Packing for a trip is very subjective. You might think you need 3 pairs of undies instead of 2. You might be a folder of clothes and not a roller or scruncher and while everyone has an opinion it is really up to you on what to take and how to take it. Of course the more you travel and the further you have to hump all those dirty clothes the quicker you learn that you can actually get away with a lot less than you think.
There are countless blogs, websites and lists out there telling you how to pack for any type of trip to any destination but, for first time or relatively inexperienced travellers, it can still seem daunting and confusing. Everyone has an opinion on what to take and how much to take and the truth of it is, until you are on the road, you won’t actually know what does or does not work for you and your particular style.
When I was on a backpackers tour in China several years ago there was a guy in our tour group with a suitcase big enough for a grown man to fit inside and which was packed by his Mum. As we wound our way through China on bullet trains, overnight trains, buses and boats this human sized suitcase became the running joke for how big, bulky and impractical it was. Once we found out he had 17 complete changes of clothes and boxes of cereal (yes – boxes!) in there in case he got hungry it became a living legend on the things people chose to travel with. It was a tough lesson but I bet that guy has never traveled with a suitcase that big or had it packed by his Mum again.
Likewise when out tree planting in Australia recently there was a guy who chose to bring 8 towels with him for a 10 day trip. He apparently never uses the same towel twice at home and didn’t see an issue traveling that way. As someone who has been known to occasionally skip showers and opt for baby wipes or black snaking it I struggled with this concept and while I was quick to judge, that was what he decided to pack.
This weekend I am taking a client hiking on the Cape to Cape track in Western Australia and while talking with her about what to take I realised why there are so many blogs, websites and lists about what to take. It’s the same reason the above guys packed what they did – cos you don’t know what you don’t know. Sure you have to fine tune your own packing system and that comes with experience but I’ve come to realise for the novice traveler the question is more about what to take in the first place.
How do you know that you will be able to buy cereal in China if you have never been? How do you know that when in the Australian bush there isn’t enough water for showers everyday if you have never asked the question? And its tough because if you have never traveled a lot then things you take for granted like food and showers at home are not the same concerns you have when traveling and your pre-trip questions usually focus on safety and the trip details themselves. That’s where asking an experienced Travel Coach such as myself comes in handy. We know through years of making the mistakes ourselves what to pack and what to leave at home.
Since I know packing lists come in handy I’ve decided to share the list I created for my client this weekend. (Cape to Cape Packing List)
We will be doing an unsupported walk for 3 days/2nights as a starter to getting her comfortable walking in the bush and familiar with her camping gear so she can feel confident traveling alone. I personally pack the same for an overnight trip and a multi-day hike with the only real difference being quantity of food and water but you can tweak it to suit your needs or contact me to discuss your specific trip and get a personalised packing list just for you.
Regardless of whether you follow my packing list or not please don’t pack 8 towels or full boxes of cereal. Let me know in the comments what the funniest or most impractical thing you have traveled with.
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