What Not to Take Backpacking
The flexibility, freedom and incredible value for money offered through backpacking make it an ever-popular way to travel. Many backpackers are incredibly spontaneous as they travel, making few plans in advance, and so packing and preparing for such a holiday is not always easy.
Given that you will be living out of your backpack for a period of time and will be carrying it around yourself, it is vital that you include all the items you really need and eliminate those you do not. Heeding the tips of experienced backpackers regarding essential and nonessential items can be very helpful and assist you to distinguish between the items you need and will use and those that will consume space and weight.
The essentials: passport, tickets, itinerary, travel insurance…
There is nothing more critical than carrying all of your important travel documentation in a safe and secure place. Passports, tickets, itineraries, key contact details and travel insurance paperwork should all be kept safely and close to you. Be aware that items can be removed (or rather stolen) from your backpack while you are wearing it and so you must ensure that your important documents are completely safe.
Also, the fact that backpackers can be targeted as victims of crimes such as stealing further reinforces the need to have adequate travel insurance protection. Because cheap travel insurance can be easily purchased and arranged, there is absolutely no excuse not to invest in protection of this nature.
What else do you need?
- Clothing: The amount of clothing you need should be kept to a minimum and you will need to grow accustomed to repeatedly wearing the same clothes. Bear in mind that you can often wash and dry your clothes overnight in many locations. You will probably need to dress for different weather conditions but should avoid carrying heavy, bulky clothing that will be seldom worn.
- Sleeping bag: You will need a good quality sleeping bag that rolls up to be compact and small in size. Carrying your own sleeping bag is frequently preferable to paying for bedding in hostels where the bedding may not be incredibly hygienic in any case.
- Something waterproof: You may get caught in the rain and will be glad to have a waterproof jacket. The added bonus of these is that they can be rolled or folded to be very small in size.
- Head covering: Depending on where you travel, a head covering may be needed in some countries — particularly for women travelling in Middle Eastern countries.
- Hat: Hats and bandanas can offer protection from the sun and can keep hair off your face.
- Swiss Army knife: A Swiss Army knife is useful for so many purposes and reasons, but backpackers should always ensure that this item is never stored in their hand luggage when flying.
- Cosmetics and toiletries: When it comes to cosmetics and toiletries, you should take only the items that are essential for you to maintain a good standard of hygiene while backpacking.
What don’t you need?
- Guide books: While guide books can give a lot of interesting information, carrying books can be incredibly heavy and, with the advent of the Internet, it is not necessary to carry all information in book form. Remember too that many people you meet while backpacking will willingly share or swap the information, books and photocopies they have in their possession.
- Hair dryers: Hair dryers are bulky and a completely unnecessary inclusion in your backpack. When travelling to different international countries, different sockets will be found, but if you really cannot separate yourself from your hair dryer, take one that folds up and is designed for travel.
- Valuable and sentimental items: It is never wise to take anything too valuable, precious or sentimentally significant with you on a backpacking holiday. Luggage is lost and theft can be common. It is upsetting and stressful to lose things that cannot be easily replaced.
- Things you wouldn’t use at home: A great rule to follow when packing is: If I don’t use it at home, why would I use it when on a backpacking holiday? The truth is, you won’t use items you don’t use at home, so leave them behind.
Backpacking can be a great way to travel. Successful backpacking experiences are characterised by travelling lightly and with only the items that you really need.