So you’re off an a trip. You don’t know exactly how long you’ll be away for but it will most definitely be longer than a two week jolly and you want to be prepared.

Lots of people make the mistake of leaving packing for travel until the last minute *cough – I’m completely guilty of this – cough*, because that’s what they have always done before. The night before an early holiday departure you are guaranteed to find me sat on a suitcase, in the middle of a sea of clothes, screaming at it to close.

If you’re off on a longer trip, don’t do this. Think about it, take time over it and pack your backpack strategically. This will not only mean that you avoid taking a whole load of unnecessary rubbish away with you, but you’ll also have a much more enjoyable, comfortable and painless trip!

Here are some tips on how to pack your backpack. 

BE RUTHLESS

Lay everything you want to take out on the floor in front of you. Take a moment to think about each individual item. Is this necessary? Would your trip be any less of an experience without it? Do you really need that extra handbag? Step away from the hair straighteners and have a word with yourself.

If you don’t truly need it – it doesn’t make the cut. Do this with every item, be ruthless, only pack what you feel is necessary and I can almost guarantee you will significantly decrease your ‘to-be-packed’ pile.

ORGANISED CHAOS

Now you have reduced your general packing pile, divide it into smaller piles (underwear, toiletries, electronics, tops, bottoms, shoes, etc…) Once you’ve done that, one more round of packing ruthlessness wouldn’t hurt. Split each small pile into 3 groups:

  1. Absolutely essential
  2. Would struggle without
  3. Nice to have

Now, pick up your ‘nice to have’ piles, walk into another room and hide them. Tell yourself to forget about them. They’re not important, they’re not necessary. Who ever returned from the trip of a life time and muttered the words: “If only I’d taken my hairdryer.”?

DISTRIBUTING THE WEIGHT

Now as I’m sure you’ll all agree… it’s always important to have your junk in the right part of your trunk. Make the mistake of placing heavy items at the bottom and outside of your backpack and my goodness will you know about it the following day. Stick to the general rule of; medium on top, heavy against your back and lighter to the bottom and outer sides of your backpack and you’ll be good to go.

How to pack a backpack

PACKING ORGANISATION

There are a fair few products out there designed to make packing easy. Here’s a quick overview of your options:

Packing Cubes – In my opinion, packing cubes are the best packing solution on the market. Instead of one big backpack full of lose belongings where you’ll struggle to find what you need when you need it… you effectively pack lots of mini backpacks within your main backpack… cutting down the time and mess when you need something that would otherwise be buried and never to be seen again.

Ziplock freezer bags – The cheaper alternative to packing cubes. Roll or fold your clothes and stuff them into the ziplock bags. Push the air out and zip them closed. With no air or space in the bags, creasing is limited. Always pack a spare ziplock bag to carry wet swimwear if you ever have to pack and move on without drying them out. No one wants a soggy backpack.

 
TO ROLL OR TO FOLD?

I am totally in the pro-roll camp. Cinnamon rolls, chicken mayo rolls, swiss rolls they’re all damn good. And the roll is just about as useful for packing as it is delicious for eating.

The process is this. Place the item of clothing in question (jeans/shorts/tshirts/shirts/dresses – anything!) on the floor in front of you and just start rolling. Keep rolling, rolling, rolling on until your clothing resembles an ever so slightly deformed worm. Coil these clothes-worms around your backpack or inside your packing cubes and you’re good to go.

When you arrive at your destination, pull out your worm of choice, open it out and bam the creases are gone.

TOP PACKING TIPS

To finish off, here are my top tips for packing a backpack.

#1 Be strict with yourself – Do you really need that?

 

#2Don’t overload your backpack – You don’t want to be lugging around something heavier than yourself. Keep it light.

 

#3Pack to the corners – It’s amazing how much cheeky space is wasted when you don’t fill the corners. So grab your socks, grab your pants, grab anything else small and soft and shove it in there.

 

#4Roll don’t fold –  Folding = creases, rolling = domestic goddess.

 

#5Place heavy items against your back – Pack heavy items between your shoulder blades to ensure your hips carry the bulk of the weight.

 

#6Arrange the heavy items carefully – Because no one wants a book corner jabbing them in the back all day long.

 

So there it is. Now all you need to do is work out what exactly it is you need to take. Check out our 21 Essential things to Pack

Photo credit: Steve Bernacki