Packing for a trip abroad is an art form and one not perfected during the first two forays across the map. No it is a craft which is polished over the course of many trips away, learning how many shorts, shoes, pairs of undies are actually needed to survive the wilds of the open road.
How to avoid packing badly
Just how big a back pack do you really need? I remember my first trip from New Zealand through Scotland and Ireland; which can I just say for the record are both so much like New Zealand. I moved from the green open spaces and mountains and ended up surrounded by much of the same but paying more for a pint! Don’t get me wrong the trip was incredible and I met one of my best friends today, but not quite the cultural exchange I was after, but did ease me gently into the world of travel.
Anyway I digress…my first backpack was 75litres and expanded to a whopping 95litres. It was bought in one of those shops which has a ‘going out of business’ sale but never actually quite closes down. Seriously 95lites is too much to be carting on and off buses and what could I possibly need for a two month trip? I was in pain! I don’t mean pain as in ‘oh my back hurts’, I mean the pain of unpacking and repacking, hauling my pack up and down city streets and generally not using half the belongings I brought with me and I knew it.
My next pack was a 65litres and has been my faithful friend for well over 14 years. It’s a blue Karrimor backpack and I love it. It’s like a pair of shoes that has worn and moulded to my foot, that has saved me from the dirt of Indian streets and blisters from the dance floor after one to many local beers. In actual fact, it is still too big and when/if it ever goes to that backpack heaven in the sky, I am downgrading to a 40litre and won’t look back. Yes it is true, the more stamps in the passport and fridge magnets accumulated the better we get at packing.
My technique for packing is always last minute. Not because I am disorganised, but because I believe packing in a state of panic means I will take only what is truly needed and what I forget to pack, obviously wasn’t that important! It has only failed me a few times and never seriously.
So what would I pack now? Obviously it depends on where you plan on going and what time of the year. It is also important to remember what type of trip it is. If you plan on a dirty, hostel, budget ridden backpacking trip, you really don’t need the dressy clothes; you’ll wear them once but carry them everywhere. If you have meetings, or want a few nights in fancy restaurants then cut off shorts and a singlet really isn’t going to cut the mustard.
These days I have packing to an art form and tend to use what I take; but it has taken a while. My little blue backpack and I have seen some incredible adventures, and long may it last!
The three items I never leave home without now, besides an iPod and a good book (hard copy not Kindle) are as follows:
• Gaffa Tape
• Universal Bath Plug
• Elastic Clothes Line
• Needle and Thread