What to pack
1. Coordinating clothes
While your cartoon-print fluro pants are a must-have item at home, they might be hard to colour coordinate while on the road. Pack a variety of neutral coloured clothing (tan, grey, black, white) as well as a few statement accessories to ensure that every outfit matches. It’s best if every top can match every bottom to get the most versatile wardrobe with just a few pieces. If you’re going to be in varying climates, layer clothing instead of packing a puffy coat you’ll only wear once.
2. A sarong
A sarong is useful no matter where you go. You can use it as a scarf, a blanket, a towel, a makeshift curtain in a hostel bunkbed, at the beach, and as a hygienic barrier against questionable surfaces.
3. Dental floss
Aside from keeping gingivitis at bay, a few metres of dental floss can double as a clothesline, shoelace, and stitches up any holes that come from wear and tear.
Instead of packing heavy books that will be nothing but dead weight once you’ve read it, load all books onto an e-reader to save space. You can even load guidebooks that are easy to flip through by using the search function.
5. Clothes made of quick-dry material
If you pack shirts and shorts made from lightweight, quick-dry material, you’ll save space, weight, and be able to wash your outfits in any hotel sink whenever they need a scrub. Simply hang them overnight and they’ll be dry by the next morning to wear again.
6. An extra outfit in your carry-on bag
Lost luggage is inconvenient – especially if the only clothing you have is what you’ve just worn on a germ-laden long-haul flight. Always pack a spare change of clothes in your carry-on luggage just in case your bag goes on its own adventure to Timbuktu.
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in hostels or on public transportation, take a small padlock or bicycle lock with you to secure your belongings. Thieves typically want to steal something quick and easily. Having a lock might just be enough to deter them from helping themselves to your valuables.
8. Plastic shower caps
If you see plastic shower caps as part of the toiletries in your hotel, you can use them to cover the bottom of your shoes when you pack them.
9. Power board
In this decade, travellers venture out with a laptop, iPad, e-reader, phone, camera, and other electronic devices. Yet, hostels and hotels often have just one or two power outlets. Pack a power board and one adapter to solve all of your electronic problems and charge everything while you sleep.
How to pack
10. Roll your clothes
Roll, don’t fold, your clothes. You can layer them on top of one another (all tops together, all bottoms together, all jumpers together) or roll them very tightly individually. This saves space and keeps them wrinkle-free.
11. Packing cubes are your friend
Ever gone to retrieve one item from your luggage, only to realise it’s at the bottom of your bag? Pack your belongings with packing cubes to save space and keep everything organised. This way, when you need to get something, you’ll know exactly where to find it and it won’t take long at all to repack. Keep a spare packing cube for dirty laundry and try to keep one type of clothing item in each cube.
The most efficient way to pack your clothes is to roll them and place them into the cubes. Then, pack the cubes into your suitcase or backpack.
Victims of the stuff-it-and-shut-it method
12. Leave space for extras
We tend to use the space we have. Dedicate a section of your luggage as empty space that you cannot fill no matter what. This helps you re-pack in a hurry and leaves room for souvenirs or any extras that you need to purchase on the road.
13. Explode-proof your toiletries
Just because your shampoo smells divine, doesn’t mean you want it coating the rest of your clothes. Place all your toiletries in a plastic bag. You can also add a layer of cling wrap between the lid and the bottle for extra protection. Be extra careful with oil-based products as they’re more susceptible to leaking and staining. Instead of packing any bottles of oil, dab cotton pads with the product and put the pads into a plastic bag.
Shampoo bars and bars of soap are great for skipping the hassle of packing liquids entirely.
How to keep your belongings safe
14. Keep your valuables incognito
If you’re walking through a crowded city with a designer purse or backpack with NIKON or CANON boldly printed across it, consider yourself the ideal target for theft. You can protect your valuables and camera gear by putting them into protective padding cubes, then into an everyday backpack or tote bag. When you are carrying a purse or bag, wear it across your body and keep all zippers shut.
You can even roll up cash and place it inside an empty lip balm container, or keep it buried somewhere else unassuming.
15. Divide your money
Spread your cash and cards among your belongings. Keep a backup stash somewhere unassuming in your main luggage, and the rest of it on you at all times. This way, you won’t lose everything if one of your belongings goes missing or gets stolen.
About the author
Chantae Reden // Chantae Was Here
Chantae Reden is a journalist who writes about adventure, politics, extreme sports, and travel. She believes every stranger is a potential friend. You can find more adventure writing on her blog, Chantae Was Here or on The Salt Sirens, her ocean-sports website.