It was my first big, long-term travel experience. I had the opportunity to move to Los Angeles for three months, followed by heading off to The Philippines on a backpacking trip for an additional three months, working as a Christian missionary.
This was definitely an adventurous season, filled with many “firsts” and lessons to be learned. I’ve previously mentioned that I had no clue how to pack light on this trip in general, but when it came to the backpacking portion, travelling constantly throughout the island of Luzon, I had many regrets with how I packed my backpack.
Here’s a few tips, along with products I used, or rather wish I had used to keep your backpack light on a big trip.
Note, this was not a hiking in the wilderness, Wild style backpacking trip, so I won’t mention foods or survival materials, think more light and smart packing. My experience was also within the heat of summer in South East Asia, so it definitely wasn’t glamorous either!
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This is something I WISH I had when I was packing for this trip, but unfortunately didn’t discover until later. Your backpack is a bottomless pit, so when you’re just trying to find a clean pair of socks it becomes an ordeal.
Having around 3-4 cubes of varying sizes would’ve been a lifesaver. I tried to have clear plastic freezer baggies to separate and organize my pants from my tops, but they were not durable enough and it all around failed by the 2 week mark.
I love the cubes I have now, as there’s 3 different sizes. Use the largest for jeans, bottoms, PJ’s, or if you’re going somewhere colder, use it for your bulky sweaters. Medium is great for tops, and the smallest ideal for keeping socks and underwear together.
It’s much easier to sort through a few organized cubes to find what you need than to deep dive in your pack, trust me.
Although I couldn’t find my exact brand of packing cubes online, here is a link to some on Amazon with a 5 start rating (it also ships to Australia which is a miracle in itself). It comes with 4 waterproof cubes of varying sizes, along with a laundry bag, which leads me to my next point…
You may be thinking that the outside zippy of your backpack will suffice for keeping your dirty clothes separate, (or even a grocery bag) but go the extra step and have a sealed bag for your laundry, you’ll need it for washing day anyhow. All it takes is one smelly sock to ruin the whole lot.
Lush Bar Shampoo
Yet another thing I wish I had known about before hand! These are great if you’re wanting to keep your bag light. Most of my weight when packing a suitcase comes from my toiletries, those dang liquids are heavy!
Not only does this cut the weight, but you also don’t have to worry about a liquid which will most likely leak all over everything at some point. And that’s no fun.
Travel Sized Everything
As I said, toiletries will be the biggest factor in making your bag heavy. Try to grab mini sized toothpaste, cleansers, whatever, or if you already have a bulk supply of your favourites, get some empty mini’s you can fill up. Even if you’ll be on a longer trip like I was, a little lasts a long time, and you can always restock during your trip if you need to.
Make sure you keep all of these in a sealed plastic freezer bag (and pack some extras for when they get yucky or ripped) I recommend taking it easy on the makeup for this style of trip, packing your concealer and mascara at most for when you’re wanting to feel glam 😉
Less is more.
Seriously, no matter how light you think you’ve packed, chances are you can always make it lighter. Your shoulders will thank you!
If you’re going somewhere extremely hot and humid like I was, I needed to constantly wash my clothing as it was, (by hand) so the less clothing I brought, the less of an ordeal it was.
Yes, you will have to do laundry more often, but it will be quicker as you will have less to wash. Personally, I found doing an extra load of washing a week to be less cumbersome than having my shoulders ache every time we moved location. There’s a reason why many travellers are also minimalists!
Cartoon Character Wardrobe
What I mean by this is I ended up going to Target, and buying three of the same plain T-shirt that were lightweight and comfortable. I was like Arthur the aardvark, with his same yellow shirt every day. But it worked, I didn’t need to worry about items not matching, I kept it very neutral, and ultimately chucked them after the trip was over because they got NASTY. Not necessarily cute, but still.
Even if you aren’t experiencing the extreme hot climate and want to maintain your style, you can still find cute pieces that mix and match well together.
If you’re going in a group like I was, the girls and I all ended up swapping around our clothing since after a while we became so tired of wearing the same thing. It was great for us to continue to pack light, all the while having some variety.
The same goes for toiletries and other essentials you can all share within your group. Talk over what sort of items you would all be willing to use as a communal source, it’ll save you some cash as well as space in your bag.
That’s my guide to packing as light as possible for a backpacking trip! I hope this helped you guys out, I know it can be a little daunting trying to carry all that you need, but as you can see, it’s totally doable!
I would love to hear more tips from you all in the comments who have gone backpacking before 🙂 Let’s share some stories!