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How to Pack for Your Adventure

by Barrett Chapman

August 17, 2018 Pro Tips

As an Adventure Coordinator I often get questions about packing for our trips. I thought it might be a good idea to present you with a few packing tips I’ve compiled throughout my travels. The bag I’ve shown below is the Osprey Fairview 55 liter (40 liter main bag plus detachable 15 liter backpack which is not shown). It is carry-on size and has backpack straps and a waist strap for support.

1–Grab a box or your travel bag a week or two ahead of your trip and start a packing pile. I’ve found that it’s best to start the packing process early and add items as soon as you think of them to your packing pile. Once you are a few days ahead of leaving for your trip you can then go through everything in the pile and decide what is absolutely necessary and what is not.

2–On that note…you only need to bring about half the stuff you pack initially. Bringing “just in case” items adds weight and often unnecessary clutter to your bag. If you ever find yourself packing an item “just in case”, chances are you won’t use it while on your trip.

3–Packing cubes are a life saver, especially as you are moving from place to place. The packing cubes allow you to stay organized and compartmentalize your bag. A pro tip is to get different colored packing cubes so that you know exactly what is in each cube instead of rummaging through every cube to find an item. This style of packing should make things easy when your guide says you need to have your bag ready to go early the next morning.

4–Rolling your pants, shirt, and socks helps to save space and prevent wrinkles. You’ll find that you can fit most of your clothing into a smaller space than if you were to fold and stack your clothing.

5–Try to go carry-on when you can. If you’re not going on a trip that requires something bulky like a sleeping bag or horseback riding helmet, see if you can fit your belongings inside a carry-on sized piece of luggage. You will have everything on the plane with you and there is no risk of going through the dreaded lost luggage process that can cause undue stress and expense. Also, the smaller the bag the easier it is to handle while on your trip.

6–Shoes are bulky and often take up precious space inside your luggage, take full advantage of the inside space of your shoes and shove socks, charger cables, and anything small inside them. Normally I would wearing your hiking boots on the plane, but since I’m going carry-on it’s not a problem.

7–Use plastic bags, those shower caps you get at hotels, or purchase shoe covers to keep the dirty soles of your shoes from getting all over the rest of your belongings. Who knows what you’re stepping on while you’re trekking through the Borneo jungle or traipsing along those cobblestone streets in Europe!

8–Bring some Ziploc bags. I’ve used Ziploc bags to store a wet bathing suit, keep my phone from getting wet or sandy at the beach, and to protect tissues or toilet paper. They are extremely useful!

9–To pare down on clothing, wash your clothing by hand in the hotel sink/shower, or get one of these nifty Scrubba bags. What’s cool about the Scrubba bag is that you can use it as an airtight dirty laundry bag and then when you’re ready to wash the dirty clothes just add water, a bit of soap, seal the bag and agitate it for a few minutes. Take the soapy clothing out and rinse them off, then hang to dry. A good multi-purpose soap I always bring is Dr. Bronner’s. You can use it for laundry, body wash, shampoo, and hand washing.

10–In the event that you do check your bag on the airplane, place a copy of your flight itinerary, your trip hotel information, and if you’re taking a tour – the tour operator’s name and contact information – at the top of your bag. This will make it easier for the airline to track you down in the case of lost luggage.

Often packing is one of the most stressful parts of travel, and I hope that these tips will help make it easier for you on your next trip. Bon voyage!

Barrett Chapman, Adventure Coordinator