After years of traveling, I learned a lot of things about backpacking including packing hacks. With that, I am sharing with you my packing hacks for traveling light and the stuff inside my travel bag. Packing for a trip is truly exciting. It reminds us that we’ll be out on an adventure in few days. Consequently, it is vexing (especially for us, women) because as much as we want to take a lot of things with us to our trips, we need to be practical. We need to carefully weigh and choose the right stuff to save ourselves from a lot of hassle.
Pre-packing Hacks and Tips
Planning helps me think of the right items to be taken with me during the trip. We might not want to carry around a heavy luggage with some items that will not be relevant all throughout the trip. Also, among the many things that I do not want to happen is to pay for the fees to check my bag in in the last minute just because it’s too heavy and bulky to be hand-carried. Thus, it’s a must to weigh your bag, too, before leaving especially if you’re boarding a plane or a ship. Planning phase usually happens a week or two to three days before I leave. By doing so, I still have a day or two to double check if I have anything else to add or remove from it. I don’t want to pack in the last minute or few hours before leaving since I tend to forget a lot.
Listing, on other hand, helps me check the items I need to bring before and after packing. I do it hand in hand with planning. In this way, I can go through my list to see if I have everything inside the bag or if I have forgotten something. Once done with these two, that’s when I pick the right travel bag and the items.
The Travel Bag
A good travel bag or luggage is worth investing on especially if you travel a lot since it is a pack where you entrust your stuff especially when you go out on an adventure. After few years of traveling, I have already collected different travel bags. I prefer backpacks over luggage as it is more convenient for me since I am always on the go especially when I travel. Also, I usually take habal-habal (motorcycle) when going from a place to another as it is cheaper than Grab car or Taxi.
Choosing the Travel Bag
The size of my bag depends on how many days will I be traveling and the destination, too. If I’ll be out for a week and will mostly travel by and across the sea, I use my 30-Liter Tactics Rover Bag as it is a water-proof bag. If I’ll travel mostly by land say for a week, I use my Tactics Foxtrot and Zulu Duffel bag. I always take my Zulu duffel with me since it is where I usually put all the valuables that I need to pull out from the bag every time (i.e. wallet, IDs, passport, phone, earphones, a book, camera, hand sanitizer, tissue or wipes). In this case, I don’t always need to put my backpack down just to get any of these. If I’ll be out for more than a week, say two weeks or more, that’s when I use my 50-Liter backpack. I prefer the hiking bag since it has a lot of pockets and functional straps and buckles. The weight of the bag matters, too. My bags are all lightweight but the material is of good quality.
Lastly, I always see to it that I can carry my own bag. By that I mean, it isn’t too heavy for me. Long backpacking means heavier bag. Thus, I work out so I could be strong enough to carry it.
What’s inside my Travel Bag?
OOTD (Outfit of the Day) has become a thing now especially during travels. Well, I don’t see anything wrong with dressing up when traveling. We have and we are entitled to our own preferences in things. Also, it’s not always that we can go back to those places so might as well give it your best shot, dress up! As for the sleeping clothes, I take 2 or 3 sets of clothes for a week of backpacking. These clothes are mostly made of lightweight materials (i.e. thin cotton fabric, satin) since I feel comfortable when sleeping with such on and they dry fast when washed. I just wash the used ones and let them dry overnight.
Planning for the clothes
In my case, the clothes that I bring depend on my destination. I don’t bring my whole wardrobe nor take a lot of clothes for options. What I always do is, I research about the places that I’ll be visiting, check on the spots, climate, the locals’ culture and plan about my OOTD before the trip. It’s way smarter and better than bringing a lot of clothes but not using most of it. If I’ll be carrying bulky clothes (i.e.: pants or jacket), I wear it already when going to the destination or when traveling from a point to another.
Packing hacks for the clothes
Since I use backpack wherein the opening is on top, I usually roll the clothes and stack them depending on when will it be worn. Rolling the clothes is one of the many space-saving packing hacks of many travelers. OOTD for Day 1 is usually on top (yes, that’s how OC, I am) and the one for the last day is at the bottom. In my defense, at least I don’t have to always pull everything out of the bag. Pouch for toiletries and towel is usually at the top most since these are the frequently used. Tip: if you are to travel with a wide-brimmed hat, don’t fold it as it may deform. Put the garter around the backpack instead before wearing it. You might not want to get your perfect beach hat deformed and ruined.
2. The Laundry Bag
I always bring extra eco bag which I use as laundry bag to separate the dirty or soiled clothes from the clean ones. I also have a separate waterproof bag for wet clothes. If I have a chance, I wash the clothes at the hostel especially during long backpacking trip since I don’t want to keep the clean and dirty clothes inside a bag for a long time despite the segregation.
I always carry a small bag for my toiletries. This small bag has everything that I need – soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer for face and body, make up, perfume and insect repellent. I use 100 mL containers (TSA approved bottles) for the liquid products and refill it when I get home as I always shop for products in bigger containers. I use 100 mL refilling bottles since I always hand-carry my bags. You might not wanna leave your perfume or lotion at the airport just because it’s stored in a bottle more than 100 mL. The good thing about having a small bag for toiletries is that I can carry the toiletries that I need all at once plus it has a hook, too, thus, I can hang it anywhere.
As for the towel, I use Decathlon’s microfiber towel since it dries fast plus it can be squeezed into a small roll when not in use; hence, space-saving. I also use it as an extra layer or blanket sometimes when it’s cold.
Since I write and document about my travels, I always take with me my mirrorless camera and action camera. Of course, together with these gadgets are its chargers, power bank and earphones. Cords and cables are stored in separate small pouches or in the bags’ pockets.
5. Extra footwear
My extra footwear is usually a pair of comfortable flip flops that can be soaked in water or my trekking sandals stored in an eco-bag. If I need another pair of shoes or footwear to match my outfit, the packing hack is: the bulky one gets worn and the other gets inside the bag.
6. Reusable Water Bottle
Stay hydrated, save the earth and save some bucks – these are the reasons why I always bring a reusable water bottle. In my case, I use Vapur foldable water bottle. I can easily fold it when not in use or when it’s empty and hang it on my bag when filled – perfect for your packing hacks!
Packing Hacks, in a nutshell
To sum it up, here are my different packing hacks for traveling light:
1. Research about your destination. It will help you better in planning.
2. Plan and list down the items that you’ll bring.
3. Choose the right bag for your adventure.
4. Store the essentials (i.e.: phone, IDs, power bank, cords, camera, hand sanitizer) in the accessible pockets or in a separate small bag.
5. Roll the clothes.
6. Bring a laundry bag.
7. Use 100 mL TSA-approved refillable bottles for your liquids.
8. Bring reusable water bottle.
9. Weigh your bag before you leave especially if traveling by plane or by ship.
10. Put the items that will be used less and in the latter part of your trip at the bottom of the bag.
11. To save space, the bulky one gets worn.
12. Put the toiletries in a separate pouch and make sure it’s sealed. You might not want to get your OOTD and other stuff ruined.
13. Always bring an extra eco-bag.
These are just few of the many packing hacks that a lot of travelers also do. Do you also have some which are not found in my list? Tell us about it!