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 possible.

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 your backpack.

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 travelled.

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.