In two weeks time my plane to Thailand is set to take off. You can imagine my slight fearfulness of this adventure as I have never travelled for longer than two weeks (aside from living in Copenhagen) ànd have never backpacked from hostel to hostel. Because I’m a notoriously bad packer, I asked some tips from a packing expert. Marilleke backpacked through Australia on her own for two years and followed it up with trips to South Africa, Sri Lanka, The States, Tanzania, Nairobi and I can keep on going. She never passes up on an opportunity to go abroad and is the best person to tell you what to take with you and what to leave behind. As she was currently also packing for a trip to Thailand and Malaysia herself, I decided it was time to pick her brain.
You have been counting down the days and the day has finally come, you are going on holiday. But there is only one small obstacle standing between you and a stress-free holiday, you have to decide what to pack. It is the same problem each time you go abroad you try to pack everything you own -just in case- and regret it from the moment you leave the house. I’m happy to let you know that those days are over. If you follow my advice, you can pack your bag fast, you don’t have to worry about forgetting something and you’re saving yourself from carrying around a heavy backpack. I won’t go into detail about finding the perfect backpack -do invest in a good one- but I can help you with deciding what to put in there and how to do it.
I love discovering new countries and have to carry around my backpack a lot so I chose to pack as lightly as possible. If you are travelling to a warm climate you won’t need a lot of clothes anyway. You can always do a quick wash in your room or treat yourself to a new outfit. The trick is to be ruthless while packing, only bring what you are going to wear. Because even if you don’t bring a lot, a backpack fills up quickly. It’s also a good idea to only select clothes with a color pallet of maximum three colors so you can mix and match between your items. In this way you will get the maximum out of your outfits. The biggest advantage of not taking too much clothes aside from weight? More space for new outfits and souvenirs on the way back home. Nobody said you have to pack lightly when traveling back home.
Aside from the basics in clothing and everyday things, here are a few tips on items you might not think of but that will come in handy (at the bottom of the article you can find a full packing list!):
Once you have everything ready to pack, spread it out on your table. This way you have a nice overview and can start packing. Remember, you have to carry everything you see lying here! Now it’s time to compile your backpack:
My toiletries are stored in an Eagle Creek bag that I bought a few years back and absolutely love it. You can hang it wherever you go and can put all you need in it and has a little mirror on it. Ask the pharmacist for toothpaste samples and buy small bottles to fill with fluids. Make sure to seal all the bottles with fluids and put a plastic bag around them if you are worried the bottles will spill during the flight.
Put all your tops on one pile, shorts on another, etc and start rolling them into small bundles. This way you will take up as little space as possible and won’t wrinkle your cloths too much. It is also easy to get the bundles out and chose what you would like to wear. You can place them next to each other or on top of each other and fill the empty spaces with your underwear.
Think about Weight-placement
If you are bringing a sleeping bag, put this on the bottom of your backpack, next to your toiletry bag or on top, depending on your backpack. Place all heavy items in the middle of your backpack as close to your back as possible in order to center the weight. Make sure no sharp edges are poking in your back, I don’t need to explain to you this is highly uncomfortable. My chargers and head torch go into the side pockets.
I bought a photography bag that looks like a handbag to take away the attention of the equipment inside the bag. The bag is divided into compartments for optimal protection of the camera. The camera takes up most of the space but I still have some space for my passport, wallet, glasses, deodorant, mobile, iPod and a book. And if I go to the beach, I’ll just wrap my sarong around my bag and I’ll be ready to go. Also think about what you should take with you on the plane. Think of a contingency plan if your luggage gets lost. Also pack some entertainment for on the flight and something to help you sleep such as an eye mask and a pillow. Taking a bottle of moisturizer with you on the plane is also always nice to stop your skin from dehydrating too much.
Now you are ready to go, enjoy your trip, I know I will!
Photos and text by Marilleke Vrancken, additions and edited by myself