My Packing Mantra: Keep it Light

Keep it light. Keep it light. Keep it light.

You don’t want your luggage to weigh you down–literally. So my advice is to pack smart and take as little as possible. Ideally you should be able to fit everything you need into a carry-on sized bag.

This is something I learned the hard way. The first time I went backpacking I took a pack that was so big that it looked ridiculously disproportionate to my small frame–not to mention that its weight made me feel like a pack mule being used to transport bricks. Since then, I’ve progressively downsized my pack with each consecutive trip, and it’s definitely made getting around a lot more enjoyable and hassle-free.

I consider my crowning achievement fitting everything I needed for a 2-month African overland adventure–literally everything including a day pack, sleeping bag and camping pillow–into a 32L backpack, which was actually marketed as a day pack. Since then, I’ve used this highly compact and convenient backpack for numerous trips of varying lengths.

My treasured 32-L backpack at Frankfurt International Airport

How did I do this?

My general rule of thumb is to always pack only as much as I need for one week, regardless of the length of my trip.

How can only enough things to last me a week be enough for as long as several months?

I wash my clothes once a week and buy more of any toiletries I run out of along the way. It may sound like an unnecessary hassle, but it actually doesn’t take much effort or time to pop into a store or stick your clothes in a hostel washing machine (or have them laundered)–and your back will definitely thank you!

I know this isn’t for everyone, but it’s worked for me, so maybe it’ll work for others, too.

As always, happy travels!
– Ala


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