Packing light is one of those topics we keep coming back to, probably because it’s one of the most important aspects of independent travel. Plus, it’s the number-one complaint that we hear from people: they’ve packed too much and have to carry it. Doing laundry is also important, especially when you’ve packed light and don’t have a lot of clothing options.
What is light?
Keep it to one reasonably small bag, and limit the weight to under 15kg. Your back will thank you and you won’t get hit with excess luggage fees on budget flights. If you can fit all you need in a carry-on bag, that’s even better – but you will have to leave the pocket knife behind.
Check out episode 83 for a comprehensive clothing list, and add a first-aid kit, a pocket knife, toiletries, a torch and tech gear as necessary. There are many many packing lists out there, but it’s quite a good idea to make your own and then attack it ruthlessly. You could try limiting yourself to a certain weight – some people weigh each item individually and assess its usefulness versus how heavy it is. Or limit yourself to a certain number of items. Either way, cut down on everything – sort into categories and remove one or more item from each – toiletries, clothes, technology … remember, the less stuff, the better.
Hotel laundries generally charge more than budget travellers are willing to pay for, but there are other options. Head to the laundromat or use the hostel laundry for a fun-filled rainy day in.
If you’re travelling alone, you might not be able to make up a full load of washing, or you’ll run out of undies before it’s worth using a machine. So then, hand-washing is the solution. Wash a pair of socks or undies in the shower with you on a daily basis, and wash all other items in the sink. Use a universal plug, a rubber ball, blu-tack or a sock to plug the sink, and wash with your shampoo or soap. You can get specialised hand-washing liquid, but it’s not really worth having another item to carry around.
To dry, hang up your travel clothesline, or bit of string and allow to drip-dry after a bit of wringing out. Don’t put things directly on heaters if you can avoid it because of the risk of them catching on fire. Some hostels have a drying room, so make use of that if available.