It should be noted that I have found out the hard way, how to pack as a hoarder. I’ve been travelling for almost five years and am on suitcase number eight. All previous suitcases buckled under the strain of 40kg being loaded into a case designed to hold 25kg, as I tried to travel with the luxury of an armoire on wheels. Let me tell you now, it was more of a burden than a luxury. I was laughed at by other backpackers, gave injuries to many taxi and bus drivers and probably paid millions in overweight fees at airports. The fate of each suitcase was often the same. Its wheels would completely erode, smoke forming as they depleted. Even the expensive cases weren’t invincible.
I’m starting to get the hang of packing now though – knowing what to bring and what to leave behind, so I thought I’d share a couple of tips to get you started.
How To Pack Light
- Don’t pack your best clothes and use Op Shops when you arrive
- Buy new things when abroad
- Pack a lightweight waterproof instead of a big coat
- Don’t bring heels!
- Get a 2 in 1 Shampoo / Conditioner Soap Bar
- Buy a Turkish Towel
- Ask yourself “Do I really need this?”
1. Don’t pack your best clothes or those with any sentimental value. You’ll be wearing them to death no doubt and when the time comes, you won’t want to get rid of the old faithfuls. I definitely bring a few of my favourite tees and pants when travelling, as I don’t like feeling like a complete Hobo wearing head to toe Primark… but what I usually do is hit the op shops as soon as I get to my new city. There are so many little gems in op shops for a fraction of the price, which also means you’ll find it easier to gift them to others when you’re done with them.
2. Another problem I’m faced with is wanting to buy things brand new from stores but not being able to justify it – I already have a new pair of trainers I bought before I left etc. So what I tend to do, is bring things away that I’ve already worn in and are at death’s door. Like an old pair of trainers or jeans. Then keep an eye out for replacements when I’m out there. Especially since I prefer the shopping options in Australia than England anyway.
3. If you’re going to be in Australia or New Zealand for a year or more, then you’re going to be faced with all kinds of weather. Yes, even Australia can get wet, windy and cold! One of the most annoying items to pack though is probably a warm jacket. You only use it for several months of the year, but lug it along the whole journey. By the time the season to wear it comes around, you’ll be absolutely sick of the sight of it and just want to burn it after the stress it caused carrying it around all summer, and space it took up. My solution is to bring a decent lightweight waterproof jacket that you can wear on top of layers for warmth, like sweaters you’d have packed anyway. They take up little room and weight and are perfect for the rainstorms on a hot day that Australia like to throw every so often.
4. Girls, don’t bring heels. It’s not worth lugging around for months or even a year for the number of times you’re actually going to wear them. I think I wore my heeled boots three times in the two and half years I lugged them around with me. But since I’d spent a bit on them I was reluctant to throw them away. A nice pair of sandals is usually a good alternative to heels if you’re after something a little dressier than scruffy vans.
5. The shampoo and conditioner soap bars from Lush are an absolute godsend, for guys and girls. They weigh practically nothing and last for months. Perfect, since buying good shampoo and conditioner in Australia and New Zealand can actually break the bank. Plus they work incredibly well, don’t use up any plastic and are vegan so you’re doing the animals a favour too. I like ‘Godiva’ as it actually works as a 2 in 1 if you’re being extra thrifty.
6. Chuck in one of those Turkish towels to your case too. Not the microfibre travel towels that have the sensation of drying yourself with a hamster and then smelling like old ladies armpits afterwards… Scrap those. Turkish towels dry you like a normal bath towel would, are extremely lightweight, dry fast without smelling like ass and can fold up so tiny you can shove it in your handbag or pocket to take to the beach. Plus they come in many colours suitable for both guys and girls.
7. My last piece of advice though is to ask yourself as you pack ‘Do I actually NEED this?’ Are you already bringing something that could double up as an alternative? You can completely dismiss anything you don’t usually wear but vow when you’re thinner or more tanned that you will. I’m telling you now if you’re anything like me, you won’t wear it enough to justify bringing it.
Author: Kate has been living and working in Canada, Australia and New Zealand for the past five years. Throughout this mammoth travel stint, she has documented many funny encounters, became an unqualified visa expert, and can talk at length at what a quarter life crisis is all about. She likes to write as a hobby.
Images are authors own.