Flights booked, insurance bought, vaccinations dealt with… now it’s time to pack. Hmm. Just one thing—how on earth are you supposed to fit your whole life into one small bag?! Don’t succumb to Panic Packing Syndrome: use our useful gap year packing tips and you’ll be packing like a pro.
Take only the essentials
Remember that other countries have shops too. Many of the things you think you need to pack (shampoo, flip flops extra clothes) will be available to purchase once you arrive. Only pack what you cannot possibly leave home without.
Choose your backpack wisely
Try and find a bag with a zip down the middle and at the bottom, allowing you to access things without unpacking everything first.
Smaller is better
It might seem like a good idea to carry all those just-in-case items before you leave, but remember you’re going to have to lug this around with you. Backpacking can be hard work, so the lighter your pack the better. It will be easier to carry, and will attract less attention and make you look and feel less like a tourist. Remember: absolutely no one comes home wishing they’d taken more stuff.
Take lightweight, breathable clothing
Generally speaking, you only need three of each item of clothing. In other words, three tops, three pairs of shorts, etc.. Choose wisely, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of them! Pack a long sleeve top for sun protectionand something to smarten up (a shirt, or jewellery, for example). Don’t take chunky hoodies, buy thermals instead.
To sleeping bag or not to sleeping bag?
Different people will tell you different things about the pros and cons of travelling with a sleeping bag. We’re inclined to advise that it probably isn’t necessary unless you plan on doing a lot of independent camping. However, invest in a silk sleeping bag liner for those times you encounter dubious mattresses.
Most importantly: reduce it by a third!
Once you’ve gathered all the things you think you’ll need, reduce it by a third.