Packing… the potential pain in the ass for any traveler. It can cause stress, uncertainty and wasted time. Wondering if you’ve got everything you need, always feeling like something is missing. Digging uncontrollably in an unorganized bag, things just slammed in enough so it barely manages to zip up. “I swear it’s in hear somewhere”, and “Why isn’t my passport where it should be?” It is the worst when this happens at border control because of packing quickly after waking up drunk trying not to miss the bus. It’s a personal ritual how one loads up their bags for their travels. It all depends on how you like to travel and the length of time you’re gone for. Myself, I choose backpacking for long term. Sling my backpack over my shoulder and go, but really picking and choosing between ‘important’ and actually important is vital.
It varies from person to person what makes the cut to pack and the bag you’re using. Make sure to try your backpack on before purchasing. It can make all the difference in your comfort, finding one that fits to you. After this, I use a simple method of minimizing my life down to the bare necessities. Every year or so when I either show up back in Canada or decide it’s time to mail a package back, I empty the contents of my ‘life’ and go through the process again. Back to the basics. I unload the clothes that are getting too worn. Now it takes a while for an article of clothing to get this way for me, but eventually it’s time to get the odd replacement. The souvenirs, gifts, knick-knacks, and complete random things I’ve accumulated get tucked away in a box. This makes it like Christmas whenever I get the chance to open all of them again one day. It makes for a refreshing start the next time I pick up my bag. Pounds off my back and lighter on my feet.
Anything that stays with me needs to pass one test. ‘Have I used it in the past week?’ The only items with immunity to this rule are the few pairs of socks I have (I do my best not to wear them), my bare minimum first aid kit and condoms (you really shouldn’t carry around used ones anyways). This narrows it down pretty easily. A few pairs of shorts and shirts is usually enough so I don’t have to do laundry more than once a week. My version of clean along with many other travelers I’ve met, has been far stretched from what it was back home. If it passes a sniff test it’s good to wear again. A pair of pants and long sleeve usually are in the bottom for the odd use. Maybe trying to look a bit more respectable for temples or a nice dinner out. A pair of boardies, some boxers, towel and a belt generally sums up my clothing. My small first aid is tucked away in hopes it won’t be needed, while my toiletries are easily accessible. Whether it’s to grab my toothbrush before a night bus or some deodorant to offend the senses less, they are probably the most used set of items in life other than utensils of course.
This usually keeps my main bag quite light with room for purchases along the way. Maybe I want some of the local garb, or something catches the eye that’s perfect for my niece or nephew, it’s nice not to struggle fitting it in. My electronics are always put into my day bag while on the move to avoid disappearance from under a bus or the airlines losing luggage. These are generally the more expensive items I travel with so they rarely leave my person or lockers.
Ultimately I guess for me, less is more. If I notice there is something I need or forgot it can simply be bought. If I’ve got my passport, photocopies of important documents, two forms of extracting money and obviously my juggling balls the for the most part I’m set to go. There is no real right or wrong way to go about this. It’s what works for you through trial and error.