The art of back­pack­ing

That's China - - 你的背包 - Text by / Gemma Piali

Choose care­fully.

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).

Pack­ing.

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.

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