The art of backpacking
The bulging backpack that you lug around so often that it feels like it has become an extension of your own body, can become a friend or a foe as you traverse across unknown land and exotic footpaths. Not all backpacks are comfortable so it’s important to choose the right one, and once it has been purchased, make sure you buckle up and tightly secure all those loose straps to ensure your load is comfortable and your shoulders will not need icepacks at the end of a long journey. Size must also be taken into consideration. It needs to be big enough to hold all the possessions you wish to bring along with you but not too big so that you instantly fall over crying “timber” resulting in looking like a helpless upside down turtle. The only way to know is to try on a range of styles and sizes, and choose the right one for you. Nowadays there are backpacks that also contain wheels, so they can be hauled on your shoulders when hiking up stairs and later rolled along the ground when strolling along pleasant pathways. Some backpacks you need to stuff everything from the bottom to the top, while others zip all the way down and open in a similar manner to a suitcase (these are much easier to pack).
There are different styles of backpackers. On one side of the pole, there are those travellers who are prepared for anything and everything that may arise but often end up having way too many possessions to lug around and may have to throw out things along the way.Then on the other side, there are travellers who only have the very basics to ensure they are kept alive but may have to purchase or borrow along the way.
There is a very fine line between packing too much, and packing too little. It’s hard to know exactly what you will need on your travels, as every journey should contain a certain amount of spontaneity and unforeseen activities. Obviously your destination and the time of year, will determine what you pack. As long as you have the essentials: clothes and underwear, basic first aid kit and medicine, wet weather gear and a waterproof cover for your backpack, and so forth. Rolling clothes instead of folding is the key to fitting more in your backpack. As a rule of thumb, I never bring white clothes because usually it’s inevitable that I will spill food or somehow stain my clothes while on the go.
If you are staying in shared hostels, it’s a good idea to bring some extra locks to safely secure your possessions, a towel for showering, a small packet of washing detergent if you want to wash on the go, perhaps an eye mask and ear plugs if you are a light sleeper, and one of those Swiss-army knives or multipurpose tools can come in handy. If you are like me and mosquitoes instantly flock to your skin awaiting the sweet taste of blood, bringing many bottles of insect repellent is vital.
For long journeys on planes, trains or boats, it is always a nice idea to bring something to read or a small notepad to jot down your thoughts. If snapping many photos along the way is important to you, it can be a good idea to have a data cloud or perhaps a hard-drive to back up those precious memories so you don’t lose them. Lastly, don’t forget to leave some spare space for souvenirs and other items you may collect along the way.