When I first set off backpacking on my own, I made a lot of mistakes. One being that I massively overpacked. You’ve probably heard every backpacker say this, as everyone does it when they first go backpacking. Since then, I’ve probably halved the amount of stuff I take in my backpack. But if I told someone else what I was taking, they’ll probably turn around and say I’ve still massively overpacked. I’ll go watch other bloggers on YouTube, and I’ll read through the comments, and people will be saying “you’ve taken way too much.” This is one thing that really annoys me.
First off, it’s worth pointing out the small fact that everyone is different. Everyone has different needs, and are looking for a different experience. Therefore, they’re going to pack differently. Guys, you naturally pack lighter than us women. Which is understandable. You have a lot less necessities to take. A blogger is likely to take more stuff than someone who isn’t documenting their experience as much. Some people won’t take a laptop, camera, tripod etc. So already, they’re packing a lot lighter. They probably find it pointless to take a tripod and laptop, but trust me when I say, I really do need it. I wouldn’t be able to get by, just using public computers, and how else am I supposed to take a night long exposure shot, without my tripod? Exactly.
There’s so much judgement around lately, and it seems to be a competition of who can take the least amount of stuff. Yes, less is better, but as long as you pack everything YOU need, it isn’t overpacking. People think you’re overpacking if you take 2 bags, as in one for your hand luggage, and another to check in. Why can’t I check in my main backpack? Why does this automatically make me someone who has overpacked? I’d like to point out at this point, the last time I checked it was a massive task, if at all possible, to take a tripod in my hand luggage. Therefore it’s a lot easier for me to check it in with my main luggage. I don’t have to convince the airport security staff that I’m not going to kill anyone mid flight, which is always fun when you don’t speak a word of their language and trying to get a £100 tripod on the plane! Most long haul flights include it, so it’s not costing you anything extra. If you’re on a smaller flight, then yes you have to pay extra. But being as my backpack is under the 20kg mark, and I pay before I get to the airport, it’s usually only around £20, depending on the airline. Are people really that tight, that they won’t cough up £20, for the sake of their ego and them being able to say they’re a “proper backpacker.”
Another term I hate, when it comes to how you pack, or what you take backpacking. “Proper backpacker.” The official definition of a backpacker is “a person who travels or hikes carrying their belongings in a rucksack.” That is what you are doing, whether you take 2 bags or 1. So telling someone they aren’t a “proper backpacker” because they’ve overpacked, is pretty dumb.
As I said previously, take everything YOU need to take, to make your trip as comfortable and stress free as possible. Don’t fall into the trap that you have to take a pair of shorts and t-shirt only and that anything else is overpacking. Stop judging people because of what they pack. You will more than likely overpack when you first go travelling. That is completely normal, and to be honest, it’s the best way to learn. I’d of rather done that the first time I went travelling, than underpacked!