How the hell do I fit my life into a backpack?

29 November 2015

Between football season and 6 classes, I have not had much time for adventuring. So, I decided to change my format up a bit and post more article type thing. I must forewarn you that I am no expert in backpacking, but studying abroad did teach me how to pack lightly. This list/advice is more for those of you who are going on weekend trips, because that is where my expertise lies.

Tips on how to fit your life into a backpack:

  1. Don’t hold back at first. Go through your closet and cabinets and pick out everything you want to bring. From there, pair it down. Ask yourself, can I live without this for 2-5 days? Can I use this article of clothing for more than one outfit? etc.etc.
  2. ROLL YOUR CLOTHING. It really does save space.
  3. Invest in a nice backpack. A Jansport isn’t going to cut it if you travel often. I personally use the incase EO Travel Backpack ($179.95).
  4. Make sure your backpack isn’t too heavy. Although airports and other means of transportation do not weigh carry-on’s, you will most likely have to carry this backpack around, even if it is just through the airport.
  5. Pack a few days in advance. The more time you have to think about it, the less likely you are to forget items, and the more likely you are to realize you don’t need to pack 4 pairs of pants for a 3 day trip.

Tips on what to bring:

  1. Portable Charger. They really are a life-saver and only around $10 on Amazon. Most often when you are traveling/backpacking, you have no clue when the next time you are going to be able to pee is, much less charge your phone.
  2. Rain Jacket. I promise it is worth the investment. This is the best jacket to bring on a weekend trip. Not only will it protect you (and your phone, let’s be honest) from rain, it can also function as a windbreaker and general use light jacket.
  3. Extra socks and underwear. a) They don’t take up much space and b) You can re-wear jeans a million times, but underwear and socks, not so much.
  4. Multi-purpose shoes. For me, this means my black vans or brown ankle boots. Both are comfortable for walking and both are acceptable to wear in pretty much any situation. Try to bring just one pair of shoes with you, as they take up lots of room.
  5. Cash. It is very important that you always have cash on you. a) Many places still do not accept card b) You never know when you are going to have to tip someone or split a cab fair, etc. and c) Many countries don’t do split checks when you go out to eat.
  6. Re-fillable Water Bottle. Hydration is key, need I say more. And if you’re worried about carrying it around, don’t be. Currently, I use a Camelback, but I am looking for something better.

Beyond those specifics, try to pack clothing you can wear over and over again (think plain t shirts and durable clothing like flannels). Also, you only really need two bottoms (in case one gets wet or a stain). Just change out your tops. I promise you no one will notice you’re wearing the same pants in every photo. Additionally, you do not need to bring all of the toiletries you use on a daily basis. Coming from a woman, it is totally possible. For example, shampoo can also function as body wash and plain body lotion as face moisturizer. Overall, just try to be wise with your choices.

Worst case scenario, you will most likely be able to buy anything you forgot or decided not to pack and realize you now need, wherever you go.

If you are planning on traveling somewhere where you are afraid of thieves, put little locks on your zippers. I just bought some simple ones from Target and kept the key in my pocket.

I hope this helps and if you have any suggestions (these tips are by no means comprehensive) feel free to comment!

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*I don’t seem to have a photo of me carrying around my incase backpack, so one of me with my North Face will have to suffice*

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