Improving your packing list
Here are all the things that you can leave at home because they only take away all the space:. Lets see how you can improve your baggage by minimizing space and weight.
As long as you are not planning to sleeping outside or in cold areas think twice before bringing that fluffy bedcover with you. Unless you really go camping you will start cursing yourself for always having to squeeze it back to into your bagpack, that gets even fuller the longer you travel.
Remark: If you don’t want to spare on a cover consider a light liner made of cotton, micro fibre or silk that additionally protects you from mosquitos. In case you are sleeping outside in a warm country, buy a hammock and strings for 3 around 3 USD.
They are very handy when on business trips or city tours. But can you imagine the pain dragging them hundreds of meters over gravel at 40 degrees in the sun? So leave your good Samsonite at home and take the bagpack instead. The smaller the better. That means sacrifice in the beginning but also less to carry in the long run.
Remark: Get a small (!) backpack. Force yourself to take a small size. Unless you are going to hike, more space only means for possibilities in carrying around unnecessary stuff. Make sure you only bring what you need. And if you should really feel like “My god – I just need to have that wooden baringo giraffe” you can still ship it home instead of taking it all around.
Laptop and expensive valuables
Big point of issue. To take or not to take. As for my personal opinion, I would not advice to bring them unless you are working from abroad or study or stay at one place for a long time. Even if its convenient, its valuable, big and heavy (because you also need the charger).
RemarK: Leave it at home. I met many people who got robbed, electronics got wet or broken. It’s not worth to lose your sleak Mac Book Air or the newest smartphone. To browse, watch movies, do travel research or even blogging use your smartphone or a cheap tablet instead. Moreover, less valuables mean less fear to lose them. Do yourself a favor and leave them at home.
Way to heavy. At my first travel I had 10 books. They weigh around 7kgs alone. In case you need books, there are many international book stores with books cheaper than in your country. Read country specific books. Moreover, hostels usually have big bookshelves full of books that travelers left on their way.
RemarK: Get an eBook reader and a charging cable. Load all your books onto it, including a travel guide of the country you are about to go to. The battery should last for a couple of weeks. And of course, the weight does not increase with the number of books. Get books from local stores and hostels.
Too many clothes
Traveling isn’t vacation. From my perspective, there is no need for a tuxedo or a gala dress. We have way to many clothes in our closet, that we haven’t worn for a long time. Observe which clothes you where in one week most often. Then decide on half of them. What you need depends on where you plan to go.
Remark:; Many countries, especially in Asia, are way cheaper in terms of clothes. There is nothing you can’t buy somewhere else. So leave some space in your bag for some local attire.
It’s not a survival camp that you are preparing for. Electric shaver, 3,5″ HDD, Flashlight, 2 Smartphones, tons of cables and adapters. Leave it at home. Everything that you don’t touch at least once a day, leave it at home. Plus, lots of other countries have the same products, yet sometimes much more expensive but still available. So again: Bring the basics and buy on demand. You will realize that your essential needs are much lower than your current inventory.
Alright. Now coming to the things that were really useful to me while on the road:
Bandana It’s useful in every situation. Maybe it is the simplicity that makes it so useful. Its nothing more than a piece of seamless, elastic cloth. Honestly, I wouldn’t go on a trip without it. As a beany, it protects you from the sun. Over your face, good for a sandstorm. Around your forehead, an awesome sweatband. Twisted, it makes you look like a pirate. Put around the neck, its a lite scarve and sun protection likewise. Twisted twice functions as small compression band Just find your own usage.
Zip off tracking pants Get some of those and you won’t need another pair of shorts. No need for an extra bermuda, functional as a swimming shorts, for sports. In the evening the long version protects you from moskitos or when it becomes a bit chilly. Make sure they are elastic so they are also very comfy for the plane or the bus. Look for zipper pants that also come with zippers at the pockets.
Power Bank Nobody knows when or if electricity is coming back. Or your phone died in the middle of nowhere. Camera and Cell phone are powered off. Get at least a cheap power bank to recharge your batteries. It sometimes might even save your life.
a small Multitool I personally only need it when really planning a trip that includes staying in rural or the nature. However, sooner or later you might need something to open a can, bottle or cut something. Make sure it is not too heavy. No need for 30+ functions.
Zip locks and compression bags Foldable, waterproof and very cheap. It brings order into your travel stuff and protects it to a certain extent. I put electronics, chipcards and all other things in the zippers. The compression bags are great for your clothes to reduce the volume.
Head lamp Again, power cuts can be quite frequent especially in rural areas. However, you might use it more often in hostels or outdoors. A small headlamp will give you the freedom of two hands while hiking, climbing, packing.
Micro Fibre Travel towel I don’t like my clothes to be moist or getting stinky. Just because you are a backpacker doesn’t mean that you ought to be recognized by the smell. The towel drys very quickly, is lite and has a small pack size. If you don’t want to invest in a proper travel towel, just get a microfibre cloth for sweeping the floor. Works same and is cheaper.
Gorilla pod Looks creepy but does amazing shots from all angles imaginable. You can put your high res DSLR onto the Pod and do not have to make the sacrifice of a low quality action camera shot.
Ebook reader If you are a bookworm you can either consider hiring a sherpa or getting an Ebookreader. I know, the feeling is different but I totally like the feeling of carrying hundreds of books in only 150g. If it gets stolen, its not too expensive and you can read PDFs on it. So very useful for travel guides on the way.
To backup everything, mostly use cloud computing. Reduce the size of all your files and get a reliable host service. However, sometimes the internet connection is not as good and you need to store your pictures, documents and videos in a different way. Take a waterproof hdd that you can plug in in any internet cafe or hotel. Take care that you don’t need an external power plug, only a USB port. For me, there is nothing worse than loosing my pictures. You can steal anything from me but my memories.