Five Tips for Packing a Light Bag When Going Abroad
When packing your bag for an international backpacking trip, the idea is to pack as light as possible. Ideally, you want to fit everything into one carry-on sized bag so that you can take it on the plane with you, minimizing the chances of theft, cutting down on time spent waiting for luggage, and saving your back from lugging around too much weight in whatever your country you’re exploring.
One of the main allures of life on the road is this idea of rejecting material belongings, exchanging them instead for raw experiences. Aim for this Zen simplicity when traveling, and you will thank yourself later.
Idealism aside, a first-timer will surely struggle with minimizing life to a ball of mass that can be stuffed into a backpack, so here are five tips to help you out a little bit.
1. If You Can Buy It Later, Leave It Behind
There are plenty of items you might see as “necessities” that you can pick up further along as you travel, often at lower prices than what you would pay at home. Not to mention that once you get out on the road, these necessary things very rarely if ever get used.
Cut out anything that you can pick up at a local minimart or 7/11 as needed.
Even sandals, sunglasses, and shorts can be picked up in any tropical location, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a country that doesn’t stock soap and toothpaste in stores—shocking, I know. I personally bring these two in my bag so I don’t have to stink everyone out on my way overseas, but you get the point.
Emergency items are rarely needed either—use your judgment, but a full kit won’t be necessary unless you’ll be braving some serous extremes with no civilization around.
When in doubt, leave it out and buy it later.
2. Buy Multi-Use Products
For what you “must” bring—as well as items bouoght along the way—try to find products with several different uses.
For instance, if you absolutely must moisturize on the road, find a moisturizer that can be used for your body and you face (and as an aftershave lotion). Another example is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, which can be used to wash your body, hair, and laundry (even teeth, for you die-hards out there). Or what about a waterproof coat that looks formal enough to wear in a nightclub?
Do some research in Amazon’s travel department to find more great ideas—just give the reviews and in-depth look before buying.
3. Separate Everything into Freezer Bags
Nothing is more annoying than having to unpack your backpack every time you need to get one single item. I solve this problem by organizing and separating everything in zip lock freezer bags (which I choose because the seal tends to last a lot longer). All your toiletries can go in one bag, with a separate bag for your toothpaste and toothbrush.
I keep all my clothes separate as well, packing 2 pairs of pants or two shirts per bag and then squeezing all the air out. Before the plastic bags, I rolled everything up really small and tight, like they do in the military, but my new method saves a lot of room as well and makes everything much more accessible.
Bundle together similar items in their own bags—electronics, for instance.
4. Leave Your Laptop At Home
Choosing not to take your laptop can make life much easier. When you carry a computer everywhere you’re always worried about getting it damaged or stolen, it takes up a lot of room, it’s heavy, and you end up chatting or browsing when you should be soaking in the experience.
I know I mentioned electronics above, and I do travel with my laptop because I’m a writer and internet marketer, but if you are neither, just leave it at home. Internet access can be found in small internet cafes all over the world, so you won’t be cut off completely.
5. Match All Your Clothes
One last tip for clothing is to try to match everything together Choose a similar theme for every item you take. This allows you to get more outfits out of less clothing, and since your clothing takes up a large portion of your bag, it makes a big difference.
Do you have any tips for packing lightly? Be sure to sure them with the rest of us.