Many people are terrified of the preparation that goes into a trip. I on the other hand get a high from it. Besides the fact that I am an incredibly organized person, packing for a trip can be fun, even if you aren’t as into making lists as I am.
My handy backpack and I have gone many places together. A good pack can be the difference between a decent trip and an excellent trip. But, it’s not just the backpack that matters, it’s the way in which you pack it. Heavy things should go towards the top of your pack, not down at the bottom like I have heard from many others. If you put all your heavy items like shoes and electronics at the bottom, your pack’s weight will be unevenly distributed and you’ll want to lean backwards upon putting on your pack. I find by stacking my squishiest packing squares (usually packed with clothes and such) at the bottom and layering my heavier objects on the top I don’t feel so off kilter when I put my backpack on.
I currently have an Osprey 65L pack which I love. It’s grey and lavender and holds all my treasures. It works perfect for long term travel but is far too big for weekend trips. If I could do it over again I would have bought a 55L, it would have been more than enough room. For those of you wanting something for short term trips, a 30-40L pack should do just fine. Remember that most backpacks over 40L are too big to be a carry on bag for flights. I have had no issues checking my backpack but many airlines, especially budget airlines, will charge you for checking luggage.
*One of my beautiful travel companions Corrine in her 55L Osprey pack*
Your new best friends are called packing squares. They are lightweight, come in many shapes and sizes and will save you and your backpack’s life. They can easily be found on amazon as well as in many sporting goods store like REI in the US or Cotswold Outdoor in the UK.
Packing squares allow you to separate your items into similar categories. For example, I would put all my shirts in one square, all my pants in another and have a third for pajamas and underwear. By simply separating your clothes into these squares there is no more scavenging around your pack looking for a fresh t-shirt.
*Example of my largest packing square, found on Amazon*
Now that you have your backpack and your packing squares there is another category that’s equally as important, miscellaneous travel things. I know, sounds very specific right? There is a lot of extra little things that can make your backpacking experience go a little smoother.
Here’s a list of my key extras in my backpack:
- A good travel lock
- No matter if your staying in hostels, hotels or Airbnb’s, its always important to have a good durable travel lock. I have one that uses a three-digit code and have a retractable cable, this allows me to wrap it around my backpack if need be or lock it to things that aren’t as typical.
- A set of adaptors and convertors
- A set of world adaptors are a must, charging electronics would be impossible without them. A convertor can be needed with many appliances such as hair dryers and such. I fried my hair dryer the second I got to Australia because I only used an adaptor, not a convertor. Always check the voltage of the country you are travelling to and see what devices are compatible with just adaptors and which will need a convertor.
- TIP – In case of a forgotten adaptor or converter, many TVs have USB ports on the back. Simply turn on the TV, plug in your device via the USB port and bam, you’ve got a power source.
- A packable travel sheet set
- For all you germ freaks out there, this is for you. I have a packable silk sheet set that is basically a super skinny sleeping bag. These are great for icky hostels or if you just feel like you want to sleep in something you KNOW no one else has touched.
- Dryer sheets
- Dryer sheets are perfect for keeping your clothes smelling fresh and soft. Stick them in between shirts or pants to keep the unwanted traveler smell to a minimum.
- Foldable tote bag or backpack
- Having an extra little bag is perfect for throwing a towel in for the beach, using when going to a grocery store or market or to just hold the extra purchases you have made.
- Laundry bag
- There’s just something amazing about separating the clean from the dirty, a laundry bag is also helpful in keeping the wet from the dry.
- Portable battery charger
- A charging block, stick or wallet is crucial when exploring all day. Something little that can fit in a purse or small bag is the best. There’s nothing more anxiety inducing then having all your electronics die and realizing you have no way to contact anyone in case of an emergency.
- Self defense key chain
- As a young American woman traveling can sometimes be scary, it can be scary regardless of your race, gender or status. I bought a keychain that looks like a cat but can be used for self defense if necessary. Fortunately, I have never had to use it, but having it in my hand while walking around after dark makes me a lot more comfortable.
I’m sure there are many more valuable backpacking items that would be helpful for any trip. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know in the comments I’m always looking for new and helpful items for my pack!