Traveling to faraway places with only a bag on your back can be both exhilarating and convenient, as backpacks are generally lighter and more durable than suitcases. Seasoned travelers make it look so easy, but packing light and living from a backpack isn't for everyone. Could you do it?
Advantages of Backpacking
Traveling with only a backpack allows you to be mobile and have your hands free so that you can eat, take photographs, or fiddle with your phone without worrying about unattended luggage. If your trip involves flying, choose a backpack that's small enough to pass as carry-on luggage. This can save you money on baggage fees, and you won't have to stand in long queues to check in or retrieve luggage. Size limits differ, depending on the airline, so check it out in advance. A backpack becomes a virtual part of you, making it easier to embrace adventure and explore places you might otherwise never visit.
Let's face it: you won't be fitting a whole lot into any backpack, so get ready for some minimalist packing. Here are some tips for packing minimally:
- If you'll be traveling for longer than a week, 5-7 sets of clothing should do.
- Leave bulky stuff such as sweaters and heavy-duty cargo pants at home and pack lightweight items that take up less space and are easier to wash and quicker to dry.
- Choose wisely so you can layer up if it becomes cooler.
- Stick to a basic color scheme that you can mix and match, and try to wear most items more than once before washing.
- Roll rather than fold your clothes, as this takes up less space and doesn't cause as much creasing.
- Organize your backpack by using packing cubes. Fill each cube with a different type of clothing so you can quickly find what you need.
Your backpack's safety should be one of your main priorities. Losing your possessions can be devastating, and you don't want to find yourself in a strange place without spare clothing, money, or a passport. For better security and peace of mind:
- Never leave your backpack unattended. Turning your back on it for even a second could be all a thief needs to help himself to your things.
- Invest in a travel backpack with lockable zippers and use combination locks to secure them. A cable lock or bicycle combination chain lock can come in handy if you want to attach your bag to a fixed object such as a bed frame or bus seat.
- Never stash valuable items in the outside pockets of your backpack. Rather hide your valuables at the bottom of your bag where a pickpocket wouldn't be able to access them.