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So, you want to become a Global Backpacking adventurer, but don’t know where to start?

 

This will be my first post in a series that will go over everything you need to know to get by when backpacking abroad. The purpose of this guide is to go over the fundamentals of packing for a backpacking adventure abroad.

1. BACKpackingGlobal Backpacking Backpacker on a mountain

First things first, it’s called BACKpacking, not back and front and arm packing. One bag, for your back, and that’s it! Everything you need for even the longest backpacking adventure can be packed in one bag. As a suggestion I would go with a nice 25L to 40L backpack. You can even find some in that size range that have optional breakaway day packs. It’s a convenient feature in the event that you want to go on a day trip and would like to leave unnecessary items behind. Check out TheSavvyBackpackers post on choosing a good backpack.

2. Less is MoreVintage Leather backpack

Here is just a rough guide of what your backpack should contain as far as clothes are concerned. While backpacking, I like to pack one pair of trousers that also convert to shorts. Although these may be a blast from the past as far as fashion is concerned, they are very versatile and save space. In addition to these I like to also pack a pair of nicer slacks for going out to fancy dinners abroad. One pair of shorts that can play multiple roles: swim trunks, sleepwear, and day wear.

Underwear should be limited to 3-4 pair. You can wash underwear pretty easily in any bathroom sink or shower if you need to. You keep one pair on, and wash it the next day in the shower. That will leave you with two dry pair for the day until the washed ones air dry and can be put back in your bag.

It’s important to keep your feet dry, so I normally pack 5 pair of socks. That way you have plenty to keep your feet dry on long days. Also, like underwear, socks are also relatively easy to wash in a bathroom sink or shower.

As far as shirts, I typically only like to pack maybe 4-5 shirts, with one of them being a nicer formal shirt that I could wear to nice dinners. I like to keep two t-shirts, and one long sleeve and maybe even a jumper for cooler nights.

3. Backpacking Gear

Backpacking-Where to start?

While traveling, you can find yourself needing a variety of different gear, you may be doing some camping during one part of your trip, and then staying in hostels for other parts. So, because there is no one single perfect backpacking packing list, I am going to go over the basic necessities that should be found in every backpackers pack.

Camera- You can go with a point and shoot, a DSLR, or just your iPhone or Android camera. Either way, you are going to want to take plenty of pictures on your travels. If you want to share pictures with friends and family back home, your standard camera phone will capture the general essence of the scene. But, if you are trying to use your photos for commercial use or for a special project, you won’t regret traveling with a quality camera.

Toiletries- when it comes to your toiletries, you want to travel with travel size soaps, toothpaste. deodorant, and the likes. These items are pretty easy to find in just about every locale. And, if it isn’t available in that locale, then, chances are you don’t need them, or you could consider adopting the local remedy for the situation.

If you are going to be sharing stories of your travels, then you will need some way to connect to the Internet. The best way to do this is either a phone, tablet, or lightweight laptop. Because of my necessity to share pictures and stories, I like to take a laptop, so that I have a way to edit photos on the go. It’s also nice to have for plugging in USB devices or backing up photos from my camera.

For me, that just about covers all the big and important items. Look out for more extensive and destination specific packing lists in the future.

Backpacking-Where to start?

So, you want to be a global backpacker, but don’t know where to start? I was so lost and indecisive the first time I thought about going backpacking. I am such a wanderlust at heart, with a burning desire to explore the islands of Southeast Asia, trek through the jungle of the Brazilian Amazon, and traverse the deserts of Africa.

So, where to start? Below I will go over a few things to keep in mind when deciding to go on your first backpacking adventure.

1. How long can you backpack?Calendar

By establishing how much time you will have to go backpacking, you can plan your trip so that you are able to make the most of your time abroad. Also, when you only have a limited amount of holiday or vacation time, it’s important to make sure you are spending your time and resources as efficiently as possible.

2. How much money can you spend?

piggy bank

After you figure out how long you can travel, you want to then determine how much money you have to spend traveling. Sometimes, you may have more time off than what your budget allows you to spend or vice versa. In which case you simply make some adjustments, and figure out a way to make it work.

3. Lodging

hotel

If you were like me the first time I went on a backpacking adventure I had no idea what I was getting myself into, When it came to lodging, I looked at hotels and found the prices for just about all hotels abroad to be quite high.

Until I had traveled abroad, I had no idea that there was a world-wide network of youth hostels and international backpacker hostels across the globe. A private room or shared dorm for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Grant it, you give up a lot of the luxuries that may be standard in almost all american hotel chains, but you save money and can get a relatively decent nights sleep.

I like to use http://www.hostelworld.com or even http://www.expedia.com. One thing I learned and grew to really appreciate is Expedia’s customer service. They guarantee bookings, so if you make a reservation and show up to the hostel and they tell you its full, Expedia will find somewhere else for you to go, that way, you never end up stranded.

On another note, one trick that I liked to use when safe to do so, is to travel by night that way I can save on paying for a bed for a night. This worked really well for travel in South American countries where travel by bus is cheap and sometimes cumbersome.

4. Packing

Vintage Leather backpack

So, this is a topic that I had not done any research on the first time I went on a backpacking trip. I had habitually over-packed which lead to me carrying around a bunch of stuff that I did not need. Additionally, packing to much will lead to having to pay for airline baggage fees. By travelling with a small enough bag, you can avoid those fees, making you a budget backpacking genius! Moving on, I do not want you to make the same mistakes I did, so I am going to give you the lowdown on what to pack and what to leave at home.

Next, what goes in the bag is important as well. You probably wont need a tuxedo, or a formal gown, so you are probably safe leaving those behind. Also, if you are going somewhere that is cold, you can probably get away with only packing one pair of shorts. Additionally, you only need to pack a few pair of underwear, socks and shirts. One to two pair of pants and pair of shorts. Most everything that you need, if you run out of something or need to replace something, you can more than likely find it in a local town you will pass through.

5. Gear

packing gear

So, first things first, the type of bag that you will be carrying your precious belongings in is pretty important. And let this also be said, travelers travel with backpacks, vacationers travel with luggage. So, when choosing your backpack, don’t immediately go for the biggest one. The bigger your bag is, the more you will have a tendency to load it up with a bunch of crap you wont need. So, the smaller bag you have the better. When shopping for a bag, you want to look for something in the 25L to 45L range. This size pack will allow you to carry all of the essentials and still allow you to pick up a few items along the way.

Next, what goes in the bag is important as well. You probably wont need a tuxedo, or a formal gown, so you are probably safe leaving those behind. Also, if you are going somewhere that is cold, you can probably get away with only packing one pair of shorts. Additionally, you only need to pack a few pair of underwear, socks and shirts. One to two pair of pants and pair of shorts. Most everything that you need, if you run out of something or need to replace something, you can more than likely find it in a local town you will pass through.

Coming up soon, I will post a more detailed article on packing and gear. Stay tuned by subscribing to my blog and receive updated posts in your email.

-Aaron