Those planning a long term trip generally need to answer two questions. The first is of course, where will they go. And the second is what will they bring. If you want your trip to be a success, you should pay just as much attention to the latter. No destination is fun with a fridge on your back.
Unless you happen to be heading to the Arctic, there really isn’t any need to pack very much. If you can buy it in your home country, chances are you can buy it where you are going. Rather than weigh yourself down unnecessarily, think long and hard about each item that you pack. And under no circumstances, pack any of the following.
A Massive Backpack
The first step towards a light backpack is purchasing a small one. If you can’t fit everything you want to bring into a fifty litre backpack, you need to really rethink your packing list.
If you’re going to be away for a while, don’t skimp on the cost of your backpack either. You can only benefit from lightweight materials and comfy shoulder pads if you’re willing to pay for them. They are well worth the cost.
“Just in Case” Clothes
Only pack clothes for the weather that you can reasonably expect. Freak thunderstorms do happen but preparing for them can be costly in terms of weight. Occasionally being unprepared for the weather really isn’t the end of the world. And it’s certainly better than carrying around a bag full of clothes that you never wear.
When it comes to long-term travel, jeans are probably the worst clothing choice that you can make. Not only are they significantly heavier than all other types of pants, they take forever to dry too. And if you’re going somewhere sunny, it’s worth noting that they’re not exactly very airy either.
There’s something about travelling across the world that makes you want to go hiking. Intercontinental travel can make just about anyone a fan of the outdoors. But before you pack your hiking boots, ask yourself whether they’re really necessary. Jungles and mountains can be easily travelled over in sneakers. And sneakers are a hell of a lot lighter.
Sleeping bags aren’t heavy. They are however usually too bulky to fit into a backpack. They are therefore generally carried on top or below. This gets very irritating very fast. It’s also completely unnecessary. Hostels provide linens, airports have benches, and campsites really aren’t worth the hassle anyway.
If you want to get a wink of sleep on that strange overnight train, avoid carrying anything that you’re not prepared to lose. A hundred dollar camera makes sense, an SLR wonder of modern photography does not. Though I generally refuse to travel without some kind of wi-fi enabled device, there are many alternatives to an expensive laptop. Tabs and netbooks can be found for surprisingly low prices. They’re lighter too.
Finally, there’s nothing better for breaking up a fourteen hour flight than a good book but you should avoid carrying the paper variety. If you’re a big reader, those novels can really start to weigh you down. Get your hands on a Kindle instead. For the weight of a small paperback, you can carry a virtual library. And that library can include the all important guidebook.
Mike Johnson is a veteran travel blogger and has spent a lot of time traveling the world. He seemed mesmerised by the Isle of Wight holiday parks.