’s sake! Most of your ‘must-haves’ will be available in major cities around the world, so focus on the essentials.
*TOP TIP * Lay out all of the clothing you think is a reasonable amount to take with you on your adventures. Now halve it. Yes, seriously. Now pick out your least favourite top and discount that too. Your diminishing stash of garments may look minimal laid out on your bedroom floor, but try not to panic; the sacrifice will be worth it.
Passport and paperwork – Keep photocopies of your passport/travel insurance/itineraries in a plastic folder.
Sun cream and insect repellent – Because red, mozzie-bitten skin is not a good look.
Clothing you can layer – Inc. 1x hoodie and 1x trousers – even hot destinations can be chilly due to air-con or cold nights. A few tops, a few pairs of shorts and a print dress (looks clean even if it’s not) for the ladies.
Money – Cash for your first destination, your debit cards and an emergency credit card.
First Aid Kit – A decent supply of any regular medication, painkillers and remedies for traveller’s tummy. You’ll need them.
MP3 player/tech/a book – For those long bus journeys. Book swaps are common in hostels, so there’s no need to pack a whole library.
Notebook and pen – To note down all those anecdotes you’ll tell your grandkids someday.
Make-up/extensive toiletries – It’s amazing what a tan and a dip in the sea can do for your looks.
Walking boots – Unless you’re planning on some seriously hard-core trekking, these will just be a (heavy) waste of space.
Guide books – Use them for research before you go, then leave them at home.
Sleeping Bag – Most hostels provide linens and discourage sleeping bags; take a sleeping bag liner instead.
Hair dryer/straighteners – Au naturale is the way to go. You won’t care about your hair when you’re about to jump out of a plane.
When to Pack
Start the packing process at least a week before departure. Lay everything out so you can take stock of what you have and what you may need. It also mentally prepares you for the adventure you are about to embark upon, and should hopefully prevent a mad panic three hours before you need to check in.
*TOP TIP* Practice packing your bag a couple of times before departure, to find the best method for you.
Image by geishaboy500
How to Pack
Roll everything. It’s a simple but effective way to maximise your rucksack space, and it keeps things as crease-free as possible. Cram socks and underwear into shoes and side compartments, and pack flat items like books and paperwork against your back. Items you use on a daily basis like pyjamas, toothbrush and underwear should be easily accessible.
*TOP TIP* Distribute weight well. Your back will deal better with heavier items if they are packed close to your body, at the top of the rucksack.
Ultimately, all travellers have their own quirky packing habits. The opinions on essential and non-essential items vary dramatically depending on age, sex, and hygiene standards. You will learn as you go; that’s the beauty of travel. Bon voyage!