So you've decided on that backpacking adventure of a lifetime and the time has come to begin packing your bag. It's very tempting to cram all your clothes, books, a week's worth of towels and that extra pair of shoes (you know, just in case!) in to your rucksack. But it's important that you plan ahead and try to pack as light as possible - read on to find out why...
BEFORE YOU GO
Think of your bag as your 'new room' that will contain everything you will need for the next few months. Lay out everything you think you will need on your trip and then half it - be ruthless! Make sure you allow a good amount of space left over after packing; as the less heavy, less bulky and smaller your bag is, it will stick out less and be more comfortable for you in the long run.
If you board a smaller bus that stops at the side of the road, they usually have no space for luggage and can often be crowded.
Your backpack can take up enough space that you may be asked to purchase a separate seat just for your bag - and that can cost you extra money every time you make a trip!
If your bag's purchased seat is not next to you (or if it is stored on the vehicle's roof or luggage hold) it is vulnerable to theft. Usually your bag will be returned to you in one piece but remember that theft can happen anywhere you go and you can never be so sure. If your passport or money is stolen from your unattended bag rather than on your person, your travel insurance would not cover you in these circumstances.
Apart from the obvious space problems on buses, rickshaws or bikes, your bag has to be checked and weighed when passing through airports and this takes up time. Packing light to begin with also helps to avoid those extra airport charges when you find out at the end of your trip that you've purchased more souvenirs than you thought!
Be aware that you might need to walk quickly if avoiding touts, if the weather is very hot when walking long distances, or if you find yourself in danger - make sure that you can carry your backpack comfortably, quickly and with ease.
For added security, make sure you purchase travel insurance - Alpha's Longstay policy is ideal for those adventurous backpacker trips abroad!
If your pack is small enough and not needed during the day, it can be stored in a locker or safe for security precautions at your hotel or hostel which is more favourable with travel insurance providers than if left unattended in your room.
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