THE DREADED BACKPACK. Choosing what kind of luggage I was going to bring travelling was a big decision for me, as I have struggled with back pain and suffered an injury to my ankle years ago which still causes pain. Also, try as I may to be a groundbreaking minimalist, I often fail miserably. So the idea of travelling for six weeks with just a backpack did not exactly thrill me.
It’s well known that the majority of people who travel around South East Asia are known as ‘backpackers’. Backpacks were once the only option for luggage when travelling certain parts of the world, as you were sure to be met with rough terrain which could damage wheeled luggage, boat trips etc.
Nowadays, things are different. Luggage is stronger and flights are much cheaper, so you have more options for how to get from place to place. Before I went travelling, I thought that bringing a traditional suitcase was out of the question. I’d heard stories of trekking through rough terrain, mud and stairs to get to your next destination and could only imagine dragging a suitcase with a broken wheel. I took all of this into consideration and did a lot of research into alternative types of backpacks and I found one which could be used as a backpack, but also had wheels and a handle. This seemed like the best of both worlds and it was a good size too.
The one I chose was the Mountain Warehouse 60l below.
I never put it on my back once! If I was advising anyone going travelling in SE Asia, I’d advise to bring a normal suitcase. SO many other travellers had them and they didn’t seem to be an issue at all. I wheeled my bag through some parts of rough terrain with no damage to the bag. It was also no issue when getting on and off boats. I think I would have been in a lot of pain if I had had to carry it on my back, so if you have any doubts about bringing a backpack, don’t do it.
If you do choose to bring a backpack, try to get one which opens like a suitcase like this one below. If you bring one which only has an opening at the top of the bag, it can be very difficult to find the items that you’re looking for, even if you are using packing cubes. If you’re going to be staying in hostels like I did, you won’t have the luxury of unpacking your belongings and leaving them out in the room. You will have to pack up your bag and secure it in your locker any time you’re leaving your room.
Packing cubes are a must! They organise your belongings and make living out of a backpack or suitcase so much easier. You can find them easily on Ebay or Amazon like the ones here.
Keep your Clothes Clean
Another tip I found for packing shoes, is to bring shower caps you may have at home. I wouldn’t encourage buying these, as they’re made of plastic, but if you have any already then they’re a good way to protect your clothes from dirty shoes.
LESS is more
One last tip, coming from experience, less is more. Even if you don’t truly believe that before you go on your adventure, you certainly will after, as I did. Good luck!