Top tips to pack your travel bag
You reach the point when you suddenly realise everything you could ever need can fit into a rucksack and follow you around the world. It becomes your home. Homes should be pretty. And here is how you can achieve this:
- Take off your airport flight tags
There is no real bag-packing benefit to this first point, you and your bag just instantly look a lot cooler.
- Don’t leave ‘things’ hanging on the outside of your bag!
Everything should fit in your bag, if it can’t, you simply have too much stuff!
Neither Airports nor bus companies are particularly friendly to large rucksacks. If you tie something onto the outside of your bag there is a high chance it will get ‘lost’ or sadly quite often just taken.
The classic is to tie your sleeping bag onto the outside of your bag. This does make some initial sense as it is soft and easily tied on to your rucksack… however losing this vital piece of equipment is like losing your bed from your bedroom.
(To clarify, this applies to generic travelling rucksacks- climbers you do what you need to do!)
- Dry sacks (or plastic bags!) are fantastic for organising your gear
Dry sacks are pretty cheap but worth their weight in gold. Not only can you keep track of where everything is, but you can even separate your smelly clothes from your clean ones. For many a traveller this is as luxurious as it gets!
However, unless they are a specifically waterproof type of material do not reply upon them to keep everything dry when the rains come- the masters of this particular trek equipment field have to be Ortlieb. They are not cheap, but if looking for 100% waterproof guarantee they are worth the purchase.
Simple plastic bags can do the same job if you are looking for saving those pennies, however they very fragile and prone to ripping therefore not at all useful in the long-run.
- Use your pockets and bag-hood wisely
Most modern bags have a number of gadgets and pockets. Once you have found them (some seem to be unnecessarily hidden) think about organising your things in a systematic fashion. If low on space, stuffing clothes into these side pockets is a great way to make full use of their capacity.
Quite often it is the mal-use of pockets and the hood that can make a perfectly-well packed bag look amateurish. A bag’s capacity is measured in litres- proper use of pockets and the hood hold a surprising amount of potential space to be used up.
- Squish, squeeze, squash, squirrel and squat
Only by the careful following of the 5 Squ’s will you achieve bag-packing perfection:
Squish- Get stuck in there. Squishing your clothes, sleeping bags and general non-breakable items is key to making room and getting all that space-consuming air out of the way.
Squeeze- Squeezing both your bag, and your squeezable items, makes sure that everything fits nicely to the shape of your soon-to-be-perfectly-packed bag.
I recently overheard somebody proudly announcing that he does not use a sleeping bag compression sack. Instead he lines the bottom of his rucksack with the unpacked sleeping bag, allowing the items packed on top to squeeze out the air, while filling every crevice of the lower reaches of his bag. A tad unconventional for this seasoned bag-packer, but it just goes to show how you can (sometimes) take bag-packing matters into your own hands.
Squash- Much alike to squish, however, tends to make much more use of your general body weight. Squashing often involves the general sitting and/or standing on your bag to push out those last space-consuming air pockets.
Squirrel– Akin to the nut-storing rodent, you have to think carefully about where you are storing things. In times of need, the squirrel knows where to go for those all-important nuts, and so must you.
Squat- Truth be told, there is no bag-packing benefit from squatting, other than ending the struggle to find the 5th ‘Squ’. Having just admitted that, squats are in fact fantastic to improve your general-body-health, which in turn makes carrying your perfecting packed bag all that much easier.
You should feel proud of your bag when travelling as it can tell people a lot about you. Only once you have mastered the 5 Squ’s will the days of struggling with space and misshapen bags be behind you.
Author Bio: Matty is a charity project manager and expedition leader for Quest Overseas in Peru and Bolivia. Graduate from University College London, BA History. Currently residing in Colombia and always looking for new adventures to lead his teams on.