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Packing for a world trip can seem a daunting task – you have to take into consideration a wide number of factors: your destinations, their climate and culture, your main activities, your electronics,…. No matter where you`ll go or what you`ll do, follow these two simple rules: be light and be prepared to any kind of weather.
Packing light for your world trip will SAVE YOU MONEY, TIME AND AVOID STRESSFUL MOMENTS. Think of the additional excess luggage fees you have to pay for your third bag or extra luggage weight; bus rides or even walking are possible, cheaper and more comfortable with one bag and one backpack (saving you expensive taxi rides with a jam-packed boot); unpacking/packing your luggage will be easier and you'll be less prone to leave something behind; theft will be less likely as you will manage to keep your luggage close to you the whole time. There's no exact science behind packing light and it’s a learning process that takes a few long trips to fine-tune, however the below general tips will point you in the right direction.
MAKE A LIST – Our brains do love lists, visualizing what's to be done and ticking off our accomplishments are powerful tolls to get things done. Most importantly, we feel compelled to stick to a written list and not to pack anything more then on our list. Try it and you'll never pack without!
weight vs volume (how many liters it can carry vs its actual weight)
material (must be rough and durable and weather proof as much as possible)
size vs manageability (can you carry it alone? Does it have multiple straps to compact its size when empty? Does it have packpack harness?).
Our choice has fallen on a Duffel Bag 130 L with packback and shoulder straps and easy-to-access compartment (Osprey Transporter)
Don’t forget sturdy padlocks for your bags. An interesting protection for your bags and packpacks is also this wire mesh adjustable locking system (although quite heavy if you want to travel as light as possible): Pacsafe. Learn more HERE on safety while travelling.
COMFORT FIRST – Among the many factors to consider when choosing your travel gear, comfort should come first. Don’t bring with you newly-purchased-never-worn clothes – try them on in different occasion before your departure to make sure they’re the right size and will indeed fit the purpose of your travel. Some other characteristics to look out for are fast drying and breathable material – these will save you some washing and uncomfortable “smelly” situations.
Shoes are especially important in terms of comfort as nobody wants to get caught out with bad blisters, in particular when hiking for many days in a row - we never leave without our tested hiking shoes (Ahnu Montana II hiking shoes) which are extremely comfortable and flexible as you can use them either for a walk in the city or a long hike on the mountains.
MULTI-PURPOSE ITEMS AND CLOTHES – We all love the classic Swiss pocket knife for its multiple use combined under one compact object. Having items which multi task will save space and weight in your luggage and will give you peace of mind, knowing you can deal with different situations with one tool only. Multi-purpose items include Swiss Army pocket knife, sarong/scarf, safety pins, pegs, leggings, international travel adapter. Find out more on multi-purpose clothes HERE
ALL-WEATHER AND ALL-OCCASION CLOTHES – Aim to pack clothes you can wear in all occasions – hiking, work, city shopping… Even better if the same clothes are weather-proof and adapt to different temperatures. Think of a merino wool jacket with thermal regulation (Icebreaker Merino Jacket), convertible clothing such as zip-off pants (Kathmandu), hiking/city shoes and scarves turning into dresses and tops.
To maximize your clothes’ versatility coordinate your styles and colors – choose clothes that go well with every other clothing in your bag.
Don’t forget to incorporate the cultural aspect in your clothes choice – some countries require you to cover your upper body, your head or your legs: be culturally correct!
LAUNDRY TIME – Minimizing your wardrobe means less changes of clothes at disposal – so be prepared to more frequent washing. You might also not reach a reasonable quantity of clothes to wash every week to justify a visit to the laundromat, therefore hand-washing will be the way to go to save time, money and the environment =). Consider buying laundry soap and a compact travel clothes line (Sea to Summit). No-iron clothes are also a bonus.
Use packing cells/dry bags – If you pack your swimming gear in the same blue bag every time, it will be easier and quicker to locate it in your luggage, even if it's not in its usual place.
USE REFILLABLE CONTAINERS & SOLID FORM PRODUCTS – Repackage liquids and gels in reusable containers (Kathmandu). Not only will you save money and space in your luggage, but you'll also reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. This will also help you meet air-travel liquid carry-on regulations. To avoid leaks consider solid form products, such as shampoo, deodorant, body wash, body lotion, tooth paste and so on. Check this website out: Lush
AVOID ELECTRICAL PRODUCTS – Find alternative lighter substitutes to your electrical products when possible such as a bamboo toothbrush instead of your electrical toothbrush, a manual shaver instead of your electric one, a compact travel hair dryer instead of your professional bulky one. And ask yourself if you really need a hair dryer in the first place – most accommodation around the world will have one to borrow you, or you simply don`t need one in tropical hot weather. For more on electrical supply around the world click HERE.
UNIVERSAL ADAPTER, POWER BANKS AND CABLE CASE – Remember different countries have different electrical power, so better to bring a good universal adapter with you (Universal Adapter & Charger). Some countries might not even have enough electrical supply or you`re going for 10 days on a multi-day hike –power banks are light, small and a good idea (remember to pack them only in your carry-on bag, they are not allowed in your check-in bags). Finally, you might also want to pack as less cables as possible – to organize your cables, consider a cable case (UGreen).
TECHNOLOGY – In your quest to pack lighter technology is usually a sore spot as we all have more and more technology marvels which we can not do without. We're lucky enough technology has been embracing travelling and has come a long way to provide us with lightweight, multi-purpose gadgets. These obviously come at a cost, but it's a cost worth spending to save frustration and money during your trip (no excess luggage fees, longer battery life, quicker performance…). Our choice has fallen on a Mac laptop, an I-Phone SE and a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II camera.
Remember to treat your technological “jewels” well and buy appropriate cases as your trip requires. We choose Lifeproof case for our mobiles to protect them against impacts and water; our computers will travel in a soft shell and our camera in a compact light case. More about cables and power banks HERE.
PROHIBITED ITEMS – Least but not last, be aware of different flight and airport regulations. Most common items to be under the radar are: inflammable, food and liquids, sharp objects, sporting and camping gear and medications. Below are few tips to avoid uncomfortable customs controls:
- Lighter – This goes under the inflammables category – put it in your checked baggage when possible. Some airports do allow you to carry a Zippo lighter in your carry-on bag
- Pepper Spray – Some solo travelers might carry this for good reasons – just make sure your spray has a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge and they should allow it in your carry-on bag.
- Liquids – The rule of thumb is that all liquids more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) have to go in your checked bag – liquids under this quantity have to be placed in a small transparent bag. Separating this from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. For alternatives to liquids see more HERE.
- Medications – Travelling overseas with medication, prescription or otherwise, can be tricky. As a general rule better to carry all standard over-the-counter medications (such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory) in your checked bag while prescription meds should go in your carry-on at all times – make sure they are clearly labelled and in their original packaging to avoid misunderstandings and unpleasant situations during security screening. Carry a letter from your doctor specifying your drugs are medically prescribed and for personal use if necessary and contact the embassy or consulate when you are in doubt about the legality of your meds in the visited country.
MEMORABILIA AND SOUVENIRS – Least but not last, some people might be quite sensible on this point, but souvenirs are the big no-no during a one-year world trip, even the lightweight ones as they accumulate and eventually will cost you more in excess luggage fees than its original cost combined. Also remember a souvenir has usually more sentimental value for you than the recipient, so an old-fashioned postcard or letter is sometimes better received than a weird-looking key ring.
BUDDY-PACKING – If travelling with friends or your partner, buddy-packing can be a great expedient to travel lighter – this usually applies to technology (one shared camera), electrical equipment (shared hair dryer) or travel hygiene (shared toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion…). It can go as far as sharing same clothes if you and your bestie have the same size.