You’ve been bit by the travel bug and are dreaming of backpacking across foreign lands. While budgeting flights and mapping out your journey may be at the top of your list, choosing the right travel backpack and packing it correctly is actually key to a successful trip.
We asked our top travellers and luggage experts here at our Australian retailer Bags To Go about the most common packing mistakes they see made by first-time backpackers. And though these are common, they're all easily avoidable if you're prepared.
Choosing the wrong backpack
When you’re on the hunt for the perfect backpack, don’t go straight for the standard, tall style found in camping and hiking stores. Like so many first-time travellers, it’s easy to fall prey to this stereotypical design after seeing it all over travel and adventure blogs. But this style of bag is designed for hikers, not backpackers.
Not only are these backpacks too big to carry onto a plane, they’re also top-loading which can make it difficult to grab certain things when you need them. If an essential item is stashed at the bottom of the bag, you’ll have to empty the whole thing to get to it. Opt for a smaller, front-loading backpack for easier access to your stuff.
Packing too much
While it may seem like you need four pairs of jeans or shoes for variety, you really don’t. If your backpack is completely loaded with items stuffed into every pocket and zip compartment, it's going to be uncomfortable to carry, you'll be at a higher risk of losing stuff and you'll get frustrated when you have to pack and unpack the whole lot at every new location.
You need to whittle your list down to the bare necessities, it's the only way to ensure you don't take too much. Only pack what you can comfortably fit into a carry-on pack and in the overhead compartments. This smaller size is one that's more convenient to comfortably carry for long periods of time. Any larger and you risk hurting your back, which would really spoil the trip!
If you pack all your belongings in seperate packing cubes (these make it so easy to organise your bag!) you should be able to zip up your backpack without forcefully trying to squish things down.
Not distributing weight correctly
No matter how amazing your new backpack is, it’s not going to be comfortable unless it’s packed correctly. Wearing one that hasn’t been packed with weight distribution in mind can cause serious pain and put a real dampener on your trip.
For the best stability and comfort, load your backpack with the heaviest stuff in the centre of the bag. Medium-weight gear should be packed at the top and furthest from the back, and lightweight gear should be placed at the very bottom. Wearing your backpack correctly will ensure it doesn’t put a strain on your body.
Make sure all the straps are where they’re meant to be, and your backpack sits properly against your body. If you can, ask a specialist for help before you take off. An in-person, professional opinion is always best.
Not packing for the location
One of the biggest mistakes is not doing the right research and so not packing for the location. Even if you have all your items organised, distributed correctly and in the right backpack, they're no use to you if you can't wear them.
The most common mistake is when travellers go to hot countries and bring clothes they would normally wear at home. But if you go to a tropical area, chances are there will be loads of mozzies so it's more important to have breathable, long-sleeved shirts than tees. Or a traveller might not realise that the country is conservative, which means that even though it's hot, it's not respectful to wear shorts and a sleeveless shirt. In this case, it would be a better option to pack long pants and pashminas and leave shorter clothes at home, especially if they want to go to holy sites.
Be sure to do thorough research into what attire is acceptable to wear in your country of choice. It'll be respectful to the locals and it'll make it easier to pack when you know there are certain items there's no point in bringing.
4 Packing Mistakes Made By First-Time Backpackers #travel
Are you a first-time backpacker? Do you have any other worries about getting your entire life into one pack? Leave us a comment below and we'll do our best to help a fellow traveller out!
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