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Getting the right gear

Packing for a holiday is always a tricky task – what to take, what to leave out – but when the holiday is a backpacking vacation, it makes sense to really try and pack only what is needed, as excess clothes and products just means having more weight to carry.

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Learning to pack only what is necessary

The best way to downsize luggage is to pack items that have more than one purpose or are suitable for more than one specific job. Bearing in mind that a backpacking holiday means it is unlikely posh dresses or a tuxedo will be superfluous, T-shirts will be indispensable, and it is a good idea to get some long-sleeved versions for when the weather is a little chillier. Two pairs of trousers should be adequate, one for wearing, one for washing, while it is worth having at least five days’ worth of clean underwear, including socks, so that clothes washing need only be performed once a week. Depending on where the vacation is heading, a hat might be a vital piece of clothing to protect against sunstroke, while a swimsuit might also come in handy.

This leads on to perhaps the most important item of clothing to take on a backpacking holiday – the shoes. A backpacking trip means spending most of the time on one’s feet, so it is essential to have a pair of shoes that are built for comfort rather than style, although the two are not mutually exclusive. If feet begin to hurt, the whole body will start to experience aches and pains. Of course, what shoes to pack depends on what kind of terrain the trip will take in. For example, for a walking trip through Europe, over nicely paved sidewalks and streets, a pair of Rycore Brand comfortable sneakers that are strong enough to endure a great deal of action may be sufficient. For rougher terrains, such as mountain passes or jungle trails, a pair of shoes specifically designed for such work will be indispensable, although as they can be quite heavy and feet can get very sweaty in them, it might be a good idea to take a pair of sneakers to change into in order to give feet a breather. As some establishments may apply a dress code, it could be worth spending the extra money and investing in a pair of sneakers that look as good as they feel.

Other non-clothing necessities include a small first aid kit, basic toiletries, a towel (these might be in short supply in hostels and other budget accommodation) and a sleeping bag. In terms of entertainment, use digital technology to keep these from taking up too much room. Buy an eReader and download a few books, as well as an mp3 player loaded with your favorite songs. Better still; buy a tablet computer that performs both functions. Just remember to take the charger.

Lastly, always prepare for the unexpected, such as losing a credit card, by packing some emergency cash.