About Packing The Right Way

December 7, 2019
Written by: Jenny

About Packing The Right Way

In this post I’ll explain how you should pack your backpack for travelling. First of all, you need to answer three important questions for yourself:
Me backpacking in Cuba.

If you’re planning on taking an airplane – at least once – you need to know about the airlines luggage restrictions (same for buses and sometimes even for trains). If you have your own car though, you can bring everything you can think of. So let’s say you take the plane and only your carry-on is free – of course you don’t wanna spend another 50€ (~60$) on top just for another piece of luggage – so mostly your carry-on needs to weigh less than 8kg (~17,5lbs) and it can’t be longer than 50cm (~19,5inch) which makes it hard for you to pack only what’s necessary. If you do have another piece of luggage included I would recommend to check your backpack in at the airport and just bring a small purse on board – only filled things that you’ll need while you’re in the plane. I can speak of myself as a very impatient person that gets easily annoyed – for example if I have to carry around more with me than I need. So please plan in advance what you’re gonna be doing in the airplane (in my next post I’ll give you some examples on how to survive a long distance flight). I used to pack so many things “just in case” I needed them – but I never did. Now I’m only bringing earphones, headphones, a charger plus adapter, a sleeping mask, my money, my passport, all the other important documents that I need, my camera, my small 2in1 tablet/laptop, an empty plastic bottle and a small plastic bag including hand cream, lip balm, deodorant and disinfection gel. That’ll all fit in a small backpack or purse.But if there is another bag included that you can check-in – and in no case I would bring more than one checked bag – you’re free to pack everything you want but with most of the airlines the bag can’t weigh more than 22kg (~48,5lbs).

Now it’s important to know what kind of bag you’re checking in: a suitcase or a backpack. You need to plan in advance on what you’re gonna be doing on your trip: You can be boring and just check-in a hotel where you can easily bring a suitcase since you’ll never have to walk around with it. But if you’re planning on backpacking or at least on walking some long distances a suitcase can be super annoying really fast especially if it’s heavy. But also huge backpacks (70+liters) are not made for walking days because that wouldn’t be good for your back. I would recommend to bring a backpack between 50 and 70 liters to make sure you have enough space but not too much to bring unnecessary things. Again: If you’re bringing a suitcase you can literally pack everything (as long as it’s allowed in the airline restrictions) but if you’re trying to pack a backpack – that can be really tricky, I know. You’ll have to get used to only packing what you need and first of all, you need to know what is it that you need. The first few times backpacking you’ll always pack more than you need and you’ll bring home half of the stuff unused but you’ll learn from it.

The most important part: What are you packing? Let’s say you travel around for two weeks and you might wanna pack a new shirt for every day which would be 14 shirts, then you also wanna pack all your favorite pants and skirts and dresses and of course underwear – but you see where this is going. You only bring five shirts no matter what (you can wash them wherever you’re gonna be, just bring a small hand-wash detergent for travelers like “Rei in der Tube” in case there’s no place to do laundry). I mean of course it always depends on where exactly you’re going but I’ll always pack one short pants and one long pants and with it one sweater for bad weather 😉 Don’t start bringing unnecessary things like cardigans – they don’t warm you if it’s really cold. For underwear it’s the opposite thing: You can never bring enough. So since they don’t need a lot of space bring enough panties and socks (girls: don’t pack too many bras but if you’re planning on hiking don’t forget sports bras). Let’s not forget about shoes since the decision of what kind of shoes you’re bringing is one of the most important ones. You should always bring some comfortable sneakers but I would recommend to wear them on the flight so you save space in your luggage. If you’re travelling to warmer regions also bring sandals and flip-flops (also for taking a shower in dirty regions­ – your feet will thank you). You might also need a bikini or a bathing suit but don’t exaggerate and bring more than one – a waste of space. To keep all my clothes in order and to divide between clean and dirty laundry I always use special packing bags that fit exactly into my backpack and­ that make it so much easier to find exactly what I’m looking for instead of unpacking the whole backpack everytime. In case something gets wet you should also bring an empty waterproof plastic bag. All those rules are the same even if you’re travelling for half a year – you just shouldn’t be carrying around that much and better leave some space to buy new things or souvenirs. Also, don’t bring your nicest or favorite things, they might get lost – leave them at home.
Okay now covered the clothes section but that’s not all you need to pack. You also need some things for your personal care like shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, tooth brush (I love the ones you can fold together so don’t get dirty in your bag and they don’t need a lot of space), tooth paste, hair brush and a little nail kit, a shaver, sunscreen, mosquito protection spray and make-up (don’t forget the remover). But hey, keep it simple, buy some of the little 100ml plastic bottles and refill everything – you won’t need 500ml of shampoo anyways, so you don’t need to carry around extra weight! I think a small microfibre towel can always be useful, I use mine as a towel, blanket or even as a pillow sometimes an it doesn’t need a lot of space. If you take any medications remember to bring enough and buy everything you need in advance. Don’t forget to put everything else you might have to bring like another charger or film for your camera etc. in your luggage not in your carry-on. Earlier I used to bring my sunglasses and other things on board but since I absolutely don’t need them while in the plane I put them in a save box so they can’t get destroyed that easy and put them inside of my big backpack. I also recommend to buy a plane cover for your backpack so the straps don’t get stuck somewhere and the backpack doesn’t get too dirty plus most of them can be used as a rain cover too and while you’re not using it you can easily leave it on top of your backpack so it won’t need extra space.

Important for Backpackers:

Always pack the heaviest things at the bottom of your backpack and close to your back so it will reduce back and shoulder pain. When done packing pull all the straps tight and try your backpack on. First you close the strap around your waist and regulate it until it fits properly. The shutter should be in the middle so the weight sits equally on both sides. After you regulate the straps under your arms and pull until you can feel all the weight of the backpack sitting on your hips relieving the shoulders.
You’ll have to do this every time you put your backpack back on.

I know this was a veeery long post but now that you know how and what to pack I’m gonna tell you about how to survive a long distance flight in my next post!

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