If there is one thing I’m not very good at, it is deciding what to pack. My favourite items of clothing tend to be those that have patterns; think flowery pants or striped t.shirts. Items that you cannot wear together and yet I still end up packing them. When you are packing for a gap year or backpacking trip, space is important, you have to get your whole life in that backpack. You need items that can be worn with each other to make as many different outfits as possible. You need a range of casual and going out outfits and items for all types of weather you are likely to encounter. I’ve made countless mistakes with my packing, so here are my ultimate tips so that you can avoid those mistakes.
Packing tips to live by
DON’T pack multiple patterns
So you want a pair of those patterned hippie pants that all backpackers wear? Fine but don’t only pack those patterned pants. Be sure to pack plain pants like jeans as well. Same for those striped tops, one or two is cool but be sure to pack five or six plain tops too. Trust me a striped top and flowery pants is not a good look.
DO pack for all weathers
When I packed for my gap year I didn’t take anything for winter weather and then I ended up in New Zealand in mid-winter. If there is any chance that your travel plans could change then be sure to have clothing that is suitable. Shelling out £50 on a coat half way through your gap year will seem like a lot of money. Alternatively if you are heading to a climate that gets a ‘warm’ winter prepare for the fact they could have their coldest winter in years! Be sure that pack that pair of jeans you are debating about.
DON’T pack too many towels
Just ask my boyfriend, I have a thing about towels. Whenever we go on a weekend away I pack a towel incase the accommodation doesn’t provide one. I’ve been known to pack a towel for showering and a towel for going to the beach when I don’t even take a towel to the beach, I use a sarong! So basically pack one towel and make the towel you pack a small one no fluffy bath towel. I use a microfibre towel on short trips but not sure I could cope with one of these for a year.
DO pack a pair of black leggings (one for the girls)
Black leggings have become such a staple item in every girls wardrobe and they are a must when packing for your backpacking trip. Note I say black leggings, not those flowery ones that you love because they don’t do quite the same job. Trust me, I’ve been there and got the t.shirt. You can sleep on a plane, overnight bus or a train in them but they won’t go under your patterned dress like black leggings will.
DON’T pack too many shoes
This seems to be my biggest downfall. I want my trainers for running, converse for exploring a city, Dr Martens for hiking, flip flops for the beach and sandals for the beach town. Yes I genuinely took that many pairs of shoes on my last three month trip plus high heels because I had a wedding to go to. Did I really need all of them? No! Think seriously about your shoe choice, can any of them double up on uses because they will take the most space in your backpack. Oh and always wear the biggest/heaviest pair on the plane.
Do pack more ‘going out’ clothes than you think you need
The one thing I never pack enough of it clothes to wear for going out. I’m quite a casual dresser anyway but I so often end up wearing the same outfit out as I would wear in the day time. Be sure to take a few outfits that are a bit nicer and things you would only wear out. These could then double up as work outfits if you are working aboard and need smart clothes.
DON’T pack everything at the last minute
I tend to get excited about a trip and pack weeks before but on those odd occasions I have had to throw things together the day I leave my packing has been a disaster. I don’t think about outfits, I don’t plan what I actually need I just panic and keep putting things in until my backpack is full or too heavy. Instead always have time to check through what you have packed and few times. If there is anything you are not sure about then you probably don’t nee it.
DO roll everything
Everyone says to do this and that is probably because they are right. I don’t know why but it really does seem to take up less space when you do this. By rolling things you can squeeze them into little spaces and fill what would other wise be dead space. This is especially important in backpacks which are often strange shapes. I also find rolling things makes less creases on your clothes.
DON’T pack all of the toiletries you use at home
When you live somewhere permanently you tend to have a stock of toiletries that don’t get used regularly: moisturiser, hair product, perfume, body spray etc. However, when you are travelling you really don’t have space for all these products that aren’t part of your daily usage. Just pack the things you need everyday. I know when I travel I barely wear make up so I always just pack the bare essentials and leave the rest behind.
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Do you have any packing tips to add to this list? What would your number one tip be?