We all know the feeling; you’re super excited to start your holiday or backpacking trip…and then that feeling is dulled slightly when you realise you’ve still got to pack. Or maybe you get excited about packing…in theory anyway. On paper packing is amazing; you’re trip is right around the corner, everything is freshly washed and you’re ready to go, you get your backpack or suitcase out and then everything falls flat. How to begin? What to take? More importantly, what not to take? You’re only going away for a few weeks but you definitely need to take your entire wardrobe away with you right? You might need that thing, in case of emergency! Oh how could you ever leave that behind?
In about a month’s time I will be leaving my current apartment and moving in to a hostel in Bangkok, then Koh Phangan for a few days, then back to Bangkok, then Hua Hin for 2 weeks, then back to Bangkok AGAIN to then finally move South. Pretty hectic month huh? It will be back to my old Backpack living ways soon enough and I am NOT looking forward to packing my life up again. I have been through this process many times and although I don’t enjoy it I am pretty good at it these days, sound like the opposite to you? Just follow my hand hints and you’ll be all packed up in no time!
Pack, pack and pack again
When I first start packing I want to take everything with me; there isn’t a single item of my possessions that I’m willing to leave behind. Sound familiar? So go for it! Try and pack what you really want to and pretty soon even you’ll get that you’re being pretty ridiculous. I always re-pack AT LEAST twice, just to wittle down my choices a little. Pack everything and then empty it out and start again looking over each individual item thinking; do I really need this? Will I actually wear that? If you’re even the slightest bit unsure about the answer hang it back up, you don’t need it.
Take your time
All you last minute packers stop in your tracks! Packing doesn’t have to be done in the last second (ask my mother who has probably already started packing for her holiday at Christmas- 4 months away). Packing is best when its done over the course of a couple of days, this way you can come back to it with a fresh mind and think ‘why the hell did I even buy that in the first place never mind take it on holiday?!’
Remember where you’re going!
Make sure to always keep your destination in mind when you’re packing. You’re going on a camping trip are you really going to need to take 4 going out dresses and 3 pairs of heels? I don’t think so. You’re going for 2 weeks in the Sun do you really need to take a winter jacket just in case? Maybe, but probably not. Do your research on what the climate usually this time of year and what kind of activities you’ll be doing so you can make educated decisions on what to pack.
Don’t forget laundry
No matter where you go in the world; laundry is an international concept. Every single hotel/ hostel- even some campsites offer some sort of laundry service…or can direct you to a place that does. If you’re going backpacking for 6 months it goes without saying that you don’t need to pack 6 months worth of clothes, the same goes for smaller journeys. You can always pack less if you need to and wash (or pay someone to) as go. On a tight budget? Do like I do and wash your clothes and underwear as you shower and hang them to dry on the end of your bunk bed- or if you’re a real saver like I am, take a rope that can be used as a washing line and pegs and you can dry wherever you want.
Unless you’re going for an expedition in the Arctic, you’re not going to need really dense, heavy fabrics on holiday. Always opt to pack lighter fabrics; swap cotton and linen for denim. You’ll be able to roll your items a lot smaller making room for more stuff. You can always layer up if you’re going somewhere a little chilly.
Shake, rattle and roll
Great, you’ve finally decided exactly what you’re taking with you…but it still won’t fit! Now it’s time to look into HOW you’re packing rather than WHAT it is that you’re stuffing into your suitcase. Try rolling your items rather than folding, it’s a sure fire way to give you loads more space and it won’t crease anything either if you do it carefully enough.
Get creative when it comes to space saving options; stuff sock balls and underwear inside your shoes; make sure you wear your heaviest stuff; hoodies, trainers etc on to the plane so you don’t have to pack them. Zip lock plastic bags are your best friends! Who needs packing cubes when you have these beauties?! After rolling your clothes, match similar sized ones together, pop them in a bag and squeeze all of the air out of it- you will literally half it’s size. Opt to pack similar items together and label them up; that way you won’t be waking up other annoyed hostel goers at 5am looking for a pair of shorts- simply get our your bag of rolled up shorts and hey presto!
As you’re packing, write a checklist of everything that’s going in. This will ease your mind when you’re at the airport at 3am thinking ‘oh god did I remember to pack______’. If you’re moving about a bit it will also help you with repacking so you don’t leave anything under your bed at your hostel.
All packed? Are you sure? Here are some essentials that are excellent for ANY situation and you may just have missed…
*Torch (preferably a solar powered, or wind up one)
*Toilet toll (especially if you’re going to Asia or rural Europe)
*Baby wipes– for any sticky situation you may find yourself in
*Sleeping bag/ blanket– trains, planes and buses can get really cold! Plus some hostels don’t clean their sheets all that often
*Mosquito net– Accommodation will always say they provide one, they never say what condition it’s going to be in. It’s about as useless as a mosquito net with holes in….
*Pen– there will always be an arrival/ departure card for you to fill in, there will always be 50 people waiting and there will always be about 3 pens. Take your own
*Padlock– Most hostels these days don’t offer locked storage. They’re usually in the form of lockers and you have the choice to use your own lock or buy theirs for around £1000000. I’d opt for the former.
Upgrade your luggage
Decided what you’re packing finally? Check! Rolled your clothes and stuffed your knickers in your socks? Check! Packed 10 times? Check! But it still won’t fit? Damn! Perhaps it’s time to upgrade your luggage. If you’re in need of a suitcase; opt for a soft shelled, lightweight case so not to take up too much of your weight allowance. Look for something with lots of hidden storage and ensure that it can expand. If you’re after a backpack; find out which litre would be best for you…but don’t crazy just because you can. Look for a bag you can attach a day pack to, look for something that will be comfortable for carrying around, make sure it has lots of different compartments for toiletries and valuables, check that it’s breathable. Also make sure it’s from a reputable brand; mine is Osprey (as is my day pack) they will replace your bag and send it to you anywhere in the world if it gets damaged, pretty cool right?
Go into some shops, talk to the experts, try some on and see how they feel. My backpack is my home, it’s my shell-I’m like a turtle, I would be lost without it. Find the right one for you!
You’re ready and you’re rearing to go. Everything is packed, you’re amazed with how well you’ve done and you’ve remembered everything. Just do me a favour? Don’t just bring your iphone with you! Take a camera, a compact, a DSLR, a GoPro whatever! Just take one. Take some beautiful photos you can look back on forever, capture those beautiful, once in a lifetime photos. You won’t regret it. Tag me in yours #wherekatiegoes I would love to see them.
Now you’re ready! I’m trusting you to not forget anything and do me proud. Now go and pack like your life depends on it!
p.s Don’t forget your passport, or lose it a couple of days before like I did (nightmare)
Much love from wherever I am…