How much to take
We have a tendency to over pack when travelling for the first
time since you have no idea what to expect overseas and want
to prepare for anything that could possibly happen to you.
Unfortunately, you have a limited amount of space in your
backpack and you are going to have to carry it on your back
wherever you go. The more you put into a backpack, the more
it is going to weigh and the less space you have. The goal is to
pack only the essential gear and keep your pack as light as
There is no rule that you have to fill your pack to capacity. I
like to leave around 10% to 20% of my pack empty in case I
decide to pick something up. Pack only what you need and
leave the rest.
The total weight of your pack is important. When you are on
the road, you will have this backpack strapped to you for
sometimes hours on end. There have been occasions where I
had to run with my pack on to catch a bus or train. Sometimes,
finding a place to stay requires walking through various urban
terrains such as stairs, tunnels, pedestrian ways, etc. Trust me,
a light pack will help you enjoy your trip.
The amount of clothes you take with you should be minimal.
Pack for your environment, not for fashion.
Note: If you are heading to a place in Asia such as Bangkok or
Korea, only pack one change of clothes. While you are there
you can go on a shopping spree and buy everything at a
quarter of the price it is back home.
Half and half again: Take all of your clothes you are
planning on taking and lay them out on your bed. Now, select
half of them (50%) and get rid of the rest. Now that you have
made the tough decision of removing half of your clothes, do
it again. Of the remaining 50% take half of them away again.
Now you are getting down to what should be packed in your
packsack. If you think that you can get rid of half again, do so.
You are now left with a small pile of clothes that will fit into
My 5 x 5 x 2: This means five t-shirts, five socks/underwear
and two pairs of pants. I travelled like this for over a year and
had no problems. This was the majority of my clothing. I also
had one fleece long sleeve shirt and a bathing suit. Over time,
I did lose or wreck some clothes, but I just replaced them as I
Note: By using the inside out method (wear certain articles of
clothing inside out) it gives you approximately double the
number of days before you have to do laundry.
Put on your pack by yourself: Sometimes you donít have the
luxury of getting someone to help you with your packsack. If
you need help getting your pack on or struggle in lifting it,
seriously think about reducing its weight.
One arm it: I want to be able to lift my pack with one arm.
There have been many times when I had to grab my pack and
throw it on my back in crowded areas or when my other arm
was holding something else.
Imagine that you are at a bus stop and your bus pulls up on the
other side of the street. You have to grab your pack and run
over to board the bus before it leaves. There has been more
than one time where I have had to grab my pack with one arm,
swing it over my shoulder and ran to catch that bus.