When it comes to packing for travel, we always end up leaving some items behind simply because they won't fit. Or we bring too much because we don't really know what we might need.
Packing is probably the least enjoyable part of travel and can cause unnecessary stress, especially if it's your first adventure trip and you want to be prepared.
Perfect packing is possible, and we made a list for it. Check these off before gearing up for a faraway trip this year.
- Keep important documents safe.
Keep your passport, driver’s license and travel insurance on your person at all times. (If you’re going on an adventure travel trip, consider purchasing emergency medical and evacuation coverage.) It’s also a good idea to scan those documents, save them to your phone and email them to yourself and your contacts at home. Save other important documents—like reservations and itineraries—as photos that you can access via your phone or create an email folder you can access from any location.
- Pick the Right Pack
This is largely dependent on the type of trip you’re planning. If you’re planning to be on the move daily, covering a lot of ground by foot (like a backpacking trip through America), you’ll want a large backpacking pack with a supportive frame. For air travel and day trips around your destination, a duffel pack like Eagle Creek’s Migrate Duffel is a simple and surprisingly roomy solution and a go-to for our explorers.
- Go with quick-dry clothing.
You want clothes that you can hand wash and dry overnight on a towel rack. Synthetic pants and shirts not only pack small but also wick sweat and dry in a flash after washing. Be extra prepared by bringing detergent along, too. We recommend the Sea To Summit Trek and Travel (liquid) and Pocket (mini-sheets) laundry wash, which are both TSA carry-on compliant.
- Pack Less
Overpacking clothes is a top violation of adventure travel. Before you start shoving everything into your bag, ask, “Do I really need three pairs of jeans?” Many travelers wear the same clothes multiple days in a row (we sure do), which significantly cuts down on pack/luggage weight and the hassle of managing a wardrobe on your trip.
- Rent and Borrow What You Can
If you’re traveling for an activity-heavy trip, find out what options you have for renting or borrowing gear when you get there. Say you’re on a ski trip to Banff and you’re flying from San Francisco, for example. Look into options to rent skis, boots, and poles at or near the resort and see if it’s more cost effective to rent gear vs. paying for the extra checked luggage. Or if you’re flying in for a mountain biking trip to Ventura to visit an old friend, see if she has access to a helmet and bike shoes you can borrow so you can save space in your pack.
- Be prepared for rain.
In fact, be prepared for any weather. Rainy days can ruin trips. Make the most out of each day by packing the right clothing, rain jackets included. Especially in the desert or high country, check the forecast to make sure you are covered.Think like a backpacker and bring a rain jacket—and depending on the climate, rain pants and a pack cover, too. After all, when you’re on an adventure travel tip, you’re going to hike regardless of the weather.
- Bring your own over-the-counter medications.
If you’re on a guided expedition, your guides will have plenty of group first-aid options. Even so, having your own tried-and-true blister kit, hydrocortisone, antibiotic ointment and allergy pills is important. Be sure to bring extra prescription meds in your carry-on, too. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get your hands on certain essentials in far-flung places.
- Parting Advice
Once your backpack is fully packed, put it on your back and give it a test run. How does it feel? Can you lift it comfortably and walk around with it on your back for at least a short distance. Does it look overstuffed?
If it’s practically bursting at the seams or you can’t carry it comfortably, you need to go back to the drawing board. Putting too much strain on yourself or your backpack could lead to disaster on your trip.
Keep in mind that you’re likely to accrue a few items on your travels. Even the most minimalist of travelers will likely end a trip with an item or two. It would be a shame to look back and wish you could have brought home an amazing memento of your trip, but your backpack was just too full.