When you make an effort to pack light, then you are ultimately deciding that you want to experience less of your hotel room and more of your surroundings. You are no longer weighed down by your possessions so you can pack up, pick up and take off at the drop of an opportunity. Packing light doesn’t come easy to everyone because many of us are apt to over-plan, over-pack and face the consequences of those actions when it comes time to check in bags at the airport or carry a heavy, oversized bag from country to country. Our goal is to help you see more, do more, and have a kick-ass time during your travels while backpacking on a Globalized Citizen experience so we’ve compiled some of our favorite tricks and tips to be a packing expert. Pick the Right Backpack This makes a HUGE difference when you’re traveling around the world. I recommend purchasing a bag between 40-50 liters so it is compact enough to carry onto airplanes and hold onto when on ferries, trains, and buses. When you are flight hopping, the last thing you want to learn when you reach your destination is that your baggage was accidentally sent to Guam so it is totally worth bringing a bag which fits airline carry-on restrictions. I’ve met many backpackers who have spent hundreds on their bag but I’ve been traveling with this nifty and affordable 50-liter bag from Amazon.
Get Yourself a Day Bag When you’re traveling on a Globalized Citizen adventure you’re most likely going to be hopping on scooters and taking day hikes so you’ll want to get yourself a solid “day-to-day bag”. I’ve been using a JanSport bag to carry my towel, GoPro, DJI Osmo, and a water. The size of the classic Jansport is great because it is the perfect size to fit in the under seat compartment of scooters and quad bikes and can easily be folded up to be carried in my main bag when I’m not using it. Plan Ahead This may seem obvious, but I have found myself too often packing the night before or the day of departure only to realize I forgot some essential items once I was abroad. Do yourself a favor and make yourself a checklist well in advance of the items you plan to bring abroad. Try your best not to stray from the list because most impulse grabs will end up weighing you down. Take the time to practice packing your bag and weigh your luggage to make sure you’re well under the 20 kg limit of most airlines. Anything over 15 kg is going to be a back breaker for you when you’re abroad so try to stay around the 12-15 kg range. Work in threes. Three shirts, three pairs of socks, underwear, etc. The rule of threes is that you wear one, wash one and dry one that way you are never without clothing and the others are in constant (and clean) rotation. Pants are the exception because they have a longer wear time, but go with whatever you’re most comfortable. Here is a list of the most essential items to take for both Men & Women
- Debit & Credit Cards (Get yourself multiple cards in case one goes missing or an ATM eats one)
- USD – It never hurts to have at least $100 cash available to you to exchange for local currencies.
- Bathing suit
- Shirts/tank tops
- Toiletries – bring the essentials so you stay fresh such as a tooth brush/paste, deodorant, small bottle of cologne, floss, Q tips, travel sized shampoo and shower gel.
- Medicine – Pepto Bismol tablets, advil, anti-bacteria pills, and any prescriptions/day-to-day medicine you may need.
- Sandals/walking shoes
- Camera – My favorite travel cameras are the GoPro Hero 4 & DJI Osmo
- If you’re planning on not bringing a laptop with an external hard drive make sure you bring yourself plenty of memory cards to store all of your footage.
Research the Climate of your Destination There’s incredible weather variations around the world so it’s a good idea to know what the weather historically is like during the time you’ll be traveling. You can simply use Google Weather to find out current and historic weather information on all of the destinations you’ll be visiting. I’ve had experiences in Amsterdam where I did not pack any warm clothing because I was expecting 85+ degree weather only for it to drop in the low 40s at night. It never hurts to bring yourself a hoodie even if you’re going to warm destinations since you can use it as a pillow while traveling and a light blanket during the night. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane Bringing hiking boots and a pair of tennis shoes? Wear the hiking boots on the plane. Same goes for jeans, sweaters, and jackets. These are your heaviest items and, though they are necessary, will weigh your backpack or luggage down. It’s also a good idea to weigh your heaviest items when getting ready to board a plane because these items will help keep you warm in the rather chilly aircraft cabin.
Roll your clothes Instead of folding them. Not only does this trick help create more space it also prevents your clothes from getting wrinkled. Win-win. I use gallon ziplock bags to organize my rolled up clothing. It helps me stay organized and helps prevent my clothing from getting wet in case I find myself stuck in the rain. Another pro tip is to use rubber bands around each of your rolled up shirts/boxers/shorts. This trick will help you fit more items in each one of your gallon ziplock bags. Remember to get all of the air out of your ziplock bags once all of your items are placed inside. This will ultimately allow you more room in your bag for any market gems you may find along your journey. Invest in light weight, active clothing I have found that my best travel clothing are those which are breathable and easy to dry. Check out these shirts from Amazon and Prana Apparel for great light-weight travel apparel. Plan to do laundry If you are going for a long trip, then don’t plan on bringing an outfit for each day for the entire duration. Instead, plan on doing a little washing and drying. Pack a few key pieces, and then either find a machine, a local who has a laundry service, or a sink and get to work. I usually fill my hotel’s sink with warm water and use their hand soap or shampoo to soak my clothing. I also use one of my socks to scrub the material of my clothing to get a deeper clean. You can usually hang your clothing over a sunny balcony or use your resort’s hangers as drying racks around your room. Sometimes you’ll find AC units attached to the floor/wall of your hotel room so you can put your clothing directly on top of the unit for a quick dry. When traveling in Thailand I will also hire locals to wash my clothing for me for about 3-5 dollars. It’s a great way to support the locals but make sure you always count how many pieces of clothing you have and tell them the exact amount of pieces you’re asking them to wash. Packing light can seem like a daunting task, but it will free you from dragging around a heavy bag and allow you to seize every opportunity to pick up and move on to the next adventure. For the adventure of a lifetime, check out Globalized Citizen’s summer tours to Thailand. We have planned two week backpacking adventures to some of Thailand’s most incredible islands including Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and many more! If you have any tips & tricks on how to pack light please share in the comment section below! If you love traveling and want to learn more tricks, tips and be updated of future travel opportunities please subscribe here.