When packing a suitcase/backpack/ luggage trunk it is super easy to think that you have so much space and that you may as well take the entire contents of ones bedroom. I believe this problem is especially an issue for the female population.

“I think I should take this just in case we….” “oh, this will come in really handy when…” common phrases uttered by me when packing my bag. However, one of the keys to happiness (and a happy back) when travelling is to take the bare minimum.

Here are some top tips on not overfilling your suitcase:

  1. Take clothes which are versatile. A comfortable top that can be worn through the day but perhaps with a necklace to wear to a bar in the evening.
  2. Cut the number of shoes- when I went around the world I took three pairs of shoes and even this could be seen as too many. Shoes are often bulky and difficult to pack around. Obviously, it depends on what you are doing, but, I recommend a pair of walking boots or sturdy trainers, sandals and one pair of eveningish/dressy shoes (I took black ballet pumps). Obviously for the guys your dressy shoes are a bit more clunky than for the girls so maybe just where your trainers out- again, It depends what you are doing and how fancy the bars/restaurants are.
  3. Pack your bag- then take everything out and reduce it by 1/3. You do not need 10 pairs of shorts and 100 t-shirts. Luckily washing machines and laundry services exist all over the world.
  4. Dress like an onion. Layers are the way forward if your cold you can don them if your hot you can shed them. It also avoids the bulky coat and the medium jacket being packed which could easily take up all of your space.
  5. Compartmentalise- this way you can keep track of what you own and what is clean and what is dirty. This helps to avoid confusion while on the road as well as helping you to avoid buying more things that you thought you had lost but are in fact are in the black abyss at the bottom of your bag.
  6. Overpack on undies- trust me you will run out.
  7. Keep the weight down. I am a weak 50kg woman and my bag weighed like 16kg I managed but anymore and I think I would have broken my back. I read somewhere that you should aim for 1/3 of your body weight as a maximum.

Some things I recommend you take with you this is on top of the essentials:

  1. Passport and travel info– I know I said on top of the essentials but goes without saying that you will need your passport but please don’t forget to take it to the airport. I also recommend digitally storing a copy or giving a copy to someone back home.
  2. A camera or a journal– I took both and now have a completely documented trip so I can’t forget it. I suppose if you have a memory like an elephant you can skip these but in general after a long trip (or even a weekend break) there will be things that in a few years that you will forget- so write them down or take a snap. Looking back on my big trip I wish I had a go pro or similar to get underwater and action shots!
  3. Carabiners– these are such a hack for when you haven’t packed quite well enough to fit everything in your bag- just clip it to the outside. Also if you get hot walking around for the day you can clip your jacket onto the outside of your bag- LIFE SAVER.
  4. Camel back– or other hydration system. It is easy when doing hiking or walking around somewhere super hot to forget to have your daily needs of H2O. Having a straw right next to your mouth helps to reduce this risk.
  5. A first aid kit – being stuck in the middle of nowhere and hurting yourself is pretty crap but better to be prepared with basic medical supplies until you get to somewhere again. Also, getting basic medicines like paracetamol in foreign countries can sometimes be a mission with language barriers etc so better to stock up before you go
  6. Tupperware– only applies to those on a budget- but for taking left overs and pack lunches! We also had a cool bag which also go shipped around with us- the food was then all in one place and we didn’t end up getting squashed bananas everywhere (a mistake I have made in the past in a hire car).
  7. Light weight towel– normal towels are bulky whereas microfiber ones are small and take much less time to dry.
  8. Waterproof jacket– if on a long trip it is inevitable that it will rain at some point- these jackets are windproof as well and will act as a layer of warmth even if it is dry.
  9. Plug adapter– I found a multi one where you could change the socket for all different ones and had 4 USB ports. This was great for me especially as I took no electronics that required an actual plug.
  10. At least one outfit that covers you from wrist to ankle– In many countries there will be a mosque, temple, church or monastery that you are desperate to look in, but, find you are turned away at the door because of your short shorts and bikini top/bare chest.
  11. Ear plugs and eye masks can be useful if you will be staying in a lot of hostels.
  12. A torch– again useful in hostels when it isn’t yet time to turn the lights on and you have to leave super early!
  13. A lock– to lock up your suitcase when flying or coaching- but also many lockers in hostels don’t have locks so best to take your own- saying that I rarely locked up any of my possessions and nothing got stolen- but it only takes one bad egg.
  14. Some kind of travel entertainment– I had a kindle. Also, a battery pack so you can charge it.
  15. A bag that folds up small– like a canvas bag. Useful for unexpected purchases. Or if you get a good one it could also be used as a day bag.
  16. Waterproof bag or box for your electronics- I picked up a really good one in Thailand that I kept everything in. At first I was using a Tupperware box which was less than ideal in shape and size.
  17. If hiking a lot (or driving) a map and a compass– or GPS. Also, a whistle just in case you get into trouble.
  18. Travel clothes line– was helpful for me in hostels when the weather wasn’t great. The dryers never seem to make your clothes 100% dry.

If you have anything that you took with you on a trip which revolutionised it please let me know- So I can 1) update my post and 2) take it with me on my next adventure.

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