Once you have your adventure planned it is time to start packing…or at least curating your packing list. This can take some time, especially if this your first time headed on this type of adventure or to a new country. Knowing what to pack is important. You don’t want to pack too much, but no one wants to get stranded without necessities!
Before we jump into the detailed packing list, let’s talk about a few tips to get you on the right track. There are a lot of ways to pack and you will definitely find a method you’re most comfortable with. The tips mentioned below are meant to get you thinking about what you’ll need and how you’ll acquire, pack and use each item you pack. This is the first step to creating your own methods.
1 // Photograph all of your important documents…and upload them! This is especially important if you’re traveling abroad, but also helpful when you’re close to home. If you’ve ever lost a credit card you know how challenging it is to get it cancelled. If you have a photo of the front and back of that card you can use it to immediately call in to the credit card company. The same goes for passports, driver’s license and other documents you may need while on the road. I have all of these photos uploaded to a Google Album that is shared with trusted family/friends back home, should I need their help.
2 // Pack any medications you take in your carry on. Yes, even over the counter medications such as allergy medications or motion sickness medication. It may seem silly, especially if you’re traveling within your home country, but this is about keeping your travels easy. If you find that you’re in a position to really need ibuprofen or an allergy medication the last thing you want to do is go out and find it. It is a lot less stressful to just rustle through your carry on until you find it!
3 // Power up…with portable batteries, power converters and all of the cords. One of the most valuable items I pack along for every trip is my portable batteries. I have two with me at all times and I try to keep them fully charged whenever possible. There are two reasons for this. First, you never know when you’ll need to give your phone a quick charge. Second, if the only outlet you have access to is in a public place it is safer to leave a portable battery sitting alone than your cell phone or headlamp.
This is how I keep my phone, GPS and satellite tracker charged on the go. I will leave one portable battery in a campground bathroom, unattended, while I use the other to charge up my devices…then repeat. It lets me keep everything charged without risking anything truly valuable being stolen. Another important aspect of keeping everything charged is making sure you have the proper cords, enough of each cord (one micro-USB might not cut it if you’re bringing four things that charge via micro-USB) and the proper power converter, if you’re going abroad.
4 // Pack light, as in really, really light. Some may say “ultralight packing” is something only backpackers obsess about, but any type of adventure travel will benefit from a little weight-conscious packing. Whenever possible the items you pack should have at least two uses, if not more. Here are a few examples of how I ensure everything is multi-purpose. My swimsuit cover up is a casual black dress, which can be dressed up a bit with a light sweater for an evening out or dinner. My black Xero Z-Trail sandals are used on the trail, on the sand and at dinner in town. All of my clothes coordinate just enough to allow for all sorts of combinations for all activities…including visiting churches (covered shoulders and knees), hitting the trails and relaxing around town.
If something doesn’t fall into the multi-use category do what you can to downsize. Most of my examples around downsizing happen in my toiletry bag. I pack a miniature razor, a “travel sized” eyelash curler and a collapsible toothbrush. This may seem like a silly area to cut down size in, but it does allow me to pack all my toiletries into a tiny bag which can easily be tucked pretty much anywhere. It’s all about creativity and versatility!
5 // Consciously choose clothes that will dry quickly. You’ll want to pack mostly quick-dry clothing…whether this means you’re only packing athletic clothes or that you’re choosing the lighter items from your closet. Most athletic clothes come with quick-dry features, which is great when you’re getting sweaty on the move. However, this isn’t the only reason you’ll want clothes that dry quickly. If you’re packing light you’ll need to do laundry regularly. This will often mean you’re washing clothes in your hotel room or in a stream. If this is the case you’ll want those clothes to dry while hanging overnight. The faster they dry, the more often you’ll wash them and the better you’ll smell! On that same note…pack along a piece of paracord (clothes line!) and some biodegradable soap (especially if you’re camping!).
6 // Pick luggage that works for all aspects of your adventure. You probably have a piece of luggage that you really love…but will that be the best option for the adventure you’re embarking on? Within groups of travelers there seems to be a constant debate of hard-case luggage vs duffel bags vs backpacks. When it comes to adventure travel that debate continues, although often without the hard-case luggage as a viable option. At the end of the day, choose what you’re most comfortable with. However, I do have a few tidbits for you to think about.
Consider what you’ll be doing once you arrive at your destination. Will there be a lot of walking around a city with your luggage? If yes, you may want to steer toward a backpack. Will you have a place to store your unused luggage while you’re out adventuring? If yes, you may want to opt for a duffel bag, possible with a backpack packed inside. Will you need a large backpack for the majority of your adventure (ie: backpacking trip)? If yes, it may be best to make that backpack the primary luggage for the entire trip. Yes, you really do have this many things to consider and a lot of options to choose between.
If you’re still waffling between a duffel and a backpack let me offer up a compromise…a backpack for every aspect of the trip *except* the airport. Why? Because a backpack really can do everything you need for any piece of luggage, with the exception of surviving an airport carousel (and possibly any luggage portage you’re receiving). How? Purchase a “stuff duffel” that your full backpack will fit into and use this when you’re traveling between adventures. When it is not in use, stuff it down and pack it in your backpack. Bam. Compromise!