5 backpack essentials for serial over-packers

Some may consider packing a nightmare but I personally loved planning out every essential square inch of my backpack. 

However, things came to a head when I realised that I had drastically over-packed… again. It also did not help that I refused to discard anything.

I think that in order to minimise the inevitable stress of any trip, a well-stocked and organised backpack is the way to go. And this organisational requirement is only amplified if you are about to jet-set off on a trip that may last months or even years.

Not to sound pedantic (but also not totally untrue), I am not sure how you could enjoy your trip with a dysfunctional, disorganised and woefully under-stocked bag. 

So, where can we draw the line between functionality and actually being able to lift or close your own luggage?

I’m afraid I am not sure that I have cracked it yet, but I will say that there are a bunch of items that have made my life a lot easier when packing for long-term travel.

You need a travelpack

Buying a backpack for travel is not about picking the cheapest option on Amazon with the best reviews. There’s a lot to consider.

When it comes to travelling, there is a certain type of backpack you simply must buy. And this, my friends, is the sort of backpack that has a zip down its body – also known as a travelpack (I went with this Osprey women’s 70 litre pack which I love). 

Can you imagine having the backpack-equivalent of a duffel bag? You finally manage to get to your destination, open your backpack only to realise you have to unpack the entire thing to get to your PJs at the bottom.

Ain’t no one got time for this!

Do yourself a favor and buy a backpack that you can lie down flat and zip open like a suitcase. The convenience is real.

Packing Cubes

Ever since I had the idea to go long-term backpacking, I was tickled pink by the idea of packing cubes.

An entire cube dedicated to my underwear?! Yas. Packing cubes just make life easier and more efficient when you are constantly on the go.

I purchased mine on Amazon and I have four cubes for toiletries, pharmaceuticals, shower stuff and chargers and then four more for underwear, shorts & dresses, tops and bottoms. I can unpack my cubes in each location and discard the cumbersome pack for the duration of my stay. 

Padlocks

Perhaps I am more attuned to this idea as I know I have a lot of tech gear that I’m carting around but a mini-padlock for my backpack is simply an obvious essential.

One of my most prominent memories from early backpacking trips was the fear of dumping my backpack at a hostel reception until my room was ready. Can’t people just open my backpack and grab stuff? I mean it didn’t happen, but it certainly could happen.

A padlock may not be fool-proof but it gave me a small piece of mind. Make sure to push the padlock inside the backpack when you’re zipping it up in case any pesky thieves think there must be something of value in it (which there probably is). Also padlocks are vital for hostels as much of your stuff will be stored in lockers. 

Elastic Bands

Inevitable to any trip is the load of cables you find in your case. Whether it’s a charger for your phone, laptop, kindle or the cable of a hairdryer, no amount of organisation can prevent a tangle issue.

And nothing upsets me more than the thought of opening one of my perfectly packed cubes to find that all the wires in my allocated tech cube have become one inconceivable mass of tangled cable.

Avoid this with some elastic bands and protect your shit (and your sanity!). Simply wrap up your cables and secure with a band so that they stay separate but also avoid damage.

Your go-to bag 

Have a main bag that you keep your most-needed items in that sits separate to your main backpack. This will be your go-to bag,

It will house your camera, your passport, your wallet, your sunscreen and its just going to become your survival kit on the road. It will come in handy on your travel days and will keep all your important bits together when in different locations.

I bought this Caden kit bag and it has literally changed my life. So many compartments!

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