Tips on how to pack smartly for your next adventure

Backpacking is a lifestyle. It’s long-term international travel of a transient nature. The point is to remain nimble, without a large suitcase to schlep around. It’s scary, I know, to go on the road without a plan, and need something to wear for EVERY possible occasion. But it’s very possible to travel lightly, be prepared and truly venture on with nothing more than what you (without a porter) can carry.


So what do you need? Only the basics, and only just enough. Below are some tips for getting there:

How long are you going for? Three months? Six? You don’t need toothpaste for the whole run. Unless you’re settling into the bush on your own, pick some up on the road.


Hair stuff:
Ladies – embrace the natural look. Hair ties and no-dry styling products are your friend. Leave the hair dryer, curling iron or anything else that needs to be plugged in. It won’t work abroad anyhow. If you’re desperate, most hostels will have one for rent.

Ideally everything serves more than one purpose, is easy to wash and matches other items. For underwear and other basics, only bring enough for a week and plan to do laundry. For heavy items, bring just one. Jackets, sweaters, swimmers – you only need one.

Sports shoes, comfortable sandals that you can walk in, and possibly another pair of nicer shoes (that you can also walk in). That’s it, unless there’s a specific purpose for something else. Ladies – high heels are a terrible idea. I promise.


This is a personal choice, but I always plan to pick this up on the road or at a hostel. If you really want your own, invest in a camping towel that’s lightweight, super absorbent and dries quickly.

You never know what will happen on the road. Backpacker travel insurance is an easy way to make sure you’re covered.

Anything else:
If you’re not 99% certain you’ll need it at least once, leave it at home. On the fence about something? Look through the pile – in the one instance you may need that hoodie, would the other jacket you have work just as well? Remember – multipurpose items can be washed.

Once you have it all settled on WHAT you’re packing, concentrate on the WHERE it goes. Staying organised with a backpack is nearly impossible, but planning can help.
– Heavy items on the bottom (shoes, long trousers, heavy clothes)
– Most often used toiletries in a front zipper area or other separate compartment for easy reach
– Bring lots of little baggies so items can stay together, and wet/dirty items can be packed
– Don’t forget about all the compartments
– If you’re checking in a bag at the airport, be sure that the bag can be sent as-is – mesh side bags without zippers won’t hold. Shoes shouldn’t be tied to the outside. You’ll never recover these items if you try.