I have to admit, I am very excited about my upcoming tour. After much thought and many changes of my mind, I have finally decided upon a route – though plans could alter whilst ‘on the road’.
My small group and I will be gone for the month (yay!) of April, starting and finishing in Munich, Germany. Bavaria! I have not yet visited Bavaria or Croatia and I am practically dying from anticipation!
I recently bought new luggage for this month long tour (six weeks, if you include my start in Toronto, Ontario). As a rule, I always pack only a carry on sized bag or suitcase. Anything more is just excess – and unless you are staying in a resort or visiting only one location, luggage gets in the way. It is not fun to lug around super sized suitcases. Nor is it necessary.
Why choose a backpack? When I travel, I often take public transit and find myself in between locations, walking. A backpack offers freedom – easy to sit on your lap on a crowded bus, easy to throw onto your back in a busy market square (though not for long, too heavy for this girls broken down back!), and my new pack has extractable wheels and a pull handle – AWESOME for longer distance jaunts.
So how do I do it, and how can you? Think very carefully about what you pack!
HOW TO PACK FOR AN EPIC (Backpack, Multi Country, Hostel Style) TOUR
1. SMART FOOTWEAR
You need a pair of good walking shoes/boots & maybe a pair of dressier shoes, just in case. This trip I will wear (not pack – always wear your bulkiest items) a pair of ‘hiking boots’ (as hiking as I get, so not really hiking at all – more like good walking, ankle style boots that don’t hurt my feet), and a pair of comfortable but fancy-ish flats. I will also take flip flops because I am paranoid about public hostel showers and will wear them while cleaning myself up.
2. LIMITED BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Pack as few beauty products/items as you can get away with. I bought a tiny straightener/curling iron combo to save space – my hair won’t look the same – but who cares! As long as I don’t look slovenly, that’s good enough for me (and should be for you too!). I will also only bring one shade of eyeshadow, one foundation, one colour of nail polish (I need my nail polish – did you know you can use the polish itself to remove your old colour?), a small bottle/tester of perfume, mini deodorant – you get the idea. My makeup & other beauty items (tweezers, etc.) will fit in a small pencil case. I even bought a smaller brush than my usual one at home. Mini, travel sized items are your friend! Same rules (different items) apply for those of you who are male.
3. ONE SMALL TOWEL
Bring ONE dark coloured small towel and ONE facecloth. You can dry them by hanging them over your hostel bunk during the day. It is unlikely anyone is going to take them. Yes, it is nicer to get out of the shower in a plushy large beach sized towel, but if you pack right, your towel will be your bulkiest item. Smaller is better. Some hostels provide clean towels, take advantage of this bonus because it means your towel will ‘dirty’ at a slower rate (I know, at home you may only use your towel once before declaring it dirty, but the rules change while travelling). Bring a zip lock bag for your face cloth, in case it isn’t dry when it is time for you to move on.
4. NEUTRAL CLOTHES
Pack only neutral, dark coloured clothes that create easy no bulk outfits. Avoid light colours – how often do you plan to do laundry on your trip? I take this a step further and pack only black clothes. Not everyone can do this, but I normally wear black, so it works for me. This time around I am packing only tights (leggings) and short dresses. A dress is a full outfit that takes up much less space than jeans and a sweatshirt, and I should look decent too – like I put in some effort – when of course I didn’t! I will also pack two light sweaters that can be layered for warmth. Make sure you bring an extra bag for your dirty laundry. You won’t want the dirty & clean items mixing up! I have a small nylon (grocery style) bag just for this purpose. And unless you have ‘an incident’ of some sort, the only things that dirty after one wear are socks and underwear – a rule that fully applies while on the road.
Normally I recommend packing enough underwear for every day you are gone – but this tour I will be gone a total of 6 weeks and I am not bringing a minimum of 45 pairs of undies! Instead I will bring half that amount. Still sound like a lot? Well, I plan to do laundry once, maybe twice (if I must) while gone. Who wants to do laundry while they are on an epic tour? NOT ME. I won’t need as many socks because I will wear my flats mostly barefoot.
5. ROLL CLOTHING
Roll your clothes, don’t fold them. This does actually save space, I have tested the theory!
6. FEW ELECTRONICS
Limit your electronics. For goodness sake, don’t bring your laptop. I tried that once, and it was a disaster – I was constantly worried about it getting stolen and/or dropped. Not worth the trouble, the space and the stress. And unless you are a professional photographer, leave the giant camera at home too. I like to bring a ‘real’ camera with me (as opposed to just a smart phone), because an epic trip deserves epic photos – but my cheap, standard, pocket sized Cannon is good enough. I bring a few extra memory cards too. I average about 25 videos and 6,000+ photos on each tour I take!
So that’s it. With these tips, you should be ready for anything and able to manage carrying it all too! And PLEASE don’t forget this list of universal travel rules from a former post.